2006 Client Roster: Kice

Interview: KICE (New Jersey)
By Kandis Knight

“My producer, Mr. Len (Company Flow), never took my vision away. If I say I thought about this. . .this and this, he never made me change my mind.”

In light of the bad economy, it is not a surprise that many music fans and artists such as New Jersey Hip-Hop phenom, Kice, are tired of “bling-bling” and “shoot em’ up” rap songs. “Rapping about “bling-bling” is like taking the easy road. It is easy to rap about fancy cars and jewelry and get people’s eyes to open wide,” says Kice, who grew up listening to Phil Collins every morning before Church.

So Kice went into the studio with legendary producer, Mr. Len and formulated his latest album, New Experience. “New Experience is about life experiences, different things I have been through. I consider it stepping outside of the norm.”

Kice felt hip-hop’s contemporary messages were missing something. “I made this album because I felt like there was something missing, just real music.”

Although Kice’s musical mentor, Mr. Len is best known in old school indie circles, Kice is definitely a step in the commercial direction. However, Kice’s music, may very well change our perception of what commercial music is and it is about time. “You rarely hear about someone having a bad day in a rap song, but we all have them. I would love to have the finer things, the ideal life but there is the other side of it. Everything isn’t perfect.”

Growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey can be bad for your health. “I saw The Wire, every night. Drugs, abuse, family members in and out of jail, poverty, only thing is it was just real life.”

For these reasons, “bling-bling” is not Kice’s style. “I don’t knock the “bling-bling rappers” but when you’ve seen what I’ve seen mixed with what I’ve been involved with. It’s different when it’s your family. I had an aunt pass and when I saw her face it affected my music. A cousin pass, shot two times, and that affected my music. That’s the outcome.”

Kice’s lyrics are based on many life experiences he has encountered however sometimes, he just lets it all flow as every true artist has to do at some point.

“My lyrics come from everywhere. It depends on what I went through that week. If I had a bad week nothing will come. My mind would go blank. I used to think I lost it for a minute. I get lost in music a lot.”

Although writing generally comes easily for Kice, he is not immune to writer’s block. “When I have writer’s block. I can ride til’ the tank is damn near empty. My mind gets cluttered and it becomes routine step outside the box and do something different. It makes you get back to where you were.”

Kice is used to working out side of the box, he has no choice, he works along side Mr. Len, a bona fide creative genius who is known for pushing the envelope. “When Mr. Len says he doesn’t want things to be the norm, he is more so saying that on a production side. We are an artist and a producer not wanting to follow. I think that is what makes you an artist. When I do shows he will pull me aside and say “Don’t do what everyone else does.” Mr. Len doesn’t want me to be like everyone else.”

Kice will be the first to tell you about Mr. Len’s dualistic Gemini personality. “Working with Len is hard. Len don’t care about how you think it might be. He is methodical. I thought he was icing everything that I did. I was struggling to get words out I thought I did good and he will say rewrite the whole song. Len taught me a lot, I know now that I don’t have to get my whole point across in one line.”

Sometimes stepping outside of the box even includes diving deeply into foreign territory for Kice. “I zone out and listen to no Hip-Hop for weeks. Sting, Phil Collins, Sade, Cold Play, Maddona and I will go and watch performances.”

If you are looking for that piece of thought provoking riding music, Kice’s As The World Turns is just what you are looking for. Another one of my favorites is the R.I.P. song, inspired by a funeral Kice attended that affected him deeply, he actually shares that pain in this song.

“I don’t care if radio doesn’t accept me. I am happy that I did what I felt. It sure feels good for people to say I was hoping for a miracle and all I thought about was your song. And then they come back later and say, I got my miracle but still all I do is listen to your song.”

WHO IS Mr. Len?
Company Flow

Full Lengths:
Funcrusher , 1995
Funcrusher Plus , Rawkus Records - 1997
Little Johnny from the Hospital , Rawkus Records – 1998

"Patriotism", Soundbombing, Rawkus Records – 1999
"DPA (as seen on TV)", Def Jux Presents Company Flow, Definitive Jux Records - 2001

"End to End Burner", Rawkus Records - 1999

Roosevelt Franklin
Full Length:
Something's Got to Give , Third Earth Music- 2003
Bare Food -2006

Mr. Len
Full Lengths:
Pity the Fool: Experiments in therapy behind the mask of music while handing out dummy smacks , Matador Records - 2001
Class X, A Tribute to Company Flow , Smacks Records – 2004
Mix CDs:
Mr. Len, Rhettmatic, DJ Drez, Hidden Jewels, Polygram – 1999
Mr. Len & Bobbito, Kick A Dope Verse/Scratches For Your Anal Crevice, 1999
Mr. Len, Vibe With The Crowd Live from Club Harlem (Japan), 2000
Mr. Len, Oven Roasted Beats, Room Service/7 Heads - 2003
Production/Album Appearances:
Armand Van Helden, "Rock Da Spot", 2 Future 4 U, Armed Records - 1999
Roger Sanchez, "Buffalo Gals Stampede [S-Man's Spicy Buffalo Wings Dub]" Maximum House & Garage, EMI Int'l - 1999
Bill Laswell/Material, "This Morning" feat. Juggaknots, Intonarumori, Palm Pictures Audio -
The Masterminds, " The Fast Way", Live From Area 51: The Extraterrestrial Project , Exodus Entertainment - 1999
Twigy, Seven Dimensions Remix LP (Japanese Release), 2000
MC Paul Barman, "School Anthem", It's Very Stimulating, Wordsound - 2000
DJ Krush "Vison Of Art" feat. Company Flow/Scratches by Mr. Len, Zen, Red Int / Red Ink -
Princess Superstar, "Trouble", Is, Rapster - 2002
Jean Grae, "What Would I Do" and "Knock", Attack of the Attacking Things, Third Earth Music - 2002
Prince Paul, "Ralph Nader" skit, Politics of the Business, Razor & Tie - 2003
Indelible MCs (El-P, J-Treds, Juggaknots), "Weight", Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1, Priority Records - 1999, Re-released 2004
Jedi Mind Tricks, "Words from Mr. Len 1 & 2", Violent By Design, Landspeed - 2000, Re-released 2004
Mass Influence, "Analyze" (Single), Boulevard/Nonstop - 2000
Various Artists, "Hip Hop for Respect" (Single), Rawkus Records - 2000
Murs, "Take Yo Ass to the Store" (Single), Smacks Records - 2003
Mr. Dead feat. Sayyid (Anti-Pop), "Dynamic Tension" (Single) 2005

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