Beast Coast representer, Kirk Knight, has been behind the boards for many of Pro Era’s releases from the start. From The Secc$ Tape to Joey Bada$$’ debut album, Kirk Knight’s “kreepy” melodic style has helped give the Brooklyn collective their unique take on New York’s boom bap sound. But he’s also set on making sure that his legacy includes a catalog filled with thought provoking lyrics.
Kirk Knight currently on a cross country tour with fellow Cinematic Group artist, Mick Jenkins, which ends on February 27th. But we caught up with him before a sold out show in New York’s SOB’s to discuss his upcoming debut album, how he developed his signature sound, and more.
The Outlook For His Future
HipHopDX: Kirk Knight aka Kirk Knasty aka The Kreeper aka Kirky D. How are you feeling?
Kirk Knight: [laughs] Excited and blessed to be in my hometown. Sold out SOB’s and shit. Headlining with Mick Jenkins. Shout out The Waters.
DX: Mixed emotions or pure adrenaline?
Kirk Knight: Nah, it’s pure adrenaline. I was never shy from the stage ever since I started. First show, I had a trench coat on. I took it super serious. Shout out to all my people who wear trench coats and shit like that. I’m not scared. I’m ready to see my outcome and the feedback. I try to live life with no expectations. You don’t know what’s gonna happen. When you have expectations… life sucks. It always lets you down, bro. People disappoint you sometimes, even the close ones.
DX: It’s an interesting mix of confidence yet curiosity to see the reaction.
Kirk Knight: Yeah, because there’s still a chance that I could do bad as fuck. It’s life, at the end of the day. I try to do my best with what’s feasible and makes sense. I’m confident in myself.
Finding His Own Sound & Producing Joey Bada$$’ “Big Dusty”
DX: In a previous interview, you mentioned that you worked really hard two summers, early in your career, on production. What did you learn about your sound or yourself during those summers?
Kirk Knight: I like my shit loud and I can’t have the same sound as somebody else. You know how some people take a sample, reflip, and body it? That’s fire and only some people can pull it off but I really wanna know sound, like down to analog and the plug ins in the Moog. In my time, I couldn’t afford it. Music equipment is a lot of money and it takes up a lot of space. I’m waiting until I can have a room full of that shit and experiment with it all day. That’s the true dream.
Those two summers were learning new sounds and opening myself to new genres like Rock. My brother listened to both sides like Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, and Yellowcard. He knew about MF DOOM and RZA. I learned about all that Calvin Harris first so I like melodies and then I told my brother that I wanted to do music. I told a very select few group of people when I was getting serious about music, around 16.
DX: Tell me about producing “Big Dusty” off of Joey’s new album.
Kirk Knight: The way I made “Big Dusty” was, we had this house one time. We were making a bunch of beats down there. Joey brought this light from Guitar Center that was this party light. It moves to sound. He was like, “Yo, hook that shit up on the wall.” That was a couple days before I made the record. So for a couple days, I was making beats in the dark with just that light. It wasn’t bright but like mood colors — blue, purple. That’s why purple is in the cover art. The purple was setting the vibe. I found the sample listening to, I think it was Jazz, and I was going back in history with music. The thing with me, I was born in the new generation, so I don’t know much about the ancestors. Shout out my engineer, Nasty, and Chuck. They put me on game with Statik. Biggie, I always knew about. But Nas, I wasn’t really into. Then I started to understand the Joey and Nas comparison. But I don’t really feel that shit.
At the time I was using analog, like MPC and SP4 but I would load my shit in. When I was listening to it, it was some dark, creepy shit. I’m the Kreeper so I was channeling it more. I was playing the keys and a long bass to shake the room, and have the kicks on some dusty shit. You ever heard the instrumental by RZA called “Flying Birds”? It’s from this movie called Ghost Dog and RZA did the whole soundtrack. I was listening to that heavy so I was getting the vibe from that. That’s why it has a slow melody. The trick is making something that sounds happy, all moody and creepy. That’s low key, the go. And then Joey came in when it was a sketch. After that, he had the bars. I commend that man. I look up to him a lot in that aspect. The man knows how to write. If you sleeping, you gotta go on Rap Genius or something. And they don’t even got some of the shit right! But shout out Rap Genius though because they my niggas still.
DX: What are your top 3 beats that you made?
Kirk Knight: “Hazeus View.” “Jerome.” “Herban Legend.” Gotta throw some STEEZ in there. Long live Steelo.
Delivering A Message
DX: If someone never heard your lyrics before and read your Facebook profile, you make it clear that your words serve a purpose and can even incite “political madness.” Is it your aim to educate the people or is that just natural for you?
Kirk Knight: That’s just how it comes out. I feel like you can do anything in your life. It’s just how you do it. If you choose to work at McDonald’s, that’s just what you will do. If you choose to make a message and talk about the elephant in the room, that’s what you will do. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching but I’m a human at the end of the day. I have my own vices — money, cars, hoes, and clothes, but I don’t need to talk about them. I just want to have songs that speak on certain topics. Speaking of that, check out “Like Me,” by Joey Bada$$. That video is very amazing. Everybody has a fanbase and you have the ability to change somebody’s mind. Literally, you’re listening to my voice with your headphones. Why not say something that makes sense.
On His New Album And Holding Off On Putting Out New Music
DX: Is your new album complete?
Kirk Knight: Still doing some thing and tweaking. I’ve been working on it for a long time. I had to experience life first before I tried to make music. I had things I could have dropped but if I did, I would’ve regretted it. My saying is, you’re never supposed to regret anything in life because at that time, it’s everything you wanted. So I wanted to experience love, a breakup, getting completely wasted and eating fries at 6 in the morning, and shit. Those are feelings. Those are times you think about things.
Everybody nowadays is a thinker due to the media and the internet. It’s forcing you to think and have an emotion about everything when you don’t really need to. The internet, you have access to a whole bunch of shit. Why would you pay attention to the media? And I love the media but there’s so many distractions from the real goal. That’s low key, what I’m trying to explain through my music.
DX: So you wanted to be a person first and then an artist?
Kirk Knight: Basically. I don’t really go to parties. I’m not really a party person but I go to parties to hear music and how it sounds in the clubs. I don’t like categories. My album has no category. It’s just music. Listen to it.
DX: Do you handle the production on your album?
Kirk Knight: All of it.