Houston Music

Artist of the Week: The Legendary KO

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

Last week we began the Top 25 Houston Rap Albums of All Time list. And one of the albums that we really wanted to include but ultimately couldn't find space for was Universal, The Legendary KO's 2001 smash. If it were the Top 40, the duo - who also made national headlines with their 2005 song "George Bush Don't Like Black People" - totally would've made it.

Fortunately, we were able to round up the group's two MCs for an interview. We got their thoughts on whether or not an alligator could beat up a shark - it's Shark Week, son - the worst song in the duo's discography and who the best underground MCs really are.

Rocks Off: For those who aren't familiar with the legend behind KO, fill 'em in a bit.

Damien: Here's the skinny: 2 MC/producers in the crew, Damien and Big Mon. Been doing our thing since '92. Put out a bunch of records on our own. Traveled the world. Helped put the Houston underground on the map. All without a major-label deal.

Big Mon: Because of being able to do so much on our own, we ended up laying the foundation for many of the up and comers in Houston hip-hop. We made our own path and made it easy for Houston MCs to follow.

The Legendary KO, "2 Weeks"

The Legendary KO, "2 Weeks"

RO: Okay, so here's the question for you all: why are you all so concerned with lyricism? Didn't you all get the memo? That shit is out, yo. At least, it is if you want to get paid.

D: My mother made sure that I took English pretty seriously as a kid. I caught on pretty quickly. I don't really know how to dumb down the way I talk without sounding... dumb. I was influenced by lyricists. I've always been amazed at how a lot of people who say that they grew up on lyrics can't string multi-syllabic words together.

BM: If you notice, most money-hungry artists are here today and gone... today. Lyricism equals longevity, especially now in a fickle industry. You have 15 seconds to capture an ear, 24 hours to capture interest and a lifetime to capture the mind. Think about it. Rappers need to study.

RO: It's Shark Week right now. Do you think a shark could beat up an alligator? Let's assume they're both the same size.

D: They each have an advantage on their own turf. The shark is the deadliest predator in the sea; the alligator runs shit on land. If you could find a way to make a sharkigator, I'd run with that. I might get a tattoo of that.

BM: Alligator. That's why I rock the Izods! And even if a shark wins, you can get some nice shoes out of it, right?

RO: I don't think the alligator runs things on land. I think a bear would give him the business. As would a lion or a tiger.

D: Bear, maybe. Lion and tiger... if they get too close to the water...

RO: Maybe? You're crazy. Bears are ten feet tall or something. And they shoot flames out of their eyes. Alligator doesn't stand a chance.

D: Let a bear try to fuck with a shark, though.

[Ed. Note: For an entire blog devoted to this sort of discussion - seriously - check out www.wildanimalfightclub.com.]

RO: We know rappers - or all musicians for that matter - need to have great big egos to be any good at it, but if you had to pick, which would you say is the worst song that you all have ever made?

D: Can't really tell you that, because I'm sure that someone's YouTubed it. Don't need you sneaking around in our dirty laundry.

BM: It hasn't been made yet.

The Legendary KO, "Be About It"

The Legendary KO, "Be About It"

RO: And since we're tangentially touching on it, who are the five best underground MCs in Houston? And don't give us any of that "I don't concern myself with that" type of nonsense. Everybody ranks everything. And if you don't answer, we're totally going to change your answer anyway.

D: Top 5 emcees that aren't us: The Niyat (collectively), Kay, D Rose, H.I.S.D. (collectively) and V Zilla.

RO: Dude, you can't list the H.I.S.D. collective as part of the Top 5. There are, like, 40 members in that group.

D: There's four rappers. You can't let good sense get in the way of a shameless plug.

RO: Anything you all want to make sure gets mentioned? Now's the time to do it.

D: I guess it's worth mentioning that we're about to make history. Seriously.

RO: Yeah, you should probably talk about that.

D: Stay tuned for [album] The Ballad of Willie Turner, coming this fall. It might change the way that people create music. I'm not kidding. Intrigued?

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Shea Serrano