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Hot Karl - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Escape From Boring Ass Hip-Hop Conformity

September 2005

MVRemix: When you were with Interscope, did you feel forced to do certain types of songs?

Hot Karl: Yes, very much so. Like on the Redman and Fabolous song, I have a line that says something like, 'Go get em, rappers say stupider lines than Ralph Wiggum.’ When I said that, everybody was like, 'Who’s Ralph Wiggum?’ My manager, at the time, wanted me to change the line so it would be about Star and Buck. They were trying to get me to get rid of all the lines that they felt were not urban. It’s just sad. They don’t think that there are any rap fans who watch The Simpsons. It’s depressing.

MVRemix: Would you ever do non-hip-hop music?

Hot Karl: Um, no. I know that a lot of people go through that evolution. Everlast went through that evolution. That’s what is probably happening to groups like Lexicon. For me, not really. I grew up with hip-hop so much that I would only want to do things that were deviations of hip-hop. I would never do something that is completely un-hip-hop. That’s just not me.

MVRemix: What song made you fall in love with hip-hop?

Hot Karl: 'The Gas Face’ and 'Roxanne, Roxanne’. Yea. 'Roxanne, Roxanne’ was the first hip-hop song I’ve ever heard. 'The Gas Face’ is the first hip-hop song that I knew all the words.

MVRemix: If you could remake or cover any hip-hop song, what song would it be?

Hot Karl: That’s funny. I would love to do a new version of 'Self-Destruction’. I don’t think that I would cover it word for word because that wouldn’t work anymore. But, that kind of we are all in the same gang 'Self-Destruction’ thing is something that needs to be done. It especially needs to be done in this hurricane situation. We need a song that says what is going on and how we are neglecting so many people. We need the 'Heal Yourself’ movement, which was Krs-One’s movement back in the day. Those are the kind of things that I would love to put together.

MVRemix: Mayru and C Minus do production on 'The Great Escape’. How did you hook up with them?

Hot Karl: C Minus was part of The Fantastic 4 out here. They are on a hip-hop show on Power 106. He was always a friend of mine through a radio show he was doing on Power 106. I wanted to work with him because he was a good friend of mine. At the time, he was Korn’s DJ. He was doing some really far out shit for hip-hop. I wanted him to do a hip-hop track for me. Mayru and I were hooked up through mutual friends. He’s fucking amazing. Now, he’s too big for me. I think he’s working with Dr. Dre’s camp.

MVRemix: Do you still go to clubs?

Hot Karl: Nah, no way! No way! But, I did for a fucking while. It’s funny because that is where all my funny stories came from. Performing for Janet Jackson and shit like that only happened because I was going to clubs so much.

MVRemix: When you were just a kid, you opened up for Ice-T. Tell us about that.

Hot Karl: I was 13 years old. I was at a party and I was just mimicking the words to a song. This was when I was 12. This guy ran up to me and said, 'If I give you the mic, will you rap?’ I was like, 'Yeah!’ So, I killed it and this dude who gave me the mic was this 20 year old kid who was putting together this party for this Beverly Hills prom. Back then, people were spending tons of money for proms. I did the show. After that, Ice-T confronted me. They ended up managing me. That only lasted for about a year. I was under Rhyme Syndicate for about a year.

MVRemix: Who are the some of the contemporary emcees who influence or inspire you to be a better emcee?

Hot Karl: Not too many people out now. Chino is like that. Whenever he does a freestyle on L.A. radio, I feel like I have to step up. I feel like he gives me ideas. I always think, 'Did he really take it there?’ Some people inspire me, punch line wise. Whenever I hear Copyright’s new shit, I always think he has great fucking punch lines. There are people who make me happy as far as punch line rapping, but as far as overall influence, I rarely get it these days. It’s funny because we were talking about comedy in films. Watching a movie like 'The Cable Guy’ or mindless comedies of 10 years ago is totally different from watching something like 'Old School’ now. The new ones are just not funny to me. But 10 years ago, I loved 'The Cable Guy’. I don’t know if we have gotten older or the characters are just more broad than they used to be. There’s something that just isn’t the same.

MVRemix: What was the last dream you had that you remember?

Hot Karl: I think I had one the other day where I had to play a CD for someone. I went to play it and nothing was there. It’s such a gross metaphor but that’s probably the last dream I had.

MVRemix: Favorite films?

Hot Karl: My favorite movie of all time is 'The Big Lebowski’.

MVRemix: The dude!

Hot Karl: Yeah! I also love 'Office Space’ and 'Apocalypse Now’. I love a bunch of Hitchcock films. I love 'Old Boy’ and a bunch of movies.

MVRemix: What are the 3 best things about living in Los Angeles?

Hot Karl: The culture is great here. I know that the people think it’s not because they assume that New York has everything. In L.A., the fact that you can do anything you want here, at any time, and find some kind of subculture that agrees with you, has always been impressive to me. The weather is sick. It’s unbelievable. You’ll never find it anywhere else, ever. Florida is too hot. Arizona is too gross. You’ll never get the right degrees like you have here. Finally, people are just completely better looking. It’s true. Even when I go to New York and see good looking girls, the beautiful girls do not consistently show up like they do here.

MVRemix: What are the 3 worst things about living in Los Angeles?

Hot Karl: Traffic. It’s just obscene. The people here are mostly gross, the majority of people. If you go out to clubs here, you’ll normally run into guys who are absolutely the sleaziest people you will ever run into. Finally, everyone you run into here is a movie producer. It’s offensive because they really aren’t. They type up a business card that can say anything. They really are not involved in it.

MVRemix: What do you think of interviews?

Hot Karl: This interview went fucking great! It was awesome. It definitely flowed a lot better than most interviews I’ve done. I also loved the fact you are not typing during it. That makes me want to die. I did this one interview a little while ago where the guy was typing all the way through it. I was so nervous. When I read the interview, I felt that I was just rambling because I was so nervous about the guy typing.

MVRemix: Are you making money with your art gallery?

Hot Karl: Oh, yeah! I love it.

MVRemix: What advice would you give to someone coming up in the hip-hop industry?

Hot Karl: Diversify. Be honest. The reason why I lived off of rapping for so long is because I got that publishing deal. The reason I opened the gallery was because I made the money off of that publishing deal. I got that publishing deal purely because I showed them that I could write pop music or anything. I can do rock music. I proved it by doing other artists’ records and a ton of shit like that. I proved that I could do a billion different things. Even though nothing ever hit and my first record never came out, I made a butt-load of money just by showing these people I could do it. That would be my main advice. Make sure they know you can do everything because they will throw you a shit-load of stuff. Even though it may not be money, they’ll throw you a shit-load of projects and a shit load of respect.

MVRemix: What were some of these non-hip-hop projects you worked on? How are these projects different than hip-hop?

Hot Karl: Outside of the underground hip hop circuit, I have written with or for Sugar Ray, O-Town, Thalia, and Gerardo. Yes, that Gerardo. It's different than writing for hip-hop mostly because you don't have to worry about that inner circle of hip-hop credibility, which is all bullshit anyway. When you find yourself writing some of the catchiest, most fun shit for pop musicians, these guys celebrate and applaud. In hip-hop, everyone gets nervous. They say, 'What will the hip-hop heads think?’ Who cares? I'm not buying the new Black Eyed Peas record, but believe me, they're a lot happier once they stopped caring about what the backpackers were thinking. That's the freedom of writing outside of underground hip-hop. I'm sure it's not the most popular answer, but it's a lot more fun.

MVRemix: Are you working on your follow-up LP to 'The Great Escape’?

Hot Karl: Not right now. The gallery is kind of my main focus right now. I would love to get working on another record and I would love to do it through Headless Heroes. I don’t know. As far as right now, I’m focused on this thing.

MVRemix: How would your next album be different from 'The Great Escape’?

Hot Karl: I’d love to do a more serious record. I really would. I’d love to make a concept record that’s more serious.

MVRemix: What’s next for Hot Karl?

Hot Karl: As far as rapping, I’m going to be touring. We’re putting together some last minute shit right now. We just did a show on the Video Game Network. We’re taking it as it comes. I just did a show with Har Mar Superstar. I just did the Calivas Music Festival last week. We’re doing shows as they come along and promoting the record.

MVRemix: Final words?

Hot Karl: Let’s force rappers to be honest. Let’s not let them play movies and say whatever they want. It’s not about that. Hip-hop was never about that. Hip-hop is about telling a story and being yourself. Hip-hop is an art form before it is a huge commercial giant monster. Just let hip-hop influence you. I want people to see who is really hurting and who is trying too hard. I always felt that if you can love the art form so much, take the feeling you got when you first saw the 'Me, Myself, & I’ video. Take that emotion of that art form and plug it into your life. If you can use your experience and background in that kind of sense, you’ve accomplished something and you’re not just repeating something else going on. Let’s force rappers to be honest.

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"This interview went fucking great! It was awesome. It definitely flowed a lot better than most interviews I’ve done. I also loved the fact you are not typing during it. That makes me want to die. I did this one interview a little while ago where the guy was typing all the way through it. I was so nervous. When I read the interview, I felt that I was just rambling because I was so nervous about the guy typing."