With Tech N9ne’s recent Bad Season mixtape, Kutt Calhoun delivers another scene-stealing performance with verses on the three tracks he was able to appear on. Despite only being able to appear on such a limited number due to his absence during the making of the mixtape, Kutt’s bars on “Livin’ Like I’m Dyin'”, “Sex To The Beat”, and “Down For The Block” are sure to make their mark on listeners fresh to the sound of the Strange Music MC. I sat down with Kutt and discussed his thoughts on the Bad Season mixtape, even asking him if he thought it was made in his absence because of his scene-stealing tenencies. Kutt also addresses the different appeal he has than Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko, stressing that he feels he needs to work harder than his counterparts at the label in order to reach his target audience.
So after hearing them, how happy are you that you were able to get back and make it on the tracks for Bad Season?
I was extremely happy because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make it. I know that it was crunch time. It was supposed to come out like around Halloween. I’m gone here in the beginning of November and I’m thinking by the time I get back man they’re going to be done with it–it’s a rush job. For me to be able to come back and still get on three songs–hell I was trying to get on four or five. Everytime we’ve had a collabos come out I’ve only made three songs and you know I hear Krizz on like six or seven of them! Regardless though if he’s singing the hook or not, I just want to be on more songs. I feel like I cheated myself out of the opportunities which really wasn’t my fault. I don’t regret going on the tour with Hed PE. Both of the times I missed the mixtapes or the collabos I was out on tour with Hed PE or Subnoize and I was only able to get on three of the tracks on the whole thing. I came back and my intentions were to be on more than three. I think it’s thirteen tracks on there so to be on three out of the thirteen was cool with me. I was trying to get on more than that but I was way satisfied with being the three that I was on. Wish I could’ve been on the liquor song–I mean shit, I do the most drinking out of all of us I believe! That would’ve been a good one for me to be on but it’s cool. I forget, what’s it called Drinking Liquor?
Hard Liquor, yeah. I wish I could’ve been on that one man! But it’s cool! I’m satisfied–I’m a hundred percent happy.
Do you think you’re making them while you’re away because you’re a scene stealer?
You know I’ve thought that man but even if that’s the case, it’s flattering! It’s flattering because we all have friendly competition with each other. But I honestly think if that is even the slightest type of mind-frame that they do have, that’s flattering, but at the same time I think that, me being gone–hell, the show doesn’t stop, the show must go on. They still have to record. They’ve still got these dates booked out at the studios that they need to record in. I mean if they can just hold off and wait until I get back and I can be on two or three extra ones, I would love it. If they think that I’m a scene stealer–good! That’s what I want them to think because I’m going to try and steal the scene every time.
So what were your impressions of the beat and the music once that you heard it–the feel of the overall mixture?
It was slightly different than what our fanbase is used to hearing but you know what? I think it’s a great change because it is different. Tech’s a brilliant guy and he’s just got music running all through his body so the hooks he came up with and the ideas for the songs made it all the more better. When you come back and you’re wanting to write something and the hook is already done so all you’ve got to do is listen to the hook: you already know the concept, you’ve got a title, you’ve got an idea of what you want to write about. It’s a plus if a verse is already on there. So it’s like “Okay cool, this is what he’s talking about. This is what it is.” It’s no problem to sit there and write. I liked what Tech came up with man and wish I was here to give my input on it because we all have three different minds. When we all come together–if you let someone do one thing and let somebody else do another thing, it shows the diversity in the music in a show when people hear it. It’s not just going to be a hook just Tech came up with every time, you know what I’m saying? Let Kaliko come up with a hook–which he does, a lot. Let Kutt Calhoun just come up with his own hook, you know what I’m saying? That would make for a whole different song because we all think differently. Kaliko and Tech are a little bit more similar, because Kali kind of goes off of what he believes Tech would like, so Kaliko got a good ear for that. But yeah, let me write a hook or two or something or a bridge or something and I think it would make for a better song because it’s just like three minds on it.
When you guys are in the studio together is there a healthy creative friction like “maybe not that, let’s try this.”
Yes, we’ve got to, but that’s what makes for the finished product to be what is is because we’re giving our ideas like “eh, let’s change that up.” Or “naw don’t say that, let’s try something different.” That’s always good. Being an artist you’ve got to be able to give criticism and take it.
Out of all the songs on the mixtape, what are some of your favorites?
I like [Livin’ Like I’m Dyin’]. That’s me, Tech, and he put the CES Cru on the end of it. I like that song just based off of the concept of it: got a whole lot of living to do, there’s lots of pretty women, and I’m going to party like I’m dying tomorrow. That just made me think of, if I did die tomorrow, how do I feel about where I’m at in life, what I’ve been through, and what I’ve accomplished? That’s why I say “It feel like in my head I’m the greatest”: “I feel I’m the best who ever did and most underrated and hated, so if I die then so be it because in my head I’m the greatest. I done been to every city and have had sex with all types of different women. Shit what can you tell me that I aint did man? I done lived it up to the fullest you know what I’m saying? I done did so much shit and know so many people and got so many fans that if I die my fucking will have to be read at the Kemper Arena. So I just felt like “fuck man.” So that was a great one for me–it was different. I’ve always been put on songs about sex: “Sex Out South”, “That Box”, “Real Sex”, “Goldberg”, songs that got something to do with sex–”Ghetto Love”. I used to give Tech shit like “Man, put me on some of the hard shit!” I want to be on some hard shit, I aint just all about sex! But I know what they do it, they do it because I’m considered the pretty boy or the LL Cool J of the group or whatever–okay that’s cool man, but shit so was Pac, but hell he had different shit to talk about. I’m more than just some sex symbol–so they say. So being on something more serious like that, I loved doing it. That was just a whole different topic. “Sex To The Beat” was something I was pretty much accustomed to, but it wasn’t no problem doing it. I enjoyed that–I enjoyed it a lot. I got to play with different styles and come off in a way that I haven’t come off on previous songs. And the last one I’m on, “Down For The Block”, I was glad about that one. I don’t usually get to do that as far as a collabo with Tech or on a mixtape or whatever. I was glad to do that one also. I got my dude Jay Rock on there. Him and Scoob they did their things. I’m just going to try and be the best on every track that I’m on for the simple fact that I do feel that I’m underrated, I do feel that I should be at a higher status where I’m at today in my music but I think due to the way that I’m promoted, since we’re not as a label having an urban lane strictly just for promoting in the urban market. Until that comes about I feel that I’ve got to work harder than Tech. I’ve got to work harder than Kaliko because those guys have an edge over me. Kaliko, the Juggaloes are attracted to him in a way to where they almost feel like they have a connection with him as far as being rebellious, being the ones that were maybe picked on, talked about, considered different in school or just in their public surroundings. Kaliko’s talking about looking weird, being picked on, teased and this and that. I feel like they have a connection with him through that, and with the “Anxiety” shit, and the going crazy shit. It’s similar to Tech with the being different and people thinking he’s a weirdo and the red hair, expressing himself differently, and kind of the crazy way of thinking. So I feel like I gotta work harder with those guys because I’m like totally the opposite. I’ve been considered a pretty boy, ladies man, the popular guy. Really never had anything negative to follow down the line in my resume so it’s like, what I’ve been through, those guys don’t talk about. I’ve been through the mama being on drugs, getting evicted, being kicked out of houses and apartments, staying with other relatives, selling drugs, being shot and all that stuff. Those guys haven’t lived through that. Everybody’s had their own trials and tribulations but mine have been a little bit harsher than theirs and I think when it comes to the Juggaloes, the mass audience of it, I think probably ninety-percent hasn’t been through none of that or even can relate besides what they may hear on other artists’ albums or what they see on TV. The other ten-percent may have lived similar lives or can understand where I’m coming from but that ten-percent, that’s what’s showing in my sales. When I come out with an album, I’m not doing ten-thousand, fifteen, twenty, sixty the first week like Tech is doing. Even Kaliko’s doing at least a G or 1,500 more than I am because of the more people that’s probably relating to what he’s doing. So I feel like I’ve got to work harder than both of those guys and it’s going to show. You’re going to be able to tell. You’re not going to be able to put me on a track with the both of those guys or just Tech or just Kaliko and be like “Whoa, they ate his ass up.” I’m going to stand out. Not because I’m trying to but just because what I’ve been through and what I’ve done is just going to speak for itself and the talent is just as equal as anybody else’s. That’s why we’re all together and have been doing it since ’99.
You guys can relate on the talent level for sure but you’d say your struggle and what you’ve seen is more urban.
Yeah. Scooby, Skatterman, and Snug Brim. I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen with Jay Rock. That’s my dude. Maybe something will happen different to where it’ll open up a new lane for myself and as well as Scoob, but until then I’m not just hood, it’s just that I have a lot more to say in a relative way to where you could put me in a lane with the TIs and the Lil Waynes and the Bun Bs or whatever but you could also throw me in a lane with Kanye West and 2Pac because I speak about different things. There’s more to me than just one topic man.
Do you think this mixtape is going to help you kind of reach that fanbase?
Definitely because when Flames came out, that fucking CD wasn’t just a hood CD at all. I’ve got a lot of diversity on there with songs like “Lady”. And then you’ve got your hood songs like “Changing Lanes” with me, BG, and Snug Brim on there. Then you’ve got like the strip club song “Hit Me Back”. You’ve got “I’m The One” that me and Kaliko re-did the Pharrell song, a kind of poppy song. I try to rap about a lot of different things man. They’ve been asking about the Flames mixtape. It came out in ’07 and people are still asking about it to this day so I don’t know if it’s spreading. People are making copies of it and wanting to hear it when they come to these shows. What I’m going to do is make a sequel to it, a Flames Part Deuce, I’m going to do that. From the anticipation and from what I hear while we’re out on the road and on the internet, it’s going to do real good. People have been waiting on it. They want more copies of the first one so for the second one to be out there, I think it’s going to do real good. For me to do an extra mixtape with an extra mixtape along with it–I’m going to put them out simultaneously–This Blood’s For You with BG Bulletwound, who’s still relevant out there, the fans ask about and know about him, so we’re going to do a collabo and I’m going to reach out to the E-40s and the Jay Rocks and the Messy Marvs and different people like that–Mack 10. It’s just going to make for a whole good mixtape man and both of them are going to be solid mixtapes but just totally different. The people that want to hear more of the hood and street and life struggle shit is going to be on This Blood’s For You and the people that want to hear the more diverse Kutt that can talk about political stuff, heartfelt stuff, rap about some bitches, and just get off lyrically, that’s all going to be combined in the Flames. I think they’re going to be pretty good when they get done.
The way you aspire makes me think of Tupac. I know he was your favorite rapper. He could talk about anything with equal authority, whether it was sex, politics, the hood, or being a celebrity…all that stuff.
Yeah I think about that often. Songs like “To Whom It May Concern” off of B.L.E.V.E. That’s such a political song and it’s so true–that’s how I felt about the Congress, the government, and the President and all that stuff. Then you’ve got songs like “Smiling Faces” and you’ve got the “Calling My Name” and then you’ve got songs like “The Green Mile”. You’ve got songs like “Life”. All you’ve got to do is listen to the music. For anybody that’s out there that says “Oh Kutt he can’t rap about this, he doesn’t rap about that stuff.” Just do your homework is what I’ll tell them! Just listen from B.L.E.V.E. to the Flames Mixtape to Feature Presentation all the way to Raw and Un-Kutt–from the beginning to the present. It’ll let you know man, there’s more than Kutt than just one genre of rap.