Ep. 15: Coffee with KJ: Chunjay and rapper KJ-52 discuss Christian music labels, Cuban coffee, and bouncing back after tough times.
KJ-52 and Chunjay sit down for coffee in Florida and reflect on their experiences in hip-hop and the Christian hip-hop subgenre.
Little Cuban cafe, on KJ discovering Cuban colada coffee. KJ does not enjoy pour over coffee.
Chunjay eating a Cubano sandwich.
On what KJ-52 is up to: crowdfunding new album, videos, documentary. Adding public speaking to rapping.
“I’m coming from the perspective of a 42 year old man. I’m not coming from where I was when I was 25 and came into the industry….I’m an old MacBook Pro with updated software.”
KJ-52’s struggle after his record deal with Essential ended. Shopping to Nashville record labels. Ended up with Tooth & Nail/Uprok.
KJ on Flicker Records: “Then they turned round and signed you guys, and I was so ticked off.”
“Revenge of the Nerds” by KJ-52 with Pigeon John from the KJ-52 Remixed album.
On figuring out his niche, and finding a way forward. On catching criticism for things he did.
On his “backpack rapper” origins with Sons of Intellect and Shadow of the Locust.
“I always looked at every record as ‘starting over.’”
On his platform, not just “youth group rapper.”
History: Goatee led him to Todd Collins. Todd took him to Essential.
On the KJ-52/Royal Ruckus tour of Maui in 2001.
On Royal Ruckus: “You two were the most interesting, hilarious, weird people I’d ever hung out with in a long time. And I think because of that, I was like, ‘I’m really drawn to these guys, cause they’re so bizarre, but so like, genuinely themselves.’ And I think that resonated with me.”
On getting sunburnt in Hawaii.
“Cheese Rappers in Paradise” (Demo) by Royal Ruckus from Seventeen Candles. Available free at noisetrade.com/royalruckus.
On crossing paths with each other in Nashville, TN and Bakersfield, CA.
“I’ve played in Bakersfield so many times.”
Headlining the “White Privilege Conference” in the middle of Iowa.
Awkward experiences on tour.
“Moment of Zen” by Royal Ruckus from The Summer of the Cicadas LP. Listen for KJ-52 and T-Bone reference in the song.
“I helped Kirk Cameron get through the priority line at Delta.”
“Shipwreck” by Cookbook and Uno.Mas from The Robertson Bullies EP.
“Once you’re about 10 years in [the music industry], you become irrelevant.”
On a near-career shipwreck. Paraphrase: I went from getting a couple grand shows to getting $250 a show locally, if I was lucky.
Finding alternate ways to survive and stay in his own lane. Graffiti. School assemblies. Being a pastor. Rapping still.
“It’s like I wrecked the ship, took the wood, and built a house.”
“Fight Music” by KJ-52 featuring Lecrae and Propaganda, from the album, Mental.
On KJ’s lack of facial hair.
KJ loved street tacos in Baja, Mexico, and Korean-fusion tacos in San Francisco.
KJ recommended podcasts: What She Wants (formerly Ask Women), Sexy Marriage Radio, Stuck in the 80s, and The Cypher Show.
KJ on women: they don’t want men to be nice, they want ALPHA.
“I realized how technically challenged some of my fanbase is. So I was like, ‘How can I make this as simple as possible?’”
KJ52 Podcast. @kj52 at twitter and facebook, @kj52instagram for insta.
“Let me say, and I dig your podcast, too. Because I like how you explore back stories.”
On having something to say, and less to lose. On having John Reuben on his documentary and not being able to use it.
“It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock was the game changer song for KJ-52. The second would be “Welcome to the Terradome” by Public Enemy. Third: “Ain’t No Joke” by Eric B. and Rakim. De La Soul: “Me Myself and I.”
Shouts to Propaganda, Pigeon John, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Pillar, Pax 217, Rebecca St. James, producer Tedd T., Todd Collins, Flynn Adam, Krum (Playdough), Jesus Shack, Spirit West Coast, Kirk Cameron, Tako Cheena in Orlando, NF vs. Lecrae album sales, John Reuben, Cookbook from LA Symphony, Jars of Clay, more.
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