Archive for the ‘The Making Of…’ Category

Ka – “Summer”

Ka dropped the video for “Summer” today, which he described to me yesterday, the following way:

That was my take on the Summer jam.  Everybody always says Summer is uplifting or makes some fruity happy song about Summer.  But to me, when Summer comes – you might have a day when you play ball or look at girls or whatever – but that’s when everybody be saying “who block this is,” and that’s when the shit really heat up.  The most violence happens you know.  That’s when people are catching the most bodies.  You know in the hood you see more people, everybody’s out, so you see people.  So that’s when the shit pops off.  So you know, there’s a million Summer songs that are different, but that’s my take on Summer right there.

I also thought I’d include a few snippets from our conversation that didn’t make the cut – just because they didn’t relate specifically to any specific track for the “Making Of,” but might be interesting to fans anyway.

When asked about what I perceived to be a relationships between gambling and violence in the certain songs on the album, Ka had this to say:

Listen you hear people talking about cee-lo, maybe there’s one cee-lo game in Atlantic City, maybe there’s one cee-lo game in Vegas – but in the hood, those thee dice are important.  It always starts off fun, but the shit never ends that way.  I might not have to pop somebody, but I might have to shoot joints over it.  But at the same time, it’s a gathering of men too.  You’re building still – it’s funny.

And on the subject of religious, spiritual, and 5% imagery in Grief Pedigree:

In the black community, all mothers and grandmothers go to church all the time.  My mom is a spiritual women and she used to go to church every Sunday.  She never forced me to go, so I never really went.  But growing up, there were was bibles around the house.  So it’s something where I read some and absorbed that along the way.  Then just speaking in the hood, everybody that was locked up and when they come home they have a spirituality.  Whatever god you believe in brought you through that ordeal.  Something brought you through that.  It just stuck with me where now it’s just part of my speech, it’s part of my thought process.  I don’t know what I am, as far as a religion.  Being righteous is what I try to accomplish – I’m not too concerned with religion.  In the end I’m trying to weigh the balances right.  I did a lot of foul shit.  I know I did a lot of shit that I wasn’t supposed to be doing, knowing that I did the shit wrong.  But hopefully in the end I balance that out.  So now, it’s just part of my vernacular, it’s how I speak.

In hip hop we generally think of rappers approaching their forties as being removed from the inner city youth that shaped their music, running out of subject matter and too distanced from their youth to connect to the things and subject matter that caught listeners attention the first time around.  Ka has the benefit of being able to look back over the course of nearly 4 decades living in the same borough of New York City.  From being the wild kid just doing what he needed to survive, no matter who was looking, to the grown man telling some teen to slow down because women or kids are around.  It’s a perspective not shared by most rappers in their late thirties, and it makes for a uniquely entertaining album that some are already dubbing a modern classic.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Ka and walk through the album track by track to discuss inspirations, beats, rhyme structures, and many other aspects of Grief Pedigree.

From the start The Making of Grief Pedigree does not work like a traditional “Making Of.”  There aren’t 10 different producers to interview, a couple DJs, maybe a weedcarrier, and a few guests and A&R’s.  Other than Roc Marciano’s verse on “Iron Age,” there were no other artists, label representatives, or producers involved in Grief Pedigree, so everything we can glean about the creation of the album, comes from Ka himself.

Despite his former history with Natural Elements and a lifetime of rapping, the DIY Iron Works was his solo debut in 2008.  It received some acclaim and some criticism, it seemed Ka put more energy into the album’s lyrics and rapping then he did into the production, or perhaps his production techniques just weren’t as developed at that point, but either way Ka decided to go “all-in” on the creation of Grief Pedigree.  He worked hours of overtime and extra night shifts to save up the funds to record Grief Pedigree in a professional studio setting.  Knowing that if he didn’t give 100% on the album that he’d always live with the regrets of not producing the album he knew he was capable of giving to the hip hop music he felt had given him so much over the years.


Starting the album with the shout-outs on the first track was intentional.  I put the shout-outs on the song where it’s upbeat enough where you probably won’t cut it off.  It’ll keep you up so you still listen all the way through to the end of the track.  I wanted to get that done up front so if they only listened to one song, they could hear their name.  And you feel good when you hear your name on a record, on the shout-outs.  I know I do.  So I wanted to give light to my people up front.

I approached “Chamber” different from how I approached “D.N.A.” (from Grief Pedigree‘s predecessor Iron Works).  With “D.N.A.” I wanted to put something slow and tougher, because I wanted to weed out certain cats and only keep a certain type of listener who would really be into my shit.  With “Chamber,” I wanted to pull people in, so I picked one of the more upbeat joints on the album to catch people’s attention.  So, I got off my elitist shit from Iron Works and really wanted people to listen and get into it this time.