You don’t find too many rappers spreading love in the City of the Brotherly kind. And one wouldn’t blame Kuf Knotz for getting his ice grill on if he were so inclined. Kuf’s always been an outlier, the guy who you recognized with his trademark dreads and UFO pants sliding quielty in and out of the party but was always doing SOMETHING you weren’t up on yet like working with Philadlephia radio and industry vets like G Love, Chuck Treece, Mutlu and Cee Knolwedge of Digable Planet.
When I started putting the pieces together, Kuf was making serious waves as one of the founders of the twelve man hip hop band Burndown All-Stars, eventually garnering a spot on FUSE TV’s “Battle of the Bands” show.
When the city slowed down and the hip hop scene became YouTubed corner wars for play on WorldStar and ploys to sign evaporating deals with Bad Boy, G-Unit and Atlantic, a guy like Kuf should have become extinct. His Golden Era vibe and playful tone wasn’t a common feeling in the scene anymore. Even The Roots weren’t smiling (check their last three records). But the Laws of Attraction seemingly paid off for Kuf during the murky times when venues were closing, hip hop sales became anemic, and one too many rappers became empowered with MySpace and handheld cameras. He kickstarted a new band coincidentally called The Hustle and got to, well, hustling. Jampacked shows, media coverage, and on-air spins at WXPN soon followed.
Now Kuf Knotz is going for dolo. Partnering with MAD Dragon Records and calling in appearances from a wide spectrum of Philadelphia’s best rappers, songwriters, and musicians like Hezekiah, Reef the Lost Cauze, Charlie Patierno, George Standford, Sharon Little, his LP Boom Box Logic admittedly is the best summer hip hop album to drop in October that I’ve ever heard (and I’m not just saying that because myself and Curly Castro are on the massive hidden posse cut at the end of the disc…whoops!). His lead single “Sunny Philadelphia” is getting heavy rotation on WXPN at prime listening hours. And the songwriting and production value rivals most major label releases.
This past Saturday was his album release party at the prestigous World Cafe Live. Another packed house, another good time, another room full of hot women who never go to any other rap shows in the 215. It’s time to crank your Radio Raheem shoulder blower and let Kuf Knotz learn you something.
1. At what point did you realize music is what you wanted to do?
My first year of college – Once I started cutting classes to record and write rhymes I knew it was a rap (no pun intended).
2. How has Philly shaped your sound or molded you as an MC?
Well Philly hands down has some of the Dopest Mc’s out there (no disrespect to other places but Philly goes hard). Having such talent around you really pushes you to work hard and find your niche, with so much talent you have to find a way to stand out and be heard. Philly is also very rich in soul…(T.S.O.P) legends man..Teddy P , Hall & Oates, Patti L, The Roots just to name a few. I can’t help but be effected by that and incorporate alot of soul into my music. Philly is also very diverse and that plays a big part into my music as well. I love just about every genre of music and grew up listening to gospel, hip hop, alternative music & punk. So I definitely grab a little from each bag and throw it into the mix of the music I do.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
I look up to my family members my Mother being the one I look up to the most. She has had a life filled with ups and downs having battled cancer, being hit by a car, losing her home to a fire…etc , but she is a soldier, man. She doesn’t let anything stop her and keeps a smile and positive attitude the whole time. Ican only hope to have that same spirit and drive and positive mindset – I definitely need it in this bussiness- lol.
4. With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
I really so much would like to so NO , but yes I would of done a few things different. You neva know what tomorrow holds so stay focused always.
5. What’s hard for you? What do you struggle at?
It is hard for me to NOT dream BIG and I struggle with listening to the radio – but I know it’s necessary.
6. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major record label. What are the first 3 things you would do as boss?
1.Get a whole new roster.
2.Make marketing the MOST important and focused aspect of the label.
3. Give all the artist free creative control and free studio equipment to create in a comfortable enviroment.
7. What are some of your favorite albums?
.Digable Planets- Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space)
.Boogie Down Productions- Criminal Minded
.Tupac- 2Pacalypse now
.Donovan – A Gift From a Flower to a Garden
.Stevie Wonder – Talking Book
.Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Murauders
8. What is inspiring your work right now?
The want to be heard WORLDWIDE.
9. What advice would you offer someone getting into the business at this time?
Like any other BUSINESS this is no stroll in the park. You have to be very strong minded , focused and willing to do whatever it takes (without compromising your vision & art) to make your mark and be heard.
10. Any words to live by?
Always Always Believe in Yourself , Give Thanks & Stay Humble.
KUF KNOTZ PRIMER
Kuf Knotz and G Love recording
The making of Boom Box Logic
Kuf Knotz and Ursula Rucker live
“Soul Music” live at WXPN studios with Cee Knowledge, Dave Vegas, and Ali Wadsworth