August 19, 2010

Kid Lithium

Kid Lithium

Illustration by Jesse Graham
It’s been five years since Vancouver’s Kid Lithium has released a solo album. But he’s been productive as hell, busy releasing two albums with his East Side Magic crew, mixing five other albums, and making many music videos — sometimes pro, sometimes DIY. Here, the man from “Beast Van” talks about why after creating his best work yet, he’s giving it away online for free, and why vegans better recognize.

In April, you released The First Downloadable Drug, your first solo album in five years. Why’d you decided to get back in the solo ring?

A lot has changed for me in that time, so it’s definitely the right moment for me to do this record. I worked out a lot of my personal issues with this project. Fuck therapy. I’ve been told by those who’ve heard it that it feels and sounds different then a conventional rap record and that makes me pretty excited.

I’ve been following your music since it became public, and I think this is your best work yet. It’s more personal and the production is nicely polished. What did you do differently here, production- and project-wise?

I just got better, plain and simple, in all categories. The production sounds more polished because I’ve worked hard in the studio for the last five years. In that time I’ve mixed seven albums. Every time you do a mix or get busy with the beats, you learn new ways of doing things and your ear gets better and better — it’s just like anything you work really hard at. All that work and learning from my past ventures has made the whole idea of starting a project much easier. I’m fully self-taught. I had to break some big-ass eggs to get to this point. I find working on other peoples music helps you grow as an artist and it’s interesting to see how other people work their crafts. I’m willing to always learn and improve. The fact that the album is more personal is a reflection on my greater ability to articulate my personal feelings to tape. I learned how to let my guard down and just write.

Why give the end product away for free?

It was a pretty easy decision for me to go this route. I felt it would be the most effective way to get my music heard by the most listeners, and in the end, that’s all I want — for people to hear it.

What does your music say about you?

I want listeners to think when they hear a rap record but it has to make them bump their heads too. I’ve produced 90 percent of the record so in the purest sense it is a solo effort. It’s me … take it or take a hike.

There’s a good mix of songs that are all flair, like “Bounny Hunnas,” and songs that are all thought and concept, like “Vegetables.” First of all, why did you decide to diss anti-carnivore protestors?

[Laughs] “Vegetables” … I’ve taken some heat from this one. I never really thought of it as a diss track. On the surface I realize that it comes off as that, but it’s really a comment on human behavior and human evolution. I mean the first thing I say is “I’m just explaining where we come from.”

OK, I’m gonna lose anybody who is not into evolution here, but the science shows that we got to this place not by being herbivores (or carnivores either for that matter). We hunted for meat it and it gave us the suitable levels of protein to sustain our increasing brain size. The hunt for food displayed by our distant ancestors is a great analogy for our capitalistic society today. It’s still survival for the fittest, is it not? Veganism is a modern idea in evolutionary terms created by modern humans who had the time and energy to spend contemplating what they ate — and so fucking be it. Amen, vegans. I just don’t want to be told that it’s the natural order of things and that it will save mankind and that I am not enlightened.

Using “Vegetables” as the example, what’s your producing and writing process like?

The beat was constructed around the Beach Boys track for the hook and I just laid some heavy synths over it. I was mixing my friends album at the time and I liked all the vintage synths he was using and it really got me inspired.

The actual writing process took less than an hour I think. This progression was a little different in that I brainstormed a few concepts before I wrote the track, so I’d know where I wanted to take the track at each bar. Then it was just a matter of getting it out. I think I quickly tracked it to my computer with Garage Band just to have an idea of how it would sound right after.

Normally I don’t really get into the brainstorming, it’s usually more stream of consciousness style. Sometimes I like to write directly to tape too without writing it down. I will do a few bars, stop tape, then do a few more. That’s how I wrote “Hell Seems Kinda Nice.” It works with slower tracks.

From your album’s titles and songs in your catalogue, past and present, you show an obvious affinity for hallucinogenic drugs. What’s with that? With the exception of a few, most rappers just want to talk about the sticky, the icky. and sometimes the sticky icky.

Yeah, I have an affinity to most drugs. Fact is, I probably would like them all. I’m about “everything in moderation,” and I think that’s only because I realize that my love for drugs could possibly harm me. I like benders, dude, and prolonged states of euphoria. In actual fact, the idea of hallucinogens scares the shit out of me while I sit here digesting your question. They usually come into play in a few drugs down the line, when I’ve mustered up the courage to fuck up my entire well-being. Booze, weed, coke, then acid, pills, mushrooms … Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday — sleep. The fact is that The First Downloadable Drug is a reflection on those experiences, but most of that is in my past now. I’ve wasted enough time and money on that shit and it has always left me weary.

Any last shout outs?

I’d like to give a shout to the fam Bizoid and Logical and DJ Scratchmarx. Also, I wanna thank D-Rec for the cuts on the album and for his production on “Sleeper.”

ugsmag podcast
Kid Lithium

9 Responses

  1. Kid Lithium is dope. DO NOT SLEEP ON HIM. Met him out in Van when I was visiting Nekk a few years back, and he hasn’t slowed his grind since. ESM!

  2. Sick video, not sure what that rabbit was doing to him from behind but I’m glad it was all a dream.