Knxwledge Discusses Stones Throw LP "Hud Dreems," Amoeba Crate Digging, His Church Upbringing, & Kendrick Lamar Production

Posted by Billyjam, May 19, 2015 11:43am | Post a Comment

Knxwledge (pronounced Knowledge) is known for such things as being a producer for Kendrick Lamar's current hit album To Pimp a Butterfly (for the track "Momma"); a regular contributor at the Low End Theory events; and, most importantly, as an incredibly prolific producer whose impressive catalog includes a long list of self-released cassettes, albums, and EPs for such labels as All City and Stones Throw. His latest album, Hud Dreems (pre-order on vinyl) was just released on Stones Throw.

The talented 26-year-old LA-based producer is a major fan of Amoeba Music and spends a lot of his spare time digging in the crates of Amoeba Hollywood for records with obscure sounds to sample. Naturally then the NJ born-and-raised producer was quite at home when he got invited to DJ a set at Amoeba Hollywood last month during Record Store Day celebrations at the Sunset Blvd. store. Around that same time I caught up with the producer to talk about making music, his new Stones Throw release, and of course crate digging at Amoeba - something he was more than happy to chat about.

"Oh man, I spend so much time at Amoeba. You see I live on Primrose - maybe a ten minute walk from Amoeba [on Sunset], so I'm always there and you know all the remixes I did for my rap and RnB series? Literally all those acapellas are from Amoeba from the 50 cents bins," he chuckled. Of the bargain bins at Amoeba: "pretty amazing the stuff you find would think that those crates would be well mined through when you think of everybody that lives in LA but yo man that Amoeba Hollywood store; I love it cos shit is always rotated and you never know what you might find there!"

In addition to Kendrick Lamar's "Momma," Knwxledge's production credits include Joey Bada$$'s 1999 debut mixtape, Blu's "Draginbreff" (from Classic Drug References Vol.01), Stones Throw labelmates Homeboy Sandman's "Problems" (from last year's Hallways), and Pyramid Vritra ("Track Three" from Palace). The prolific artist's own productions/releases include a staggering long list of literally dozens of beat tapes such as Hexual Sealings Pt. 8.  2013's double-cassette Anthology on Leaving Records compiled the best of his seemingly endless Bandcamp tracks up until that point in time. Other releases of his appear on Irish label All City (including the Kauliflower LP), and of course Stones Throw, who just released the 26 track instrumental hip-hop album Hud Dreems (not to be confused with his beat tape of the same name from a few years ago) that is only out digitally now but will be available on double vinyl (with 14 bonus tracks) arriving upon its release in Amoeba on June 23rd. At Stones Throw, he's been working closely with fellow beatmaker Mndsgn as well as collaborating with Anderson .Paak as the duo Nxworries who will be unleashing their debut later this year. Peep the video immediately below of the pair doing an inspired live set in The Dungeon (Stones Throw Records' mailing room - where further down this article is a video of Knxwledge performing a track off Hud Dreems). 

NxWorries (Anderson.Paak & Knxwledge) "Suede (In the Dungeon)" (2015)

When I caught up with Knxwledge by phone a few weeks ago, the consistently busy artist was "here at Action Bronson's place playing some beats for him" but took a break to chat with the Amoeblog. I started by asking him about the Kendrick Lamar collaboration and how it came about.

"He had that beat ["Momma"] for like a year before it came out," he recalled of the unexpected hit album credit. "It was wild. I was home one day and I got a text from one of my good homies about him having heard it. It was during a Complex magazine cover photo shoot and he had a tape deck in the car and he was playing that tape [Anthology featuring the track " so[rt]"] while they were shooting. He fell in love with that beat. It wasn't even concrete that he would use it. But then a year or so later it's on the record," he related. "I heard it for the first time same time as everyone else. It's crazy, I dream big but I never thought I would be part of an album where the first day [it's released] that 10 million people listen to it. I'm really grateful for it!"

On meeting Peanut Butter Wolf and getting hooked up with Stones Throw Records he told me that he has known them (Stones Throw crew) since moving out to LA "seeing them at shows and around." It was at one of the Boiler Room sessions where he met Peanut Butter Wolf, he recalled. "I played a Charizma remix ["My World Premiere" by Wolf's late former musical partner] and he came up to me afterwards and we set a meeting up." He appreciates being down with the LA-based Stones Throw label for many reasons, including getting to work with such fellow artists as Homeboy Sandman, who he calls "a fuckin incredible artist and a very good dude," and for the creative freedom granted him as an artist on the label. "Yeah, that means everything to me; the creative freedom at Stones Throw. That's what it's all about; just not being restrained creatively," he stressed. 

As for his new debut release on Stones Throw, for which he advises picking up the soon-to-drop double-vinyl version ("there's a bunch of extra stuff on the D side that is exclusive"), he said the recording process was similar to his earlier tape releases. "I kinda of did Hud Dreems the way I do my tapes. I watch a lot of films - a lot of hood films with a storyline - so I kinda storylined it even though it's instrumental. So it contains a lot of drops that I've accumulated over the years," he said, pausing for a minute before continuing, "It's almost like a religious beat - almost like beat gospel. I am strictly melody driven the way I create. My whole influence is church."  Part of an extremely religious, church-going family Knxwledge literally grew up in church where he learned to play a multitude of musical instruments.

"I spent 18 years of my life going to church for five days a week," he related of his Central New Jersey upbringing. "I love my parents but they had the extra wise decision of getting to also clean the church from even before I was born.  So on top of having no choice in having to go to church for four days a week, I had to go to church five days a week to clean the church on Saturdays." But this whole experience he says became "a blessing because I had all day and all the instruments to myself." This helped him build his whole structure as an artist as he would play all the instruments, "so long as I didn't get yelled at for not cleaning," he laughed of the opportunity to play and practice on all the instruments at his disposal in the empty church on Saturdays. Additionally he recalled how he would make full use of that "hour and a half drive with his parents to Edison [NJ]" to work on his early beat tape recordings. "Because I used to record the sermons at church, I used to use their tape machine to edit my beat tapes down a little bit," he chuckled in retrospect.  "It was cool though and that built everything for me when I think about it." "I had a lot of cousins and uncles and we all played different instruments together. And three of my cousins we all started making beats at the same time." All of this led Knxwedge to where he is today - an incredibly accomplished artist who is only in his mid-twenties and with a very promising future ahead. Before hanging up on the phone and letting him get back to his session with Action Bronson, I asked Knxwledge one final question for the Amoeblog; what is his long term goal? "Just make more music and work with my favorite cats and do some RnB stuff and keeping the catalog going. I have a bunch more shit," he replied.

Knxwledge "Jstowee (In the Dungeon)" (2015)

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Knxwledge (6), Peanut Butter Wolf (32), Homeboy Sandman (41), To Pimp A Butterfly (4), Stones Throw (28), Hud Dreems (1), Kendrick Lamar (58)