Hip hop is an art. K. Sparks reminds us about this with his new project, “Vintage art“. After reviewing the project (which is going in my top 5 of the year), I decided to get him to pick up his paint brush again and give him another canvas to illustrate his thoughts behind the project.
Chican George: What’s brewing with K. Sparks?
K. Sparks: Presently I’m promoting my album Vintage Art doing a lot of traveling, radio, interviews, and etc. Also, working on a few projects, writing for some artist.
CG: Can you tell us some of those artists that you may be working with in the future? Also, how was it working with Loaded Lux and Charmingly Ghetto on this project?
KS: The contractual agreements with those artist doesn’t allow me to disclose names of whom I’m writing for. However, I can disclose that I have something in the works with a talented producer from Spain named Made in M, and a dope singer named BxRod. Also, another project I can disclose is for a film company based in China. It’s a feature film documentary about Chinese Communist Revolutionary Mao Zedong. The film company wanted a Hip Hop sound so they hired me to work on the film soundtrack and do some writing. As far as working with Loaded Lux and Charmingly it was dope. Lux killed it as always, and Charmingly came with it as well. Those guys are my brothers, and I’m glad we were able to put it down. We share similar world views and maintain that within our song content. More big things in the works that I’ll keep under wraps for a bit.
CG: So, do you feel the lack of voices is due more so to the supply of the artists or the demand of the fans? Or a little of both?
KS: I think it’s neither. I believe the lack of voices is due to the troubled state of the music industry on the business end. An abundance of artists make great music, and it’s no secret several of those artists are way more talented than artists in the mainstream. Unfortunately, the music industry doesn’t promote those types of artists and therefore they don’t sign them. The music industry follows trends, and whatever style/trend is hot for the moment that’s what they follow. Therefore if positive music isn’t the present trend that gets 24/7 air play the music industry isn’t rushing to sign them. Now what happens after that is a trickle down effect. The music that gets the major push is dumbed down and very commercialized with no substance. This music reaches the fans and at that point it becomes brain washing. It get’s pumped 24/7 on radio stations, heavily promoted in the digital realm, and promoted on television. As a result the fans accept it. How many times have you heard a song on the radio and said to yourself ‘this song sucks’ but after you’ve heard it 100 times you find yourself knowing the lyrics. It’s not that you like the song, it’s just that it’s been forced upon your ear drums so much it’s starting to take hold. This is what happens today to the fans every day 24/7. Now flashback to the 90’s era. We had 2 Pac, Big Pun, Boogiemonsters, Da Bush Babies, De La Soul, ATCQ, Lauryn Hill, and other artist blasted on the radio non stop, and those artist had positive content. Those fans during that era loved the music. Was it because those fans were so much more in touch to good music and musically inclined, I doubt it. It’s because they were constantly fed that type of music 24/7 and as a result they embraced it. Same way people embrace music nowadays. If the labels get back to a place where they start to supply the fans with good artist, they will support them. People thought that Kendrick Lamar’s success would spark some resurgence in regards to the music industry’s approach to new talent, but it didn’t. His first album came and went, and it doesn’t appear their approach has changed. What I can say is this, if people truly desire change they have to speak with their wallets. We live within a society in which the only thing people understand is money. When you speak with your wallets and stop supporting things that don’t provide you with the satisfaction you seek change will follow.
CG: Give me K. Sparks’ top 5 (dead or alive).
KS: My top 5 are 2 Pac, KRS-One, Eminem, Black Thought, and Big Pun. All of those artist influenced me in so many different ways.
CG: What was your inspiration or “muse” for “Vintage Art”?
KS: Inspiration came from a desire to give the listener a feel of when rappers actually had something to say. When I grew up I had the privilege of being exposed to KRS One, Public Enemy, and other artist that had a voice. And when I say voice Im referring to artist that not only were able to entertain, but encompassed the ability to discuss issues and topics that were relevant to socio economic problems happening within their communities . Nowadays there is a severe lack of that. The majority of artist that succeed on a larger scale do so by shying away from these topics. Meanwhile the abundance of artist that do choose to tackle these topics remain on a relatively small scale underground Therefore, I created a combination. Vintage quality content, but still combined with modern Art/Style.
CG: What era do you consider “the wonder years” of hip hop?
KS: The wonder years of hip hop for me are the years that I grew up in. That era of time was the 90’s. During that era there were a lot of dope artists that seemed to master their craft, and they were able to give people balance; dope beats accompanied with quality content. I think that’s why a lot of people gravitate towards certain artists today because they miss those wonder years. They gave us nostlagia and dope music. As a result, the small handful of artists that are still able to create that feeling in today’s market [have] people vibe with them.
CG: What direction do you see the “art” of hip hop/rap going?
KS: I think the art has glimpses of hope. But overall the culture needs more new talent with distinct voices. Art is expression, and everyone should be expressing themselves so that the art remains creative. The majority of artist choose to follow trends neglecting to tell their own personal story. As a result the art gets stale. If every painter decided to paint the Mona Lisa we would be stuck with 100 paintings of the same thing. We need variety, perspective, and uniqueness to keep the art fresh and innovative.
CG: You changed your flow and style on many tracks for the album, including one of my favorite “Dummin’ out”, how important is it for artists to give fans something different on their projects?
KS: Diversity is important because at the end of the day no one wants to be bored. I approach my music like I would if I were writing a movie script. Nobody wants to see the same movie every time they go to the movie theatre. They want to experience something new and exciting. So when I’m writing I get in a zone to write the best flows, rhyme patterns, and metaphors possible. I often have patterns within patterns, and often make words rhyme that shouldn’t necessarily rhyme in theory, but I bend them in a way that makes sense. It keeps things entertaining at best. As long as the listener is intrigued, I’ve done my job.
CG: Many critics say that your thoughts on “Feminization” were a bit bias and racist. Do you want to elaborate on your thoughts behind the track/video?
KS: Cross dressing has been a staple in comedy for a long time, however the present dynamics have changed. Shakespeare, Monty Python, and others whom were caucasian males; performed under totally different circumstances. The present landscape is as follows, some black actors (Tyler Perry, The Waynans, and very few) create the characters they portray, but the majority of black actors have no say in the matter due to directors dictating their expectations. The movie directors behind movies such as Big Momma’s House, The Nutty Professor, Too Wong Foo and etc are not black. The majority of black actors are given scripts that already have the expectation for them to play women in the story line. Unfortunately, because minorities don’t have much ownership in the present industry, and are type casted out the gate, they either take these roles to pay the bills or they don’t eat. I’m pretty certain that if Shakespeare were alive today he would be able to choose from a more diverse range of scripts as opposed to African American actors that are type cast as either the street hustler, non threatening cross dresser, basketball player and etc. Furthermore, the premise of my song is when African American actors choose to dress like women for monetary gain, and they are uncomfortable with doing so nor do they want to do it, then they are indeed giving up their dignity as a man (hence the male actor in the video shaking his head when asked to wear the dress). A real man’s job is to protect and provide not only for his family, but to also do that for himself. If a man cannot protect his own dignity/belief system, then he has unequivocally failed. The majority of these actors have stated themselves that there is a severe lack of acting roles for African American actors within the movie industry due to rappers and other musicians coming in and ‘taking the good roles’. As a result they compromise their dignity to embrace lesser roles they don’t want to embrace (hence cross dressing) in order to get paid. Staying true to one’s belief system and maintaining dignity at all times is key. Critics will always critique my art because naturally that’s just what they do. However, some things are essentially common sense. There is no realistic rebuttal anyone with an unbiased and intelligent perspective could apply to this content.
CG: What are some tips that you want to give aspiring artists out there.
KS: Put God first, remain true to yourself and stay consistent. Persistence wears down resistance.
CG: What can we plan to see in the future from K. Sparks?
KS: I’ll be over seas in Paris for a bit, and then when I come back to the U.S. I’ll be working on some album projects for other artists, ghost writing.
CG: Any shout outs?
KS: RIP to my brother Praverb @PtheWyse. The details weren’t released yet, but my prayers and thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.