Ka: Carrying On Tradition

This gritty Brooklyn rapper is on a quest to restore the real in rap.

Posted: 10/19/2011 02:53 PM EDT
Brooklyn Rapper KA

Brooklyn MC Ka is not rhyming to gain overnight fame and fortune. Instead, he’s out for respect. “I’m not a starving artist,” says the gruff-voiced MC matter-of-factly. “A lot of starving artists be willing to do anything to get on. Not me.”

 

Born and raised in the gritty arteries of Brownsville (as a vocal sample lifted from a documentary describes his neighborhood in his recently released video “Cold Facts”), Ka prefers tales of struggle and strife to the glamorous portraits of the famous life painted by other MCs.

 

“I’m built from a different time. I’m from the streets, I’m from the hood.” He shares his struggle with listeners through his bars, he explains. “My music is dark. I write from a darker place.”

 

Ka has been rhyming for as long as he can remember. He and friends used rapping and basketball to cope with the struggles of growing up in Brownsville. “I was goin’ through a lot of unnecessary bulls---that you go through growing up in those times,” he says of his upbringing.

 

The rapper brought his childhood outlet into adulthood as a hobby while embarking on an everyday 9-5 existence. For years Ka kept his passion a secret because felt the title of MC had been stigmatized. He blames the flood of rhymers who respect the dollar above the craft for diluting the once prestigious title.

 

“For years, I stopped telling people I rhymed. Because it wasn’t like an art anymore. Like, it wasn’t respected.”

 

He has plans to change that.

 

“I want to be considered one of the best ever,” he says. “I want them to keep my name around when they talkin’ ‘bout rap (and) to be respected in this art by my peers and the people that are into music and love it.”

 

If he continues grinding, he may be well on his way. In 2007, Ka independently released his solo debut Iron Works and has plans to release the follow up, Grief Pedigree in January 2012. He has already collaborated with fellow NY grime-rhymers Roc Marciano and GZA. Ka's deft sounds have also caught the attention of non-conformist stars like Erykah Badu and Mos Def. Badu tweeted out a link to Ka’s “Cold Facts” from her Twitter account @fatbellybella, co-signing the rapper’s talent. “U ill,” she wrote.

 

The Grammy Award winning songstress acknowledged that she first heard about Ka through fellow Brookyln MC Mos Def.

 

The big name recognition is welcomed, but at the end of the day, Ka just wants to give listeners the feeling he gets when listening to soul-stirring music greats Nas or Marvin Gaye. A feeling he says is missing in contemporary rap.

 

He points to singer Anthony Followill from the rock band Kings of Leon as one of the rare artists today who is capable of having that effect. “He gives me that feeling,” he says. “When he sings, that feeling is real.”

 

Realer than most.

 

Check out the visuals to Ka's latest heat rock, "Every."

From Our Partners