MVRemix: What happened to your debut CD? Will we ever hear it or does Interscope have it locked away forever?
Hot Karl: Interscope owns the masters. You can hear most of it at my website, www.hotkarl.com, but as far as releasing that material, they own it and it will probably just be another reel of music sitting in their storage room for years to come.
MVRemix: Tell us about Mack-10 wanting to sign you and giving you 50 G's from his trunk. Because that’s pretty shocking since your style and sound is the complete opposite of Mack-10's. What eventually happened with that situation?
Hot Karl: I never actually took the money from Mack. It was just offered in cash to me to sign with him at Hoo Bangin. If you know Mack 10, you know he loves real rap. Dude is obsessed with rappers being themselves. He doesn’t care what you’re talking about, just as long as it’s real. He always liked that I was funny, and that I looked the way I did and didn’t hide my upbringing. I guess it’s like the cliché, “Real recognizes real.” Mack and I talk about totally different things, but we’re both talking the truth, and we’re both very involved in our families. Even though I didn’t sign with him, he’s acted as my big brother in the game, always there for advice. He’s a great person and I hope to work with him the future.
MVRemix: Do you think emcees create a character to make themselves more interesting and appealing, but eventually, the person they really are, and this character they create gets fused together and they can't differentiate between the two?
Hot Karl: Totally. I couldn’t really say it any better. I think rappers allow themselves to get caught up in the hype after their debut CD. That’s why you always hear people talking about how NAS will never be as good as “Illmatic” or that Wu-Tang hit their peak with “36 Chambers.” Rappers just grow weird. They get rich, and that’s what they become all the time. They become a “rich rapper.” You’ll never be as hungry as that first CD. I think they build a persona, then allow their actual personality to become engulfed by the fake life they created, then achieved with the money. It all becomes one and it gets very hard to be a fan of one rapper for their whole career. Shit changes too much. It’s a weird difference between hip-hop and rock. Rock fans love their favorite acts forever. Aerosmith has been shitty for 10 years, but they still sell records and sell out arenas to their hardcore fans. Did you ever think that after “Illmatic” Nas would be rapping about “holding his ice?” Since rap is such a sacred personal art form, I think lifestyles change too much to keep a consistent personality.
MVRemix: Tell us about your new album The Great Escape.
Hot Karl: It’s really a fun album. It’s a throwback record for people who think rap music has gotten too serious. It hits a lot of different sub-genres within Hip-Hop music, from straight up underground bangers to detailed rock production. It’s all over the place, because that’s how my tastes are. I always loved how the Trackmasters would produce a song on Jay-Z albums that sounded so different than his other tracks, like You Belong to the City. Or how MC Lyte could do “Ruffneck” for her single, but have harder stuff more to her taste for the rest of the album. I love versatility and had to show off mine on this album.
MVRemix: What types of concepts, issues, and topics can fans expect to hear on it?
Hot Karl: I jump around a lot as far as concepts too. I speak on my rich hometown and the weird shit I saw there on “Home Sweet Home.” I address the issues with my career and the rumors about my fallout with record labels and publishing companies on “I’ve Heard” and “Let’s Talk.” I mock the Miami bass resurgence and rappers always saying they are amazing at sex on “Back/Forth.” I hit up girls with great bodies but ugly faces on “Butterface.” And I speak on girls who move to LA with unrealistic dreams of becoming famous on “Just Like Me & You” and “Dreamin.” Fans should expect to hear lots of different angles, stories and punch lines, cause it would just be like talking to me in real life for an hour. We hit everything on my mind.
MVRemix: Who is doing the production? Any guest appearances?
Hot Karl: Production from 9th Wonder, C-Minus, Mayru, Jamey Staub, Ali D and She Wants Revenge (Adam 12 and Justin Warfield). Guest appearances are mostly just my friends now, as that seems a little more realistic than paying famous people like Interscope did for me. I have MC Serch (3rd Bass), Reggie Watts, Boobie Poquito and Ali Abnormal on the record with me.
MVRemix: Do you find it hard for some fans or critics to take you seriously sometimes since you are not conforming to the typical rap sound?
Hot Karl: Yeah, I’m not an easy pill to swallow. It’s always going to be off-putting when something new tries to jump into the scene. People like being in their little bubble and nobody trying to force them out of it. Same reason everyone was stuttering in their raps when Das Efx was huge. Shit, even Jay-Z did it when he first dropped. And Jay might be the best of all time. It takes a while for the audience to warm up to something new. When people realize that I’m just being myself and speaking from the heart, they seem to warm up to the project more. When you know how much Hip-Hop means to me, and how much I’ve studied and followed over the years, you know I’m not a “serious rapper”, but I’m serious about rapping.
MVRemix: Overall, what is your main career goal?
Hot Karl: My goal is to be heard, and to get a real shot. I don’t have any expectations, just hopes to have my shot. Let people make up their own mind if they want a new voice in rap.
MVRemix: Anything else you have going on in the future?
Hot Karl: I own a successful art gallery in Los Angeles named Nineteen Eighty Eight, after the year YO! MTV Raps debuted. You can check it out at www.gallery1988.com, We have great affordable prints available. I love running the gallery and working with artists all day. It has the spark and excitement that early hip-hop did. It isn’t tainted yet, with everybody making a shit load off the same style. I’m doing a lot of Hot Karl shows in the next few months, and will be on G4’s “Attack of the Show” at the beginning of August. So, we got some shit coming up.
MVRemix: Any last words, shout outs, or plugs?
Just to force rappers to be honest. Hip-hop is not about role-playing and fantasies. This is about having fun and telling the truth. Telling distinct stories. Were the Fat Boys less Hip-Hop cause they talked about food? No. That’s what they knew. We need more voices in Hip-Hop and less conformity. We deserve that and so does the art form. We can’t let it die because rappers are too nervous to be themselves.
Shout out to Trilambs, Milo and Eon, RA The Rugged Man and Ali Abnormal. And make sure to check out my many websites. www.hotkarl.com for music and pictures. www.hotkizzle.com is my blog with updates, upcoming shows and all kinds of stuff. And www.gallery1988.com for dope art. Thanks for the interview.
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"Yeah, I’m not an easy pill to swallow. It’s always going to be off-putting when something new tries to jump into the scene. People like being in their little bubble and nobody trying to force them out of it. Same reason everyone was stuttering in their raps when Das Efx was huge."