Kidz In The Hall: Graduation

From indie label shuffling to presidential campaigning, Kidz in the Hall are devoted students of the rap game. Naledge and Double-O, the duo better known as Kidz in the Hall, have been making music since their chance meeting in 2000 at a talent show at the University of Pennsylvania. The road from recording songs, making […]

From indie label shuffling to presidential campaigning, Kidz in the Hall are devoted students of the rap game. Naledge and Double-O, the duo better known as Kidz in the Hall, have been making music since their chance meeting in 2000 at a talent show at the University of Pennsylvania. The road from recording songs, making demos, and performing at local shows led to a connection with super producer, Just Blaze, who after hearing their demo, aligned himself with the group and even worked on their debut album School Was My Hustle. In 2006 the Kidz signed a group deal with Rawkus Records (via a joint venture  with Major League Entertainment), and released their debut album. However, after the release of the first album it was clear that the artists and the label weren’t on the same page when it came to pushing the group and have since parted ways. With the ink firmly dried on a new deal with Duck Down Records, the independent label started by the founding members of the Boot Camp Clik, rapper Naledge and producer Double-O are ready to take the Kidz In The Hall movement to the next level. The duo’s sophomore album, The In Crowd, drops March 2008, but for now, get your pen and paper kids, class is in It recently came to light that you guys parted ways with Rawkus Records. What was the reason for the split?Naledge: To be quite honest, I never bought into the idea of being on Rawkus Records alone being able to sell records for the Kidz in the Hall. I always felt that if Rawkus properly utilized its brand to push our project, that our music could easily be the catalyst to the “revival” of its label. As much as people asked us if we felt honored to be on Rawkus, I always felt like they should have felt honored to have found us (not that they weren’t). For the most part, my relationship with Rawkus has been good. I mean not only do I have a solo deal with Rawkus, they also put out the very first LP that I have ever had in stores. Still, I feel as though they were not ready, nor willing to try to spend the money that it takes to break a new artist, something that formerly was their trademark. Who Rawkus was in the mid 90’s and who they are now is very much night and day. While I understand that they may feel that they have paid too many dues to invest in something that is not a “sure” thing, nothing in music is a sure thing. With the critical acclaim you guys received from the album, School Was My Hustle, you guys probably could’ve worked out a major situation. Why sign with Duck Down?Naledge: We wanted the next Kidz in the Hall record to come out with a proper promotional push and we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to at least be relevant in the marketplace. Duck Down was the one label that came at us in an aggressive way and understood the vision of where we wanted to go with our careers. Name brand or not, Dru Ha and his squad made everything make sense. They actually had a team that was excited about getting behind our project and furthering our movementDouble-O: Duck Down just seemed like the best fit. We liked their business acumen and they liked ours so it just felt right. And no disrespect to Rawkus because I think it was a good first time learning experience. We took what we learned from the situation and are now ready to take it to the next level. There are usually a lot of legal problems that comes with switching labels. Did you guys encounter any problems in regards to ownership or anything like that? Double-O: Our deal with Rawkus was a one off so everything we recorded after School Was My Hustle is ours. We own it. We did a joint venture and, actually, the same joint venture between Major League and Rawkus is the same joint venture we now have with Duck What are you guys doing to keep your brand alive while in the transition period between labels and albums?Naledge: We got the mixtape out right now with Mick Boogie called Detention. That’s like the perfect transition right there. It’s new material that I think people will be able to enjoy until the album.Double-O: And we stay on the road. We’ve been on the road for like the last three or four months. We did a U.S. tour with Redman and a tour with the Clipse in the UK then went back out there for dates of our own. That’s how you stay connected by staying out there with the people. Meet the fans, flirt with the girls, you know. All part of the fun. When does the new album come out?Double-O: The new album is dropping in March. A good amount of people have already peeped the “Driving Down the Block” trailer. We definitely going for that feeling with the record. The vibe is going to drop in like January and after that the second single then in March, the album drops. Should fans still be looking for the solo project from Naledge?Naledge: The solo record is still there. It’s like 80 percent done. That album will probably be out like late ’08 or early ’09. Double-O: Everything is all about having the proper set-up. We started preparations really late, especially for a new artist’s first album. We’re better prepared as far as the release of this album goes. Once this joint drops we’re going to let it roll for a little bit. As soon as the buzz is where it needs to be we’re dropping Naledge’s joint. It’s going to be a good five or six months in between but everything will be set up and ready to go. Are there any tracks from the upcoming LP that you feel people will want to pay attention to?Double-O: I think people are really going to feel “Driving Down the Block.” It was one of those joint were every mixtape it was on people were feeling it. It came together without really even thinking about it. I’d been playing around with the idea of flipping old school acappellas. So I did the joint then sent it to Naledge and when he sent it back and I listened to it I was like, “This is going to be the one.” Fans of old school Hip-Hop will respect the use of the Masta Ace sample and the younger fans will like it cause it sounds good coming out of your With the industry being focused on having that new dance or catchphrase, what is it that you guys have that will help you stand out? Double-O: Us being us is what’ll draw people in. As long as you’re being genuine and not trying to be something to please everybody, you’re good. People aren’t stupid. They know when you’re not being real. There’s a lot of different stuff on this album but, it’s all us. There’s not any difference in us on record and us in person. Everything is our real personality. There is a noticeable growth with every body of work you guys release. Is that due to a conscious need to be better or just a natural progression as artists?Naledge: The whole time we were just waiting to come out we were working. Like it’s nothing for us to put out a record. But we want it to feel right and be set up properly. Double-O: I think it’s growing and traveling. Some of the newer mixtape records we’ve done were done in hotel rooms while we were on the road. You’re going to be on a different vibe after being on the road for 20 days. We’d never been on a U.S. tour before so you’re going to get a certain feeling. Even production wise, it’s very raw. We didn’t really sit down and analyze everything. We try to push each other all the time. No one likes doing the same thing twice. That process is a lot different from being in a closed setting working. And as artists you’re going to be critical of your work. Sometimes it’s going to come out right and sometimes you’re going to be like, “Damn, maybe I shouldn’t have done this or did that.” Hearing the same songs for three months straight you’re going to be overly critical. But we’re always progressing and looking for new ways to keep things fresh. Kidz in the Hall follow in the footsteps of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth in that one is a producer and one is a lyricist. Do you guys ever have conflicts where you can’t see the direction one is trying to go in?Naledge: Yea but we always figure out ways to do it. Double-O: We had this song, “Ritalin,” on the first album. Naledge didn’t really love the beat but I kept telling him “Yo it’s crazy, it’s crazy.” He ended up writing his lyrics to like 20 different beats because he didn’t like the beat. But after a while he was like, Okay. We have a song now, “Cool as a Fan.” There was probably like six or seven beats before Naledge felt comfortable. Creatively there can be a difference about the content, the beat or anything but it’s just a matter of us doing what we’ve got to do to get it You guys made the Official Theme song for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign [“Work To Do”]. How did that come about? Naledge: Originally it was just a song that I was recording for my album. The more we (me and Double O) listened to the record, we joked that it should be a Barack Obama commercial.  Our management felt that it was a realistic possibility to get it to their campaign and we just thought it was a shot in the dark. I guess we were Do you think America is ready to have a black president?Naledge: This country is ready for change in general.  Whether that comes in the form of a Black man, a white female or an ex mayor of New York, our country needs a departure from the average politician being no more than a paper figurehead.  I think people around my age view presidential candidates as ignorant to their perspective.  Obama represents a new generation of liberal Americans who share the same values and morals regardless of race and class, and want better for themselves and their families.  He represents the future of politics in this a Hip-Hop America.  Simply put, he is the best candidate and that has nothing to do with his race or ethnicity.