Interview iH2 – The Knux: Family Ties

14 years ago view-show 799,326


A sibling rivalry is created when sets of brothers or sisters compete against each other in order to gain the maximum amount of notoriety possible. Some times the internal struggle can divide a family apart, leaving the members not on the friendliest of terms. But in the case of The Knux’s Kintrell “Krispy Kream” Lindsey and Alvin “Rah Al Millio” Lindsey, such a thing doesn’t in their world.

The brother-duo from New Orleans might be mistaken for alt-rockers just because of their attire alone, but that error in judgment will fall below the waistline when their material seeps into the ear canals of those who are unfamiliar with them.

Separated by only two years, the musically-inclined Lindsey boys have made a name for themselves with their debut album, Remind Me In 3 Days, and most notably being able to play, create, and arrange their own production, (thus eliminating the middleman). Their unique brand of individuality has been something seldom seen as of late, especially coming from a Hip-Hop standpoint.

Whereas the majority of artists trace the outline of someone else’s blueprint, The Knux stick out more than Shauna Sand wearing a pair of platform hooker stilettos, a skimpy bikini top, and a micro-mini skirt walking in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, New York.

With their retro look (which isn’t a gimmick conjured up by a publicist), the only thing these two siblings will be fighting over is what artists they decide to work with, as their services to make others sound good are becoming more in high demand. How were you two like when you were growing up? Did you do a lot of things together?

Rah Al Millio: We always did things together, because we were so close in age, and a lot of it came from our mother too. She made us stick to each other because we were all we had. She would tell my brother stuff like, “If you’re going somewhere, you have to take your brother with you.” Then I’d be like, “Man, now I have to take him too?!” But that’s basically how I started hanging with him, because it was forced at first through our mother. But basically we just stuck with each other from all that time. Did one of you get into music before the other, or was it a mutual thing?

Rah Al Millio: We both got into it together… When you’re black and from the ‘hood, you’re always going to be into Hip-Hop anyways, plus it was always around us. But as far as music, our mother put us in a marching band when we were in school just to keep us out of trouble and sh*t like that. It didn’t work but it did spark a musical interest. From there, we learned how to play instruments, and we got into Jazz band, and we would do little gigs here and there.

We were always rapping though, everybody raps… [Laughing] We were always into heavy East Coast music, and people thought that was strange because we were living in New Orleans. We were on that East Coast sh*t wearing Timberlands, and people would be like, “Where are you going with those big-ass boots on?!” But then everybody started wearing them afterwards.

Kripsy Kream: Yeah man, basically we always been on some other sh*t. A lot of people label you two as “hipsters.” Does the whole labeling thing sit well with you guys?

Rah Al Millio: Most people don’t even know what a hipster is, they’re just saying that. They’re just saying it just because somebody else said it, and it’s kind of like “Monkey-see, Monkey-do.” But we don’t worry about that actually, you know what I mean? We don’t trip on it because we don’t pay it any attention, and the people that are saying that don’t know the origin of the word. This is my opinion, and maybe you can agree on this: If you’re labeling somebody by clothes, then we have a problem.

Krispy Kream: [Laughing]…

Rah Al Millio: With the whole button-up phase, we didn’t call that “executive rap.”

Kripsy Kream: [Laughing] The only person that said something was the Game, and he said that button-up shirts aren’t Hip-Hop…

Rah Al Millio: If you’re going to label something by the appearance, then that’s just an ignorant statement. We don’t dress like Kanye [West], Kanye doesn’t dress like the Cool Kids, and the Cool Kids don’t dress like “The Knux.” If you’re not wearing baggy jeans, then they just put it into one lump. Let me ask you a question: Do we sound like Wale, or does Wale sound like the Cool Kids? [Laughs] None of you guys sound like each other to my knowledge…

Kripsy Kream: HELL NO!!! Just like Jay Electronica, none of this stuff sounds the same… So did you guys make it a point to be able to make your own music as opposed to looking for producers?

Rah Al Millio: Yeah we made it a point to do that, and you just hit it right on the money. Think about it: We’re playing everything right now, so I want my credit for this sh*t! [Laughing] But at the end of the day, we put it down on the production level as whole, not to just be like, “Oh, those are some good beats.” We want to have good “Production,” and anybody as a producer can respect that just from a production standpoint period.

Krispy Kream: Just like Danger Mouse… No one says he’s a “Hip-Hop beat maker,” they say he’s a producer.

Rah Al Millio: And that’s the same way we want to be respected, so that’s why we play our own instruments, because that’s what we want to be known for. With you guys being brothers, are you both brutally honest with each other when it comes to dishing out creative criticism?

Krispy Kream: WWOOOOAA!!!

Rah Al Millio: There has been many a fistfight…

Kripsy Kream: [Laughing] That’s the worst thing, and the best thing. If you’re in a group with your partners, they’re going to know how to say stuff in a civil way so it doesn’t come off sounding too negative. But with a brother, he’s going to be a negative asshole, and he ain’t going to sugarcoat it or nothing. Remember how you just said “creative criticism”? There ain’t no creative criticism, it’s just “criticism.” [Laughing]…

Rah Al Millio: I’ll just be like, “That’s whack brah, that’s garbage.” [Laughs] [Laughs] Do you two usually see eye-to-eye the majority of the time when making music? Are you guys mostly on the same page?

Rah Al Millio: Either we will both catch it on the same page, or we will agree to disagree, and just part ways on it. But 95 percent of the time we come with the same conclusion. So to please “me,” we’re going to do this—and to please “you,” we’re going to do this. It’s never like a dictatorship though, like 75 percent of the songs are stuff I did, or something like that.

We have songs that are “Al songs” and we have songs that are “Krispy songs.” Nobody on the outside would know who did what, but there were songs I really wanted to do, and songs he really wanted to do. We have songs that we both mutually love, and then there is stuff that I totally wanted to do, and vice versa. How’s the chemistry like when you are creating music? Do you guys work together or separately?

Rah Al Millio: It’s everything… Sometimes it’s the both of us sitting down, and it’s crazy because we will both be on the same wavelength. He’ll be like, “Man, I was thinking of this idea” and I’ll say, “Man, I was just thinking of that!” Sometimes we say that we have to do a record like “this,” and every time we say that, it never comes out that way. A lot of our songs start with just the music, because the music inspires our song concepts. So as far as the production goes, we just start with the music first You guys came out with Remind Me In 3 Days not too long ago. Was there anything in particular that you wanted to accomplish with the project?

Rah Al Millio: We wanted it to be more of a template… We wanted to show people that we could do everything on this album, and lyrically we didn’t give the people all we could give them as far as the rhyming goes. We have so many different ways to drop stuff, because we don’t think from a Hip-Hop point of view, we think from a songwriter’s point of view. When people think of artists from New Orleans, they usually have this preconceived notion on what to expect. Are people usually shocked when they find out where you’re from New Orleans?

Krispy Kream: We have all kinds of artists from New Orleans… Harry Connick Jr. is from New Orleans, so is Mystikal, and he doesn’t sound like any of the stuff coming out of New Orleans…

Rah Al Millio: I think it’s because Hip-Hop has this costal rivalry thing, and they just box people into a certain sound. If you look at the Bay Area for instance, they have all kinds of stuff coming out of there. You have E-40, the Luniz, and then you get Souls Of Mischief.

Kripsy Kream: That’s how it is in New Orleans but major labels, just want to grab a certain sound out here, and that’s how it is with the Houston scene. It ain’t all about “Screw” in Houston, and you have people like Devin The Dude who kind of breaks that mold. But I can see why it would shock people because at first you had the “Cash Money’s” coming out and stuff like that.k2.jpg Speaking of labels, right now you’re signed to Interscope Records. With most people taking the independent route these days, how did you know that Interscope would be the right move for you? You two weren’t worried about being left on the back burner?

Rah Al Millio: Labels do have a history of leaving people on the back burner… [Laughing] That’s goes for labels PERIOD; this is a business… [Laughs] It’s a business dawg, if you’re not self-efficient—I’m going to just keep it real with you. It doesn’t have sh*t to do with the music at all when you’re dealing with major labels. If you’re not self-motivated when you get signed to a major label, it’s just not going to happen for you unless you f*ck somebody at the label and I’m just being real.

Unless you’re a pop-singer chick messing with somebody at the label, your sh*t ain’t going to get pushed unless you do it yourself basically. I know people think that they pick you up in a limo, you sign a big check, and everything gets taken care of, and all you have to do is make music. It was like that at one point, but artists didn’t have much of a cut either, and they weren’t getting paid that much.

Now artists have more of a cut, and you’re sort of like a partner. But you have to do your end too, as far as putting yourself out there, and making it easy for the label. We put this stuff together ourselves, and then Interscope popped off. Major labels are just financial backing, that’s all they are. No label is safe if you’re not self-efficient…

Krispy Kream: And if you’re on an indie, then you have to work even harder… If you’re not going to do anything on an indie then you might as well quit. I hear artist saying things like, “Oh, I ain’t f*cking with majors no more, I’m going over to an indie.” But if you weren’t doing anything on a major, then you’re just going to sit around on an indie too…

Rah Al Millio: You have to work hard… People always get mad and want to say stuff about how the South rules Hip-Hop—how about the n*ggas in the South just work hard. N*ggas work hard as F*CK! They hustle so f*cking hard, and you can’t hate on them. I’m from the South and I’m going to tell you the inside secret: Just work hard. How did you guys first come into contact with Paul Rosenberg over at Shady Records?

Rah Al Millio: A lot of people don’t know that we were in Unsigned Hype back in ’05 and ’06. Basically everybody wanted to manage us, sign us, or represent us in some type of way. We went with Matthew Knowles, and he set up a little imprint situation, but things fell through. At that time we still had people calling us, and some of the people that were calling us were the people at Shady Records. I had developed a good relationship with one of the main A&R’s up there, and he said that Paul [Rosenberg] and Eminem wanted to sit down.

So as soon as we got out of the situation with Matthew [Knowles], we flew out to New York that next week and they were saying that they wanted to sign us to Shady. But we told them we didn’t want to sign to Shady, we were just looking for management, and we wanted somebody that could be like a partner with us. Then Paul said he could get us a bigger deal at Interscope since he already had a situation with Shady Records, and Interscope already wanted us, so we ended up getting a better deal. What were you two doing before the ball actually starting rolling?

Rah Al Millio: We used to have a publishing and a writing deal with Atlantic Records… The day of [Hurricane] Katrina we had just back came from a writing session in LA. Did you ever think that writing for others would take away from some of your originality?

Krispy Kream: I don’t really think it would be taking our sound, but it takes your energy.

Rah Al Millio: After writing for mothaf*ckas all day—it’s kind of like whoring yourself out. It’s kind of like jacking off all day, and then you don’t want to f*ck… [Laughing]…

Rah Al Millio: That’s what it’s like, real sh*t… [Laughing] It’s like jacking off all day and then your girl wants to f*ck, and you don’t want to f*ck. You just feel used, but it’s not like people would get our sound, because we were writing for pop artists, rappers, and R&B artists—it was whatever. To write songs for other people, you have to be there mentally, I can’t have my mind somewhere else and write a song.

Kripsy Kream: It’s so f*cking corporate too! If you knew how songs came out, you literally would be dissatisfied with music… [Laughs] [Laughs] Do a lot of people still request your services?

Krispy Kream: We did a beat for B.o.B.

Rah Al Millio: We did it because we like him; we got paid but we did it because we like him honestly. Ain’t no amount of money can make us do some sh*t with some mothaf*cka we don’t like.