Every month, we here at Above Average Hip-Hop choose one unsigned artist to profile/review. This month I was put on to a young brother by the name of Kid Cubicle hailing from New Jersey. His latest release, Mind The Gap, hit the interwebs a month ago and really deserves some more shine.
With obvious influences from movies and English culture (among a whack of other stuff), this album has a certain thing that’s hard to put my finger on. It’s introspective, lyrical, personal and extroverted all at the same time. From the deep Monsters in the Attic, in which he discusses his battle with anxiety and hypochondriasis, to the jazzy straight-up 90’s hip-hop vibe of Just Getting Started, it’s a straight up interesting listen.
We wanted to learn more about Kid Cubicle, so we sat with him and asked him a few questions.
How did you get into music?
I grew up in a house with 10 people in it, so music of all genres was always playing. I got into hip hop as a kid because my pops was trying to be a DJ, so he had basically every dope CD from the 90s. As a really little kid, I’d steal all his CDs and just listen to them. From It was Written and Ready to Die to Fu Schnickens and SWV [laughs]. I got my start in music without really thinking about it. My high school friends and I would just battle, and do shitty competitions in people’s basements. I did that throughout high school and got good enough to battle at different colleges in the North Jersey/NY area. I joined a hip hop band 2 years after that, called the “Sly Fox Gentlemen’s Club”. We did a bunch of shows in NY and were pretty awesome. We broke up pretty quickly and I went solo.
Who are your influences?
My influences from a rap perspective would be: Kanye, Mos Def, Andre 3K, Eminem and Jay-Z. My biggest influence would probably be Residente from the Puerto Rican rap band named “Calle 13”. They started out as a Reggaeton band, but weren’t afraid of experimenting with different sounds, and that’s something I really try to strive for. To not be afraid of doing new/different things even if it doesn’t always work. I’m influenced by all kinds of other music too, from jazz, blues, shit from the 60s, alternative and indie bands — I try to draw from all of that. I’m also equally as influenced by movies as I am by music, so that’s why I’m always making pop culture/movie references in my raps a lot of the time. Ideally, I’d like my songs to feel like movies in your head when you listen to them.
Tell me about your new album… How long did take to record? What was your process like?
This album took way too fucking long to make [laughs]. I started working on it 2012, but took a break to focus on school. I started writing the album again in London; that’s where I got the idea for the title of the album Mind the Gap. When you take the Subway there they always say “Mind the Gap” because there’s a huge gap between the train and the platform… I guess a lot of people fall or something. The name stuck with me. The album wrestles with growing up, and overcoming the fear that comes along with that. The main producer I worked with on this album was my homie Kevin Birk, who was the guy who put together that band I was in for a few months back in ’09. He’s a classically trained musician who makes some fucking crazy ass beats..so good. Sidebar: Mind the Gap is also a perfect album name because I used to work at the Gap [laughs] on some Kanye Spaceship shit.
What’s up next for you?
What’s next? I’m working with a really good filmmaker from Puerto Rico to shoot a video for I Don’t Need to Rap in a few weeks. I’m also trying to get my grandfather in that video, which would make it the illest video ever. Now that the record is done, I’d like to get back to doing shows in and around the NY area… It’s been a while and I’m excited to finally perform these songs that I’ve been locked away working on (off and on) for so long.
What are your fave albums ever?
Ahhhhhh man, that’s tough! Favorite albums ever off the top: College Dropout, Marshall Mathers LP, MultiViral (by Calle 13), Rage Against the Machine, The Love Below, Black on Both Sides, The Blueprint and any salsa record from Willie Colon and Hector levoe.
What’s your take on the indie scene?
The indie scene is everything now. I’m not even sure if there is a “major” scene anymore. There’s a crazy amount of really talented people doing awesome shit (I can’t even keep track) – and (now) they actually have a shot at building audiences and reaching people, which is really cool. I’m not one of those artists who gets mad when it seems like everyone raps now… That’s fine, I want everyone to rap! [laughs] Not really, but I feel like if someone is compelled to make music, rap, or any kind of art, and they do it from an authentic and real place, then I fuck with it. I don’t have to like their art or be a fan of it, but I applaud their effort, because I know it’s not easy to put yourself out there.
Check out Kid Cubicle’s Mind The Gap album below!