To a lot of today's youth, the name K-Solo doesn't ring a bell. But ask any Hip-Hop historian or most people over the age of 28 about him, and watch how quickly their eyes get wider. Remembering his days with EPMD, songs like "Spellbound" and "Letterman" and his storied beef with DMX. And a lot has happened since then: he went out west and ran with Death Row for a minute; got into construction a bit; and even rolled around with Iron Mike Tyson in the Rolls-Royce Phantom. And to tell you about it all would be great... but it'd be best if you let him spell it out for you himself.
AllHipHop.com: So for those who don't know or who may have forgotten, tell us who is K-Solo
K-Solo: They call me K-Solo, but all my friends call me Wolfgang. I'm from 131st Street in Ozone Park, Queens; and at around three or four years old, I moved to Long Island. But I learned Hip-Hop through my cousin over at the East 233rd Projects in the Bronx in the early part of '77. I came up with T.J. Swann and Biz Markie. I wasn't really a street kid, but I got tired of having to fight so I got into boxing and became a two-time Empire State champ. My career took of with "Knick Knack Paddy Wack" [from EPMD's Unfinished Business]. After that, I came out with "Spellbound." But now I've got my own situation. I signed Buckwheat from L.A., this White kid from Chi-town named Maintain, and Canibus to a 12" deal with my company Waste Management.
AllHipHop.com: But what happened with you and the Hit Squad that you never released an official album but Redman got his music out there?
K-Solo: Redman got a little better push than I did. But me and Redman, it's like a brotherly relationship. But here's the thing: I am the cornerstone of EPMD. I'm the godfather of Long Island music. Rakim is the god of rap, but I am the godfather of Long Island rap. So I have nothing to say about about those guys, I wish them all the best. I'm just doing my own thing. I just signed Canibus, Maintain, we've got Son of Sam, Chuck Black from Boston, Skull Cracka from Rhode Island. A lot of these guys, we train together. Every morning we run. I get them up at six AM and we all run; and it's been nine months working for us. We have the Sharpshooters, which is a semi-military unit, our own security force. But we just encourage people to have their guns registered. We may not be able to change the game, but we're here to put a dent in the rap game.
AllHipHop.com: Why would you feel the need to go so far with security?
K-Solo: I feel partly responsible for Keith Murray. I brought him into this game and put him into Erick Sermon's hands. But I don't respect someone that has the power to fix and is hurting people. Twenty dudes behind a dude in a club isn't Hip-Hop. When you disrespect K-Solo, you disrespect yourself. If it wasn't for Kevin Madison, the world wouldn't know Keith Murray.
AllHipHop.com. Well after the situation between you and EPMD dissolved, you went out to the West Coast and worked with Death Row. How was it, and what came of it?
K-Solo: Y'know, I had a lot of fun out there. I had more fun out there in two years than I had in my whole time on the East. They still family. Warren G still reaches out to me, Digital Underground still reaches out to me.
AllHipHop.com: Don't you find it interesting that you get more love on the West Coast than on the East Coast, though? As a matter of fact, Sermon and Smith are supposed to be getting back together for a show at B.B. Kings.
K-Solo: They invited me, but I refused. They don't know what they had until they lost it. But that happened when Parrish and Erick went through their situation. I'm not stuck on stupid, I'm smarter than that, I don't want people to dictate to me what to do. Like in 1991 when I saw DMX, I should have beat his ass! I never met a crew that would let another team member disrespect theirs.
AllHipHop.com: Seeing as how you've moved on from that, what do you have lined up?
K-Solo: I do my best to help people. I plan on giving some money to Larry Jones and Frances Jones, helping build wells for kids. Most of my dudes were construction workers except for Maintain. But even he became a laborer. I couldn't read blueprints but, because of my communication skills, I still became a foreman. Making $27 an hour. A lot of these kids trying to come up in this game don't realize you don't have be on the street, moving packages. Why not try to be a good man? Damn, be a man first. All we have is a bunch of boys running around.
AllHipHop: So whom do you consider to be men in this game, then?
K-Solo: Dr. Dre's a good man. I lived with him and saw how he works, how he moves. Snoop's another good man. He's not with the bulls**t. He's got a wife and kids, organizes football for the kids. Puff is a good man from what I see. He goes to work, handles his business. That's a man. [I consider] myself. I had a dream and never gave up.
AllHipHop.com: Now let's get to the heart of the matter. You and DMX have had a number of issues in the past. Earlier in the year he was on New York's radio station WQHT with Funkmaster Flex and said he would "duff you" for biting his style. Now that has to be a double whammy: both as a rapper and as a fighter. How'd you respond when you heard that?
K-Solo: I set him up for that, and he doesn't even know it. Before me, nobody was doing the Carhartts and pitbulls in Hip-Hop. I was doing all that in the "Fugitive" video. Do you even remember the first line I ever laid down? "Yo, my style's aggressive like a pit bull terrier!" [from "Knick Knack Paddy Wack"] How are you gonna say I stole your style. Let me break it down to you. We were both in jail in Yaphank. DMX was with the juveniles and I was with the adults, 'cause they keep you separated in the yard. But we battled and he got roasted. He was like "Yo, can I borrow that rhyme?" I told him "Sure, go ahead." [Laughs] Now he's out there saying I took his style and spelling? Set that fight up! Five rounds, if he's as live as he says. He's going to have to use that prize money to fix his face. I sent him the papers to set it up but they're still not signed. I know the muthaf**ka ain't real! And I've seen his reality show and how his last album ain't moving. You know why?
K-Solo: Because he ain't got Lyor Cohen behind him anymore. The gig's up! You can't steal somebody's s**t and be good. I will break [him] the f**k up! I will hurt him. [To DMX] Stop sayin' you wrote "Spellbound"! Say you don't like me. If you're a man, be a man. If not, then sit down. You're gonna have to murder me. Tragedy [Khadafi] said it with his own mouth that I'm thorough. But they not used to scrappin'. You don't need 30 men.
AllHipHop.com: Straight-up boxing or all out fighting?
K-Solo: I train with Ultimate Fighting dudes that will choke you out in under two minutes. Rolling on the mat, break you. [Im] working with Tito Ortiz - Huntington Beach Bad Boy Tito Ortiz. I'm good friends with Mike Tyson, too, through him and Canibus. I understand him. You know, we'll be in the Phantom and he'll always ask me "Do you think this is the end for me?" And I'll say "Big Mike, this ain't the end for you. You still got the fight left in you." He needs to face someone like Roy Jones. Put Roy in his place and he has a boxer's chance and he knows he can't let Roy beat him. You know, I want to see Mike end on top. He deserves to end up on top. When you look at what he's been through and his desire to pull himself up out of the ghetto. And anyone who doesn't feel that way is a sick muthaf**ka.
AllHipHop.com So where does K-Solo go from here? You've got the Sharpshooter movement, working with Mike, your signings. What's next?
K-Solo: I'm happy with my life, man. I've got All the King's Men coming out, Maintain has his record Time is Ticking, and Buckwheat with Here We Go Again. I want to shout out Fernando Cruz, Crazy Wolf, and AllHipHop.com for allowing me to give the longest interview. One.