by Camille Johnson
20 year-old rapper and Detroit-native Kulture has always been drawn to music. He was introduced to African drumming at age 7, while attending the Nsoroma Institute – an African centered school in Detroit; when he entered high school at Cass Tech, he expanded his repertoire to include playing snare and bass drum. Though he’s been writing poetry since he 12, Kulture didn’t begin using flare for words as a rapper until January 2014. A driven newcomer, Kulture dropped his first project, The OG EP, on June 29, 2014. This weekend Camille caught up with Kulture to get an inside look at the evolution of his craft.
An organically poetic rapper.
“I didn’t start making and writing music until January 2014, but I’ve written poetry since I was 12. I’ve always had a way with words so when I started rapping it was really organic.
I’m tryna bring the poetic feel and sound to the city, and highlight the underground sound that they don’t put on the radio as much. Lately when you hear “Detroit rap”, you don’t think J Dilla and Royce anymore. They have a more national, or international sound now. I want people to hear my music and associate that poetic flow and sound with Detroit again.
I wanna bring the culture into it. I’m not knocking anybody. Rapping about slanging dope and f*cking b*tches is real, but it’s making people narrow-minded because it’s the only thing out there. We need more. We need some balance. We need to be making people think too. That’s why I’m bringing the culture in it.
His inspiration comes in many forms.
“I’m inspired by the world. The sh*t in front of my eyes. Everything that happens. I’m inspired by personal recollections of people’s lives, past events, former people in my life – that’s a given. Smoking makes me think of a lot of sh*t. This Everfresh Pink Lady Apple Juice I drank a few weeks ago inspired me. Everything that happens in the world inspires my writing.
Last December, I wrote the song Brothers. I wrote it right after the Eric Garner verdict. It was inspired by that. It was inspired by what happened to Mike Brown and came after. The song pays homage to our fallen soldiers killed at the hand of authority outside of their control. For our brothers killed unjustly, for no reason at all.”
His creativity flourishes at night.
“I love writing at night. During the day there’s just so much going on. So much sh*t happening around you. At night it’s chill. There’s a calm, sereneness. People get more in tune with themselves. You hear your thoughts more at night. I’ll come home, smoke an L, turn on a beat, get my pen out, and start writing. So yea, I’m about late night writing sessions all night long. 24/7.”
A God-given talent and purpose.
“I was brought up in the church, and in the church we’re raised to give respect and credit where it’s due. I was taught that some things that happen couldn’t have happened without God. Some stuff you just know isn’t happening without God. As you get older you have to acknowledge and respect that. I give thanks to God at every turn and corner in my life.
My mom didn’t put me in some poetry class when I was younger. I wasn’t put in classes or places to help me build my talent with words. I was blessed when I was born. God put a little star on my birth report and said make this little one special in this way. I’m glad he did, because he wants me to talk to people. He wants me to get out there and be big so that I can spread this message. So I can’t let him down. I can’t let God down.”
If you give his music a listen, you’ll connect with it.
“I don’t need a lot of sh*t, I don’t want a lot of sh*t. I just want your ears, just for a little while. Just listen to my music. My mantra: let it play. That’s my motto for life. Don’t give anything a big intro. Just press play and listen. The song will do much more than I can do with my mouth, trying to sell it to you. When you hear it, it will speak for me. If you listen to my songs, you’re gonna feel them. If you have a soul at all, you’ll feel the music.
I want everyone to take my songs and my words and interpret them on an individual level. I want people to be able to relate to it from their own perspective. If it’s just the hook or just the bridge, and someone is like “damn that’s real, I’ve been through that before” that’s all I want. I want people to connect to my music.
I have the sound. I’m not cocky at all. I’m not arrogant. I pray. I talk to God every morning and thank him for the talent he’s given me, and the blessings he’s bestowed on me. I just need people to give me, give my music, a listen.”
Building a legacy.
“I plan to have a legacy, to say the least. I want to do more than just music. And that’s not just saying that I wanna be an actor (although I do wanna act lol - I was a theatre major in school). I want people to remember me for more than the just the music that Kulture made. After all my music is done, when I’m retired, dead, and gone, I want to leave something that’s tangible. Something that feels like you always have Kulture, so you never forget it. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like yet, but I’m just working on my brand and waiting for it to come. God-willing, it will all work out.
New music on the horizon.
“I haven’t talked about it too much, but I’ll be dropping my debut mixtape The Class of 200Eventually soon. The project revolves around the experiences that inspired me to become a rapper. The first two years of college, events that led to me dropping out of school, and making the choice to take my poetry into a different medium – throw a beat behind that bitch and start rapping lol. But I’m excited to put that out there and have people listen to it. It’s done, I just have to put the finishing touches on it.”
Watch Kulture massacre the competition at DJBJ 3525's 2nd 8 Bar Challenge below!
**UPDATE: Shortly after our interview with Kulture, Class of 200Eventually dropped! Hit SoundCloud, Dat Piff, or Band Camp to listen to it now!