CunninLynguists: Wicked Awesome

AllHipHop Staff

What a shame it would be if CunninLynguists never pierced America’s mainframe. The trio of Deacon, Natti, and Kno continues to the boundaries of Hip-Hop by melding a consistently impressive blend of rock, blues, polka and any other form of music that tickles their fancy. America knows Kanye West, which whom they once shared the stage, and also KRS-One, on that has rapped over their beats, but CunninLynguists have remained enigmatic. For many Hip-Hop fans, that’s the draw. The Southern rappers remain a piece of culture that we haven’t been forced to share with everybody else – except the progressive millions in the global market and on the internet.

Strange Journey Volume One is the latest fantastic foray by CunninLynguists. An eclectic blend, the album represents the group well and is a tremendous progression. AllHipHop tracks the onward, upward movement of CunninLynguists in this humorous, revealing interview. Here is the prerequisite album question. Can you tell us about this project, Strange Journey Volume One?

Kno: This is an extension of what we started doing in 2005 with Sloppy Seconds Volume Two, which was basically a mixtape with all-original material as a response to the thousands of crappy "jacking for beats" mixtapes that were flooding the market. This particular release is a concept-mixtape revolving around travel and touring. Strange Journey Volume Two is coming in a few months, as well. It seems like everything is dying: Hip-Hop, music with Michael Jackson. How have you guys survived in all this doom and gloom.

Kno: We have hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide that depend on us to produce music that maintains a high level of quality while discussing realistic, positive takes on the world we live in. It is important to not let them down.

Deacon: There's nothing better than reliability. Whether it's friends, income or your old trusty car. Reliability is like a rock. We try to always be something that our fans can put their faith in. No matter how bad the world gets. No matter how bad rap or music as a whole gets, our fans can put faith in the fact that we're going to give them blood, sweat and tears when it comes to this music. What are you thoughts on the death of magazines?

Kno: It is unfortunate that quality, professional writers are left with fewer and fewer outlets as our country becomes dumber and less literate, but at the same time it never really sat well with me that you could simply pay a publicist $6000 and become the "Flavor Of The Month" in every taste-maker magazine. Critics and writers started feeling themselves and their perceived "power" a little too much. I think the playing field is a little more leveled for DIY artists, for now.

Deacon: Agreed. The only death in the word of periodicals that I mourned was Scratch Magazine. Scratch was revolutionary in that it focused on the Hip-Hop producer but still managed to entertain those that were MPC-illiterate, ya digz? They just came on the scene during a time where magazines were biting the dust. Aside from that, it's all just a sign of the times. Obviously, we're moving to be a web-based culture. These days, even cell phones and laptops are coming out with web-based operating systems. It's just the way it is. I wish Scratch would have started online though. Would've been dope.

Kno: Actually, Scratch switched to an online format after they folded but they never update it because I guess people don't read it. So there goes that. [laughs] The internet seems to have sustained your careers even though you are covered in magazines. What is the best internet tool you employ?

Kno: There is no one tool above any others, so anything that connects you directly to fans works for us. To tell the truth, before MySpace fell the fuck off they used to have a feature that would allow you to invite your actual fans to a show based on their ZIP code that really, really worked well. Now MySpace is just 99.9% spam from rappers you've never heard of.

Deacon: The internet is like the stock market. You can't put all your eggs in one basket. You have spread out your resources to get the best return. Things change too quick. Nas and AZ said it, but from your music, I don't quite feel that life is only a b***h and then you die. Views?

Kno: Life is what you make it. You can be a gourmet cook or purveyor of shit-blossoms, it is up to you.

Deacon: [laughs] Agreed. Life is far from easy, but when a person actually realizes that they are in control of their own destiny and that they can be whatever they put their mind to, that's a realization of a whole lot of power. I know it's cliche, but "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going" is a true statement. Those without the will to survive may just settle for a "Life's a b***h and then you die attitude" but you must realize that AZ and Nas were like 17 and 18 when they wrote that. They've both grown as men and artist. It's totally understandable that a teenager would question life in that manner, but at some point a person must get past that to live a happy life. Pick one: Twitter, Myspace or Facebook and why.

Kno: MySpace has turned into spam-filled wackness, Facebook is not artist-friendly at all but great for personal use and Twitter is too ADHD for me sometimes.

Deacon: I kind of prefer Facebook. It allows me to be Willis Polk and not Deacon the Villain. Twitter is cool too, though. It's kind of like a custom "Headline News". Kno, you remixed the Black Album, are you ready to ride for Jay-Z now that he's got major issues with The Game?

Kno: Its a recession, I'll ride with whoever is coppin' beats. [laughs] Rapper beef doesn't pay my bills. At least not yet. I have been told you all rap and yet have jobs. Can you inform all the rappers how you manage this?

Kno: Then you have been misinformed. [laughs] We've all been making music for a living since at least 2005. The last real full-time gig I had was working at a shoe store while attending Georgia State University in 2003. It isn't too hard to make a living when you have a dedicated fanbase, tour consistently and own the rights to your back catalog. Too many rap artists are quick to give it all away for a chance at stardom. Do. It. Yourself.

Deacon: Yeah, I haven't worked a real job since Fedex Ground in 2003. For the next couple years I provided studio time for money out of our A Piece of Strange Studios set-up in Lexington, KY and the rappers in KY really held me down. Then around 2005, I even hung that up so I could focus solely on CunninLynguists and APOS Music LLC. What is the key to being committed to being dope knowing that it will get you major accolades, but not the commiserate fame and fortune.

Kno: We never think about the end result, to be honest. Being dope is just a reality of our existence. [laughs] People who try too hard usually end up sucking tremendously. Fans can smell the desperation on you. It is a bad, bad look.

Deacon: The best thing you can be committed to is the mastering of your craft. If you've been truly blessed with a skill set, you'll already be dope from square one. But, you still have to spend time to polish and elevate yourself in whatever said area is. Just because a person's been blessed with rhythm and coordination, doesn't mean they can just jump on a drum set and bang out the funky drummer complete with fills and drum rolls. How it was working with the Dungeon Family and do you have any thoughts on the reunion? Will you be producing any of it?

Kno: Everyone we've ever dealt with from DF, from Cee-Lo to Rube to Khujo to Big Boi, have all been cool as hell. I wouldn't expect anything less from Hip-Hop legends. A reunion could be nothing but a positive thing. As far as us producing some of it, I'd love to be involved in the project but I'd be just as happy if Organized Noize handle the whole thing. I'm a fan first, forever.

Deacon: Definitely a fan first. Even 2nd and 3rd Generation DF members like Killer Mike and Jawz of Life have been cool as hell. Consummate professionals and excellent people. What is the Strangest Journey you have been as a group?

Deacon: We rocked two sold-out shows in Alaska on back to back days in venue's that were directly across the street from one another. That was pretty dope. It was so hot in the first venue that people's sweat was evaporating at such a rate that it was collecting on the ceilings then dripping back down upon the crowd. Extremely disgusting, yes. But still a time to remember.

Kno: The most surreal moment I've ever had on the road was riding in a speeding taxi with bad shocks in London at 5 a.m. on 1 hour of sleep. The driver had two GPS systems talking over each other at the same time. Hitting turns going 45+ mph, wrong side of the street. 7 grown men in one little ass van. I felt like I was going to die but I don't know why. Kno, can you speak on the Chico and The Man project with Tonedeff?

Kno: Chico and The Man is a concept album that I'm producing the entirety of while Tonedeff handles the vocals. We're aiming to have it out before December 31st 2009. From a production standpoint I'd consider some of my best work ever, easily, and Tone is killing it in ways that only he can. I think the less I say the better, I like to let the music speak for itself. Expect a video and single soon. What made you pick the Scooby-Doo looking van for the cover art?

Kno: Since you're literally only the second person to mention Scooby-Doo, I don't know [laughs]. Most people seem to bring up Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker. Final words or proclamations?

Kno:Strange Journey Volume One featuring Killer Mike, Slug of Atmosphere and more is in stores now through Sidecho/Bad Taste, Strange Journey Volume Two coming soon on our own imprint, APOS Music. Strange Journey U.S. Tour starting soon thereafter, come holler at us!

Deacon: Yeah, what he said. Knuck if you buck, b***h!