HHC : Who's the Funky Redneck ?
KMK : The Funky Redneck is also known as Uncle Zick. He's a tractor salesman that turned into a hip-hop producer. Originally from Kansas. And then, eventually, I was driving trucks and met Kool Keith and we formed the Diesel Truckers and started producing records.
HHC : I've read that you began DJing in 1983 for breakers. What gave you the will to become a DJ/Producer ?
KMK : Well, basically, me and my cousins, we had went from Kansas to New York and we were breakdancin' on the street for money and I kept hurtin' myself, like I broke my wrist. And I was like "Man, I don't think I'm that coordinated so let me start makin' some tapes". Later on, I started DJing more and I started doing some radio. And people started to get to know me as the local guy who was doing hip-hop music. So, you know, different guys started rapping and said "This guy must know how to make beats". I didn't really know how to produce a track but then with that environment I started to learn. I had a little studio in Kansas. And I had some animals in there. I had a turkey and a chicken. They didn't get along too well and sometimes they'd be making funny noises in the back output. But I had a little 4-track cassette recorder and I just did my thing. That's how I started, on some "basic-ass bullshit" equipment. I used it for a long time...
HHC : What do you use now to produce tracks by the way ?
KMK : Right now, I use a MPC. I use an ASR-10 and sometimes I sample some live instruments here and there. You ever heard of the "gutbucket"?
HHC : Nope.
KMK : Well, it's a special instrument that we play in Kansas. It's a big bucket and a broom (that's used for sweeping). You take the broom stick, you take the broom off and you put the stick onto the bucket. And then you take a piece of rope and you connect it to the bucket from the top of the broom, right? And then you pluck it! It makes a nice bass sound.
HHC : Ha ha. What kind of tracks can we find with a gutbucket sound in them ?
KMK : Well, I filtered it a little bit. You'll hear it. It sneaks in now and then. It's a funky bass line. That's a secret bass sound that I use.
HHC : That's the redneck sound.
KMK : Exactly.
HHC : How did you hook up with Tim Dog ?
KMK : At that time, I was doing a radio show and I had received the record 'Fuck Compton'. The US is probably different than here. But in the US, you can't play records that say "Fuck" for instance. But I liked the record. I liked what he was saying because I was particularly tired about hearing of every rapper and his sister and his brother coming from Compton. And I was also a huge fan of Ultramagnetic MC's. So I took it upon myself to make a radio version. At the time, no one was doing that kind of thing. I cut out all the cuss words by switching to the instrumental when they came (I had 2 copies). And then, I went back and found other records and used different sound effects to throw them in instead. So this is something that people are doing a lot now with radio edits but at that time nobody was doing that kind of thing.
HHC : Were you introduced to Kool Keith by Tim Dog then ?
KMK : No, not directly. I used to go to New York a lot. For the New Music Seminar for instance. I used to take the Greyhound bus to go to the NMS. It used to take about 3 days. I'd be really smelly by the time I got there. I still had one of my cousins living in New York and I used to stay with him, sleep on his floor, whatever. I would go there and buy records because I was DJing as you couldn't find a lot of records in Kansas. I used to bump into Keith now and again, say "What's up?" to him. But he really didn't take me seriously until later after he left Ultramagnetic. He was driving a truck for a while. And I was driving a truck too. I caught him on the interstate and I said "Hey, Man, I got a beat cd for you". He was surprised I knew who he was since he didn't really want people to know he was driving trucks and stuff. But he was like "I just left Ultramagnetic MC's and I'm trying to do my own solo thing. You've got some funky beats, man". So we connected like that.
HHC : What led to the idea of the Ultra (Tim Dog + Kool Keith) LP ?
KMK : That was actually an interesting thing. It was a Kool Keith/Tim Dog record so it wouldn't be bright to call it Ultramagnetic or anything like that. So it was kinda like a shortened version. At that time, people kept asking, "When's Ultramagnetic gonna do a new record?" and Keith was not motivated to do that. But he had been in touch with Tim. At that time, we had moved to Los Angeles. Tim had came to LA also… which I found was really funny. After saying "Fuck Compton!", he was living in LA. So, anyway, he showed up and we were like "Let's make a record" and so that's basically how it came about.
HHC : Your fist recorded production was for Red, Black & Green in 1990. How did you end up producing this track ?
KMK : Basically, this is a local group that was in the Bay Area, where I was living previously. I had a friend who was working on a surf documentary, kind of a movie for O'Neil. He wanted a song for that. So I knew these guys and we put a song together and it wound up they actually put out this whole soundtrack record. O'Neil sponsored the video and they found IRS Records (they don't exist anymore). They put that whole album out. Ice-T was on it; Red Hot Chili Peppers was on it; Jane's Addiction was on it and… we were on it! So that was cool.
HHC : How did you come up with the idea of Masters of Illusion ?
KMK : I had been working with Kool Keith for a long time and we had done a few albums together. I had always wanted to do my own project with him because the projects that I did with him were more of a collaboration kind of effort. And I also wanted to give Motion Man, which I had been working with a long time, a chance to get out there and get known. So I thought: "Hey, let me do a record with both of these guys together and it would be kind of like a fun project". So that's how it came about. In between records, I had taken my job back as a tractor salesman for a while. At the place I was working, they had a financing from the bank of Mexico and I was really friendly with this guy there. I was tellin' him: "Hey, I need some money to try to get this record made, man". He said: "I have a friend who works for Lucha Libre. You should talk to him because Lucha Libre is trying to promote more in the US now." They started showing Lucha Libre wrestling, mexican wrestling on US TV, now so they had to promote him. I met his friend Juan and Juan was like: "Check it out. I have an idea. You wear a wrestling mask. You'll be promoting Lucha Libre and I'll give you 10,000 pesos to help you make your record." So we made a deal. I'm still under contract.
HHC : You've been mainly working and producing for the Skhool Yard massive or the Masters of Illusion. Why did you mainly stay in that realm whereas you had many links in the Bay Area scene ?
KMK : Well, basically, I produce certain records I put out on my own label. Like Skhool Yard, Motion Man, Masters of Illusion. But I also do a lot of other remixing stuff. And I'm a gun-for-hire basically. So, people want me to work for them, I do. Actually, speaking of the Bay Area, I just did a remix for Prozack (of Foreign Legion) that's gonna come out on Dreamworks. A remix I did a while ago for Mos Def & Diverse just came out also. So, I mean, I'm available; people just have to buy me. And also, you can't work with everybody that approaches you. But it's true that I've been working in majority with people from California like Rasco, Planet Asia and a few. There's a lot of talent there.
HHC : Recently, you've produced tracks for PMD, 7L, Grand Agent ... Does it mean that you want to open up to new collaborations ?
KMK : Yes, indeed. I'm open to working with all kind of different artists. Even different types of music as well. I want to collab with Kenny Rodgers, make a funky redneck type of fusion album! And yeah, I like emcees from all over. If they have skills, I find it fun to collab with them. Yes, by working with these guys, it does attract other people as well. I'm still waiting to work with some french rappers.
HHC : Can you tell us a little bit more about your collaboration with PMD on his last album ? You've produced the strongest track. Did you meet him in the studio ?
KMK : My friend Matt owns Solid Records and gave PMD a list of producers he wanted him to get some beats from. P called me and I sent him a beat CD with 20 tracks on it, b/c I wanted to be sure he liked at least one! Well, he liked three but had to only pick one. I helped him to decide on the one he ended up using. I thought it would be good for him to rock a track that was close to 100 bpm. As the old EPMD stuff tended to be more uptempo. I mailed him a D88 and he dropped the vocals (in NY) which at the time included a vocal hook/chorus. When I got back in Cali, I scraped the hook and made a new scratch hook instead. Everyone really liked it better. In fact, the song was originally supposed to be an album track, but came out so good, they decided to use it as a single!
HHC : What do you think about the Cali underground hip hop scene ?
KMK : It's a great scene! It's also growing! I've worked with many people and seen them attain a lot of success. For instance, I made Dilated Peoples what they are today. Without 'Work The Angles', they never would have blown up quite the way they did. I've worked with lots of groups like Lootpack (and Madlib) and helped them by recording and mixing a lot of stuff for them. I worked with Xzibit long before he was signed and needed to record some demos to get a deal. Defari basically did his whole first album at my studio. And then, there are the artists from here that I have released myself like Motion Man, Kool Keith, The Skhool Yard, Dopestyle 1231, etc… I'm fully involved in the west coast scene in so many ways; it feels good to be a part of it.
HHC : Why did you decide to create Thresholds records ?
KMK : I was operating Funky Ass Records with Keith for a few years prior and I figured I should naturally move into that direction… Start my own label. I had other artists I wanted to work with and release. Funky Ass was basically just a label for Keith to release his own stuff exclusively.
HHC : Upcoming events on Threshold ?
- DOPESTYLE 1231's album feat. Del, Motion Man, Kool Keith and Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox.
- My comp album of remixes and B-sides feat. Linkin Park, Beastie Boys, Blackalicious, Mos Def, Del, etc.
- A new Motion Man album probably next summer.
- Some new stuff with Planet Asia
Maybe some surprises as well… Ya never really know.
HHC : Do you plan to ever do a radio show again ?
KMK : Probably. Not anytime soon but I'd like to have my own station one day. Like Marley Marl has. That would be a lot of fun. I do guest spots here and there on radio but it's not my focus right now.
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