All About Flavor with K. Gaines

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I just got back from a week long vacation and was thinking about all that I’ve probably missed since I’ve been gone. This, of course, kept me off the social media sphere and, by default, the world of music – the way this digital age is transforming us, new stuff is dropping constantly. Even that situation with Y.O.D, where everyone was thinking he was Nas (and happened last week) seems like old news. It’s easy to go on a musical vacation. Musical vacations can occur in one of two ways. 1. you purposely take a break from a certain style or genre of music because you’ve been over doing it (anyone that’s exposed to mainstream radio has experienced this) and 2. you “check out” and miss something that you clearly shouldn’t have missed (maybe you were too focused on the World Cup or a new addition to the family, whatever).

I’ve taken both kinds. The former is obviously done purposefully while the latter is accidental and can often leave you wondering how and why you could have possibly missed out on a musical release. The second was the case with me when I initially missed the release of Rumspringa: The Wildman Chronicles by K. Gaines last September. I’m usually pretty in tune to projects of this caliber featuring some of my favorite artists on production. Somehow, I must have unknowingly been on a musical vacation.

Oh, you took the same vacation? No worries. I’ll have you up to speed in no time. Start with this introductory video right here…

You know how we do. When it comes to artists that we appreciate, we make it a point to talk food and music with them. We did just that when we caught up with K. Gaines. Here’s a little taste of the conversation we had:

Yo, first off, I know about the mic skills and your album, Rumspringa, but what’s going on with the art gallery shows?

What happened was, there’s this art gallery in the neighborhood – I live in Bed-Stuy now and I met these cats through my manager at the time. I told them if they needed artists I could get them some artists. So everyday for like three weeks, I was just hittin’ them with a different artist. So they wound up saying yo, you know so many people you might as well curate your own art show.

So do you do the visual art thing as well?

Naw, I’m a Hip Hop dude. All I do is the Hip Hop, man. I just appreciate the arts I guess. It’s inspirational. I’m actually working on the next album right now and I’m trying to clear my mind. So by doing something completely outside-the-box which is this art stuff, something I’ve never done before – it’s my first time ever curating an art show. It cleared my mind a little bit. So now I can focus on doing the next album.

I think I read somewhere that you weren’t actually trying to go out on your own and do solo projects, that it just kind of fell in your lap. Is that accurate?

Naw, I was in a group called Sleepwalkas and we had a beautiful underground name in New York City. We had a nice name, a nice little buzz, stuff was getting play in Europe, Japan and we put out an album in, I think, 2011 but a couple months later we just decided to go our separate ways. So, I was pushing a brand called Sleepwalkas instead of really pushing K. Gaines. I wanted to eventually get to a solo album but I wanted to focus more on Sleepwalkas because I figured if I built that name up, when I put out my solo album, I’d have a good momentum because we already built up the brand called Sleepwalkas.

And then enter the 2 Hungry Bros.? Is that what happened?

You know, New York City, as far as Hip Hop, the guys that are actually doing it and putting in the work to get the music out to the people, after awhile they become a tight-knit family. So, 2 Hungry Bros., they did a joint or two on our group album but when I was doing my solo album I stepped to them and asked if they wanted to do an EP, just me and them. They sent me some beats and just kept sending beats and the beats that they sent me wound up turning into an album. I just wanted to put out an EP to feel the temperature and figure out exactly how people were going to respond to me doing my first solo album. And then when it turned into the album it actually came out better than I expected. Everything seemed to work out. 2 Hungry Bros is fam. By doing the underground stuff, we’d always bump into each other and built a relationship and through that were able to knock out the album.

Yeah, in fact that’s why I started off asking about that. When I heard your album – which is incredible, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard it sooner. 2 Hungry Bros, L.I.F.E. Long, Fresh Daily, Homeboy Sandman are all people on our radar [and have been featured artists with us] and I know you work will all of them. I was just trying to figure out what you were doing prior to the album and why I might have been late on hearing it.

When we put out the Sleepwalkas album we featured a lot of people – Sadat X, Homeboy Sandman, Fresh Daily. Every time I do an album I try to give back to the people that I listen to and inspire me. L.I.F.E Long an’em, we’ve been doing shows on the circuit with them for so long. Immortal Technique, all these good people, we’ve built a relationship just by doing shows together. All those people you just named, that’s the fam right there. At anytime I could hit them up if I need a verse, I’m pretty sure they’d send it right over and vice versa. And if you know all of them, then that means you really appreciate Hip Hop.

That’s definitely the kind of Hip Hop we like to surround ourselves with over here.

With the Rumspringa album – I’m gald you listend to that, it means a lot. But it’s led to so many other opportunities. You know, I did the movie, Kung Fu Bum to promote it. I didn’t wanna just do the regular stuff cuz everybody’s got the videos so I did this short film with this group called Chopstick Graffiti. Kung Fu Bum is doing very well and I’ve met a lot of people just from doing the movie. My music (with 2 Hungry Bros) is all over the movie so when you listen to the movie, oh this guy does Hip Hop too? Let me listen to him. And then when you listen to the album you find out that I got acting skills and do acting also. It’s a nice little thing and everything seems to be coming together.

Excellent! Well, let’s talk about food. Where are you at with food right now? What is it that you’re gravitating towards or what are you trying to avoid?

I don’t eat any red meat whatsoever. I eat turkey, I don’t eat chicken which is a weird thing. A lot of people always ask me but they mass produce chicken way more than they mass produce turkey. So, I figure I’ll eat that just to keep up my aggressiveness. But for the most part, I just eat fish for the protein. I also eat a ton of vegetables. I’m like a chain smoking, alcoholic, almost-vegetarian cat. I’ll try new flavors, though.

I like how you talked about the aggressiveness from turkey. I think there’s something to be said about consuming meat and understanding the energy you’re getting from it.

Yeah, I notice a lot of people that I know that are pure vegetarians and a lot of times they’re docile and they’re super relaxed – which is cool but I live in Brooklyn so I can’t always be super relaxed. I gotta be on point. So, sometimes eating meat helps with that.

But no red meats.

Yeah. I watch a lot of things and we live on a planet where the people that run this planet destroy everything that we need to live. They destroy the air we breathe. They destroy the water we drink with fracking and polluting the rivers. And they’re destroying our food by giving it steroids. Even with the fruits being genetically modified. If [pesticide] it kills the bug and makes the bug’s stomach explode, what’s it going to do to you eventually? I’m real careful with what I eat and what I let my children eat. On top of that it poisons your mind. It clouds your mind, it clouds your vision. You wanna make sure that everyone’s focused. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in this world.

And in terms of music, what are you trying to gravitate towards or what are you trying to avoid in that realm?

I listen to every and all music. I get inspired by rock, I get inspired by classical, I get inspired by Dub Step, all of that. But what I mostly listen to is Hip Hop and a lot of my people don’t get this but I listen to a lot of the stuff that I consider wack. Because there’s a certain freedom that comes with it, there’s a certain energy that comes with it. A lot of times when people are super conscious and they’re spiritual lyrical, trying to get their point across – sometimes, as with R&B, you can just hit the right note or say something a certain way that it hits a person a certain way. I try to stay well balanced by listening to everything. The good stuff, the bad stuff, the pretty stuff, the ugly stuff, everything.

What about selecting beats?

That’s a different thing. I would like to coin myself as a person who’s diverse enough that I could rock any beat that’s given to me but at the same time when I listen to music, I never know what I’m going to look for. If I hear a beat and it calls me hey, you and me, we need to be together then I say, that’s the beat I need. As soon as I hear a beat that sparks a thought in my brain, that’s gonna start a verse, that’s gonna be something that the people are going to enjoy and I’m going to have fun performing it, that’s what I go with.

How’s touring? Are you pretty adventurous on the road?

Adventurous to the point that so long as it’s within the parameters of no red meat. I feel like if I went to Australia and I was in the outback and somebody said hey, try this crazy lizard, I might mess with it. But definitely not pork. But as far as new flavors, I like to try different things. I try to eat healthy because the road will kill you. You eat at all these truck stops and diners and everything becomes fatty. It’s really hard to eat healthy. But now with the internet and smart phones it’s easy to find a vegetarian spot – it’s becoming easier.

The way we listen to music has changed a lot in the last 10 years. What are some of the challenges in 2014 for a Hip Hop artist?

People’s attention spans. People don’t even make albums anymore. It’s a single-driven industry. So, now that peoples attention spans are so short, you gotta work really hard to work an album. I think an album should take a year. If you want, you could make a little music in between or do some nice collabos with people but I think you should take your time with each song and give people a chance to marinate with it. People are working so fast because of the attention spans and it actually brings down the quality of the music. Then it becomes common cookie cuter stuff.

What about you in the kitchen? You got a recipe that we can put together?

I’m actually nice with it when I put my mind to it. I can get it in. I’m really good at breakfast. I could bring out breakfast foods, no problem. I mean, besides the greatest omelette in the world – nice and fluffy, yellow with no burns, nice and tasty where you don’t have to put anything on it, just seasoned to perfection. Pancakes, waffles, not a problem.

K. Gaines French Toast Sticks.
Kids will enjoy making it, then eating it with you.

The French Toast sticks you make like you do regular french toast. Use regular sliced bread, wheat recommended.
Roll it flat with a roller (if no roller use a wine bottle).
Spread room temperature cream cheese on inside of bread. Use whatever – bananas, strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, raspberry, Nutella or even jelly (I’d use strawberry jelly not grape).
Make sure there’s cream cheese where you are going to roll it close. Cream cheese helps seal it.
Mix 1 egg , milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
Dip roll in egg mixture. Butter a skillet. Fry rolls on all sides concentrating on the closed side until brown. Prepare a rub of brown sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the rolls are brown, roll them in sugar rub.
Super simple. You can also use peaches, blueberry, whatever fruit goes well with cream cheese. Do not use white sugar! Create a sweet yet healthy snack/meal.

What are some essential ingredients you always keep on hand?

Depends what I’m cooking. I try to shop once a week. You know, garlic, parmesan cheese for the pastas and I even just made some nice couscous that had some parmesan in it. I used some nice vegetable stock instead of using water and tomatoes and asparagus mixed in it – it came out pretty good. Minced garlic and onions for sure. That brings out a lot of flavor. I’m all about flavor but I don’t mess with adobo. I like my salt, my pepper, my garlic, bay leaves, everything I put in by hand. I don’t like using things put together by some machine. I’m not cool with that.

People just taking everything for face value instead of going behind the curtain. They don’t want to see the wizard. They’re comfortable living in the world of Oz without looking at the wizard. But I’m the kind of person that’s like, “who the hell is that behind the curtain? I need to see him and see what the hell he’s doing.” That’s the type of person I am”

You talked a bit about GMO’s earlier. I know you’re not with that, but what do you think is the disconnect between the food industry, what they’re doing with the food and the lack of concern from the general populous? It doesn’t seem like the public, in general, are as informed as you or I.

It goes back to the Matrix thing. A lot of people choose not to know the truth. They choose not to be aware. They choose to live in that bubble that they’re in, they choose not to do their research. I think, because I’m an MC and I try to be as factual as I can when I write, I do research on certain things I want to know about. It has to be about something I’ve lived or something I’ve researched. You have a lot of people that don’t know, that don’t research, they’re not aware. And that’s the thing, when you have corporations that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to tell people that if you put labels on GMO’s it’s gonna cost them more money. But that doesn’t make any sense. If it’s genetically modified, you’re not gonna have to spend as much on packaging and all that because it’s supposed to last longer. But people aren’t well informed because I don’t think they want to be. The disconnect is that the information is out there but people just aren’t paying attention to it. It’s a weird thing and I get frustrated sometimes. And you know, I try to put it in my music but I can’t put too much in it or I become preachy and people won’t want to listen. So, I have to give it a nice little balance.

It’s similar to what’s happening with the music.

Yeah. It goes back to corporations. If you have a radio station that only cares about getting every last drop that they can get from the top 50 songs that they’re playing 20 times a day, they’re not interested in any of the other music that people may want to listen to. You have to go and search for it. For instance, you weren’t aware of my music until you found some degree of separation and went and researched and looked it up. Who is this guy? How come I didn’t know about him? So, it’s the same thing. People just taking everything for face value instead of going behind the curtain. They don’t want to see the wizard. They’re comfortable living in the world of Oz without looking at the wizard. But I’m the kind of person that’s like, “who the hell is that behind the curtain? I need to see him and see what the hell he’s doing.” That’s the type of person I am.

In a perfect world, what does food and Hip Hop look like to you?

We’re gonna keep putting out good music and we’re gonna keep eating good food. That’s my perfect world. And we’re gonna share good food with everybody. We can all break bread and we don’t have to spend obscene amounts of money on vegetables. Everybody able to afford healthy organic food the same way they can afford unhealthy food. And listen to great Hip Hop. And Hip Hop will be on every radio station – real Hip Hop, not just the same top ten artists.

And what are you working on that we can look forward to?

With Chopstick Graffiti we’re working on the next movie called Wild Man: The Wild Man Chronicles. Coming soon. We have more videos coming out from the album. And working on a new album as well with Delegators…that’s my fam and crew. I record with them because it gives me the freedom to play around with the music without the pressure of deadlines. Shout out to Heav and Saze (@waterbedhev and @vladbagg on Instagram).

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If you haven’t yet heard Rumspringa: The WildMan Chronicles by K. Gaines, you’re definitely gonna wanna stream and then cop that. You can do both HERE. I really enjoy this album and it’s been on my workout playlist since I bought it. It’s the whole package – storytelling, witty rhymes, excellent guest appearances and top notch production. I’ll absolutely be on the lookout for anything else he puts out! If you wanna keep up with the Wild Man, you can find him on all social media sites (except Facebook) at 1kgaines but he’s probably most active on Instagram. It’s like I tell my kids: If you don’t notice something, that’s not a problem. But, if you don’t notice something, someone points it out to you and you still don’t recognize…that could be problem. I hope you recognize what this dude is adding to the world of Hip Hop.

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