Chaps: Introduce yourself, crew affiliations, and your discography.
Kirby: Yo this Kirby Dominant and I’m affiliated with Kemetic Suns, Living Legends, City Planners, My Nigga Pismo and my NYC homies The G*A*M*E Rebellion. My Releases include ‘Rapitalism: The Philosophies of Dominant Pimpin” (1998), Konceptual Dominance ‘Savage Intelligence’ (2000), The Dominant Mammals’ ‘Super Future Stars’ (2002), and Paranoid Castle ‘One Way Ticket’ (2004).
You have been holdin’ it down for a long time in the bay. Who did you draw inspiration from as a youngster?
When I was young I was inspired by groups like EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Digital Underground, Too Short, Ultramagnetic MC’s and Kool Keith, E-40, Hieroglyphics, and all Project Blowed shit.
How did you get your start in the rap game?
Well I actually did my first rap performance back in 1985. I was about ten years old and I performed at my elementary school to promote this new anti drug campaign that was sponsored by the Reagan administration called DARE. You have heard of it or seen cats wearing the T-shirts nowadays as kind of a joke. Well this is when the first shit stared. So anyway this girl’s mom came to class with a keyboard and made a beat and me and some of my classmates wrote an anti drug rap. That shit was dope, so after that I was pretty interested in hip hop, I wrote a few rhymes here and there over the years. Between that time up until I was about fifteen I would just freestyle and shit, mostly when I was drunk, but at fifteen or sixteen I start keeping a rhyme book. But I would have to say I really got into the rap game when I met my crew Kemetic Suns and the Mystik Journeyman (before the living legends). I met those dudes at my college radio station at UC Berkeley where I was a student. All those cats liked my flows so we would hang out in my dorm room just flowin’ and shit. Then after that I met the Grouch, Eligh, MURS and the rest of the cats that hung out on Telegraph Avenue like Hobo Junction, and that’s when I started getting really down with it. That was in 1994.
After dropping the classic ‘Rapitalism: The Philosophies of Dominant Pimpin'” in 1998, you dropped three group albums: Konceptual Dominance, The Dominant Mammals and Paranoid Castle. How come it has taken so long for a new solo album? Were these group experiences positive or negative?
Yeah it’s been taking a while for me to release a solo I know. It’s even hard for me to tell you why it is taking me so long. I think it’s because over the years I’ve been trying to find my solo voice, the Kirby Dominant sound if you will. Since 1998, after dropping ‘Rapitalism’ I’ve mainly been learning how to play the keyboard and produce my own beats and this has taken awhile. Getting into really different kinds of music and listening to a lot of artists that I feel are so talented like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Prince, Jay Dee, and the Neptunes just to name very small few. But listenin’ to these cats made me want to get my weight lyrically and musically so I just don’t want to come out with just anything. But I do have three albums already made so don’t sleep, I have been working but my shit has to come out right. As far as the collabo’s are concerned those things where all just a matter of circumstance. Me and Koncepts actually had ‘Savage Intelligence’ produced and written before I even put ‘Rapitalism’ out. As far as the others they were all kind of unplanned. Me and Moka Only made ‘Super Future Stars’ in less than a week. When he came to visit me we didn’t plan to make an album but we started making songs on my 4-track, and that’s why the sound quality is shitty, because we didn’t know what we were doing. We was just rhyming in my bedroom. And the ‘Paranoid Castle’ shit was the same way. We did that in two weeks. I was coming to Saskatoon and Factor was like, ‘Hey, I got some beats you wanna do some songs when you come out?’ And then that’s how that happened, just a matter of circumstance, but I would have to say it was all positive experiences. I think recording The Mammals was the most fun because we just did it with no pressure.
When will the ‘Starr’ album be out and are you working on any other projects?
Well, I don’t know when ‘Starr’ will come out, but it will be done probably about time people are reading this. But it may take about three more months to come out after that because I am trying to put the most momentum behind it as far as distribution and promotion is concerned and that type of shit takes time, feel me. Other than that there are several projects in the works. I am working on the ‘Kevin Riley Experiment’ album. Kevin is an artist on my label Rapitalism and he’s my boy. He is doing all the production on the album and I got the lyrics on lock. I have another album I am doing with this dude Idiom Creek. (www.samplistic.com). We are making this really interesting experimental hip hop album, if you can even call it that, but that shit’s almost done. Our group is called Assistant Green. Be on the lookout as well for my other solo album ‘The Dominator: A Psychological Journey Through Egocentricity.’ That album is already produced and written, I just have to record it better. Right now it just in demo form, but that shit is gonna be dope. I’ve had that album done for a while. ‘Starr’ is actually a collection of songs that didn’t fit the theme of the Dominator album so that’s why I’m putting that out. It will give me more time to make my masterpiece.
Who are you working with on this album production-wise and are there any guests?
As far as the ‘Starr’ album goes, it is still a good album, I produced most of it myself. Other producers include Kevin Riley, Pismo, and DJ Roddy Rod from the group Maspyke, and the guest appearances include A-plus from Hiero, Ishkan from the City Planners, and Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove. He’s dope, he’s played on Common and Badu’s and D’ Angelo’s shit but he’s won Grammys on his own shit too. So check for it. People should dig it.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
In the future I would like to work with producer out of Detroit named Dabrye. He’s retarded. His beats are so precise and intentional. Other than that there is nobody else I’m dyin’ to work with at the moment.
What do you struggle the most with as an artist?
I think I struggle the most with just getting my albums out to the public. Deal with so much competition, and a tight-fisted media, it’s hard to get in the mix, but I just have to keep at it and just keep trying to market myself better so cats can take notice of a player.
What drives you to create music?
I think I am driven by music itself. Hearing dope shit and all the different styles and genres of music makes me wanna jump in there and do it. Also all the people who believe in me and think I’m dope and show me so much love. It’s very inspiring.
What do you use to make your beats with?
Right now I use a Korg Trinity, but on my future projects I plan to use my Korg ER-1 drum machine and my Fender Rhodes as well as a whole bunch of other old keyboards I have. I’m really into playing my own music, I haven’t utilized a sampler yet.
How have things changed since 1998-2004?
Between ’98 and 2004 besides eating too good and getting fat, I’ve been trying to develop myself into a full musician. I’ve been learning how to play the keyboard in order to produce my own music as well as trying to get into the many different kinds of music, and because of this I basically took a little bit of a hiatus. Although I have been droppin’ shit here and there, it has in my opinion been a solid project. So I have basically taken time off to perfect my skills as a beat maker and enhance my flows. But in doin’ this I feel that some of the newer hip hop heads don’t know who I am because of my break. A lot has changed even between 2000 and 2004. Kids that where ten in 2000 are now fourteen and are getting into hip hop, so many don’t know that I had an album in ’98. I might be considered old school to those kids, which is crazy but things move so fast in this industry you just gotta keep it movin’. But I’ve been working these past years, so when I return I’ll let ’em know.
You have worked with many Canadians like Moka Only, Factor, and DJ Murge. Why do you think you get so much love up North?
I don’t know why exactly. Maybe because my music is dope and they recognize the real shit. I find Canadian cats to be open and accepting for the most part, plus they are thankful that people come out to small places in the middle of nowhere like Saskatoon and rip shit. They appreciate that shit, unlike maybe in San Francisco where there could be three hip hop shows to chose from in one night so they are spoiled. But I love Canada and cool people, and the folks I’ve worked with out there were cool dudes.
Has working with so many Canadians been a positive or negative experience?
Working with Canadians has been really cool. I look forward to working with many more. Maybe I’ll get Canada citizenship out the deal. Ha Ha! Naw, but for real it was positive to work with dudes out there mainly because they come from a different background and have different influences to bring to the table, so in turn we learn from each other. I think that is most important.
In your opinion what are the similarities and differences between the Canadian and American Hip Hop Scenes?
I think the main differences that I’ve seen is that Canadians seem to support their local artist a little more then around my way. I seen dudes out there buying their friends CD’s and shit… but around my way niggas would rather buy a sack off of me then my music. Another thing is that in most of Canada, hip hop is new so the scene is young. Hip hoppers seem to be more enthused about the shit out there to me, and more chicks come out to the shows! But what is the same is that there is a lot of love for hip hop everywhere.
What do you like to do when you are not making music?
When I’m not making music, I’m hustlin’ trying to make money to put the music out. Or maybe watching movies or getting drunk somewhere.
What do you want to be remembered by after you retire from making music?
Well, I will be dead by then because I don’t plan to retire until then. But I would like to be remembered as someone very diverse. I want to be a person that has a dope volume of work without a whole bunch of bullshit filler albums to my credit. Just dope shit that is all different.
If you could assemble a hip hop team with yourself as the Captain who would be in your starting line up and why?
Well maybe I would have someone like Kool Kieth on the squad because he has the wisdom, because he’s a veteran, and it’s good to have a veteran on the team. I’d probably have somebody like Z-man or Busdriver on some rookie of the year shit. I like what they come with but can’t wait to see what they do later. Then I’d have Jay Dee on production because he could compliment everybody as well as score. And lastly maybe Mac Mall or Andre Nikatina because we could make an ill combination.
Do you have any last words, stories, shouts etc.?
I would just like to say that Saskatoon is the shit. I miss it out there especially this time of year when it snows. Other than that keep supporting and check out my site rapitalism.com. Peace.