When family goes into business together, it’s always tricky. Such proved to be the situation with rap duo The Knux. The two brothers, Krispy and Joey, have been through a major record deal with Interscope, a label restructure and countless tour dates only to end up unable to stand each other professionally — and maybe even personally — for some time. Back in 2008, the Knux decided to drop their debut album Remind Me In 3 Days via Interscope. Three years after, their second LP Eraser was released. There were a couple of EPs that dropped in the space between, but it wasn’t until April of this year when the two released their Eleven project. They joined forces with Rebel House for the album which fans have been reveling in since the spring. The lead video for the single ‘Mirage’ also has their following taking a second look at The Knux all these years later. After surviving everything from backstage fistfights to bouts with pneumonia while on tour, the two brothers are back in effect, willing and able to put their experiences into words in a way that only they can. With the record touting their many influences, it appears that the Knux never even stepped out of the spotlight.
The Knux Explain Putting “Eleven” Together In 11 Days
DX: So you two brothers are total different people. How is it that you came together to complete an album in 11 days?
Krispy: We’re literally complete opposites. The only thing that we really ever agreed on was our musical tastes. We’ve always had the same musical tastes, that was the constant. For example, we always both liked EDM, Russian house, techno… We’re both really big fans of punk rock and post-punk stuff. The bands may differ but we both like the same [genre]. We’re both fans of golden era hip-hop, we like the boom-bap, breakbeats and stuff.
DX: What’s your process?
Krispy: What we used to do was: he would start it and I would come in and finish it. As the years went on, we started spending more time together and it became a job, so once we got signed that’s when more of the headbutting started because we had to do it. Joe can’t just create, it has to be natural for him. I would say that’s his only setback as an artist, songwriter and producer. He can’t be under the gun but when it’s natural, the shit that I’ve heard him create? Some of the best shit that I’ve heard and I’ve been a professional songwriter and producer for over 10 years.
I’m not creative all the time, I’m in meetings and doing executive stuff so he keeps the creative juices bubbling. People who know us like, promoters who’ve booked us, they know, we fight for real [laughs]. The things that would piss both of us off, we’ve become mindful of that. We’ve become respectful of each other.
Krispy: We didn’t plan it, we just went in there and started making songs. And it was the easiest album we ever did. Honestly, we did it so quick because we both let go of some of our pretentiousness. I know I did… It was the first group of songs I did with no ego like all, just having fun, doing it as if no one was ever gonna hear it. And it felt good to be in that space again.
Joe: I agree with that. It was fairly easy-going because we hadn’t worked together for a year. Just getting back into the swing of it. Taking that break and going back into it, it was just kinda like a flow.
Krispy: It felt so good to be a normal person again. You get detached from normal life. Like, we were touring so hard and people don’t realize: we toured a year before our first album came out all the way to the end of 2012, the beginning of 2013. Touring like a rock band, that shit will take a toll on you. You start getting tired of looking at the person beside you. Like, he would look at me and I could tell he was disgusted with me for no reason besides being with that person all day. And i was the same way. Got tired of looking at this nigga. We didn’t even say nothing, we just stopped.
The only thing that we both did collectively was decided that we didn’t want to go back into our Interscope deal. The option was there but we knew we didn’t wanna do anything else with Interscope.
The Knux Says They Chose Interscope Deal Because They “Were Being Greedy Fucks”
DX: Joe, what was the issue over at Interscope with you guys?
Krispy: The timing! The timing!
Joe: I think she was asking me the question bro but g’head [laughs].
Krispy: Our first album came out at the wrong time. That was when Interscope started firing people. Why would you fire Chris Clancey? He obviously knows something y’all don’t know. He fuckin’ blew Eminem up! Why would you fire him? Because you don’t want to pay him an extra 50 grand a year? Really? And he’s making you hundreds of millions of dollars. And we were fucked. The best thing we had going for us is that we had a good relationship with journalists. We didn’t have much marketing on that first album but we had a ton of publicity and we toured heavy.
Joe: To elaborate on that… Interscope was one of those circumstances where the time didn’t align right. They were going through sort of… A cleansing of the label. They didn’t even know the fate of the label at the time.
DX: So what did you learn from your first record deal?
Krispy: It ain’t always about the money man. Like, everybody always says that we should’ve done our deal with Atlantic and Mike Caren since he discovered us. But at the time we were being greedy fucks like, we were young and greedy. We figured since our manager had a label deal up there we could had any deal we wanted. I remember Mike telling our A&R at the time — that’s what I love about Mike, he’s honest — I remember him telling him, ‘Y’all ain’t gon’ know how to promote this shit and you’re gonna fuck these guys career up.’ He told him that shit and at the time, it gave me chills and at the time, I thought about it in my head and I said, ‘He might be right, he might be right…’
DX: People are saying that Eleven sounds like your first album Remind Me In 3 Days. Like the lyrics have matured but the rhymes still come easy.
Krispy: If rapping ain’t easy for you and you’ve been doing it over ten years, you need to quit. I think rapping comes easy to us being from New Orleans and a lot of rappers from out there, rap how they talk. A lot of times you hear rappers from other cities and their rap voice is totally different.
Joe: I agree, definitely when you think of The Knux, we have our own sound. But the balance of the two first albums is present here. It’s a little more polished in the production but the songwriting is better than it was on the first one. This type of songwriting is what we wanted to do on the first album but we didn’t have all the tools to do it this way.
The Knux Explains Role Los Angeles Plays On “Eleven”
DX: How big a part does your second home, Los Angeles, play on Eleven?
Krispy: You can listen to the first record on the album and feel that vibe. It’s literally about us driving around southern California. The album is more of a southern California vibe as opposed to LA. We’ve always loved the west coast. It’s so wide open, we feel like modern-day cowboys. Look at the shit Wiz [Khalifa] is doing. That’s his whole aesthetic right now. He’s out there soaking up that culture. There’s so much culture out there man.
DX: Joe, I read something once about you being a fan of Young Thug in a way. Is that right?
Joe: I don’t really know that I can recite his songs like that, but in that interview you saw, we were talking about respecting artists for just doing them. He’s one of those artists that just do what they do without really caring about how they’re being viewed. I can’t even call myself being a fan of his though.
DX: That’s fair of you to say, especially with the recent happenings between Thug and Lil’ Wayne and your allegiance to New Orleans.
Joe: Here’s the thing… For the long haul, people are gonna fuck with Wayne regardless. That’s New Orleans. They may enjoy Thug’s music but at the end of the day, New Orleans gon’ rock with Wayne. The conflict comes from sort of a generational gap. The younger cats are all into Young Thug shit. It’s interesting to me like, once I saw on Twitter, that this kid said that Wayne is washed up. I was like, ‘Whoa! I’m getting old.’ In New Orleans we have that kind of loyalty though for anything that comes outta here. We ride or die. Thug clearly admires Wayne. He’s a fan of his, you can see that from a mile away.
DX: What have been some of your craziest tour experiences in the past and what are you most looking forward to these days when you guys start moving again?
Krispy: There was the time we were at Lollapolooza and got into a fistfist… Joe was high on shrooms and hallucinating and we still got on stage and wrecked it. I just want a calm tour where the fans are hyped, that’s all. I’ve had enough crazy tour experiences to last a lifetime.
DX: What’s the deal with the ‘Mirage’ video? There’s a lot going on. Is that Krispy with the point-of-view shots?
Joe: Everybody thinks that’s Krispy. [laughs]
Krispy: Yeah! Everybody thinks that’s me. [laughs]
Joe: We were actually going to get someone else to do it but it was a timing issue because we tried to change the concept of the video last minute and I’m glad that we did because it came out exactly how we wanted. Our co-director is this guy Guillermo Polo, he does movies and films but that’s why it had that IFC aesthetic. It was like, ‘Who’s gonna do the POV shots?’ And I said, ‘Fuck it. I’ll do it!’ Y’all actually saw the edited version, there was a lot more to it. It’s like, you have not like it or you may love it, either way, I wanted the aim to be, ‘What the fuck did I just see?’ In a good way though.