WXPN favorite Kuf Knotz isn’t the first musician in the history of hip hop to go solo after a history of band collaborations. He is, however, one of the major names in Philadelphia’s hip hop scene—and, when the former frontman of BurnDown All Stars and The Hustle announced the upcoming release of his solo debut earlier this year, we couldn’t help but get giddy with excitement. Now that we’ve got a copy of BoomBox Logic at our desk, we can say with complete assurance that—even if the path that led Kuf to a burgeoning solo career might be a well-traveled one—the result is an album that takes listeners to a bevy of new places. Prior to his record-(pre-)release show at World Cafe Live tomorrow night, Kuf spoke with The Key about dealing with band dynamics, working with Drexel University’s student-run MAD Dragon Records, and his willingness to sign the dotted line. (Potential major-label suitors, take note…)
Kuf Knotz: Honestly, I really enjoy it. I’m big on collaboration. Having a band is like a meeting of the minds—everyone has their own influences that they’ve grown up with. With Burndown All Stars, someone would give one of the MCs a beat, and they would bring their own stuff to that. If everyone was grooving on it, we’d present it to the band, and they would either learn it or do their own take on it. Then each MC would write their own lyrics. With my own bands like The Hustle or Subtle Ground, a lot of times it was material I’d worked on previously. I’d bring it to the group, like “Are you feeling this?” And, if they were, we’d do our own interpretation or switch it around, with each one of the band members putting their own flavor to it. It was cool. It was a dope group dynamic.
KK: [Laughs.] Well, the only problem that I ran into with being in bands was other people’s availability and willingness to play out.
TK: It’s not easy when you’ve got to rely on a bunch of other people and work with their schedules.
KK: It’s so true, man. It’s crazy. I kept running into that same problem. I’m the kind of person who’s like, “I’ll do anything I can to get my name out there.” I don’t care if it’s playing in front of 10 people—that’s 10 people who haven’t heard my music before, so I’m all about it. But it’s different for people in the band. Especially if it’s not their own thing, you know? Playing in front of 10 people might not be as enticing for them because they’re just playing the bass or whatever.
TK: Seeing as how most of your band-related experiences have been positive ones, what were the circumstances that led up to your decision to go the solo route?
KK: It’s something I always wanted to do. Even when I’ve been in other bands, I’ve always had a side thing going on, where I’d be recording my own material. Different circumstances prevented me from putting it out or finishing it. I think it was all about the timing. You know when the time is right. I loved playing with The Hustle, and it was great. But then the bass player’s father got real sick, so he had to leave the band, and then our drummer was finishing grad school and was going to start looking for work. It didn’t leave us with a lot of time to play and go on tour and record. Like, The Hustle had been together for a year and didn’t even have an EP recorded because of everyone’s schedule. I had the itch to create, to write new music.
TK: So what did you do?