KIDKANEVIL / “kidkanevil Mixtape”

“That’s cheating,” he said without looking at me. His attention was focused on the equipment. Beneath his nimble fingers, bass player and beat master Bass Heavy was swiftly assembling a backing track for our movie Baby Love. That was back before the flood. There’s been a lot of water over the city since then.

I’ve been into computers a long, long time—my first computer was a Kaypro with a CPM operating system—that was back before DOS, not to mention windows or MAC-OS.

I watched in amazed appreciation as Bass built the track from scratch. We had found the beat we wanted but he refused to sample the record. He had a stash of CDs with nothing but drum sounds. Must have had a hundred or so different snare hits, don’t mention bass drum kicks, and cowbells for days. I smile now remembering using a backwards cymbal crash. Piece by piece he put the beat together.

After working for a month or so with Bass, I developed a profound appreciation for making beats. As a former drummer, this was no simple audience admiration of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Plus, like many acoustic musicians, at that time I believed that electronic beats were soulless. Just by doing his job, Bass Heavy taught me otherwise. Bass schooled me, made me able to recognize the art and science of producing beats with a machine.

(You know, a drum kit is a machine. An industrial, mechanical device with screws and levers and such. The jump between art and science is not about the use or non-use of machines, or the minimizing of human input, for finally, the computer is simply—or, in some ways, complexly—a tool. Sure digital is different from mechanical but regardless of the tools we use, ultimately it’s how we use the tool that makes the leap from mere utility to art.)
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Fast forward a decade to this week’s contemporary feature on BoL: British beatmaster Gerard Roberts, bka “kidkanevil” (one word, all lower case). Bass own broad background (majored in electrical engineering, listened to everything) helped prepare me for kidkanevil’s music.

Check the sweep of kid’s references, the dizzying diversity of his samples. Not just old records, but movies, radio programs, several zillion musical genres. I bet you kidkanevil had a limited social life.

He’s from Leeds, a leader in the second tier of British cities after the triumvirate of London, Manchester, and Birmingham.
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I’m Leeds born and bred. I grew up in Chapeltown and Harehills in a musical and artistic family.  Music and culture was all around me, from the Carnival and Mela to my dad playing at folk gigs and my granddad’s jazz collection. Hip Hop was a natural thing growing up where and how I did.  I got into the scene through graff and b-boying initially, but found my spiritual home once I got into DJing and beats.

I was trying to scratch on my family turntable and I fucked up the belt drive. But then my mum let me at some savings she’d been putting together for me and I bought a cheap set-up and soon progressed to Technics. I remember the day I got my Technics home and I finally had something I could properly scratch with, it was crazy!

I always played various instruments, so it wasn’t long before I clocked onto sampling and how they actually made this Hip Hop shit I’d fallen in love with. I read one of the first interviews with DJ Shadow when MoWax was starting up and he said he used an MPC. I didn’t know what one was but I figured if he could do all that with one then it was all I needed! I managed to pick up a display model 2000 with a few screws missing for cheap. After that, all I wanted to do was make beats.
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I really got into how sample-based music was made. I'd always been into collecting records, so it was a natural step to start sampling things. The nice thing with sampling is that you can just get into your own little zone and have complete control over it. It's a really nice, creative way to work. You can be watching a 70s kung-fu film and think 'oh the flute sound is amazing,' run upstairs and play with it. It's good to be able to create things on the fly like that.
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[Technology] enables me to create and explore in relative solitude. I’m too poor and anti-social to make music any other way, so in that respect the technology is very central. It doesn’t really matter if it’s an mpc or a laptop or a Rhodes, though things with big buttons or dials are usually kinda doper.

I am particularly struck by kidkanevil's rhythm conceptions and adventurous sense of composition. Listening to his albums is like riding a caravan from Mali to Mecca, or sailing from Angola to Brazil, then up to Cuba with a stop in New Orleans before docking in Liverpool a minute and then heading back down to Africa with brief stop-overs in Lisbon and Cape Verde, or perhaps we are in a satellite circling the earth with a gigantic ear sampling the entire globe. In other words kidkanevil is aware of musics worldwide. 

Considering that he grew up in landlocked Leeds, kidkanevil has a vision for beyond his land's horizon. He is certainly not the only DJ/producer doing interesting music but his music really interests me—and I hope interests you. Back in the sixties and seventies jazz was our ticket to ride, in today's world the sound of surprise seems to be all over the place and hip hop DJs such as kidkanevil is at the forefront of those traveling the soundways and providing all of us inspiration and fuel for flights into tomorrow.

There’s not much more I want to say about kidkanevil or his music. We could build on specifics about the different tracks but I believe the first major step is the most important. Simply listen. Listen to the diversity of sounds mounted atop the bad ride of rhythm. Rhythm. Duke said it years and years ago. It don’t mean a thing if…

And kidkanevil is a swinging muthafucka! Paz.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

Oh, I know, I should mention that the mixtape is built around kidkanevil’s two albums: 2007’s Problems And Solutions and 2008’s Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist. The flavoring for the mixtape come from three kidkanevil mixtapes and a handful of singles. It may take you a minute to track down the mixtapes and it may take time and dinero to get hold of the singles, but, hey, that’s why we have the BoL jukebox and every week we have a mixtape download.

For all the inquiring minds, here is basic info on the tracklist.

kidkanevil Mixtape
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1. “When I Dig” (Instrumental) – single

2. “Professional Intro” – “f.i.r.e.” single

3. “Stomp” featuring Justin Percival – Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist

4. “Big DJ” – kidkanevil mixtape for Wax Poetic

5. “Real Wild” - Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist

6. “Rainstorm Part 1”Problems And Solutions

7. “RIP” featuring Double D Dagger - Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist

8. “Problems & Solutions” featuring Testament – Problems And Solutions

9. “Help Me Out Y’All”Problems And Solutions

10. “5th Gear” featuring The Truthspeaker & Little Miss B – Problems And Solutions

11. “Good Morning, What’s News” featuring Andreya Triana – Problems And Solutions

12. “The Lo-Fi Club”Problems And Solutions

13. “Click Click POP” featuring Double D Dagger – Problems And Solutions

14. “Boys In Blue” – kidkanevil’s mixtape Back Off, I’m A Mixtape

15. “The Profound Truth”Problems And Solutions

16. “Ill Connoiseur”Two Syllables compilation

17. “When I Dig” featuring Kissey Asplund & Blu – Problems And Solutions

18. “Rainstorm Part 2”Problems And Solutions

19. “Def Certificate” featuring Jehst & Sir Smurf Lil’ – Problems And Solutions

20. “Gotta Be Fresh” - Back Off Man, I’m A Scientist

21. “Water Sign”Problems And Solutions

kidkanevil's mixtape cover photograph by

This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 2:00 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “KIDKANEVIL / “kidkanevil Mixtape””

DocDre Says:
January 19th, 2009 at 7:03 pm

yeah…i came across “back off man, i’m a scientist” on one of my download sites and i had to go buy it. dude is nice with his…a truly hip-hop inspired global melange of beats and sounds. When i Dig is a fave!

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