AMK - The First Big Thing

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A rapper, hustler and visionary.

 

Who in their right mind would ignore sleek, furnished recording studios for the self-built and underground (D.I.Y) spaces? “Artists who are woefully low on cash” is the simple answer. Imagine for a second the former is a kind of cabin formed entirely of glass, guarded and surveilled by the scrutinizing camp master. Where you are likely to incur debt for a bump to a piece of loose equipment. Not to mention jeering from said camp master (very often studio engineers). The latter is a sparsely arranged, low budget, not merely an opposite or a downgrade but a subversion of the former’s strict and stifling environment.

Of course there are those keen on making superficial judgements, who will suggest the D.I.Y bedroom style is the antithesis of a conducive recording environment. One will hear critics describe the spaces as shabby, and characterize recording techniques as rudimentary and juvenile. Despite the criticism D.I.Y spaces (a byproduct of local musical culture) have thrived spectacularly over the years. Underground artists, producers and others breathe solid production, fierce creativity, and enviable collective musicianship into drab, under resourced backyard houses. These artists became fondly known as "Bedroom Studio CEOs" in the hood. For artists, further left of the mainstream, any space like the ones described above, is a communal space suited to the cultivation of individual and collective endeavors.

D.I.Y culture and ethic produces dope work notwithstanding entangled wires zigzagging dangerously at your feet, and secondhand recording devices, laptops propped on tables and speakers heaving buzzing noises every now and again. It will always be the preferred machinery for unsigned, aspirant musicians to churn out work. After all nothing beats your own bedroom, a mic and beats. We all have to start somewhere.

Who better to talk to about the complicated, satisfying, and stressful business of indie artistry and the D.I.Y. ethic than PTA’s very own AMK? A few steps back to 2012 will land you in the time, and atmosphere of the release of Sketchrow Ent’s first single House Party. House Party was a posse cut, delivered over the instrumental of the head banging, widely popular, aptly titled Meek Mill anthem of the same name. Sketchrow Ent, a short-lived, project between rappers, precipitated a movement in the West. As a solo artist AMK followed the release of HP, eventually teaming up with fellow up and coming artists Skillx and A-reece to drop a local hit (Dreams) one of the first songs from a PTA West-based artist to be play-listed on Tshwane FM.  

Six plus years of painstaking work, in the studio, a string of local hits under the belt and running the menacing streets of Pitori handling side hustles have produced the ambitious, gritty, raw spitting and better equipped Rapper-Hustler to take on an industry closed off by gate keepers and populated by industry pl***s. Throughout the interview the man himself blesses us with insights into the business of music and a personal account of growth as an indie artist on the fringes of mainstream popularity, in that straight talking, demeanor - much like his flow, to the point carried by a deceptively smooth drawl and punctuated by a signature “you feel me.” Not one to be locked in debate, over who deserves to be ranked in the top 10. To use a cliché, not one to play around. We went straight to the burning questions.

The snf. team were fortunate, to catch the man on of the less busy days off the week. Below is an interview conducted on 20 November 2018:

snf: Who are your musical influences bro?

AMK: I’m influenced by a number of artists, namely: Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones and Ray Charles. A few other influences are people outside of music like Steve Jobs and Jimmy Lovine. I think of them as people with an affinity for perfection - I consider myself a member of that class. In terms of innovation and progressive thinking, Steve Jobs has left a legacy. His influence spans generations. So I aspire to be a visionary, expand my reach to media, technology and business.

snf: How would you describe the working relationship you have with collaborators? I’m thinking guys like Franky (producer) and rapper Bo Malone?

AMK: I work best with Franky, Sonic, Rabbii, Lou and Bo Malone, because it does not feel forced. We bounce ideas off each other in and outside the studio. It feels organic, fresh and more solid when the collaborative effort flows in that way. Again I emphasize that perfection is crucial, an important part of what we do. We don’t need to be present at the same time to make it work all the time. Everything from the beat to hooks should sound perfect.

snf: Compare your progress in musical sensibility and taste currently to, say 5 or 6 years ago? What have you learned that you may have ignored or took for granted back then?

AMK: I’ve always had the confidence in the rapping, or just the general aspect of making music. Even before I had a song I know I was great. For me the studio is like a classroom. I’m open to learning more. Hence the group of talented people I work with. Also, I’ve always strived for an international sound. This brings us back to my point about perfection, back in 2010 I was all about and I’ve continued to push for that even from the people I work with.

 

snf: Give us a dreamteam of local and international artists you plan work with. How far would you range out in terms of exploring other genres?

AMK: Youngsta, and Okmalumkoolkat, locally, because they have a unique approach to music. At some point I’d like to have someone like Metro Boomin in the studio, accompanied by violinists, just mixing things up, creating new, interesting projects, and songs. More than anything I hope to learn from the artists I work with, if I can’t learn there’s no point being there.

 

snf: At what point, or significant moment in your career would you say you’ve made it? Is it maybe winning a Grammy or being one of the highest earning rappers? What’s that one accolade you wouldn’t mind scooping up?

AMK: Accolades matter! But the greater aspiration I have is to create timeless and impactful music, based on honesty and personal reflection. I aim to get people i.e. my audience and other artists in the industry to approach music honestly. The world will decide who the best is. A Grammy would be great. Ultimately what would make me happy, is making classic, timeless projects worthy of people’s time.

You'll be hearing a lot from AMK in the future, but for the present, below are links to a few of his heaters already out.

Focus:

https://itunes.apple.com/za/album/focus-feat-amk-rabiiluuu/1442117786?i=1442117793

 

Depart (ft. Bo Malone):

http://youtu.be/4uM2L-xX5bk

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