By Rahul Lal
Kid Capri is a legend among DJs, and he remains relevant today, having worked on Kendrick Lamar’s already classic DAMN. He spoke to the Rap Radar Podcast and spoke to Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller about his involvement in the album, and about being grateful to be able to work with Kendrick; he also hinted at some of the unreleased work still out there.
“To see that the younger generation still knows what I’ve done… is a beautiful thing. Kendrick is definitely somebody that’s in hip-hop. He really understands what it’s about and he wanted to go and make his album authentic, so that’s why came to me. He had called me and, as a matter of fact, I came down to Manhattan and we had recorded a whole bunch of stuff that we didn’t even use yet,” although he didn’t mention whether any of the other “stuff” would come out at any point.
Related: Kendrick Lamar to Drop More Music?
“We used what we used but we sat down, he told me what he wanted to do and we just put ourselves in the mind frame of what it was. After I got what it was, we just wound up recording it.”
“I think he wanted his album to sound like an authentic mixtape,” he said. “If you look at the album cover, the album cover looks like a mixtape cover. If you listen to the album, he has them big records but I don’t hear a pop record. I hear records that will go pop but I don’t hear the direction of him going for pop, I hear him going for real, authentic hip-hop. Even with U2, he didn’t use U2 the way people would use U2. He used them in a real hip-hop way.” Capri notes that he had worked with Bono in the past, on a project for Ray Charles.
Capri and Kendrick worked together on five tracks for the 14-track DAMN, and he said it was a great experience. “His album was basically about God. It’s a spiritual album pretty much if you really listen to it but he just told me the focus he was going in,” he explained. “He was doing this kung fu thing and he was going on with that so that’s how it came out the way it came out. What I liked about it is that he didn’t oversaturate with it. He did spices so that’s what made it so much bigger, less is more, of course, so that’s what made it really crazy for me. Even though somebody would probably be happy to be in every song but I’m glad I was just on five and it’s spread out and it’s beautiful.”
Capri recalled that, unlike many other artists, Kendrick came in without a posse and was ready to work. There were only three people in the studio and the minute they got together, they got straight to work. Part of staying relevant is continuing to develop with the trends and the two found ways to do this. This discussion led to Capri telling a story about back when he worked on Def Comedy Jam, Capri recalled that Bill Cosby didn’t see the value in the new age of comedy and was dismissive of it. T
“When we did Def Comedy Jam, Bill Cosby tried to get us off the air,” he mentioned. “He said that comedians were degrading the comedy because of the curses and all that. Bill, what you going to do? Be mad at Richard Pryor? You going to be mad at Eddie Murphy? This is comedy Bill, nobody is sucking on jello and stuff like that. HBO told Bill Cosby ‘We’re making a lot of money with this show’ so hey Bill, how that smell?”
That moment was something that has proved to be a big factor in the evolution of Kid Capri’s work from carrying stacks of records to switching to vinyl and from making hits for a young Jay Z and Heavy D all the way to Kendrick Lamar in 2017. He even admitted that he’s worked for free because of the impact a project can have on his career, rather than chasing the money, he chased the success and the money caught up with him.
“You’ve got to create opportunities for others to get on, that’s when you win,” Kid preached. “That’s when God takes care of you. When you create opportunities for others to get on without even wanting anything back, without giving to get, that’s what it’s always been for me my whole career.”
Listen to the full interview below.