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- Posted on Mar 3rd 2010 3:56PM by Jaime Owen
In 2009, Kosha Dillz won an MC battle at Giants Stadium and released his first solo album, 'Beverly Dillz.' Kosha Dillz is currently touring with Flex Mathews and Matisyahu. Spinner interviewed Kosha to learn a little more about this up-and-coming artist in advance of his SXSW appearance.
When did you start rapping and performing?
I started rapping probably around 17. I came out of the freestyle battle scene in late '99 or early 2000 at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which is a pretty famous place out in New York. I was basically going into open mics and battles, but primarily the battle that was a big thing was an event called Braggin' Rites. Anyone who was anyone was in it, everyone from [C-Rayz] Walz to [Immortal] Technique. Mos Def even battled there. It was a really amazing and historical venue, and luckily I got jumped in right there. So for years, up until college, that was basically what I was doing. It was a pretty amazing experience.
How did you come up with your name?
Well, it originally was Kosher Dill. I was Jewish and I wanted something that was cool. I was very imaginative and I was a daydreamer, so I just thought of something that had shock value, you know? When I released my first record, I had come out of jail and I thought I should add a little A to it, and a Z. I was really searching out my roots and digging deep into my spirit, and I decided I was going to go back to the Jewish identity. I had changed it when I was battling because I was kind of ashamed of it. Now people call me Kosha -- everyone from my parents to RZA from Wu Tang.
How would you describe your sound?
It's like an authentic cultural experience. It's Kosha Dillz, so I take a lot of pride, and this prideful experience has a lot of elements of my Israeli culture in it. It's also alternative and indie and still pop-ish. I concentrate on a lot of hooks and lot of freestyling, coming out of the freestyle era. The cool thing is that a lot of my fanbase is hip-hop, so the freestyling really helps out in the crowd. I would say alternative, cultural and special.
What are your musical influences?
Musically, I'm really influenced [by] jazz. I also grew up on a lot of Nas, Biggie Smalls, a lot of East Coast hip-hop and Wu Tang. My first CD was Originoo Gunn Clappaz from Boot Camp Clik. And then I had Rancid and Green Day. I had Metallica. I had Pantera. And now I listen to jazz and everything. Plus I was listening to music in Hebrew and having a little flavor with that level. So I would say everything. I wish I could describe the "everythings," you know?
Who produces your music and beats for you, or do you do it yourself?
Belief. He's a producer out of Los Angeles. He produced my latest album, called 'Beverly Dillz.' That was my first solo album that I'm pushing right now.
What's in your festival survival kit for SXSW?
I'm gonna come down to the film festival and make sure I'm hitting the film panels with stuff, because the whole album is sample-free, and it's available to be submitted to movies. I'm going down with, like, 300 posters and hitting up everything. I also bring a lot of oranges and vitamin C because I just get so wiped out 'cause I work so hard. And sleep. If I can sleep well and bring a pillow, I'm gonna do it.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced on the road?
Craziest thing? There's a couple things. I did a show in Bristol, England, and a man was so intoxicated that he took off his clothes at the show and was just completely stark naked, which was just completely disturbing. I had to call him out and it scared all the people away, even the host. And then I stage-dived at a show in Philadelphia at the Electric Factory, and no one caught me. There was a seven-foot drop and it crushed all the kids. I was really hurt the next day. Actually, you can YouTube it up at "How Not to Stage Dive with Kosha Dillz."
Do you have any vices?
Well, I'm a big sucker for carbs. I love carbs, man. I just became vegetarian on the road. When I was in London, I became Kosher, only eating Kosher food. I'm Kosha Dillz, but I was still eating meat outside the house, and I stopped that.
Rolling Stones or Beatles? Tupac or Biggie?
Biggie and the Beatles. Biggie is the fun part in me. Biggie was flirtatious and everyone loved him, but he always seemed to get into trouble. He would always end up in these weird situations. And the Beatles. I feel like the Stones are more serious, but the Beatles are more lighthearted. I think [the Beatles' music] was more unifying. I think people can adapt easier to the Beatles. When I think Beatles, I think multi-colored and faceted.
Written or freestyle?
You know why I love to freestyle? Written I'm more afraid of, because with written I put my time into it, and it's gonna show a lot about me. But freestyle I'm comfortable with because I'm a very spontaneous person. And I've learned how to show you the raw and the real me in the freestyle.
Jaime Owen is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.