by Alex Shtaerman
Born and raised in the Bronx, NYC, Kid Capri burst onto the national stage in the early ‘90’s as the in house DJ for HBO’s legendary stand-up comedy showcase Def Comedy Jam. Renowned for his uncanny ability to rock virtually any crowd, Kid quickly became one of Hip-Hop’s most in-demand live acts and has since toured extensively with a who’s who of Rap and R&B greats including LL Cool J, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Rakim, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Usher and Aaliyah. While his name has remained synonymous with greatness behind the decks for nearly two decades, Kid’s work in the studio has, in his versatility, set him apart from most of his peers and contemporaries. Over the course of his career Kid has amassed an impressive resume of production credits that includes artists such as The Lox, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, KRS One, Heavy D and Slick Rick.
Presently focused on the success of his very own label, No Kid’n Records, Kid Capri has tapped fellow Bronx native Budda Early in spearheading the No Kid’n movement. With the release of his latest mixtape, The Treatment, the prospecting MC continues to build on an already comparable buzz, but as Budda himself puts it, “I’m just here to get everybody some good music”. Adds Kid, “Budda Early is making the type of records I like and I think he’s making the type of records that people are going to like”. Recently we got a chance to catch up with Kid Capri to talk about everything from No Kid’n Records and Budda to his perspective on Hip-Hop today as well as his recent string of shows with the God MC, Rakim.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Your career inHip-Hop spans three decades; how did you initially get started as a DJ?
KID CAPRI: In the years before I was known, I was just DJing and doing parties or whatever; [this was in the years after] Herc and Flash came out and I was just a little kid watching them and doing my little stuff here and there as I grew up. But I ain’t start getting known until I started putting my mixtapes out on the streets, and that was in ’88; that’s when everything started. That led me to my first album deal, my first radio deal, got me on Def Comedy Jam and everything else after that was history. So it was the mixtapes that really made people notice who I was and got my name out there. I didn’t know [the mixtapes] were going to do that good but it ended up doing great. So I did that for a little while and then from there I went on to the next thing.
RIOTSOUND.COM: The role of the DJ in Hip-Hop has gone through a series of phases over the years. You’ve been a cornerstone of DJ culture for so long, what are some of the most important changes that you’ve seen and experienced?
KID CAPRI: Well, the DJ is always going to be around, first of all, because they the first element of Hip-Hop. Without the DJ, no music is being played. It’s changed because a lot more money has come into the game and the way people have to make their music and the way people have to go about their business is totally different than it was years ago.
It’s definitely more of a strategic game now and also [the fans] are smart now, they understand what they like; they not being hypnotized into just anything. And that’s why it’s so hard right now to sell records and the music industry is where it’s at, it’s because people want something different, they want something that’s going to stand out more than what they just hear every day. And that’s a change right there; dudes have to step their game up in a way where they’re not just getting one song downloaded off their album. It’s supposed to be the whole album that’s hot, and that’s what’s going to sell you. The creativity part of it [is crucial]. Once the creativity is down right, your music will stand out.
“dudes have to step their game up in a way where
they’re not just getting one song downloaded
off their album. It’s supposed to be the whole
album that’s hot, and that’s what’s going to sell
you. The creativity part of it [is crucial]”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Recently you’ve been working on projects for your own label, No Kid’n Records. How did the label come about and also, what is your vision for No Kid’n going forward?
KID CAPRI: No Kid’n Records was started a few years ago. At that time I didn’t know exactly what direction I would be going with it. I knew I had artists but I ain’t know exactly what to do, I just knew I wanted to make the type of records that give me the goose bumps. Budda Early is an artist I’ve been working with for years and he’s the one we’re focusing on right now. We just dropped his second mixtape album called The Treatment. Budda Early is the type of artist that’s well rounded and not just one sided and I think he’s going to take No Kid’n to the top.
As far as me, the next album I’m doing is The Whole World’s Behind David Love, that’s gonna do real good. I just did a crazy record with LL Cool J. I also just did a record with Jadakiss and I got some other records we working on. But the main focus right now is Budda Early, so ya’ll going to be hearing a lot more about him. His music is on the radio every day, just tune in to Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97 in New York, and that’s what’s up. Budda Early is making the type of records I like and I think he’s making the type of records that people are going to like. I think it’s just a matter of [the music] catching on.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Speaking of the music, what can the fans expect when they cop Budda Early’s The Treatment mixtape?
KID CAPRI: We always wanted to make sure with Budda Early that he’s the type of rapper where you can’t just put one side on him. When you listen to the mixtape you’ll have something for the South, you’ll have something for the East Coast, we got a track dedicated to the West Coast, you know; we have club bangers on there, we have a rock joint on there with my man Wicz from Pimp Ninja. So we got a lot of different elements but we also have the gutter as well. So you get a chance to really hear what [Budda Early] is about on all the different joints. And we got joints for the chicks on there guaranteed, there’s about seven or eight joints for the chicks. We got a song on there called “Go Crazy” that’s on the radio right now, that’s a club banger right there.
It’s just a matter of what you like and how you like it. Once you hear this joint [no matter what your preference] you’re gonna love it. Ya’ll can download it for free on all the sites, it’s gonna be on all the websites and it’s gonna be out there [Editor’s note: Budda Early’s new mixtape The Treatment is currently available for free download on Budda’s MySpace page at www.MySpace/com/BuddaEarly]. I heard one song that we have on there, a record called “Road To The Riches”, I heard a DJ on the radio playing it who I wouldn’t [ordinarily] expect to play it. I turned the radio on one night and it was on and I called Budda and I was excited because I ain’t even expect that song to be played [by that DJ]. And then another night, a song that we put out a while ago, they playing that one now again, it’s called “Let Your Shoulders Bounce”. I heard that one a couple of times back on the radio again.
I think what’s happening now is that since Budda is getting the buzz that he’s supposed to get and Flex is having him on the radio all the time and with him dropping his second mixtape, I think what’s going on is people are starting to hear more about Budda and they looking to see what he put out before. Or maybe they had the record and they just now going back to it because they starting to hear his name more. It’s a hard game out here, there’s a lot going on, and if we could make it happen with just a buzz, then once we got the capital behind it, that’s what’s going to take it over the top. On September 1st we signed a major deal with somebody and that’s going to be the real beginning of No Kid’n Records.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You’ve toured all over the world, so I’d like to get your take on the state of international Hip-Hop. We did a feature with Grandmaster Flash a few months ago and one thing Flash said was that he was very disappointed that Hip-Hop artists from overseas weren’t getting any exposure in the U.S. Do you feel that there are artists in international markets that are worthy of U.S. exposure in the same manner U.S. artists are received internationally?
KID CAPRI: Well, why not? It’s happened with rock artists for years; The Beatles came over here and invaded America. So did the Rolling Stones and all the other big rock bands of that time. The British bands came out to America and smashed it out, more than the Americans were. So, I mean, I can’t see why it would be a problem. I do think that the diction in rapping is totally different than the diction in singing. A singer could come from Europe and sing over here and you might not even know that he come from Europe. Most rappers that come from Europe, you could tell by the way they rap and talk that they come from Europe. So that’s probably why America and The States hasn’t adapted to their type of music. It’s not that it’s wack or not acceptable, it’s just [most fans] are staying in tune with what’s going on in New York or what’s going on in America.
You have to understand, a lot of American artists are struggling on their own. America’s always looking for something new, like New York is always looking for something brand new to do. And I think now is the time, as a matter of fact, because a lot of European [influence] is coming into America and a lot of people in America is trying to make their music like European music and it’s taking a different edge and a different swag. So, I think right now is a time where everything is going to be a melting pot, where [artists from other countries] are going to get more involved in what’s going on over here.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You presently DJ on Def Comedy Jam, for those who might not know the show started back up again on HBO in 2006. I remember I used to watch Def Comedy Jam when it first debuted in the early 90’s. At that time I didn’t have much interest in comedy but just the fact that Hip-Hop music was incorporated into the format made it something that I gravitated towards. Being the show’s DJ, to what extent do you feel the music was instrumental in getting people to watch a comedy show who ordinarily might not even think to watch comedy as a form of entertainment?
KID CAPRI: That was the reason they got me. When Russell Simmons came and asked me what I thought about doing a comedy show, I ain’t see the sense in having a DJ on a comedy show. But then I realized that it did make sense because it ties comedy into Hip-Hop and into music, just like sports is often tied into music. Fortunately I was able to get it across to where it was acceptable and nobody was offended by it… but really we had a show where we didn’t really give a shit who was offended by it. We had Bill Cosby trying to stop our show because of all the comedians who were saying what was real. You know, Bill Cosby is clean cut and he is what he is but freedom of speech in comedy also is what it is. Many times they tried to get us knocked off the television, but our ratings was so big and so high that they couldn’t do that.
And the music that was selected [for the show] and the way it was brought to the people, it was acceptable and it was hot. It worked well with the comedians and with how everything looked, the way the crowd looked and everything else with the show. For years we played all Def Jam records on the Def Comedy Jam. But now it’s all my music and my partner Wicz’s music on there, all my beats been on there. So it’s no more Def Jam records and that’s a big look for me, and that’s only because the era changed and we couldn’t get a lot of things cleared.
I never understood how the company, Def Jam, [got into a situation] where they were putting those artists out but couldn’t use the music; and that was a publishing issue. Different publishers want their money for different things, so we couldn’t use the Def Jam records and those which we did use we had to spend a lot of money for. So that’s how it came about that I started making my own things and just incorporating that. We about to do the new episodes of the show; working on those now with D.L. Hughley. And Def Comedy Jam is always going to be here, we’ve been here for sixteen years and it’s still going strong.
“if it ain’t in your heart to do, you ain’t
gonna be great at it. You might be good
at it but you’re not going to be great at it.
If you love it in your heart you’ll be great.
You won’t have to worry about whether
you’re special or not, people will see it”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Over the past year in a half you’ve done a string of shows with Rakim as his DJ; how did that situation materialize? Do you and Ra plan to continue playing shows together or was it more of a cameo stint for you?
KID CAPRI: Well, when we did that tour in ’06, it was the Rakim and Kid Capri tour. It was a thing where he needed me and I needed him and we just did it together and made it hot. And Budda Early actually opened up during the whole tour and smashed the whole tour down. So after that tour was over we did a couple of shows together and then we did Rock The Bells together, that just recently stopped for us. So, I mean, he’s working on his album right now and I’m working on my album. In the future if we have some shows that people want us to do together, we’ll do it. Basically, his show ain’t never really been as big as since he been rollin’ with me, and that’s not really a bragging statement, it’s really what it is.
Everybody know you could never really even test Rakim and his thing has always been one kind of way but ever since he rolled with me the show expanded to something a little different. He’s comfortable, I’m comfortable, and I’m just happy to be a part of his show because he’s a legend and not too many people have had a chance to work with him, he doesn’t work with just anybody. He doesn’t work with a lot of people at all. And for him to come and call me, that was definitely an inspiration for me. I don’t really work behind too many people but he was definitely one I ran to.
RIOTSOUND.COM: For any kid that may be thirteen or fourteen years old and dreaming about being a DJ, what kind of advice would you give them?
KID CAPRI: Basically, don’t do anything because other people is doing it. If you ain’t a fan of it, if it ain’t in your heart to do, you ain’t gonna be great at it. You might be good at it but you’re not going to be great at it. If you love it in your heart you’ll be great. You won’t have to worry about whether you’re special or not, people will see it. Also, just stay on top of your game. Know what’s going on in the streets, know what’s going on with the music, try to be creative, try to be yourself and try to be original. For a lot of years people followed in my footsteps and sounded like me and did my style of music and the way I played it and stuff; and if I wasn’t able to be strong enough to keep going, there might have been somebody else who would have been in my spot. It’s just a matter of being creative and keeping your ear to the street and knowing that you’re special and that’s what’s up!
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got Budda Early’s new mixtape The Treatment that’s out now; what else should all the fans be looking out for as far as Kid Capri goes?
KID CAPRI: As far as me, I’m working on my new album called The Whole World’s Behind David Love and trying to get that finished. I got a few songs in but I’m being real careful with this joint and taking my time with it and trying to make sure I do the right thing. Plus it involves other artists so scheduling is a part of it too. In the meantime we’re worried about Budda Early and we getting him settled and we getting him out there and making sure his buzz is going.
RiotSound.com also caught up with Budda Early; check out what Budda’s got to say.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You come from the same Bronx neighborhood as Kool Herc and KRS One; you were actually raised on Sedwick Avenue. With that kind of legacy behind you, how much pressure does it put on you to come out and represent for Hip-Hop?
BUDDA EARLY: I want that, I want that on my shoulders. Those are two legends and they helped start this whole Hip-Hop game up and I want to be part of that and I would love to be a part of that [legacy]. So I’m just waiting for my opportunity. Right now, I’m ready.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Kid was saying how you opened up for Rakim during their tour together in ’06; what was that experience like?
BUDDA EARLY: That was a blessing just to rock with Rakim on the stage, to get to see him perform and after the shows to get to talk with him and chill with him. And then also some of the new artists that were on their come up that I got to bond with and everything; it was a great experience. I loved the whole thing and I can’t wait to do something like that again.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Who are some of the artists that inspired you to MC and pursue Hip-Hop music as a career?
BUDDA EARLY: On my come up, as far as who inspired me, it was LL, Naughty By Nature, Black Moon, all the good MCs that kept it poppin’ for the streets. And that’s who I look up to right now, still to this day. Even some of them might not be in the game no more, I still go home and listen to that music. It lets me know what I need to be.
RIOTSOUND.COM: For fans that may have heard your name or maybe heard a couple of songs but haven’t had a chance to really get to know you yet, what would you tell them about yourself, as far as what you represent?
BUDDA EARLY: I’m Budda Early and I represent that real Hip-Hop, you know what I’m saying. I’m just here to get everybody some good music. It’s been a little quiet right now in the industry as far as good music so I’m just trying to give them that right now. Keep it hot, keep it fresh and just let ‘em know that I’m here, I’m in the building, all day, Budda Early.