There are a million and one ways to make it in hip-hop. For a select few it’s easy, but for most, an uphill battle. Although perseverance is a very necessary attribute, skill & appeal reigns supreme. One MC that knows this all to well goes by the name of Koncept. Whether you’ve heard of Kon from his affiliation with Brown Bag Allstars or came across his own solo bangers, take note, because you’re witnessing a breathe of fresh air to the hip-hop landscape and a legacy in the making! I had a chance to shoot the shit with Kon to reminisce on how all of this came about and what rather large things he’s scheming up as of late. Join us:
SP: How did the name Koncept come about?
Kon: It was given to me by my older brother figure growing up who was a writer. He would watch me when my parents would go out, and take me out writing with him. I had a few before Koncept but nothing nearly as good. (Laughs)
SP: Take us back, how did you discover hip-hop and when did you realize that this was your calling?
Kon: It was around the same time that I started writing, maybe a little before. Again, my older brother figure put me on. I can remember going to Nobody Beats The Wiz on Steinway Street in Queens and getting cassette tapes. I got 36 Chambers, Illmatic, Ready To Die, all when they first dropped.
When I was 11 I got my first turntables. Then I was DJ Koncept (laughs). In High School I started rapping for fun with friends, and then in college is when I really realized I could and needed to make a career out of it.
SP: From sun up to sun down, take us through a day in the life of Koncept?
Kon: I wake up, make some coffee, pack my bat with the finest greens and just chill out for a little. Check my email and all that stuff, and get ready to start my day. The studio is in the comfort of my own home, so I then open one of the new beats I have from J57 and get working. If I’m not at a meeting or plotting out the next move, I’m recording music.
SP: As the epicenter of hip-hop, NY’s got to be a tough scene to break through. With that being said, any success has a come up and struggle associated with it that often lays dormant from the public eye. Shed some light on the aspects that most people don’t see that you went through to get to this place in your career?
Kon: It’s working harder and harder everyday without sleeping and still being broke. Still having to go do that side job to pay your bills. That place that you hate just so you can do what you love. It’s hard to see the days where it’s hard to eat through a twitter or Facebook page. Hard work pays off though and those tough times turn into gorgeous sunny days.
SP: In 3 words or less, describe each release you’ve put out?
Kon: Touching, fun, me.
SP: Having released 2 ep’s before your debut full length (Awaken), did the writing process differ much?
Kon: The process for Awaken was a bit longer than the process of the previous EP’s. Awaken was the first time that I was really putting together a full cohesive (solo) project from start to finish. The EP’s were done quickly so people could get a grasp of what I was about. Up to that point I only had the group (Brown Bag) work out, so I felt I needed to let people see what Koncept was about.
Awaken was my first baby. Compared to the EP’s (Playing Life & More Than Meets The Eye), I took a bit more time with it. I was more of a perfectionist with it (laughs).
SP: Your past material had a more serious vibe to it whereas your latest ep “Malt Disney” is a bit more upbeat and carefree. Is this progression, an escape, or simply an opportunity to have fun that you rolled with?
Kon: After I dropped Awaken I was blessed to tour around the world and see a ton of the US I hadn’t seen before, Canada, Europe and Brazil. I was having a great time meeting many new faces and seeing how people lived in different places and I aimed to put that enjoyment and fun into the music.
SP: From winning the Redbull Soundstage contest (which includes recording a 2nd album) to some notable record label talks in the works, it sure as hell looks to be a promising year so far for you. Give us some insight into how all of this unfolded and what the rest of 2013 holds?
Kon: RedBull brought myself & J57 out to LA to record in their studios. It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had so far in my career. We recorded our album: Koncept & J57 titled “Flight.” J on all the beats, myself on all the raps. Right now we’re sitting down with majors and working out all the details. Hopefully we can share some more news on that soon. We are incredibly excited for everything happening right now. The album is by far the best work we’ve ever done. We can’t wait for you to hear it!
Also, later this summer I’m dropping an EP all produced by Numonics (from Florida).
There are some other things I can’t speak about just yet (laughs).
SP: As an artist that’s been immersed in the indie hip-hop scene, does potential commercial success scare you at all?
Kon: No, I’m not scared. I’m ready for success and to do bigger and better things. At the same time, I’ve been in the industry long enough to not let anyone take advantage of the hard work I constantly put in. If a deal makes sense for what I’m doing and where I want to go, then I’m with it. If not, I’ll just continue going in the direction that I’m already moving in.
SP: What ultimately do you want listeners to take away from your music?
Kon: I make music for the people and for my fans. I make music that is not just with the times and for what is cool, but music that my fans will be able to listen to forever. I want people to put on my record in 10 years, 15 years and still bump it loud like they’re hearing it for the first time.
SP: Having spent some time in Europe, what differences have you come across from the states?
Kon: The coffee (laughs). I’m a coffee drinker and even the coffee at McDonalds over there is good. America, you’re fucking up.
SP: Drink of choice? What area or country has the best plant life?
Kon: Whiskey. Tequila. All alcoholic beverages.
California by far. I have a medical “plant” card. It smells wonderful out there, and helps me smile. (Laughs)
SP: Aside from music, what else does Kon get into?
Kon: If I wasn’t making music I would be in Lake Tahoe snowboarding. Before music I was on my way to live on a mountain and be in the snowboard industry. Whether as a rider or something else, snowboarding is my second love. I still get out a lot every year and eventually plan to have a place out there.
SP: What are two pieces of advice you’d like to give to the aspiring mc?
Kon: Be yourself and work harder than EVERYBODY else. Don’t take short cuts and think about your long time goals. Do NOT just do what is cool now. It won’t be cool next year and neither will you.
SP: What is it about Still Proud that caught your interest?
Kon: Your strong dedication to what you believe in, and not giving up on it. The name alone speaks for itself!
SP: That about concludes it homie, any shoutouts you’d like to throw out into the blogosphere?
Kon: Shout out to you for all the love! I’m beyond happy to be a part of the team. Thank you to all the fans that have supported and came this far with me. To the new fans, thanks for jumping on board! Let’s reach new heights together!
Thanks to all my friends, family, and co-workers for believing in me and helping me get to this point in my career and life. It’s only going to get better!