FWMJ’s Editor’s Note after the jump.
We wrap up the first round of “Get To Know…” with a look into the world of K-OTIX aka The Legendary KO
The FWMJ Edit
I got over that stage pretty quickly, but before I did that I was told about Rice University’s college radio station, KTRU, and the weekly Hip Hop Show, Vinyl Frontier, that was run by resident Graduate Student, Chicago ex-pat, Dennis “D.L.” Lee. Rather than do course work, or go to my 10am Wednesday seminars, I’d hang out with D.L. and began to meet some of the pillars of the Houston underground hip hop scene. I think the first person of note I met was DJ Cipher, one half of Example (the other half being Kay) and owner of the largest record collection I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.
Another DJ who I won’t put on blast that had the only British bootleg of Slum Village Fantastic Vol. II on vinyl in Houston, and would cut the hell out of Fall N Love, and have silly, unfounded and ignorant discussions and arguments with CJ & DJ Soulone (now of H.I.S.D.) on whether or not Jay Dee messed up the dynamic of A Tribe Called Quest. How far off was I, would I come to find out in the following years.
Some of the most important people/groups I’d met at D.L.’s show, were two members of the K-otix. They’d just had their new single Frequencies pressed up by Bronx Science/B.U.D.S. Distribution and where at the station to drop it off to D.L. and play it. Damien Randle & The ARE were there, Big Mon was absent for some reason. I met him later on, probably at the Beat Farm, DJ Cipher’s duplex in the 3rd Ward, where weekly, Sunday chill sessions would go down, just listening to, talking about, arguing about music, latest releases & old recordings alike, and occasionally, recording some songs.
By this point, I’d been living in Texas for about 8 years, and outside of The Geto Boys and that groups off shoots, Big Mike, Scarface, etc, I didn’t really think or expect much of Texas Hip Hop. I had a lot of backwards learning to do over the next few years I was in college and around the crew, but found myself very impressed with the K-otix. In my usual, quiet and observant mode, I did the GURU, gave em a pound said my name, and stayed out the way, while really digging the beats and the lyrics. Mental note: do your homework online and look up their catalog.
Proceeded to download everything I could find by them.
Do You Wanna Be An MC? cuts by DJ Cash Money
Spontaneity EP Joints
Fallin’ Behind II
7 MCs part II
Good beats, at least half as cynical as I was, and a knack for talking shit and letting you know they were better than you in rhyme. Right up my alley.
Eventually got introduced to them in a Graphic Designer context, and I was contracted to design their album cover and website. I did a great job, but their janky record label used a nekkid 3-D man on their album cover instead haha! Several months and a slew of 12″ singles later they released Universal (rated 5 in Urb Magazine). Bronx Science & B.U.D.S., fucking all their artists back then, pressed up the K-otix album with two barcodes, fudged sales #s, had some shady accounting, and weren’t payin’ fools. Big Mon & Damien wrote this:
Fuck ‘Em All (over Agent Orange by Pharoahe & Sa-Ra Creative Partners)
I think around then is when it all changed for us, and our outlook at getting Houston’s music out there sharpened for everyone. Waiting for folks outside of your crew or you’re region to take you and your talent seriously was a shite plan for success. We had to do it for ourselves. And thus a seed for Rappers I Know was planted. A few other frustrating setbacks and frustrations watered that seed e.g. Landspeed and the like fronting on the Example Progressions EP because it didn’t sound like a Mobb Deep/Alchemist single (love those guys…or did)… too musical and jazzy they said, groups breaking up, limited outlets, you name it.
K-otix, through all the high points on the productivity scale within the crew, to the low points when morale was absent, have always been a model for what can be, and always a willing hand to help others get at it too. A place to record, always down to work with new artists, and cynical and critical enough to keep a cat like me interested.
Tours in Europe, collabs with some of the best in the underground, DJ Mitsu, Illmind, Strange Fruit Project, DJ Cash Money, Tanya Morgan, Lone Catalysts, Nicolay, countless projects giving other folks in Houston a look, and plenty of covers for me to design and drop in the portfolio, K-otix has been family as a trio, a duo and a solo, and just as people as long as I’ve known ’em. Let’s get the music back up and get out on the road again. So I can go this time.
“Ooh Ah” featuring Lone Catalysts
Thanks to everyone who contributed their time for the making of this first round of “Get To Know” videos. More importantly, thanks to everyone who supported all of the artists over the last couple of weeks. “Get To Know” will return next month with more from the artists that you’ve come to love, along with batch of new artists!
We leave you with a new, exclusive track from K-OTIX – “Be ABout It”, produced by the ubiquitous King Coz.