Personal chemistry is a crucial trait to form any successful partnership, and it would seem no bond would be closer than the one between two brothers. That’s not necessarily the case for New Orleans bred siblings Kentrell “Krispy” Lindsey and Alvin “Joey” Lindsey, collectively known as the Hip Hop group The Knux.
Despite admitting to have a sometimes strained relationship, the two former school band members have been able to generate well received artistic works such as their debut Remind Me in 3 Days and the duo’s most recent project Eleven. The Knux’s comeback album arrives four years after 2011’s Eraser LP and three years after 2012’s KTWN EP.
Krispy and Joey’s industry journey has gone from signing with Interscope to taking an extended hiatus to re-emerging under a new joint distribution deal with INgrooves/Rebel House. That roller coaster career trajectory did not prevent The Knux from using Eleven to demonstrate the Los Angeles adopted artists are still not afraid to push the limits of what a “rap album” should sound like.
However, holding on to the aesthetic that led The Knux to tour with Common and collaborate with Kid Cudi has not trapped the brothers in a mid-2000’s time warp. The experience of being raised during the heart of Hip Hop’s Golden Era and launching their music careers at the dawn of the Digital Age has given Krispy and Joey an understanding of how to blend the traditions of yesteryear with the advancements of the 21st Century.
AllHipHop.com had the chance to speak with Krispy and Joey. The genre-meshing musical pair share their thoughts on the themes found in Eleven, being the Hip Hop version of Cain & Abel, the current L.A. Hip Hop scene, and more.
It’s been a while since you’ve dropped a project. What led to the hiatus between your last EP and your latest album?
Krispy: To be honest, everybody knows me and Joey have a heated relationship. After we finished our last tour – headlining this big festival in France – we were not really talking. It was one of those unspoken things like, “Yeah, I’m gonna be cool on this for a little bit.”
It was time. People don’t realize me and Joey had been running constantly since right before [Hurricane] Katrina. We never had a break. We never went on vacation. We were just running. We were on tour for like a year.
I had a house. For one year, I was probably there two weeks out of the whole year. We were constantly running. We were burned out being with each other.
So you guys have a complicated relationship?
Krispy: We were literally fighting. I remember a while back we were doing a promo run in New York. We were literally fist fighting.
I remember journalists were writing articles like, “These n*ggas fight like the [Los Angeles] Kings. These n*ggas fight like Oasis.” It was true. We’ve always been like that. I remember being in the airport and my younger brother – Juice, he was our road manager – we had a fight in London’s Heathrow Airport.
You mentioned Oasis. There are a lot of great acts like The Beatles, OutKast that didn’t always get along. How do you keep that from not disrupting your musical chemistry?
Krispy: The total honest truth, when we’re fighting the most is when we’re making the best music. I don’t know why. When we’re the most steamed with each other, we make the best music.
When we made our Remind Me In 3 Days demo, the day we finished the last songs for it we had a real fist fight. Joe almost lost an eye. I hit him in the eye so hard he had to wear sunglasses for like 6 months.
As of recently, we’ve learned how to channel that energy into being creative. I think that has a lot to do with us being very strong-willed. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve learned how to do that sh*t and then go about our ways. For one, we don’t spend that much time around each other. So when we are with each other, we like being around each other.
On Eleven it seemed like you were addressing a theme of living in a false world. Is the idea of having to navigate in a society that’s constantly selling illusions something that concerns you on a personal level?
Krispy: Yeah, it’s something that we both see eye-to-eye on. I see more of the irony of it. I like the illusion of things. For example, I like the females that J. Cole might rap about on his songs that he feels sad about. I feel comfortable in that world. I see the irony. I laugh at it, because people take it too seriously.
I think when people realize it is a mirage is when they get let down. I never get let down, because I always knew it was fake. I never looked at rap videos and thought, “Those dudes’ jewelry is real.” I knew that sh*t was fake. I never bought in.
Maybe it’s because I read a lot growing up, so I see living life like a novel. Not to toot my own horn, I think of myself as the Oscar Wilde of Hip Hop. Oscar Wilde was one of the most intelligent men to walk the planet, but he was also realistic and logical.
Normally, when men are that intelligent they’re either detached from society or they have no sense of humor. He was witty, and he was one of the most intelligent men to walk the Earth. I see myself like that.
Joey: I think it’s all definitely an illusion. But like he was saying, you got to look at it from a point of view of: one, you can’t change it, but two, it’s funny when you really think about it. It’s only as real or fake as you make it.
I think my perspective on the album was coming from that point. I was writing from the head space of when we were heavily touring, seeing the world, and experiencing life. I looked at it from the point of view of being on the outside looking in.
Like the verse on the “Lucky Ones” song. People on the outside were like, “You’re so lucky.” It’s not lucky because we worked hard as f*ck for this. And what do you call “luck”? We always feel like somebody is in a better place than us, but we don’t really know the negative that’s going on in that person’s life.
The POV and the edit cuts in your “Mirage” video make the viewer question if what’s happening in the storyline is real or imaginary. Again, it seems like you’re playing on that theme of illusion versus reality. How did you come up with the treatment for that video?
Joey: It was a concept I came up with with a director friend of mine. We collaborated on a concept that wasn’t that at first. Then technical difficulties happen during a shoot we were doing, so we scrapped the idea.
The very next day I literally had a dream. I woke up and I said, “I got this cool concept.” I felt crazy even approaching him with it, because this guy is gonna think I’m crazy for scrapping the entire idea. But he was on board.
As we were developing the treatment for it, we were discovering ways to make it interesting. Things that popped up were, “What if we make an illusion of this girl that seems like two people – two sides of this girl where you like both sides? What if you could f*ck both of those sides? Or what if it’s not even real? What if it’s just this person’s fantasy to bring another chick in?”
We wanted to have that so you could have multiple perceptions. It was an idea where we wanted other people to pull what they wanted to pull from it.
I watched it a couple of times. Each time I got something different from it which I think is always great art.
Joey: I agree. Not to compare, but that’s why I fell in love with The Matrix. Every time I see that [movies] series I get a different point of view from it. Every time I watched it I got a different perspective. It’s like, “I thought I knew years ago, but now I really got it. I got it this time.”
I like art that you can make one time and it keeps affecting people in different ways. It ages well. That’s the type of art I want to keep pushing.
When you guys first dropped, your style was considered “alternative” or out of the mainstream. But now pushing the boundaries of what is considered Hip Hop or even “Black culture” is the norm. Even looking at what Kanye did with Yeezus with that industrial sound. Do you feel vindicated because maybe you were ahead of your time back then?
Joey: I feel more happy. Not like, “People got inspired from some sh*t I did.” But more so I’m happy because it’s kind of cool to see more of it. That’s what everybody that does anything that’s a little against the grain hopefully wants – to inspire other people, and for there to be more of it.
Not where it’s a dominating force, because that’s never good either. But where it has a strong enough presence as other things. Just where you don’t have to dig too deep to see that sh*t.
Now there’s tons of alternative sh*t everywhere. It’s kind of balanced out. I don’t want no trophy for it. I’m just glad that it happened. It’s just like, “That’s sh*t’s cool.”
Krispy: The thing I like about where it’s at now is that when we were out they would affiliate a lot of people together that had nothing to do with each other. It was just because of the way we dressed.
Joey: It’s such a trivial thing.
Krispy: I sent out a tweet the other day where I said, “If you’re a terrible rapper you must have an image. You have to have all kind of sh*t going on.” You have to have a body full of tattoos, dyed hair, and body modifications. You have to have gold teeth and wings on your back. You have to have fire shooting out your ass.
When you’re a dope emcee, making dope music, it doesn’t matter how you dress. Drake dresses horribly, but he’s a dope ass songwriter and artist. Kendrick dresses however he wants. Same thing with J. Cole. Those are people that are just dope and don’t give a f*ck about the clothes they got on.
People always say, “I’m different.” You just have different clothes on, you’re not different. You’re just like that n*gga on that corner. You got a yellow suit on. Just because you got a costume on, then yes, you are different. You wear Halloween clothes 365/24/7.
The L.A. Hip Hop scene is so diverse. You mentioned Kendrick. You also have YG, Odd Future, Dom Kennedy, or even a Kid Ink. Everyone’s style is so different. What do you think accounts for L.A. producing such a wide spectrum of Hip Hop?
Krispy: Every n*gga in L.A. don’t give a f*ck about what the next n*gga’s doing. There’s way too many b*tches in L.A., and I find in other places n*ggas are doing sh*t just to get girls. N*ggas in L.A. be having females from 10 years old all the way up.
In L.A., the ratio is five-to-one, so you can be the artistic n*gga and still be the n*gga in that circle. Dom, for example, every time I see him he got a nice thing on his arm. Dom does what he wants. He doesn’t have to bend to make club songs.
Kendrick been on. When I saw him back in the day, he was already that n*gga. Same with Nipsey [Hussle]. He’s literally my favorite rapper from L.A. Shout out to Nip. Them n*ggas just do what they want to do. They don’t worry about what the next n*gga does. That’s what I always loved and respected about L.A.
Joey: I think it’s starting to change in different cities. New York was one of the most stubborn cities about what comes out of there to represent it. But now you got A$AP. At first they were resistant, because it sounded like Houston sh*t. You look at that movement, they started to help diversifying stuff on the East Coast.
I feel it has a lot to do with how the youth feel right now. To a fault sometimes and to a positive, they literally have zero f*cks to give. I feel like those boundaries are getting knocked the f*ck down. Yeah, it has a lot to do with b*tches, because n*ggas are f*cking all types of b*tches from all parts of the world. N*ggas ain’t limiting themselves to nothing no more.
Because of the internet, you got n*ggas from New York that’s been listening to southern music their whole lives. You have people from L.A. that’s been listening to East Coast music. It’s hard to put this sh*t into boxes.
Krispy: I think the people trying to put things in boxes find themselves on the outside of things. When before they were the people on the inside controlling things, now they find themselves on the outside. They don’t understand it. Times have changed.
Joey: Now is the perfect time to be doing this. If you’re not scared. It’s open season. Nobody has that secret anymore.
You have Eleven out now. Is there anything else that you’re currently working on that we could see in the next few months?
Krispy: I have a record with Dawn Richard, formerly of Danity Kane. It’s the remix to her “James Dean” song. We’re going to shoot a video to that in L.A.
We already started recording the next Knux album. We got this Rebel House sampler we’re putting out. I’m almost finished recording my solo album. Joe’s starting his Gospel album.
Joey: I’m doing a Gospel album. Kirk Franklin is producing it…
You’re doing a Gospel album?
Joey: [laughs] Nah, I’m f*cking with you. It’s in conjunction with T.D. Jakes’ label.
Krispy: That would be the death of your sh*t. [laughs]
Not to mention, your cut would be basically nothing.
Krispy: Exactly. [laughs]
Joey: Go to the Lord, go to the poor house. [laughs]
Krispy: We got mad hot sh*t coming. We’re not going to leave and drop sh*t every four years. We’re dropping maybe another 3-4 projects this year. The way our deal is set up we have to release a few projects this year. We’re going to keep dropping.
Joey: And we start doing shows in July, and we go on tour in August through September. I can’t tell you who it’s with yet, because it’s not finalized. But when it’s finished, y’all are going to say, “Man, that’s so hot.” It’s going to be a really good tour.
Follow The Knux on Twitter @TheKnux.
Stream The Knux’s Eleven below.