For the familiar faces out there, you know I’m all about showing love to any and every artist out there trying to be heard. In the competitive media-hype era, it’s not really enough to just be making “good” music if you want a taste of the spotlight; the frontmen of hip-hop have fleshed-out values driven by purpose. This past week I had the opportunity to speak with the rising Chicago artist Kami Kurisu just in time for the recent debut of his track “Peace” featuring fellow Chicagoan Vee Miyagi. The cut has the two MCs showcasing their skillful wordplay over a laid-back guitar sample. Check out the full track and interview below.
How would you introduce yourself?
Kami Kurisu. Formerly known as RaemonVip. I literally made the decision to change my stage name last week to Kami Kurisu. I’m a 24-year-old rapper, graphic designer, producer on occasions, and co-founder of an awesome collective by the name of AUXGOD.
Where did this new name come from?
In a lot of my songs I call myself “God” a lot. Not because I’m trying to provoke others who may fall into a religious belief, but because that’s what I feel I am and what everyone is. That’ll have to be a whole other conversation to dwell into why I feel that way. However, I wanted to be able to fuse how I feel about myself into a name. Calling myself God outright would not suit well in my progression to gain new listeners who aren’t exactly on my wavelength of understanding…so, since I love Japanese culture I decided to use the Japanese word for God…Kami. I also decided to add my gov name “Chris” in there as well. So, being that the Japanese translation for Chris is Kurisu I popped it in. It flowed well and I’m very big on creating names that another artist won’t have. I always want my face being the main and/or only thing that pops up when it’s searched.
That’s pretty dope, it’s tough to come up with an original name nowadays. Can you tell us more about your AUXGOD collective? How did this come together?
AUXGOD (Golden God) is a collective of creatives. I came up with it last year as something for my best friend (Videographer “Canon Montana”) and I to partner up and help each other with our passions. She shot my videos, I did her logos, she took my photos, I created her business cards, etc. It was just us two for the remainder of 2014. January of 2015 things started picking up with her videos and my music and we had others who wanted to join the team throughout this year. Long story short we have a total of 11 people in the group including 5 of the dopest producers ever. Two of which don’t even live in our area; Monsterr Muzik in New York and Seary in the UK. I wanted to create something that’ll eventually spread worldwide. The label/collective ‘Soulection’ is a big inspiration of mines and is more so the direction I want to go for our collective. The fact that I’ve always been entrepreneurial helps as well because I am not the type to work a 9-5 the rest of my life. I believe in everyone on my team and want to see everyone prosper. Another thing we do is offer services. This is what separates us from being somewhat a “label”. It’s more so a collective/business. A lot more updates will be coming to the site soon with more information on the many services we’ll have.
That’s great! It’s like a movement of people that each have their own strengths to bring to the table and work together to ascend the ladder. Speaking of inspirations, who would you say has shaped you as an artist?
That’s exactly what is is. Everyone has something to offer.
I started rapping when I was 7-years-old. I do not know why, I just did it. I can say listening to Lil Wayne helped me focus on the method of using metaphors in my early teens. However, as far as shaping me as an artist it was just my life experiences and my growth as a human being. Being so open minded opened a Pandora’s box to things I could rap about. I naturally have a gift for music. Whether I make it in the industry or not I’ll still be making music. I listen to so many genres and artists there’s no telling who helped me shape what if anyone did…lol…I just know life certainly shaped me to be who I am today.
Cool man. Coming from my musician side, I used to have trouble finding inspiration to write, but recently I figured out I just wasn’t looking in the right places– you can find inspiration everywhere. Dope to see you discovered that early on. Being based out of Chicago, how have your surroundings helped (or hurt) your career so far?
It’s not much support out here by the local blogs. You have to be “on” somewhat or pay to even get their attention even when the music is super good. Some artists just look out for themselves too. It just seems like a city full of hate and bandwagon jumping from my point of view. The total opposite of Los Angeles or Atlanta where it seems like there’s more support for the local talent. It’s the main reason why I’ve only been online based for so long. I only recently started performing this year, which has helped me network and build connections with other artists and creatives. I’ve performed about 4 or 5 times now. I can say my environment has given me more character and it only makes me work harder to break through such a tough city.
Hmm, I see. The Internet is overcrowded especially in the realm of hip-hop and the fact of the matter is not everyone will be heard regardless of how good their music is. What sets your music apart from the competition?
I know myself and what I’m capable of. I know I’m capable of being one of the greatest. I have an ear for great production, which in turn allows me to create some of the craziest lyricism and wordplay. Where I’m at mentally is a lot different from other artists. Dwelling into psychedelics, reading, constantly gaining knowledge, and knowing myself all play a part in my music.
Are you reading anything right now?
At the moment I have 5 books I bought, but haven’t had the chance to sit and read. Well maybe I’ve had the chance, but procrastinated. The books are ‘The Way of Zen’ by Alan Watts, ‘Become What You Are’ by Alan Watts, ‘Food of the Gods’ by Terrence McKenna, ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ by Robert Greene, and Fingerprints of the Gods’ by Graham Hancock. I think once I move into my apartment next week I’ll finally be able to read them all.
Sounds like quite the list! That’s dope man. On another note, you dropped a new song, “Peace,” earlier this week. Can you tell us about this track, how it all came together, and your relationship with Vee Miyagi?
It all started with Monsterr Muzik flooding my email with some of the greatest beats ever as usual, and I’ve been holding on to that ‘Peace’ beat for quite some time. After listening to Vee’s music via SoundCloud I was very impressed. Even more so after I saw him perform live. I knew we would compliment each other well if we did a collaboration. So, in that regard I wrote a quick verse which is the verse that lives on Peace. I wrote it in about 30 minutes cause my manager was on me about getting it down ASAP…lol…So, I wrote it, sent it, and he got it done. The first version didn’t have a hook at all. It was just my verse and then Vee’s right after my verse ended. The selected few who heard it prior to release suggested a hook and so with that I freestyled a little hook and got it done. Now it’s out! In all of its glory. In my opinion Vee killed it. He had a lot more time to write his verse, so I’m going to have to get him back for killing my song…lol
Cool stuff man, solid track nonetheless. Seems like this was a special case since you had to whip it up under a little bit of pressure– what’s your usual writing process like? Look for beats first? Lyrics first? It depends?
I listen to beats first. If a beat doesn’t make me freestyle something when I first hear it, it’s not meant to be. I look at it like this…the beat gives me a vibration and the universe gives me the words to place on that vibration. It has to be organic every time. I notice if I try to rap on a beat I don’t like so much I get writers block ASAP! Now I don’t force anything, I just make sure I have the best production possible and I’m glad I have producers on my team who get MY SOUND. There’s like two other producers I outsource from, but that’s it. I keep my circle small because the few producers I mess with just make the perfect music for me. There’s also times I can be chilling, working, or doing something random and lines will just flood my head without warning and I write them down in my phone immediately. Later when writing to an actual beat I’d go to my “Lines” file and take some random line I came up with and throw it in a song. That’s when I feel like this is really my calling and what I’m supposed to be doing.
I respect you for that. It reminds me of Vince Staples– he doesn’t want to collaborate with anyone just for the fun of it; he only grabs a feature from someone if he thinks it suits his vision for the song overall, not because of a name. That’s dope you have people that you can create music with naturally, rather than have it be like two people sitting together trying to force something. What’s up next for Kami?
As far as what’s next…more music. I’m not planning any projects…just music and videos. I just want to consistently drop music and build a more solid fan base so when a project does arise it actually gets a response. All I can say is keep an eye out because what I have coming will have all eyes on me.
As we wrap up the interview I’d like to ask you a few last questions. How would you define success?
Success to me is when you’re happy with your life and doing whatever makes you happy. For some that’s working a 9-5, playing cards, raising kids, or whatever. My success is just being able to constantly create and become better at whatever I venture into. As long as I’m happy with what I do, I’m successful.
Where do you see your music taking you in the next few years?
Across the country is the goal. If I continue to do more performances and network I hope to find myself connecting the right dots to move on to bigger platforms.
Anything else you’d like to tell the world out there?
It’s my time.