PAUSE Meets Kirk Knight
Photographer: Sophie Jones // @Sophographylondon
Stylist: Terence Sambo // @TerenceSambo
Assistant Stylist: Akhnaton-Selbonne-Willie // @Marvin_Albert
Fashion Assistant: Kourosh Hojrian // @Cyrushoj
Assistant Photographer: Dylan Myers // @DylansCortex
Videographer: Isus Williams // @IsusWilliams
Clothing Credits: All brands from Harvey Nichols and Hervia
Open your ears as we introduce you to New York’s one-to-watch. Rising lyrically, musically and visually; Kirk Knight is an American rapper and producer who speaks about all his emotions through his music. Dressed in mostly black, rocking brands from Rick Owens, Mr. Completely and Alexander Wang – Kirk expresses himself not only in music but through fashion too. We at PAUSE got a chance to talk with Kirk during his tour in London about being a young rapper at 20, his thoughts on London’s music and fashion scene plus a deep discussion on today’s youthful movements in the digital age.
Lets take it to the beginning, being 20 years old now, how did you get into the music game at such a young age?
So basically I got into the music game, I used to beat on the table back in school in Brooklyn and that’s the same school that Joey Bada$$ went to and my DJ [DJ Rell Knoxx]. Joey Bada$$ was one of the popular kids, but he was a unique soul, a noble person. I was in a position where I didn’t even care for people to know me. I was just going to school, doing my thing, then going back home. Basically me and him had a connection, he fucked with me, he was like ‘Yo he’s my man’ so he was bringing me around and I used to beat on the table with two pens and he use to just rap over it.
Then one time in the summer, over PS3 shout out to Sony, he sent me a message and was like ‘Yo why don’t you take it to an actual program?’ So then the first program I used was air force studio. That was the first program I ever produced on in my life, I remember I cracked it, like YES.
Did you always have it in you that you could also be a rapper?
I felt like I had the ideas and the thoughts of it, in terms of the emotion of how to write it. That’s why I feel like I’m a good writer. But for me with rapping is just the confidence, confidence is like also on the same balance as writing. A Rapper has to be confident deal with a lot of curve balls and jadedness and things of that nature.
Do you think that’s the best way to become a good Rapper? Like looking back at Pharrell he started off producing first right?
Yeah! See the thing is with producing you learn basically what the whole song is, a song is based on a melody, the rap is based on the beat… so if you’re making the beat it will be easier for you to write songs because of the fact that you made the beat, the feeling, the atmosphere, you made the beat to write the words on.
“For me… rapping is just the confidence”
Where does your name Kirk Knight come from? What does Knight mean to you?
Aite so look, there’s two ways I came up with it. On MTV Jamz every morning, when Currency dropped Michael Knight that song literally played every morning and it was one of my favourite songs to go to school and get ready. Kirk was just an abbreviation of my first name but not a common one, my name is Kirlan but people on my block would call me Kurt. From that I added Kurt and Knight because the Michael Knight song was fire. So I just put the two together and then there was Kirk Knights.
The deeper version is, a lot of the time I can’t sleep – I am an insomniac. I’m always up, always working on something so when I finally found the passion to work on something that made sense it just took me full fledged. Knight meaning over working, never stopping, day and night. I love the night song, I feel like a lot of stuff happens in the night, relationships, having wreckless fun… probably fun that could get you in trouble, fun that is enlightening. There is a bunch of things that can happen at the night time, its just a different vibe. It gives me tunnel vision.
You just released your music video 5 minutes featuring Joey Bada$$, how’s the reception been since the release?
Well everybody be feeling it! You know the funny thing is I held that video for a very long time, if you look at the video my dreads were shorter than now.
Why did you hold it for a long time?
We were going back and forth, fixing a few things and then on top of that I m always working on top of being attentive to work so when my tape dropped – I was on tour. I’m doing tour stuff, I’m not even thinking video at that point and stuff like that. I do a lot, I produce and I rap so my mind is scatter brained sometimes.
You just released your debut album ‘Late Knight Special‘ in October right?
Well debut project. The reason why people say albums is because I sold it. Basically, even my whole thought process on that is, a mix tape is where you have original tapes and raps on the original beats. If I’m producing everything, the original beats and rap I would just call it a project, but people will call it an album because its being sold on iTunes.
What’s been your favourite song of yours so far? and collaborations?
It goes for every artist, always thinking about the new shit, I have this song that I been performing like low key that I really feel like I produced that shit, like dam! One song I could say is it for is I know with Mick Jenkins, that and dead friends on tape two.
You toured with Joey Bada$$ and now you’re touring on your own, how does it feel to do your own European tour. What advice would you give to another upcoming artist for their first solo tour?
One thing I would say is that no matter what, as long as you’re being you that’s what everybody intentionally wanted, because that’s what they hear. Anybody who making music, you have a feeling for music where you feel like its you… so you just be you and people are in are show listening to you then they can identify that is you, they’ll love it that’s what they came to see.
You’re part of the Hip Hop collective called Pro Era, what is this about?
Pro Era is a progressive era of music, just an abbreviation. Always striving, always being intellectually involved in today’s society and generation.
What’s the best thing about performing in London? You’ve mentioned about how you enjoy performing in London.
London is one of my favourite cities, first of all I love the fashion scene – I’m a fashion guy, fashion is expressing yourself through clothes… people in London do that, they express themselves. Also just the vibe, I feel like in the US sometimes it just be so on edge, but London is relaxed there’s greetings and proper manners, fresh air. Its similar to New York, its just as fast but it’s a little bit slower because New York is fast as shit but in relations this translates really well. I would love to live here, record here. European tour is just one leg in, to get into what I really want to do.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Damn… three words? Eclectic. Shade. Integrity.
“I’m a fashion guy, fashion is expressing yourself through clothes… people in London do that, they express themselves.”
Tell us some of your favourite fashion brands you are loving right now. Is there one you admire the most?
Right now one of my favourites is Mr. Completely, his jeans fit so nice on my skin it doesn’t make any sense. I bought four pairs, I got six now because he sent me two earlier and he sent me some hoodies and shirts and stuff like that and I don’t know I like the way it feels and fit. This other one I heard I want to try is Cactus Plant [Cactus Plant Flea Market] or something, but its some crazy shit. Another favourite is Oak and Fort, I DJ’d for them.
What is your thoughts on the way the youth queue, buy, stunt or resell for brands like BAPE and Supreme? What do you think about the youth are so driven into buying every single new shit?
There’s no originality at that point, if everybody is going to get the same shit you going to have a bunch of people looking like each other. You got to think about some type of different way to express yourself. Everything in life is a challenge, people don’t be challenging themselves, that’s why I feel like the term Hypebeast is not challenging yourself on some deeper shit. You gotta challenge yourself to be fly. If you buying all the newest shit, you not really fly, you just got the newest shit – it always looks nice. That’s why I respect people who rock vintage things, because that was a different type of style. Think about rock tees, they didn’t fit, that’s why they had to remake rock tees because they would be wide as f*ck and really short or the old Levi jean jacket, the new fit is proper.
Who are you big fans of muscially in London?
The only one… and I know it’s going to sound like some hypebeast shit but the only person is Skepta, he is an artist that translated to the United States so well. I heard about him every time I was out here [London], it was a bubbling thing but it hit the wall with Shut Down, they were playing it in New York and I was like… ‘who is this?’ I heard it in England already but I was like damn they playing it over here. Then when Drake hopped on his record it was over. Even his newest record Ladies Hit Squad, it fire! Skepta’s rapping translates very well to the US. Do you want to know what it is, it’s the accent barrier, people don’t want to hear someone talking like this but Skepta crossed through that. Just having the whole scene being with that, he put on for the scene; he making every body look at the scene, anybody who does that, that’s when you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to do because you’re making people look at you and your background, not just you. Cause when people just look at you then it’s just you, there’s no background, no story. But if it’s deep, like he is always talking about his boys. I respect people like that.
“You gotta challenge yourself to be fly. If you buying all the newest shit, you not really fly, you just got the newest shit – it always looks nice.”
I just try to tell them that I’m an artist that feel a lot of things emotionally, it could be anger, happiness or sadness. I just want it to be translated as that emotion. I don’t want people to look at music in me in any type of genre as long as it’s music portraying that emotion. Sometimes I write songs that aren’t introspective they’re jut about a certain feeling. On my tape I have a song called Scorpio and it’s about a Scorpio.
“Anything that you feel really passionate about and you really love it, try to not do it for five days, if you miss it then you love it and you need to fucking do it right now.”
You being so young and living your dream, what message would you give to the youth in today’s digital age?
This is what I would say… Anything that you feel really passionate about and you really love it, try to not do it for five days, if you miss it then you love it and you need to fucking do it right now. Because at the end of the day, I know a bunch of people that has millions of followers but still be unhappy as f*ck. Sometimes the brokest person could be the happiest person on earth. That’s basically my tip, like, if you really love it. Try living without it! Try because you obviously don’t understand what you want, so you got to figure out what you want and if that want is something like… ‘Okay, fishing is what I like, it relaxes my mind’ Try not fishing, and if you’re not upset or fed up with the world and you when you go fishing you feel better, that’s what you need to be doing.
“I know a bunch of people that has millions of followers but still be unhappy as f*ck. Sometimes the brokest person could be the happiest person on earth.”