Atlanta’s Kenzie Tarantino comes by way of Virginia. He’s recently released his EP “Red Daze”. Kenzie is able to blend underground AND “mainstream” influences with top notch lyricism. It’s not just about cutthroat words, but Kenzie is here to educate his listeners as well. I had the chance to sit down with Kenzie Tarantino to talk about his project, his group The Shaolin Temple and what’s to come.
Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know who is Kenzie Tarantino?
Kenzie Tarantino: I’m a hip hop/rap artist out of Atlanta, GA. Originally from Virginia. 24 years old. I like to believe im a very laid back individual with a complex mindset but that mindset helps with the creativity. Family oriented & i try to be as genuine as possible. God fearing & spiritual for sure. Started writing poetry in elementary school which would then turn into lyrics for me. Moved to GA in 2005 & started recording music in 09’.
DEHH: Before we get into things, tell me about growing up in Virginia and the hip-hop climate out there.
KT: Growing up in Virginia was somewhat short lived compared to the years i’ve spent in Georgia. Virginia gave me my calm spirit & my ability to stay humble. Had alot of family around that lived in VA as well.
Born in South hill , moved to richmond then lastly Virginia Beach. It’s beautiful in my opinion. i feel like people tend to mind they own more out in VA & have the will to really make it happen on their own.
Growing up the hip hop climate was jumping on a mainstream level with legends like Pusha T, Missy Elliot, Pharrell & more. It helped change the sound & landscape of hip hop from the bounce of the drums to the instrumentation.
DEHH: You’re one half of the Shaolin Temple, who’s the other half and what’s the story behind the duo?
KT: The other half of the Temple comes from an artist named Slice Dhe Guevara. Originally from New Jersey. Thats family right there. He’s really like my brother in this. Honestly the duo was years in the making.
We met & went to high school together here in GA & instantly connected. We both were doing music individually at the time so we had that in common off the rip.
About two years ago we were sitting on my back deck stairs & the idea sparked in Slice’s head for us to do this together. It made sense since we were already had that tight relationship. What better way to come up than together.
DEHH: Red Daze is the name of the project, what brought this about?
KT: I was speaking to my girlfriend one night about different way to grow as an artist marketing & branding wise. She brought up the idea to maybe do vlogs. She said “maybe u should call it Red Daze”.
I brushed it off & then after thought it was actually genius. Red being my favorite color & Daze meaning the focus, the mindset when im in my creative space. I always keep a red light in my space when im making music. I wanted something i could attach who i am personally & as an artist to.
I definitely wanted to release an EP but while creating it, the Red Daze name stuck to me. The tracks i had prepared had a vibe & a tempo that fit perfect. From there i based the vlogs around the EP to coincide.
DEHH: Off top you can hear influences like Wu-Tang Clan in here but your music goes beyond burying your sound in underground music, who else influences your sound?
When i first started recording, i was influenced by the likes of Wale, T.I, 50 cent. In more recent years artists like Big Sean, J Cole, & Kendrick. I was & still am big into substance oriented music. Those artists gave me that type of feeling from when i was writing poetry at an early age to recording now. The sound & songs i heard were relatable.
DEHH: When people are done listening to “Red Daze” what do you want them to leave with?
KT: When people finish listening i want them to take away another side of Kenzie. In this fast paced generation i feel it’s important to touch the current sound but more important to make it your own. “Red Daze” is that sound for me. I want people to know its Kenzie Tarantino when they hear it. A sound thats lyricism & 808 style production for a different type of vibe.
I want listeners to feel connected to me on this sound too even though the chill hip hop sound is my original go to.
DEHH: What can we expect from you as 2018 comes to a close and we enter a new year?
KT: As the year closes you can expect more visuals from the “Red Daze” EP & more vlogs. Plotting on some new tracks to drop as well in between to keep listeners fed but overall the rest of 2018 is Red Daze season.
DEHH: Honestly for my own knowledge, will we hear work from the Shaolin Temple, groups are such a rarity these days tell me you guys are about to bring it back
KT: There will definitely be work from Shaolin the Temple coming very soon. We have been planning & throwing ideas out for awhile between each other. We have some unreleased music that we are sitting on & dare i say ready to drop off before the year is over. Visuals to come along with them. Expect some projects to come as well 2019. We want to bring back that collective hip hop feeling.