14KT Interview

February 12, 2009

14ktComing from humble beginnings in the streets of Ypsi, Athletic Mic League producer 14KT was destined at an early age to be the musical genius that he’s developing into. His mother, who was a pianist, was big on instilling musical discipline in her son. And after hearing his first solo project, The Golden Hour Soundtrack, it definitely worked! MiHH caught up with 14KT to discuss everything from his new album to his early influences.

How did you get your start in music?
My mom played piano. She’s been playing piano for forty plus years. She was determined to have my sisters play some kind of instrument. When we were little, we had to play but at that time I didn’t really love music. I was just doing it because mom told me to do it.

What instruments did you learn?
I started playing piano. I played piano for a little over three years when I was younger. After piano I played symphony instruments, like the double bass and the violin. After that, I kinda got into just loving the bass. I was a bass dude, so I start playing a little bit of bass guitar. So now, I play a little bit of bass guitar and keys.

So you can incorporate all of those live instruments in your production.
Yup, yes I do! Even on the Golden Hour Soundtrack, I played live bass on a couple tracks on there—me and my man Zoe did. I definitely played keys on there as well.

Your mom’s determination to have you play an instrument played a factor, but did growing up in Ypsilanti influence your musical career?
I don’t think it directly influenced me. As far as music, cats were always listening to different Hip Hop records. I grew up in a neighborhood where it wasn’t predominately black, and it wasn’t predominately white. It was kind of mixed with everybody. I had a variety of friends [and] that helped me out because I had different experiences with each one’s different culture growing up as a kid. That kinda helps to shape your experiences making music because you’re not making music for one particular crowd; you’re making music for everyone – for people.

Being raised with an eclectic group of races, what kind of music were you into? Did that have any bearing on what you listened to?
Nah, man, [but] it opened me up to different music to listen to. Growing up in my household, my parents listened to jazz records and a lot of R&B records like Anita Baker, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, and stuff like that. So that’s the kind of music I was listening to. Some of my friends would put me on to rock records. One of my sisters was into rock, and she would always listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers and stuff like that, so I started to listen to a little bit of that. I would listen to everything, but I was really stuck on jazz records and Hip Hop records and soul records. That was mostly where I saw black faces at, and I was kinda on some black music. I love rock records, I love them to death, but I wanted to see black people making rock records. As a whole, I respected music period. I respected rock and country and different things when I started to appreciate music more.

That’s what’s up. So are we going to hear the 14KT remix to “Achy Breaky Heart” anytime soon?
[Laughs] Don’t be surprised!

[Laughs] So what was that first defining moment that you knew Hip Hop was going to be your life?
I’d have to say when I met my crew, AML. I loved Hip Hop music, but I was a very shy cat. I wrote rhymes and stuff; but even my best friend didn’t know I rapped. I wasn’t real open with it, I was reserved. I only did it in my crib. Some of my friends would rap but I never did it ’cause I was kind of scared, but when I met AML and when we got close they started rhyming and they put me on the spot to rap. I knew they would put me on the spot one day, so I had to make sure I was prepared. So when they put me on the spot and I start spitting rhymes and got accepted, I felt like “Aww, man, I can do this.”

How long have you been with the Athletic Mic League?
Well we were friends before AML. I met everyone sporadically, but (AML producer) Vaughn T was the first cat I really dealt with and that was like 93-94, and his older brother Wes. They all were on a different side of the city from me. I stayed in Ypsi, and they were in Ann Arbor. When you’re young, you don’t really have a car so you can’t get to the other side of the city but once I got over to his neighborhood, I met a lot of other cats.

And now you have your own project out, The Golden Hour Soundtrack. How is it doing out there so far?
So far I’m getting love, as far as reviews. Okayplayer was my big thing, because a lot of people call Okayplayer, “Okayhater;” so it was sweet when they showed me love. 2dopeboyz showed me love, and everyone who’s heard it has showed me love.

What is it like having an instrumental album in this musical and industry climate?
It feels weird, actually. It’s really weird. For the past several years, people [have] been really paying attention to production. Producers are getting bigger than emcee’s, know what I’m sayin’? And bigger than DJ’s. The producers are stealing the spotlight now. It’s cool because people are starting to pay attention to beats. That’s one reason why I decided to put an instrumental LP out because I know people might pay more attention to the beats than me rapping, and probably didn’t want to hear me rapping about nothing.

How difficult was it for you to tell a story with just instrumentals, especially considering that most rappers can’t even rap a song-to-song story?
One of my inspirations was jazz music when I grew up. They would always give jazz records titles to the songs and they’d have no lyrics on it. It was just music but it would make you feel whatever they were feeling – just from instruments. So when I start working on the instrumentals, to tell a story really wasn’t that hard. And that was just because I couldn’t really rap. At the time I couldn’t write, so I had to find another way to get my emotions across without writing. The idea is still in your head, you just have to figure out how to do it without words. I think I did a pretty good job of getting it across. Try to do this one day, but walk through your whole day without talking to nobody and see if you can still communicate. Or go out on a date with a girl, and don’t talk. See if y’all can communicate without talking.

You also have another album coming out if I’m not mistaken, right?
Yup! I got many projects coming out, buddy! The next solo, major joint I was telling you about is called The IS, and this album is going to be me rapping. I don’t know when it’s gone come out; hopefully I can get it done by next year. It’s funny because it’s just like The Golden Hour – I got the whole project mixed together but I haven’t wrote none of the lyrics [laughs]. So the album is all mixed and basically done, but this time I’ma write the lyrics.

What else are you working on?
I’ma put out a series of me making music, mostly live, playing keys and base live and it’s gonna be called, I Am A Beanie. It’s a jazz group that I made up. I’ma put probably the first album out and let people here that. I recorded it in 2003 so it’s been done for years. I’ve been recording albums since 2003 so I got a lot done. It’s just a matter of when they’re going to come out. The AML album is in the works. We kinda got a title for it, but I ain’t gone put it out as of yet. When you hear the title for it, it’ll make sense. I’ll give you a hint: You see Buff out here and Buff put out his albums and established himself and you see me out here kinda establishing my solo projects, and you’ll see other projects coming out, but when we come together… that’s AML. That’s the title. That’s a hint for the title, man. That’s my idea and I hope they pick it [laughs].

Is the album done yet?
We’re just putting the idea together. How we work is that we get the idea for it [first] but it’s gonna get knocked out by next year.

Bet! Well, do you have any parting words for the readers of MiHipHop?
Thanks to MichiganHipHop for showing me love. Thanks to anyone who heard the album, and for letting me know what you think. I’m definitely trying to hold down Hip Hop, and hold down Michigan, so it’s very important when I hear people’s thoughts and ideas so I can make some dope music for you to listen to. Please, please go support Buff1’s There’s Only One project [and] Now On’s Tomorrow Already which I’ve done production on both, and get The Golden Hour. Support those three albums, support the family!


  1. devon says:

    KT is that dude. Tick Tock Hustle is permanently in my playlist.

    February 13th, 2009 at 4:19 am

  2. DIBIASE says:

    kt is the truth one of my favs for awhile now. btw i didnt know u played that many instruments .in nyc he was sayin man i dont read notes, but come to find out in this interview he was a young dont surprise me at all

    February 20th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

  3. Seven Management says:

    KT is for real! I listen to Golden Hour ALL the time. How many CDs can you listen to from start to finish? Not many, but Golden Hour is one of them.

    March 28th, 2009 at 8:33 am

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