To kind of continue what ended up being almost like “Dope Folks Records and Stranj Child week” on Milwaukee UP, I decided to see what Stranj Child artist Ku Mays had to say about his solo music, the group, the new release, and Milwaukee.
I highly suggest you put the Stranj Child EP release party that is happening this Saturday night at Burnhearts on your calender, and then make sure you stop by.
Let’s start out with the obvious. Those of us who are familiar with your music, and those who are going to check it out as a result of this interview, have (or will have) one question on their mind. Why in the world are you so weird? I say that for a laugh of course, but your approach is very loose with your solo material and very open to interpretation. What is the process that you go through for creating your music?
My process has always been random when it comes to beat making or writing. Whatever flies into my head at that moment is getting on the track. Sometimes I have ideas of what I want to create but it usually turns into something else. I call it “not taking myself too serious”. It’s borderline recklessness though.
You were once a member of a pretty popular group around Milwaukee that did its thing in the early and mid-nineties. Recently, you and your former group mates decided it was time to take some of the music that you did together as Stranj Child, and release it. How did you decide as a group that you wanted unreleased music from the mid-nineties to finally now see the light of day?
We put a lot of work into those tracks. I’ve always wanted the world to hear them but I never pushed the issue. It’s not like I’m living in the past, it’s just that I’m so proud of the work we put in, the money put down, and the late nights and early mornings at the studio. Back then you couldn’t just go to the homie’s house and rock on his mic and PC, you had to hit up one of the local studios. We recorded most of that stuff in a studio called Monster which was above the old Globe East. We got a discount because our sessions were midnight to 8A.M. CRAZY!
I approached John a couple of years ago, before Dope Folks, about the project. I was going to release it myself and I needed some advice on how to do so. I just never got around to putting the money up to do it. Then John called me and asked if I still wanted to release the stuff, and I said “word up”.
I have had a chance to listen to the EP and it’s really fantastic and it honestly does take you back to the time when Hip-Hop was thriving in its pre-crunk and pre-jiggy era form. Do you have any more music that could be released later on?
Yes, there are others that didn’t make the EP. Right now we just have StranjChild.com that leads to our Facebook page, but in the near future we’ll post most of the music and video on our new site.
When you go back to listen to the tracks you recorded somewhere around 15 years ago, where does it take you emotionally, mentally, and maybe even spiritually? I mean, there has to be some effect to hear that “young man” version of yourself.
Like I said it makes me feel so proud that we not only tried, but we did in fact succeed. Record a record?!?! Three dudes?!? And we’re still very close friends to this day?!?! Who does that?!? StranjChild that’s who!!!!!
I’ve read interviews where you talked about possibly having a deal lined up, and that’s why there isn’t a lot of music available by Stranj Child…you guys just kind of put off recording because you thought that an opportunity was coming soon down the road. What happened with the deal?
It was a combination of many things. We were very over confident about our connections. We knew our music was good and we knew the right people, so we just waited and nothing happened. We’ve recorded here and there but new families, jobs, and distance put all of that to a halt.
You’ve stayed in Milwaukee and have kind of dipped in and out of the Hip-Hop scene here and there. A lot of artists don’t know the history of Milwaukee Hip-Hop and the struggle it had to gain venues, press, and ears. When you look at the segregation of the “club” and “Hip-Hop” scenes and hear the stories of “this person won’t rock with this person because of _____”, and stuff like that, what does it make you think now that Milwaukee Hip-Hop is far more accepted by the press and community at large?
It’s only accepted because some of the same homies that kicked it on East North Ave. free styling on the street corners are the dudes that are writing the articles and blogs. As for the feuding musicians, it has always been that way and it will always be that way. Take a group of Milwaukee musicians and stick them in Chicago at a Mos Def show or another show, and I bet money that they find each other in the crowd and represent their city.
The decision was made to release the EP on vinyl. Was there any reason for that and why you went with that over CDs or MP3s?
Vinyl is so much sexier. Plus, I’m a hand model.
A lot of people are saying that this is the most amount of talent Milwaukee Hip-Hop has ever had, across the board…be it club, indie, production, whatever…so being as there is a lot of talent around, what (if any) tips can you give them that may help them out?
I disagree. The talent has always been here. The scene is the same just different faces. The internet just helps us see the scene. I put Tory Tee, J Slim, J Bird’s 90’s production up against anything put out today and it’ll stand strong. Venues? We always had a place to rock but we complained about not be able to hit certain spots, just like they do today.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to the members of Stranj Child, @oosakibros and J tha Stranjah.
Buy a record & tee shirt.