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- Posted on Mar 9th 2010 6:30PM by Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Describe your sound in your own words.
Double O: I'd say that our sound is definitely nostalgic, and genuine. I think there's a realness and a soulfulness to our sound that makes it familiar to fans.
Naledge: It's a more updated version of everyman hip-hop; that's the only way I can describe it without talking too much. Futuristic everyman hip-hop.
How did Kidz in the Hall form?
Double O: We met at a talent show at the University of Pennsylvania back in 2000. Naledge was still in high school; I was already at Penn, and he was up there for a recruitment weekend. I thought he was dope as an MC, and as soon as he came to school we just got to working.
How did you come up with your name?
Naledge: It was the one name that had a ring to it.
Were you fans of the 1980s sketch-comedy show Kids in the Hall?
Double O: Not really; that was a little before out time. Possibly, subconsciously, (the TV show) was in our minds. But when we were thinking of it, it was because the name had a school aspect we wanted to maintain.
What are your musical influences?
Naledge: I've had a lot of influences, a wide range -- anyone from The Roots to Common to A Tribe Called Quest. Geto Boys. Do or Die. De la Soul, Jay-Z, Bone Thugs.
Double O: For me, a lot of it is the kind of hip-hop I grew up with: the East Coast Boot Camp; Nas and Big and Jay. But as I've gotten older, I've become more appreciative of pop and world on a different scale. The Bjorks of the world. Right now, I'm just really obsessed with everything coming out of Sweden, from Lykki Li to Peter Bjorn and John to Mike Snow. Everything coming out of there is dope.
What are your musical guilty pleasures?
Naledge: Avril Lavigne.
Double O: It's hard for me, because I don't have anything that I won't listen to, that I'm embarrassed to listen to. I'll listen to the Rihanna album. I'll listen to the Black Eyed Peas.
Naledge: That's straight foolish.
Double O: I'll just always figure out a way to make it relevent. Like, you listen to an old Backstreet Boys album, and melodically, it's ingenious. Whether or not you like the markeing package of it, they figured out how to make good and great songs.
So you guys are currently touring in promotion of a new album, 'Land of Make Believe.' Tell me about the new album -- is it different from previous albums?
Naledge: It's different in that ... it's just an evolution. It's moved to a point of comfort in the way we put together songs, and it's about that, and just being comfortable with life. With ourselves and our place within the industry. Just being comfortable with that is hard enough. This album is about balancing that with the artistic side of it, I guess. A coming of age moment where there was real no stress in making the music.
Your second album (2008's 'The In Crowd') landed you a Reebok endorsement deal and song placements in video games 'Madden' and 'NBA Live.' Was that weird?
Double O: No, I think we've always flirted with that world. Before our first album (2006's 'School Was My Hustle') even came out, Naledge was doing voice-overs for TV, and I was (producing) music for TV shows. So when it moved to a slightly bigger stage, it was comfortable. There was no weird, "Oh, I don't know how I feel." I've realized a lot of people never get comfortable with fame and that ... but we were fine with being popular. This was just a graduation to the next stage so, I don't know ... we've been appreciative of it, but it never seemed too far-fetched and crazy.
Naledge: The only thing that was weird about the Reebok deal was really having to weave creativity into an advertising campaign. I'd never written anything before with an agenda in mind. I'd never had to censor myself while writing. I think I did, like, four versions of the song, and they're like, uh, you didn't mention the sneakers.
What are your biggest vices?
Double O: My biggest vice is free shit. Shwag surfing. Especially because we're not at the point where it's financially viable to buy anything I want, I've become an expert at learning how to solicit free things out of people, from sunglasses to watches to sneakers.
Naledge: Mine is female bartenders. It combines two vices in one.
Have you guys been to SXSW before?
Double O: Yeah, we're like the OGs of South By by now. We were going to South By when (the only hip-hop artists there were those) who were willing to experiment in a very indie rock space. There were two different hip-hop shows there, and that was it.
Naledge: There were really only two hip-hop spaces, period, in the whole festival, and it was the experimental hip hop, and then the artists who were actually from Texas and down south. So you had a mixture of experimental, and then the Texas culture, the bangin' and scrangin' and screwin' hip-hop. It was kind of weird.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Double O: Bring sneakers that you are ready to get dirty. Don't bring things that are expensive or important; bring things that you can get dirty and it just won't matter. It's a festival, not a fashion show. Never take pills from somebody without making sure you know what it is. Bring something that you can mix with alcohol to make it look like it's a juice. Oh, and if it's outside, I guess bring suntan lotion - no one needs skin cancer.
Naledge: You need a pair of Ray Bans. You need some earplugs. And definitely, definitely some aspirin.
Double O: And condoms. (laughing) And always bring your own lube.
Double O: That's just advice for life, really; always be ready.
Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?
Double O: I'd like to finally see Janelle Monae; we missed her last year. It's funny, because SXSW is like hop-hop camp now. So many of our friends from Chicago and New York just pile up and go down there. I think we're always surprised by a single band or somebody we'll see who we'd never have known about before. That's the fun thing about SXSW, discovering somebody new.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.