The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week's Rapper: CB Kings
This Week's Subject: The dynamics of suburban hip-hop
Ask A Rapper: First, let's start with the most obvious question, even though we feel we like we know the answer already: What is suburban hip-hop? It's hip-hop that focuses on Suburban hip-hops, right? How did you all become so infatuated with that SUV? It's terrible for the environment.
CB Kings [laughs]: Suburban hip-hop is what it sounds like; cats from the 'burbs on the microphone. When you are in the 'burbs you are influenced by many things, and that's what we try to portray in our music. There are no limits to what it can be. And it's not just Rock Rap. It's Electric Rap, it's Country Rap; shit, it's even Gangster Rap. It's whatever. As long as you reppin' the 'burbs on it, it's suburban hip-hop, minus the poor gas mileage.
AAR: Damon, when you agreed to be part of CB Kings, were you aware that your partner was going to be white?
Damon [laughs]: Me and BC go way back. He is the lead singer of an alternative group (The Crisis). When I got back from college I heard the group and really felt what they were doing, so I asked him if he wanted to hook up and do a project.
We did a song called "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" for their CD, Emergency Medicine. Everyone who heard it loved it. So we decided to go with it. And The CB Kings were born. So yeah I knew, I planned it that way. [laughs] No dub, no love.
AAR: Okay, so we've heard all kinds of harrowing tales of gore re: living in the suburbs. Newspapers mistakingly being thrown to the wrong houses, milkmen arriving ten -sometimes 20 - minutes late, unfair tax breaks, etc. How rough is it really living out near the Beltway?
CB: One of my best patna's just got caught with weight, my other nigga just got off a Drank case. I got a RIP tat on my back for my nigga LJE; he got caught up in the game. One of my boys is doing 25 right now for murder, and my boy Richie Brown was killed in a so-called shootout with the police.
But they don't talk about that. Either they don't know, don't show or just don't care about what's going on in the burbs. It ain't all peaches and cream in the 'burbs. What goes on in the hood goes on in the 'burbs. Well, at least where I grew up, southeast Houston. Sage Glen, Texas. With that said, some had it easier than others.
I mean, it is what you made it. I went to school, got my education and went on to College (PVNation). But most of my friends didn't even though the opportunity was there. Niggas are the same everywhere. I love it when somebody thinks I'm a square cause I say I'm from the 'burbs, just like I love it when white folks see me and think I'm a Thug [laughs]. Young, black and educated and a lot of people hate it. Even my own.
AAR: Serious question: How much of this suburban angle was encouraged by the demise of gangster rap?
CB: The two have nothing to do with each other. I'm from the suburbs, so that's what we're gonna rep. Plus, we're from Houston. The only ganster rap I listened to was NWA or West Side Connection on a Screw Tape (R.I.P. the King of the South).
I'm just a real cat, and want to let people know that these are the views of Kids from the Suburbs. No matter if we're talking about love, smoking and drinking, messing with white girls [laughs] or slanging and banging. The CB Kings might not talk a lot of G shit, but there are a lot of folks out here reppin' the 'burbs that do.
AAR: Can any of what you all do be considered purposely ironic or satirical?
CB: Not really. We're putting or hearts into the music and we talking real things. It might be funny every now and then, but nothing about what we do I think is ironic or satirical. Now, with that said, our videos might be satirical, 'cause we both are idiots. But as far as the music, it's straightforward.
AAR: A large percentage of the fan base for some of the gutterest rappers out are affluent kids living in the suburbs. Rappers are able to sell them a lifestyle they like to know about but not experience directly. And if we're to understand it correctly, rappers go so far as to market that directly to them too.
So who is CB Kings' target demographic - or any suburban hip-hop group's, really? Are you all after the same group? Or is the inverse going on here? Are suburban hip-hop groups keying in on people living in the terrible neighborhoods?
CB: Good Question. Our target demographic is 1-100 years old. Black, White, Brown, Asian, rich, poor, hood niggas, suburban cats, 9-to-5-ers, strippers, college students, doctors, lawyers , engineers , ballers, hustlers, d boys, b boys, Bloods , Crips, Houstone's. We're going after them all.
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We're just trying to put out good music. It feels good when you go to a hardcore rock show and get the same kind of love when you do a hip-hop show. We just putting out music we think is good, and hopefully somebody else will think it is too.
See the CBKings online here.