Hip-hop music is magnificently powerful when the production and the vocals perfectly fit together in a true balance. Albums like “Illmatic” by Nas, “Ready To Die” by The Notorious B.I.G., “Hard To Earn” by Gangstarr, “The Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest”, and “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers” by Wu-Tang Clan are perfect examples where the delicate equilibrium between production and vocals is maintained. Since these LPs (as well as others) were made during the 1900’s, hip-hop historians reminisce about the 90’s as the culture’s renaissance. The past decade also displayed a steadiness between various subject matters and styles. On the underground side, there were groups like Organized Konfusion, Artifacts, Pharcyde, Book Camp Clik, Hieroglyphics, and others. The opposite end of the hip-hop spectrum included more radio friendly artists like Jay-Z, DMX, and Busta Rhymes. The artists on both sides earned respect and remained true to their love of hip-hop culture. Within their music, their vocal performances perfectly intertwined with song’s production. These days, some people purchase albums because of the producer and not because the emcee. The quality of an album’s production can now make or break an emcee. For the North Carolina emcee known as Kazé, production is letting him sail off into a horizon of infinite opportunities.
Kazé found the perfect producer who has resurrected his music. Straight from North Carolina, Kazé has been hustling in the industry for years. On his own label (Soul Dojo), Kazé released a self-produced debut album, “Spirit Of 94” in 2003. While working a full-time job, the emcee/producer remained worked hard to contribute to the hip-hop culture. Kazé has performed with Nas, Jurassic 5, KRS-One, The Arsonists, Dead Prez, Little Brother, Camp Lo, and others. He earned the title of Mic Battle Champion of Vicious Tongues in Raleigh, North Carolina and in Bloodsport Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He also was the co-Creator / producer of a national television series called “Hip-Hop Nation”. After this mountain of work, he was basically unknown outside of his home state.
Little Brother (and The Justus League) recently put North Carolina on the hip-hop map. The emcees, Phonte & Rapper Big Pooh were led by 9th Wonder’s soulful production. Fellow Justus League members Foreign Exchange, Edgar Allen Floe, Cesar Comanche, The Away Team, and L.E.G.A.C.Y were all blessed with 9th Wonder’s superlative production. 9th Wonder’s popularity and critical acclaim is consistently growing. He has produced songs for artists like Jay-Z, Buckshot, Sean Price, Jean Grae, Destiny’s Child, Memphis Bleek, Murs, and Masta Ace. As 1/3 of Little Brother, 9th Wonder’s production helped make “The Listening” LP and “The Mistral Show” LP into timeless hip-hop classics. Years from now, 9th Wonder will be placed next to legendary producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, Rza, Dr. Dre, Da Beatminerz, Diamond D, Buckwild, and others.
The effective connection between producer and emcee is essential for the creation of classic hip-hop. Technology, creativity, and the bond of hip-hop fused 9th wonder’s production talents with Kazé’s emcee skills. Similar to his approach on the Nas remix album (“God’s Stepson”), 9th Wonder worked with a cappella versions of Kazé’s songs. The final product was a brand new version of “Spirit Of 94”. Released on Brick Records & Soul Dojo, “Spirit of 94: Version 9.0” has given Kazé worldwide recognition and further showcased 9th Wonder’s exceptional skills. Even though some people may only purchase the album because they wish to hear 9th Wonder’s production, listeners will soon appreciate Kazé as an emcee. Kazé’s album has various themes, intelligent lyrics, an honest approach, and a love for hip-hop. 9th Wonder’s involvement in “Spirit of 94: Version 9.0” gave Kazé some much deserved exposure and credibility. Like the albums made in the 90’s, “Spirit of 94: Version 9.0” displays the perfect balance between the emcee’s performance and the producer’s music. The spirit of 1994 still burns within Kazé. “Spirit of 94: Version 9.0” by Kazé gives hope to those who miss the spirit of 1994.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Kazé: Everything is good, man. I’m in the position right now where I have a project out there that a lot of people are feeling. I’m having one of the ultimate successful times in the world that one could have with 9th Wonder. I got that ‘Spirit of 94: Version 9.0’ out there. I’m working on my next record right now. I’m just trying to stay on my feet and continuing. I set a goal for myself. I’m picking what I want to do with my new album. I have like 23 songs done now.
MVRemix: Are you surviving off of hip-hop?
Kazé: I’m one of those employed rappers, who work a 9 to 5. I work in the airport. I use my job as travel to get where I can get.
MVRemix: Tell us about your album, ‘Spirit Of 94: Version 9.0’, produced by 9th Wonder.
Kazé: When I started dealing with everything, I had the premise. I was thinking about what I wanted my first album to be like. Thinking the concept up, I was wondering what the illest year was in hip-hop that touched me or that I identified with the most. At first, I touched on 1988.
MVRemix: Blueprint already did an album called ‘1988’.
Kazé: Yeah, Blueprint. I’m glad I didn’t go that way. I was like, ‘Damn!’ I didn’t want to do the same thing as him. I thought about when I really started getting into hip-hop. I was 1994 or 1995. I was in high school. That was the year that left a big impact on me.
MVRemix: Is it true that 9th Wonder’s involvement with the album is the reason it is labeled as ‘Version 9.0’?
Kazé: I started my own label with my friend. The label is called Soul Dojo. The first album put out was called, ‘Spirit Of 94’. That album was put out in early 2003. I produced the 1st version of that album myself. I did all the songs like that. It was something that we put out independently. We were really out in North Carolina. We had it with the school kids and in the record shops all over North Carolina. At that time, I was doing shows with Little Brother and the whole Justus League. I would open up for them when I was up by them. When they came to Chapel Hill, they would open up for me. That’s how my relationship with 9th Wonder started. Me and all of those cats were chilling. 9th thought my album was really hot. This was around the time of 9th Wonder’s album, ‘God’s Stepson’, which is a remix album of the album by Nas. I told him that I was feeling that treatment and asked him what was up with my joint. He was like, ‘Hell yeah!’ He freaked it.