Meet Kritikal, Brooklyn born, Staten Island bred with Italian and Irish roots. For years Kritikal has navigated the underground NYC scene. Grinding away at his craft allowed him to find himself as an artist, while building a sizable indie fan base. The work has paid off and as 2011 begins, Kritikal finds himself on the brink. He recently secured a partnership with Universal and has a song "Miss NYC" that's starting to get legs.
Videos, music, and links in the interview after the cut
Drank and Dank (DD): You started rapping to prove to your friend in an argument that rapping wasn't hard. What sparked the argument?
Kritikal (K) : I actually thought it was easy to rap, that was my outlook on the situation. He told me that it wasn't. He wasn't writing any, just telling me it was difficult. He was just a lover of hip-hop. So I tried to prove him wrong and wrote a coupleof raps. They probably weren't special at all, but people started liking them, so I stuck with it. Now I'm here 14 years later.
Kritikal - Gotta Eat Right (feat. Pacewon & AC)
DD: Where have your songs been featured on TV?
K: I've got my music licensed on the NBA channel, for Motorcross on the Fuel channel, I've been on the Biography channel, they used me for Robert De Niro and Eminems shit.
DD: What's the wildest thing you've ever seen at a show?
K: The wildest thing I've ever seen at a show? Probably seen somebody get knocked out by one of the artists performing. They threw something on stage while the artist was performing. He just jumped off and started beating the shit out of the person.
DD: What can we expect from you in 2011?
K: I just signed a deal with Team Mash'n along with Universal and right now we're running a two part radio campaign. The first song we put out is "Miss NYC" it's featuring this kid, Anthony M. He sings on the hook. We got a video coming for that, we're in post-production for that.
That's available on iTunes, Amazon, everywhere you can download. That sets up the 2nd single "In The Air." Currently I'm working on a mixtape, just did a track with Saigon. We're bout to do a track with Fred The Godson and hopefully I'll release the album by the end of 2011.
DD: Did you record with Saigon?
K: Nah, I had actually met him when I was out. We got to rapping and exchanged info. I did a track, sent it to him, and he got me back the vocals.
DD: What's your immediate goal career wise?
K: I got to get my buzz bigger, get some strong name recognition. I got to get it to you hear my name and you know who they're talking about, to wear you say the song and they think of me. Got to get that name recognition.
DD: How involved are you in marketing yourself and your music?
K: I'm very involved. I got a whole team of people working for me, but I'm very active on the social networking scene. Facebook, myspace, twitter, I'm on everything like that. I try to keep a close knit relationship with my followers and fans. At shows I'm where people are congregating, I'm talking. I'm a
reachable person. I try not to distance myself, and to connect with possible fans. All those links can be found at WWW.KRTNYC.com
DD: Tell us about the Staten Island hip-hop scene.
K: There's a hip-hop scene out here, but it's not a lot of opportunities. I mean there's showcases, and a lot of artists trying to do their thing. I'm actually starting to do more shows out of Staten Island, trying. I'm to branch out and reach other places. I want to get my music out of Staten Island.
DD: Other than yourself who's your favorite Staten Island rapper?
K: I'd say Method Man. He's always been one of my favorites from the Wu-Tang. I could go through the whole Wu-Tang and tell you why I like each different artist.
DD: When you were growing up did you used to see Wu-Tang in Staten Island?
K: Yeah I would see them out and about. I used to work in the mall and they used to come through.
DD: How important to you is it to be able to experiment musically when you're recording?
K: Very important, I consider myself an artist not just a rapper. I like to put different things in my music. If you hear me I have pop stuff, more mainstream, then urban, and even rock influences. Anytime I find something I like, I'll incorporate it, put my own little twist on it.
DD: When you're doing so, do you ever have anybody telling you "nah, you gotta do it like this?"
K: Definitely, all the time. Everybody seems to be a critic, that they know more than you. I've been doing this a long time, like 14 years so I trust my advice. I'm not oe to turn down criticism, I love criticism. It can only make you better, but at the same time, when I hear nonsense, I tune it out. Most of the time that's what it is.
DD: Now that you got a deal what can you do with the machine behind you? Now that you're no longer independent.
K: I got the distribution behind me. Now whenever I feel I have a project worth releasing, I can just go to the label, and tell them to put it out. That's the big advantage of having a deal.
DD: What was it like performing at the Funkmaster Flex Car Show?
K: I did that a few years ago, 2008. Not really, it was just a cool experience, kind of overwhelming. Me being there was a last minute thing, I didn't expect to be there. I met people like Busta Rhymes, Cam'Ron, Maino, Kid Capri, Funkmaster Flex.
DD: Do yo think that being a white rapper is like being a black quarterback? Not really mentioned anymore, or have you heard a lot about you being a white mc?
K: More so I don't hear a lot about being a white rapper. I hear more about that from other white people than anything else. When I'm out doing shows, promo runs, I get a lot of love. I'll get that from other white people. They'll ask me why I'm doing this and tell me it must be hard. Still wherever I go it's love for me.
DD: Are you still friends with the guy you had the disagreement about the ease of rapping?
K: Yeah. Actually he's one of my brothers friends. I see him periodically, when everyone gets together. I'm not even sure he's aware of the fact of how he led me to rapping. I want to say everybody go buy my song "Miss NYC", on all the major download sites. Video coming soon.