88 Killa is exactly what his name embodies: a killa on the mic.
Born in ‘88, the number simultaneously represents his favorite Dallas Cowboy player, Michael Irvin, “because it’s Cowboys for life out here.” Meanwhile, Killa is his ode to Dipset’s own Cam’Ron. He states, “Every time he’d say some cold-ass s###, he’d be like ‘Killa!’” When I was growing up, man, that s###’s super f###### tight. I fused those names together and it stuck.”
Pairing his relentless bars with his charismatic personality, 88 Killa was previously a member of Brain Gang, an influential punk-rap group that grew into fruition in the late 2000’s. Since then, he’s grown into his own as a solo artist, always bringing that old school hip-hop feel and pairing it with modern day elements.
The rising MC recently put out his newest single titled “Mink Coat Melody,” which arrives on the heels of, “Risk,” premiered exclusively on AllHipHop.
Flexing his versatility and ability to both rap and sing, 88 Killa’s goal is to put on for his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, while inspiring the masses that if he can do it, they can too. Now, he unleashes his newest project titled 88 Special, a project for the “G’s that ride in cars with leather interiors and keyless entry.”
AllHipHop caught up with 88 Killa, who was posted at work in Ft. Worth, Texas. Hailing from Ft. Worth, the blue-collar Metroplex sibling of the more glossy Dallas, has shaped Killa’s world and sound in every way. He stated, “I’m at work right now, I got one of my employees holding it down while I’m on this interview for a second. They play my stuff in the back so they know, they support the grind.”
AllHipHop: How would you describe yourself?
88 Killa: I’m a smooth-skinned, Black man living in America [laughs], wanting to rap and hold it down for the Gs. I don’t really have a sob story of being a loser or nothing like that when I was growing up. Always relatively had the juice, but I want to put on for the city. From a working-class city called Fort Worth, Texas, where we’re known for a little bit of being rough around the edges. We got a lot of cool gangster rappers out right now, but I want to hold it down for dudes that don’t really be on that type of time. Want to cruise and get money basically, and I’m a family man so I can’t really be out here on the streets being active.
AllHipHop: What was that like growing up in Fort Worth?
88 Killa: For the most part, it was cool. I got along with everybody. Grew up hanging with Mexicans, grew up hanging with the white boys that were into Jackass. Was real involved in high school band, so I was cool with the nerds. I mean, I’m a nerd myself in that regard. Knew a whole bunch of people. Fort Worth is real big on in-person, human-to-human contact. You really have to be about what you’re talking about because they see you and they’re going to call you out. If you get the support from them, it’s really special because they have a million and a half things going on to where they’re taking their time out of their day. You really gotta make them proud.
AllHipHop: You say there’s a lot of gangsta rappers out there. What artists you were looking up to?
88 Killa: I’ll get in trouble if I don’t mention a guy named Twisted Black. He’s the legend/mayor of Fort Worth. He’s been in jail. it’s been a rumor that he’s getting out. He’s one of our first acts where he was right on the cusp of breaking, then he went to jail. He’s really about street life. Someone more newer is a kid named Go Yayo, he was poppin’ it for a little bit. He still is, but I don’t really know what his whole realm is. I wouldn’t say I look up to him, but he’s definitely making a name for himself.
There’s another cat named Solo Lucci, he’s from here. Even though he gets portrayed being from LA or Hollywood, he’s from around the way. Everybody was super excited with him being on reality TV and doing records with Chris Brown. They put their flag in the ground and made a name for their perspective of the city, and I want to do the same for mine.
AllHipHop: What about artists you genuinely f### with outside of your area?
88 Killa: First and foremost is Cam’ron. That’s my hero of all time, #1 rapper despite them and their shenanigans in the last VERZUZ battle.
AllHipHop: Right? That was such a disappointment.
88 Killa: Man, don’t even get me started. Me and my homie, we’ve been sending each other records since the VERZUZ.” Yo they could have played this and it would have run off!” We still tight, but Camron for sure. It’s a Houston rapper named LE$, and Nipsey Hussle for sure. That was my guy before it was trendy. I took that one pretty hard when he transitioned away from us. Of course being from Texas, you gotta really do the whole UGK, SUC, screwed up culture. We really on that out here.
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite Nipsey song?
88 Killa: Oh my god, there’s a project he did with Bino Rideaux. It’s a project him and Bino did that kind of came out under the radar. It’s a song on there called “Never Gone Know.” Damn I’m terrible with song names, but really that whole project. It’s called the No Pressure EP. There’s this song with Dave East on there where Dave East rapped the best verse of his entire life on that song. Man, there’s too many songs. There’s “Keyz 2 to the City,” all of them.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
88 Killa: My sound is a little bit of a mix of DJ Quik and people have told me I sound a little bit like LL Cool J. I don’t see it, but I definitely see the Quik influence because that was my guy too. I love Quik, Suga Free, all them fools. I’m trying to fuse a modern-day Texas sound with those elements. There’s a weird connection between Cali and Texas, we have this love-hate relationship with each other. I fuse both of those cultures with my songs.
AllHipHop: When did you realize you wanted to do music for a living?
88 Killa: It started when I was mad young, I was really into Michael Jackson. At the time, I came up with this idea. I was going to be the ultimate background dancer. I was going to be this epic dancer. I used to pop-lock in a little breakdance crew. My sister was hating and said “Man, ain’t nobody gon’ buy tickets to see you moonwalk on stage. You got to sing or rap.” I said “Alright then, I’ma come up with some raps.”
More and more, I started rapping in the halls, but I was extra trash. It really took off: I was dating this girl in high school. I found her kissing this fool under the stairs. I made a little diss track about this fool, passed it around to the school. Had the streets on smash, aka the hallway. [laughs] From there, it started up talking s###. It spiraled and people kept supporting, so we’re here now.
AllHipHop: Why did you change your name from Killa MC?
88 Killa: I made Killa M.C. when I was 16, I thought that s### was cool. It really started off as a thing with Run-DMC, I was into them at the time. I was a real Hip-Hop purist like man, Run-DMC’s the ultimate group. But ultimately I reached a plateau with that name. People weren’t really responding as I wanted them to, especially as I got older. I rebranded myself, pulled a Diddy and said “I’m changing my name and changing my look.” Ever since then, I started picking up way more traction. From the same people I was around and the same network I was running through, it breathed a whole new energy into my stuff. Who knows, in a year or two I might change my name again. [laughs]
AllHipHop: “Mink Coat Melody” out now. What was the inspiration behind this record?
88 Killa: There was a huge show a couple years ago when I was in this rap crew. I was relatively known locally for wearing crazy outfits or crazy jackets during performing. I found this mink coat at a thrift store last minute before this show. This show had sold out, it was a really big deal because it was nothing but local artists that sold out this really renowned venue. None of us had radio play, it was all word of mouth, so it was a big deal for us.
When I hit the stage, the crowd really erupted with me having this mink jacket on. Nobody remembers anything I rapped this show, they remember this jacket. I started collecting jackets throughout the years. I’d show up and do shows, it’d be a thing. “Damn, Killa’s in his mink.” Or “he might show up in his mink.” To where now, sometimes people think I’m going to be checking the mail with the mink on. There’s a whole attitude you have to be prepared for when you put it on, you walk out in the streets because it brings a lot of attention to you. If my mink coat could rap, this is the song it would make. This is the energy it is when you have it on.
AllHipHop: How’d it feel playing the piano in the visual, with the mink on?
88 Killa: The piano was cool, you know real sexy video. My child’s mother was a little tight that it wasn’t her on the piano, but she wanted to babysit so I had to get somebody else. Other than that, it was cool. Ironically, we recorded that song the day before we shot the video. That’s how fast me and my homies are moving right now trying to get it done.
AllHipHop: You say the song’s one of your personal favorites. Why is that?
88 Killa: Yeah! It’s one of those songs where it sums up me, it sums up my energy. The video was shot real well and classy. It was simple and sleek. Everybody who was involved from the model in the video who’s a well-renowned singer here locally in the area, to the crew that filmed it, we’re all super excited and motivated to get something done. It’s hard to have that energy with everybody on the same page, so it’s a real fun moment in life. For it to pick up the steam it has done around here, that’s exciting because everybody feels like things are moving upward.
AllHipHop: Do you feel like real Hip-Hop is hard to be seen nowadays?
88 Killa: Yes and no. You got to know what you’re looking for. There’s got to be a balance to everything. I used to be one of those people that felt real Hip-Hop was hard to find, but who are we to define what real Hip-Hop is? If it’s always been a microphone of what’s been going on in a particular area. There’s always been silly stuff from the disco era on to now. You have to learn with all types of music, especially rap out now. Even though I don’t understand it, I do try to listen to it to figure out why it appeals to certain people, different frequencies and waves that it’s speaking because there’s something to learn from every aspect of it.
AllHipHop: What are you most excited for with 88 Special dropping this Friday?
I88 Killa: t’s been a while since I’ve put out some s###, so letting fools hear it and seeing what I’ve been up to. It’s been such a process for me because I’ve been trying to put this out for a while. It seems like life’s been like throwing punches left and right. Last year, Corona. Right before Corona, we found out we got a baby on the way. Damn!” We had the baby, we had that Corona. There was that whole roller coaster. Now the baby’s here, I’m watching her crawl around the house and put stuff together. Watching her little brain get into stuff.
I took from her saying if she wants something, she’ll go get it. There’s no concept of her being too little or not able to get it, she’s going to crawl over there and figure that out. Damn! I need to apply that to my real life. [laughs] I need to go get that s###. It’s fun watching her grow up. I want to make some stuff she’s going to be proud to say, “Yo, that was my dad. He was on some G s###.”
AllHipHop: What’s the best part of fatherhood?
88 Killa: Watching her grow up. Even though she’s only 11 months, she’ll be a year in September. Watching her brain put things together. I’m in an interracial relationship. Her end of the world, she sees her mom. She sees me. That’s her parents. There’s not any of these racial, weirdo s### that’s going on now. It’s just love. “Yo, can y’all feed me?” I want to be able to give her the life that I wanted more out of. To travel, to see, to taste foods, do all types of things. The possibilities are endless with her.
AllHipHop: Do you have any goals?
88 Killa: Yes, ma’am. The goal is to stay black, straight up. Put on for the city, put on for my fam, maintain a high level of integrity. I don’t have a financial goal because there’s no such thing as having enough money. I want to live comfortably, I want to live on my own terms. I want to do things I want to do. Most importantly, I want to be in a position where I can help others. I ultimately want to be a Birdman where I’m an artist and I come on with a hand rub, give you a couple of lines, and let the young homies take it. I’ve always wanted to put people in a position and show them you don’t have to do corny s###, so that’s the goal.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
88 Killa: Support me, share my s###. Hit me up, I’ll talk back. I’m not somebody that’s too cool to reach out. If you come to the city, if you find yourself in Dallas, look me up. I’ll tell you where to go and tell you where not to go. What to eat, what not to eat. Let’s do this, let’s build it together.