The Knux are bringing a new twist to the game. A mocha twist that is. Leaping onto the scene with early 2008 release, “Cappuccino,” brothers Rah Al Millio and Krispy Kreme have built up quite a following in a few short months. Emceeing ain’t their only grind either, the pair grew up playing instruments in a high school marching band and produce all their own tracks (as well as B.O.B.’s upcoming January release).
Born and bred in New Orleans, Al and Krispy settled in L.A., following the Katrina disaster. But don’t get it twisted, these dudes had been working behind the scenes within the City of Angels for years, which is probably why Jimmy Iovine left them to their own devices when working on their debut LP, Remind Me In 3 Days, which they played for Interscope execs only after they’d finished the entire piece (“We got creative control over everything because we cut back on the money, we didn’t need it,” says Krispy). Since then, they’ve released the album to the glee of their (a largely internet-cultivated) fan base and provided support on Common’s Finding Forever Tour. In this recent conversation with Ballerstatus, the hipster rap-shunning pair talk Wu-Tang, marching bands and why everyone from hip-hop heads to “Depeche Mode-listenin’ motherf***ers” will love their new joint.
BallerStatus.com: You guys started playing music very young, joining a marching band in your teens. At what point did you decide you wanted to do it for a living?
Krispy: We didn’t know we wanted to do it for a living, and we don’t really even do this for money. We really just do it because we love it. We never thought it was going to take off the way it has. The weird thing is we knew there needed to be some good music out there and we knew how to make it. We always rapped and produced because our uncle was a local producer in New Orleans. We actually wrote an album back in ’99. It was standard gangsta sh** back then because that’s what we was doing back then. But, it’s not a big deal that we play instruments, everyone in New Orleans plays music.
BallerStatus.com: How did the music in New Orleans impact your own stuff?
Al: I think jazz had a heavy influence and impacted hip-hop periodically, but I guess it’s the funkiness of it influenced our music. Being able to just dance on tracks, you know? Just having that funked out style — that’s New Orleans — having a natural movement to it, not like a contrived funk.
Krispy: The brass bands always had crazy energy and we take that energy and put it into our live performance.
BallerStatus.com: Is that what makes your act original today?
Krispy: I would say everything makes us original. The fact that we’re like a punk band and a hip-hop boom bap crew rolled into one. That’s never been successful in hip-hop. It was always lacking in some areas. You know how you had the rap/rock sh**? It was corny both ways. All the indie rock dudes respect us because we really know our sh**. And the hip-hop dudes respect us because we know our hip-hop. So I think we bridge the gap between the two genres in a way that hasn’t been bridged before. We really rap. We don’t f***ing fake a rhyme, we do our thing. We come wit it. But at the same time, our interpretation of the garage rock sh**, we go straight to the floor wit it, straight to the wall wid it. We kinda know our sh** when it comes to different genres, and that also says a lot about us as producers.
BallerStatus.com: What’s your live act like? Do you play instruments?
Al: We do all sorts of different sh**. Some of ’em have full out bands and some of them are just drums and synth and I’ll bring a guitar. He plays a little keys. Sometimes it’s just us and a DJ, and a guitar. Or sometimes just us and a DJ, old school hop style. When we toured with Common, it was just a DJ. When you’re touring with an act that has a full-out band, it’s a lot of work sound-wise and it interferes with their stuff and gives sound people hell. So we just did the DJ thing. We do a show, we rock it out. We still do it like a punk band, even if we don’t have the instruments. It’s like that old Beastie Boys thing. They could do it with or without instruments.
BallerStatus.com: You guys are fans of the Beastie Boys?
Al: I’m a fan of their movement. I wasn’t like a huge fan song for song, but I was always a fan of what they were trying to do. People ask us about Outkast all the time.Tthey compare us to Outkast. I don’t knock Outkast, but it wasn’t my biggest artist that I listened to, but I always respected their movement. I respect the entire Wu-Tang movement.
BallerStatus.com: I read that you guys were big Wu fans…
Krispy: We’re like really big fans of the Wu. In terms of their last album, Rza he did his thing, but a lot of people wanted Wu to just get back to the f***ing basics (I was one of them). The reason they got so much pressure on them is because there is so much terrible music out there. And everyone thought that at least Wu-Tang would bring it back. But they’re so much further in their lives that even though we want them to go backwards, they don’t want to. That’s why we put out “Bang Bang” as early as we could, because we didn’t want people to get caught on “Cappuccino,” and start boxing us in. The fans don’t understand that the whole album has been recorded already. If we waited too long to do a “Bang Bang,” they would be like “this is some sell-out sh**, this ain’t hip hop.”
BallerStatus.com: You get along quite well? How do you work together? Do you fight?
Al: There’s a bit of sibling rivalry, but there’s a mutual respect. We recognize each other’s position on the team. For the most part, there’s bickering about stupid sh**, but the music stays pure. It’s a good working relationship.
BallerStatus.com: So what can people expect from this album?
Al: I would say a buffet of all types of different assorted delicacies on one record. If you’re an indie rock guy, you’ll like it. If you’re an electronic listening motherf***er, you’ll like this. If you like Depeche Mode, you’ll like this motherf***er. If you’re straight forward hip-hop head, you’ll like it. If you like garage rock, you will like it. Expect organic, original music coming from the heart, which means some sh** may contradict itself because it’s all just real. You can expect a journey from New Orleans to Hollywood. The album tells a story, it’s epic.
Krispy: There is no filter. That’s why it’s so weird. We listened too little to no music and barely watched TV while recording this. We was locked in this house, throwing parties in the hills, making songs from scratch. We tried not to listen what was going on then, because it will influence your music — even if you don’t like it.
BallerStatus.com: What’s up after this album?
Krispy: We want this to be a slow burn. Rather than sell a million in a week, we want it to be remembered and for every song to matter. So hopefully, we can drop every single off this record and then tour, tour, tour, tour, tour. And then eventually more material will follow. Y’all are gonna hear some more stuff from this camp.