Today (November 22), Chicago’s own Naledge and Double-O, more commonly known and referred to as Kidz in the Hall, will release their fourth studio album Occasion to the public via Braniac and Duck Down Records. The 16-track album features a wide range of eclectic guests including David Banner, Tabi Bonney, Bun B, Freddie Gibbs, Marsha Ambrosius, Curren$y, and many more.
In Naledge and O's eyes, making music isn't always about trying to top what you did the last time around, it's about creating a unique sound that is fresh, maturing, and overall, feel-good. With the release of Occasion, they successfully managed to do all of the above, yet still provide fans and listeners alike with something truly worthy of being a Kidz in the Hall album.
AllHipHop.com spoke to both of the Kidz before the release of Occasion and got the guys to talk about the creation and recording process of the album, what is was like working with artists like Bun B and David Banner, their personal highlights from Occasion, the loss of Heavy D, who needs to buy this album, and much more:
AllHipHop.com: First off, I want to congratulate both of you guys on the release of Occasion, which is going to be your third album with Duck Down Records. What about your business relationship with Duck Down works so well for you guys and allows you to create the music that you want to?
Double-O: I think they just let us make the music that we want to make. We’ve never had to compromise ourselves at all and they’ve never asked us too.
AllHipHop.com: Last week, a few of us actually came to visit your video shoot in Brooklyn for “Pour It Up” with Bun B and David Banner. Can you guys explain the robbery concept we witnessed?
Kidz In The Hall: (Laughing)
Double-O: It’s about someone listening to my f*cking idea, that’s what happened. It’s basically like our version of Clerks, if you’re familiar with the original Clerks. You know that mundane kind of job but with that Kidz twist on it and some crazy sh*t goes down.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a specific reason why you guys chose to shoot the video in New York as opposed to your hometown of Chicago?
Double-O: We go to Europe on Monday, so it made more sense for Naledge to come here, cause I was already here, and then go off to Europe from New York, cause that’s where we’re leaving from. So really it was just a logistical thing.
AllHipHop.com: And what are you guys about to be doing in Europe?
Double-O: Shooting the second season of our reality show.
AllHipHop.com: Can’t wait to see that! We did get to speak to Bun B at the video shoot, and he was talking about the song being an homage to Pimp C. What can you guys tell me about your relationship with Bun, and how did you all link up for “Pour It Up”?
Naledge: Bun made a concerted effort as somebody who is more of a pioneer in the game to reach out to younger artists who are doing their thing and really make relationships with us and really network, and it’s crazy cause when you see someone who has accomplished so much and be willing to really put in their own groundwork. In our eyes, he’s giving us a blueprint. Bun is like family man, he’s like your uncle and lets you know in a cool way what’s going on; if you’re doing something right or you’re doing something wrong. He’s somebody who’s been there and done that and will always lend a hand and lend an ear. It’s just one of those things.
AllHipHop.com: So if Bun B is your uncle, what would that make David Banner?
Naledge: He’s like the crazy cousin. He’s the nicest dude you’ll ever meet, until you get on his bad side [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: I hear that. When do you plan on releasing the visual for “Pour It Up”?
Double-O: Whenever it gets done. I know that there’s going to be a little bit of a delay, but hopefully not too much.
AllHipHop.com: I’m not sure if it was two or three weeks ago, but you guys did something very creative and unique for your album listening session’s where you had party buses pick up passengers around the city to hear the album, party, and kick it with you guys. Whose idea was that, and overall, how did the experience go?
Double-O: Logistically, it’s always been about getting it to work, but we had actually been throwing that idea around from the time we had our first meeting with Duck Down back in 2007. So it was really just one of those things where this was the right time. There’s a very certain idea that we wanted to convey with the party bus.
AllHipHop.com: Well I think it was pretty genius to approach the listening like that and from what I’ve heard of the album, it certainly sounds like some of, if not your, best work to date, and definitely has a more up-beat sound to it. Would you agree or disagree?
Double-O: I mean, we always like what we just did, you know. We always like that newest thing that we made. So for a record like Occasion, that most people haven’t heard, and we’re like “this is the greatest sh*t ever!” I think that we try to improve with every album whether people think we need to or not. Sometimes, people get introduced to us in a variety of ways. There’s people who say that Attention is the best thing we’ve ever did and that was a mixtape that we put out such a long time ago but then, you know, there’s some people that really love School Was My Hustle and then there’s some people that love The In Crowd, and some who love Land of Make Believe. So we are always just trying to do something that is better than what we did last time but hopefully gain new fans also, and I think that’s what we’re doing.
Naledge: I think it’s one of those things where, at least me being the MC, I’m just talking about what’s going on in my life and I’m telling people where I’m at in my life. So some of out older material, it was like an older time, so I don’t really look back and I realized that somebody might be a fan of something that I don’t feel like making right now, so it’s like that’s cool, but there’s fans for what we’re doing right now, and right now everything is more me. It’s more of a place where I don’t feel like I have to prove certain things that I felt like I had to prove on our first couple of albums. I’m more interested in song structure than I ever was. I’m less interested in trying to prove to somebody that I’m dope. I know I’m dope. I don’t need to give you the most intricate rhyme pattern anymore to let you know that I’m dope. I play around with cadences more and I find nuances playing with the English language and playing with melodies, and just trying to create a feeling, and I think that’s what this album is about. It’s creating a feeling of an occasion and that’s how it came together.
AllHipHop.com: What was the actual process like?
Naledge: We went to L.A., we rented a house, and we made music that felt good to us with no qualms. We weren’t reading no blogs, we wasn’t checking no websites, wasn’t listening to nobody else’s stuff in the Rap world, and just made what we fell like making, and this is the result. That’s what I love about this album is that it wasn’t contaminated by what’s going on on the radio, or BET, or MTV Jams, or none of that, so I love this record. I think it’s our best work. I think it’s our most palatable album period. I think it stands up to anything we’ve done before.
AllHipHop.com: Is it safe to say that you guys are less concerned with trying to top yourselves and the work you’ve done in the past and more focused on just creating the best music you can possibly make right now?
Double-O: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s definitely it. We just kind of realized, that with this reality show and the other branding opportunities that we’ve been getting, we can make new fans everyday and just be appreciative of the fact that we can do this for a living and just vibe off of that and make everything an “occasion.”
AllHipHop.com: So what is so significant about the album title, Occasion and the cover art as well?
Double-O: I mean honestly, like, calling the album Occasion, it was a little bit of a marketing thing because it was kind of like, we had a song called “Occasion,” that we felt a lot of what the album is, is really based around and we knew that it was one of those important records that we really wanted to push. You know, it’s really me that gets caught up in it sometimes I try to be a little too subversive, where there’s like a billion different layers. Like people were like “Land of Make Believe has all these different meanings,” and it’s supposed to be meaningful and all that and with Occasion its just an occasion. The song, the vibe, everything, is very simple but on the flip side, I got to be a little subversive with the artwork, I mean the artwork is essentially confetti falling. It was just a really dope picture that I found. One of the photographers we work with a lot in Chicago, he had it on his website and I was just like “this is what it needs to be. This picture represents everything about the celebration of this type of album. The occasion.” That’s really how the title and art came to be.
AllHipHop.com: That’s awesome. As far as the actual recording process, I know you guys said earlier that you got the house in L.A. and were recording there. You’ve got a wide list of eclectic features on Occasion, did any of the artists actually come to the house with you guys and record?
Double-O: I mean, some of them were around. Some songs were done a little earlier then when we were in L.A. You know, we had a lot of ideas prior to recording and we were just fleshing them all out and so what ends up happening is, you can listen to a song a billion times, but before you can complete it, you’re like “aw, this is who I need on it!” Or even saying, “this is what I need to make this song complete.” There were a lot of those kind of brainstorming sessions that we had alongside the demos that we had done that led to a lot of the features.
AllHipHop.com: Looking back, is there anything that sticks out as a crazy moment during the making of the album?
Naledge: We had a lot of hoes around man during the making of this album. The album talks about the life or a real person that gets hoes. Not like, “I’m a player or I’m out here pimping, etc. I go to the club, I walk right in and I got like 80 girls.” No, man, not at all. I fight with women, argue with them, but at the same time, I love women and I talk to them and have meaningful conversations with them; I invite them to the studio. I drink with them and sometimes they smoke me out, I smoke weed with them. That’s really what this is about; it’s an occasion! It’s not an occasion if bad women - bad meaning good - if you don’t have great women around the environment than you can’t create that type of music. It might be a laughing moment or a laughing matter, but it’s the truth. I don’t know any heterosexual dudes that can hang out and have a great time with music without women involved. That’s just real.
AllHipHop.com: So for someone who goes out and picks up a copy or two of the album, where would you say is the perfect place or environment to hear the album?
Naledge: Anywhere that bad b*tches reside at. You know what I’m saying?
Naledge: Car, strip club, party. You could be at your job right now and a bad b*tch could be at a cubicle next to you, and you might just be playing our song and that might get you in the mood to go rap to it like “let’s go hit this happy hour real quick.” (laughs) That’s who we are. That’s who Kidz In the Hall are. We understand that nine to five, office mentality. We’re those guys, who although we were pegged to be that if you look at our resume, we took it and made it to rap music. So I still hang out with people that graduated college and work that nine to five, but I’m like the coolest motherf*cker to them. We have always been – when people go right, Kidz In the Hall go left – so the music reflects that; it’s a fun time and we’re fun people and we found a way to mesh our wittiness and tongue-in-cheek humor into having fun and also attacking real issues. Did I mention that bad b*tches should buy the album?
AllHipHop.com: At least twice [laughter].
Naledge: For real. Attention all bad b*tches, buy Kidz in the Hall’s album. We are the leaders of the bad b*tch movement!
AllHipHop.com: Do each of you guys individually have a song on Occasion that is a personal favorite?
Double-O: For me, I love the way the whole album kind of rocks. I think what we did with this album was rather than try to tell a story or connect dots, we just picked our 14 favorite records and just put it on there.
Double-O: So I think that kind of like, this is the best of our life, right now. I think that’s why it maintains a certain amount of energy throughout the whole thing cause we just did the reverse of what people kind of tell you to do.
Naledge: “Pour It Up” to me is the jewel of the album, only because, like, the way it came together, not necessarily because of Bun being on it or because of David Banner being on it, it celebrates the life of legends that passed away, but in a way that’s a little bit different. I was talking to Bun about the fact that down South, when people pass, you don’t get sad, people have a party for them, so that’s kind of what the idea of pouring out a little liquor for the homie or pour it up and toasting to the homie. That’s what we’re doing is toasting to the homies that we lost and toasting to the legends that we lost and we found a way to integrate that into a lifestyle. If they were alive, they’d be in the club and pouring it up and having fun. That was the energy that they exuded when they were here. So Pimp C, Biggie, and Tupac were the three legends that came to mind immediately but I really wanted to shed light on the memory of Chad Butler, specifically because I feel that Pimp C, you know, everything aside, the large character that he had, like he was a very, very talented individual.
Naledge: It just permeated really deeply in the Rap industry and I think it largely went unnoticed when he was alive.
AllHipHop.com: Well, even more recently the world lost Heavy D, and it is just amazing to see how iconic these people were and the legacies that they leave for people to hold onto for years and years after they pass away.
Double-O: It’s unfortunate and this goes even outside of Rap, I mean, we don’t celebrate people, unfortunately, until they’re gone a lot of the times because we’re forced to reflect on how important they really were in our life or just in the world. So with Heavy D, it’s just crazy. It’s wild sometimes how you can just go to sleep and wake up the next morning and look on Twitter and you find out somebody is gone. And the way that we look at death now, I think is about to evolve in such a wild way over the next couple of years.
AllHipHop.com: How so?
Double-O: You have kids growing up in an era where if someone passes away, there’s still a digital footprint of them. How many people were retweeting Heavy D’s last tweets you know? It’s a wild thing and just a very interesting concept of what death is nowadays.
AllHipHop.com: That’s very true. Just to finish up, looking ahead to next year, what do you guys have planned and in store for the fans and the industry in general?
Double-O: We’re definitely going to be working on solo stuff. There’s going to be the second season of the reality show and I think that with that, we’re going to have some new music. It’s funny too cause originally Occasion was going to be an EP and then it turned to an album, which seems to always happen, so I can say right now that I know we have a couple of songs that we’re going to attach to the show’s new season. Whether or not it will be an album, I don’t know, but it could be.
AllHipHop.com: Looking forward to hearing the new stuff, and congratulations again on the album’s release.
Kidz in the Hall: Thank you!
Kidz In The Hall’s “Occasion” Is Available Now!