My first introduction into the world of KILLSTREAK was at a secret santa party in December 2012. Our mutual friend Kait (hey gurl) had given me “Tony-he’s 19 and a rapper in a group called Killstreak.” Gifts were exchanged at the party, facebook friendships were forged, and new music was introduced, as KILLSTREAK had just released a song with local slam poet/hip hop artist Guante titled “Collateral Damage.”
I was really impressed with Tony’s lyrical content and youthful yet old soul passion and intelligence that bleeds from his music. Granted I was only 5 years older than him at the time, but still-it’s rare to meet a 19 year old (or any teen/20 something for that matter) with any kind of direction and certainty in their life, let alone confidence and drive for their art. It’s a powerful and unassuming vibe for real, and that’s what makes their music and performances so philosophically ballin’.
Tony and his KILLSTREAK partner/producer/pal, ICETEP, released their first full-length album this summer titled “Janus.” (You can read a solid review about it here and buy it here). They are definitely gonna be two guys to keep an eye on in the music scene over the next few years, together and independently. Check out what this Minneapolis hip-hop wunderkind duo has to say about the origin of their fantastic name, Yeezus, sex in college and Carly Rae Jepsen.
1. How long have you, Tony the Scribe and ICETEP, been making music individually? When did you realize you vibed musically, thus birthing Killstreak?
T: I’ve been rapping for about 6 or 7 years, although I’ve been making music my whole life. ICETEP started out playing the piano at age 5 and has been making beats for about 3 years. We first realized we meshed musically about 2 years ago when we were reintroduced by a mutual friend. At first we didn’t really like each other’s shit, but we grew together and gained a mutual respect. 2 years later, we have an album out and are best friends. It’s funny how things work out.
2. Killstreak is a rad name. I picture a quaint streak of blood on the floor after a methodical Dexter-like kill or something. What was the inspiration behind naming yourselves Killstreak? And what is a Janus?
I: For a long time we couldn’t decide on a group name, one day we were chatting and one of us suggested “KILLSTREAK” as a joke, because we both mutually decided that it was a dumb name for a rap group. Flash forward a couple of days and we both sort of independently decided it was the perfect name. It’s less like a streak of “quaint” blood and more of like that blood straight out of “The Shining” just a massive tidal wave. (T: It’s also a play on the nerdiness of our personalities, because it’s a video gaming term. We thought it fit us well to have something nerdy and intimidating) A “Janus” is the Roman god of Duality, Entryways, Beginnings and Entryways. It was a fitting name for the album though, because it represents a time in our lives where we both were changing from one artistic space to another, as well as representing the overt duality we intended for the general theme of the artistic content of the album.
3. There’s a lot of passion and thought in your lyrics, which is hella cool. What topic gets you fired up the most, to the point where you have to run home from a party/bar mitzvah/the middle of class and start writing immediately?
T: Disillusionment with society. Also, watching how people act when they want to have sex with other people, because a lot of people act really different when they really want to have sex with someone. And just interpersonal interaction in general– that kinda stuff is mad interesting to me; I’m a sociology major and a huge extrovert so I’m continually fascinated by how people interact in group settings.
4.You played a show in my bedroom last month. Do you plan on playing anymore bedroom shows, basement shows or house shows this summer (besides, you know, the shows you play in actual venues)? What are your thoughts on house shows vs venue shows?
I: Yo fam I love bedroom shows, I wish we could play more, but usually people have really small bedrooms, and I’m not about me and Tony being the third and fourth wheel of a good time. This summer we unfortunately do not have any underground shows on the horizon, but we do have a couple of legit shows that are still being organized. That being said, from the house parties I’ve played, in my experience I’d rather just play in an actual venue, because people go to shows at venues with the explicit purpose of (usually) seeing an artist or a band. It’s not like I don’t like hanging out with drunk people, but I feel venues have determined drunk people. We’ll probably end up playing lots of underground shows in the spring just because T has a house in nor cal, and I am about that life.
5. Main musical influences on your music and art, GO!
T: Kanye West, Doomtree, Linkin Park, Rustie, Flying Lotus, and giant robot anime. Bam.
6: If you could collaborate with any artist outside of the hip-hop genre, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I: I’d really love to do a whole album with Kanye West actually, I know a lot of people are divided over Yeezus, but I still really fucks with him both as a rapper and as a producer. I guess I’m more interested in just hanging out with him in the studio than anything, like seeing what his process is like and what not. If Kanye wasn’t available though, prolly Flocka. Dude goes IN when he’s in the studio. BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BRRRRRRIIIIICCCCKKKKKKK SQQQUUUUUAAAADDDDDDDDDDD. (video context: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvJDiZwGGd4)
7: Who’s your favorite guilty pleasure artist and/or what’s an embarrassing song you LOVE?
T: I love Party in The USA. And Call Me Maybe. Anybody who doesn’t like Carly Rae Jepsen can eat a bag of dicks. Straight up.