Over the past year, Soundcloud and the communities building in it have played a larger and larger part in how I found music. Soundcloud has always been great for finding new ideas in electronic music, but not so much in other genres, especially rap. Sidewalk Kal is one of the few rappers who has really stood out to me, and over the past few months has become one of my favorite rappers in general. Aside from getting the best beats from best-kept-secret beatmakers across the internet, Kal has never delivered an even slightly disappointing verse. I got to talk to Kal last week about how he chooses beats, the Chicago rap scene, and total creativity as an artist and now our conversation is here for your enjoyment after the jump, largely unedited as usual.
TC: So how long have you been rapping for?
Kal: shit, i been writing poems and raps since i was like 7 years old
TC: Did you record any of them when you were younger or mostly just write them?
Kal: i got joints on the low from when i was like 14 yrs old and shit, but that’s the earliest, i had just been writing and freestyling, mostly just by myself. i’d told my mom when i was little that i wanted to be a rapper tho looool
TC: hahah. One thing that made your music stand out to me was the beats. I feel like there’s a huge untapped community of ridiculously talented beatmakers on soundcloud that most rappers, other than you, don’t pay attention to. How did you get into the soundcloud scene?
Kal: well i found out about soundcloud around my freshman year of college at Columbia College Chicago and i would put shit on there when i was making guitar music and shit cuz that’s what i went to school for initially (strange times) but when i decided to keep rapping and was like fuck that other shit, i started to use soundcloud differently. I used to have a lot of terrrrrrible music up there, but it was cool cuz nobody knew me lol. But when i hit up mattron the yung lord for the first time after PERSONALTAPE | PANTS MORGAN MONEY TAPE dropped, that accelerated my growth and the growth of Sidewalk Kal
TC: So did you find most of the other producers you’ve collabed with through Mattron?
Kal: some through him but a lot of it was me just hittin up people and doing shit over they beats and sending them what i did and them fuckin wit it, but dudes like AceMo, Raja, and Jay Curry i got up wit them through Matt and them fuckin wit what i did wit Matt
TC: Thats awesome. I wish more good rappers would work with producers around soundcloud.
Kal: word, im kinda glad they don’t cuz im like more for me but ye STOP SLEEPING
TC: So do you look for anything specific in beats or do you usually just know when you hear it?
Kal: it’s a feeling, it’s all about the groove and the atmosphere for me, the words come after i feel the rhythm and the vibe of the sonics, sound really dictates a lot for me, i like to service songs and get my energy across more so than any one “message” or lifestyle marketing type of shit but for example Matt’s shit has always fit me like a glove cuz of the groove and the sonics he rock wit, we like a lot of the same shit and our nostalgia of certain things as well as our goal to take those nostalgic things and push them forward into the future,pushing the boundaries of say golden era type shit, or elements of jungle, old uk dubstep, old NY sound, etc, etc really drives what we do. We not trynna do no Pro-Era pastiche of a time gone, nah mean? I fuck wit shit like Ratking cuz i feel like they similar minded in that regard
TC: Yeah thats what I like so much about tracks like “Make Pretend”, the drums at the core sound like some Pete Rock shit but theres so much layered over it that makes it completely new and modern
Kal: yea man, there’s a lot goin on there, but i fuck wit Matt’s music so much cuz it’s a genuine sound to me, it’s not just like a white dude trynna appropriate his idea of a black art form, like son eats, sleeps, breathes the music that has influenced him and the music he make, he’s my ideal collaborater for sure, thats why he DEITY GANG haha
TC: Speaking of it, what exactly is Deity Gang?
Kal: it’s like a loose collective of heads i be fuckin wit really, it’s something i’m still building up, in terms of what i want it to be like in totality, but I would consider Matt and I as the OG’s so far, my homie Keiya who i’m doing a project with right now is in it too, as well as the homie AceMo, i kidnapped Chef into it tho, he doesn’t even have a choice hahaha. I got it tatted on me tho, so it’s real.
TC: oh ok, thats an awesome group of people hahah. You’re also in Impolite Society too though right?
Kal: yes yes yes, we be out here wildin in Chi man
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