Jacksonville, Florida doesn’t exactly register as a hip hop mecca on the “Rap Richter Scale”—at least not next to more formidable southern counterparts like Atlanta, Houston, or Miami. But 21 year old emcee / producer The Most High K.I.D is quickly proving that the Sunshine State’s most populous city has a hip hop scene more than worthy of our attention. “Something for the Pain” (produced by fellow Floridian XXYYXX) features minimalist, witch house-tinged production with frothy, modulating synths that, when coupled with K.I.D’s staccato, alliterative, sometimes scat-rhythmic flow, evokes a sort of hazy, purple, emo aesthetic that feels a lot like 90’s Memphis underground wrapped in a chill-wave blanket—and could easily become Jack-town’s definitive sound.
I talked to The Most High K.I.D about Jacksonville’s music scene, his creative process, and Rebel Nation (among other things). What he had to say was just as dope as his music.
As told to Alex Ashford (@aalixthegreat)
It didn’t take me long to gather that you’re a confessional poet who is politically and socially aware. Greek philosopher Heraclitus says that “Geography is fate.” How has where you’re from influenced your music?
TMHK: I think that where I’m from has influenced my music by making me push to set myself apart and remain original. Jacksonville, like any other place, is somewhere that being too self-conscious can make you invisible. By that I mean that so many musicians, artists, and people in general, care too much about what other people think; they’re willing to sacrifice their vision and creativity for approval. I guess I just never got how other people’s negative opinions actually mattered if they weren’t a part of that vision for your project in the first place.
In a big city it’s hard to decide to be alone but when you do, the opportunity for true creativity is presented. I realized that Jacksonville being as big as it is would make growth a challenge, but right behind that I saw an even bigger opportunity. Jacksonville is a tough city to get on your feet in, but if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. I love my city because it made me strong, smart, observative, and creative. I’m a true individual, which has allowed me to hold myself to my own expressive and moral standards instead of the world’s. I can never repay Jacksonville for that, but I can help wake others like myself up and make an impact, whether big or small. There’s plenty of talent here, but we need to turn that talent into a culture. I think that’s achievable and because of what I’ve gained here, I owe it to my city to at least try. I agree that geography is fate, and I believe I’m where the stars would have me right now: in Jacksonville.
What’s your creative process like?
TMHK: In a word, I guess I’d describe my creative process as natural. I’m constantly writing, constantly looking for and making beats. I look to convey some type of message in my music, so I try to stick to my ideals, experiences, and current situation—things I know about and have plenty of material for. I stay true to myself more than anything when I’m working on a project. My approach is much like many painters I know: I start with a pretty broad concept but narrow it down to a final set of messages to convey on a track after picking a beat (or I guess palette in this example).
How did “Something for the Pain” come about?
TMHK: A few months back, one of my boys died in an accident. He was hit by a drunk driver who survived. These kinds of things make people question the fairness of life, and I identified with that feeling. I’m not one of those people that cry or break down about death; I feel like I understand it enough. That said, when I got the call, it weighed heavily on me and also on a lot of people that I couldn’t seem to comfort because of distance and our schedules. This song was for them more than anything.
“The only way to beat pain is to confront it and find the silver lining–you know, the things you have left after the loss.”
We tend to forget to account for the things that are good when something goes wrong. I didn’t want that to happen, I didn’t want everyone to hold their pain in either, so I let mine out for us all. I did things most people wouldn’t, like question God and talk about my biggest problems with the loss. It’s hard to come out of a dark place when you’re alone. I know that from experience. I guess I just wanted everyone dealing with this loss or just’ takin a L’ in life in general to know that they’re not alone and that shit gets better if you fade it out with life. Sometimes you just gotta charge it to the game. You can beat anything in life with time and positive energy.
You mention Rebel Nation in “Something for the Pain.” Tell us a little about the movement.
TMHK: Rebel nation is a collective movement of solo artists: visual and audio. Anyone with the nation is someone that myself and current members see as a forward thinker and an artist who can develop their own work from concept to completion. We’re artists in the purest sense. Like once you set yourself apart, you can see the other people who have done the same thing for what they really are. I mainly like to work with “artists” (and I use that word lightly) because of their creative capacity. We all just contribute to the culture together. Anyone dope can stop in to make a contribution and get back to their personal projects. Without any break-ups and all the beef and hard feelings, I believe progression is guaranteed to Rebel Nation. We’re all just grindin’ and keeping our karma up. You can’t lose like this. Our generation has inherited the future. We live in the future our parents created; so if we want a better world then it is literally our choice. Rebel Nation is one flame amongst many rising for the shift to a more creative, open minded, and innovative future. We all got our own defining traits but our common goal is developing a culture around art, positive energy, and creativity again and we’re gonna do it with just that: art, positive energy, and creativity.
Follow The Most High K.I.D on Twitter: @TheMostHighKID