When it comes to addressing social issues affecting the black community, Southern rapper KD is far from politically correct. A random listen to one of his albums or a scroll down his Twitter timeline will support the aforementioned claim.
I was recently able to get KD on the phone for an in-depth conversation about the 2016 presidential election, voting rights, and the fatal shootings of black men by white police officers.
KD also shared his thoughts on gun violence in the black community, slavery films, marijuana legalization, Donald Trump’s connection to hip-hop, and Lil Wayne’s controversial Black Lives Matter comments.
Peep the interview below.
The presidential election takes place on November 8th. What are your thoughts on the two leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and the controversy surrounding them?
It’s always controversy when you talk politics, and people get offended. This is like the first election where I saw it bring emotions out of people. This is the first time I’ve seen how intense it is. Donald Trump, he brought out all of the emotions on both sides. And Hillary, she brings out the emotions on both sides. For me, I try to keep an open mind, because the media, they’re going flip it to whoever they want you to like. The liberals, the conservatives, it’s just like the rap game to me. They pay the media to put in the news what they want to be put in the news about their candidate. As far as, when people say this about Hilary and they say this about Trump, I take it for what it is. ‘Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.’ I don’t put too much stock into that. I don’t have a particular one that I just fuck with. Hillary, she’s cool. Donald Trump, I honestly don’t have no problem with him. People get offended by him, but he’s speaking his truth. It might not be my truth or your truth, but he’s speaking how he feels. To be honest, with Donald Trump, I can see what he’s doing. Years ago, he was a democrat. He was supporting Hillary. I saw videos of him saying he thinks Barack Obama is great, his healthcare program and all that. All the stuff he’s saying now is totally opposite. He’s got pictures with Hillary. To me, it’s like smoke and mirrors. Trump knows what they call the silent majority wanna hear. He’s a rich white dude from New York. He knows exactly what them Republicans wanna hear. They wanna hear that the black folks and the Hispanics and the Asians are taking everything they worked for. He’s putting it in their face. He’s like, ‘We’re gonna make America for y’all again. We gone make it great again.’ He’s basically saying, ‘We’re gonna make America white again.’ I don’t know if Donald Trump is a racist or not, but he’s putting that in their ear. He fed off that shit. They’re coming to his rallies. They’re like, ‘Oh, he’s gonna be our savior.’ But Donald Trump, at the same time, he’s a slime ball. To me, he’s running game on them. As a black man, before we go putting our hope in a vote, we’ve got to have some power We’ve got to pool our money together…it’s all about buying a politician. They put in the laws and do whatever for whoever is going to support their candidate.
You came up in Alabama. I spent the majority of my upbringing in Tennessee. We both are products of the South. During the Civil Rights Movement, many in our region fought and gave their lives to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. Decades later, millennials are reportedly less likely to vote than previous generations. Why do you think so many of us are not voting nowadays?
I know exactly what it is, what I think it is. This is the information age. We’ve got access to the Internet, so we’re able to see through the bullshit. Our parents, they’re older than us…like, they just believe whatever you put on the TV. They believe that everything is fair and square, the election is this, but we’ve been able to access all this information on the Internet. We have all this information, so we don’t necessarily believe in the whole system as much. [Millennials] feel like [the system] is not fair. They feel like presidents are selected and not elected. And a lot of millennials, they hang out with immigrants. They’ve got a diverse crowd, and they don’t see them gaining as much by who the president is or who the senators are. They don’t care as much. That’s what I think it is, or they might just be caught up in their smartphones.
Considering the sacrifices made by those before us to secure voting rights, do you feel obligated to vote?
I do feel a certain duty, not just because of that, but because I am an American citizen. It’s my right to do so. I do believe in voting. If you feel like it’s something that’s going to affect your life, you need to go vote. People died and fought for us to have the right to vote, not necessarily to actually vote. I look at it as they fought for us to have the choice whether we want to vote or not. I encourage voting. I think people should put more emphasis on voting on the local level. Everybody’s concerned about the president, but the local level, who makes the laws where you live, that affects you. [In different states], there are laws and regulations that people don’t pay attention to, but it’s on the ballot every year…it might affect you more than the national things. One thing I do say is, I would rather a lot of us young people, especially black people, instead of being so concerned about the president, work with the young people and pool our money together…put our money and effort behind candidates at the local level that we believe in. You can make changes with your district representative because you can touch him. You can say, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got this project that I want to do. I’ve got this idea.’ You can go to him. ‘We need to put this together.’ You can go to the state legislator and try to put things together for your local schools. And that’s what it’s all about.
It seems like the coverage of fatal shootings of black people by white police officers has increased significantly over recent years. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. What goes through your mind when you hear there has been another black person shot and killed by a police officer?
It gets you riled up, like, ‘Fuck, the police killing us everywhere.’ It’s all in the media and everything. But then I had to take a look back and think about why they’re putting this out here. Like you said, I’m thinking, ‘This shit been out here. This ain’t nothing new.’ Being from Birmingham, A
labama, all the police black. You go to somewhere like Memphis, all the police black. You go to Atlanta, all the police black. But then you see white police killing black people. ‘Why they putting this out there like that? Why they putting this in our face constantly, because it ain’t nothing new?’ It ain’t like white police all of a sudden decided, ‘We fin’ to start killin’ black men.’ They been killing black men, hanging us, for years. It’s a little better now, but they been doing that shit. I took a look back and thought, ‘Why they putting this out here like that,’ because I know they ain’t just killing us. They killin’ Hispanics, they killin’ everybody. It made me think, ‘Are they trying to condition our minds or something? Who’s putting this in the media like this?’ It’s a specific reason. I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know, but it’s a reason why this is being driven into our minds. I don’t know if it’s fear they’re trying to put in our mind. When I look at the police, these police live in the suburbs, so when they at work and they come to a black neighborhood, the only thing they know is all the stuff they see on the news, so they already spooked. The same as you. If you riding through a neighborhood you ain’t familiar with, you’re gonna be a little uptight. You’re gonna have a gun — I know people that do that. That’s normal, so if you’re a police officer, you’re dealing with somebody who you think is a criminal, you’re gonna already be on 10. I look at it from that perspective too. They’re scared. When they see a big black dude, and he can threaten ‘em, they want to get home to their [family], too. They scared of the black man. Everybody is scared of the black man, because, for one, they know everything that happened in the past. They know at any moment the black man could erupt and say, ‘Fuck all these white folks and everything they done done to us. We fin’ to ride on ‘em. We fin’ to kill ‘em.’ At the same time, I don’t know what they can do with the police, because it’s a hard job. They don’t pay a lot. It ain’t like they paying police $100k a year. It’s not like it’s a glamorous job where people are just signing up to be police. And police numbers are down so much, so they gotta get people in, train them as fast as they can and put ‘em on the force. I would say get better officers, but at the same time, I don’t know if people want to be officers.
Let’s touch on gun violence, specifically in the black community. This is an issue that’s widespread, prevalent in every region. What do you think is the root cause of the senseless violence taking place in our communities across the nation?
When you see black-on-black crime, a lot of it is due to poverty. The system, it’s set up to where, if you’re poor, it’s fucked up. That’s pretty much how it is. ‘We don’t care about you.’ You’ve got kids, their daddy might be locked up. Their momma, she’s got to work, so she don’t have as much time to care and nurture for them. They go to school with other kids just like them, who don’t have a lot of supervision and don’t have people to spend time with them like they should, because they’re trying to make ends meet. They grow up feeling hopeless, if they don’t see examples of better. So with the gun violence, you can outlaw guns, but if I ain’t mistaken, Chicago is got some of the strictest gun laws in America, and it’s one of the most deadliest cities. I know plenty people who have never bought a legal gun. It’s like, why even ban them? If you want a gun, you’re gonna get it anyway. The only way to fix black-on-black violence is to put some money into the community, pool resources.
The movie Birth of a Nation was released in theaters last month. Despite the controversy surrounding the film’s star/director, Nate Parker, and the rape charge he was acquitted of, I checked it out. I can’t front. All of the controversy surrounding the film heightened my expectations. Once I viewed it, however, I didn’t leave with the mind frame it was a phenomenal movie. But the film did cause me to reflect on the horrid conditions so many of our ancestors had to live and die in. Did you get a chance to peep the film? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
I haven’t seen it. I heard about the controversy. What I will say, as far as those type of movies, I don’t really like slave movies. I want to see black people doing some positive shit. Slavery, it’s traumatic. I think some slave movies are good to show black people other parts of slavery. I know it’s a lot of kids that may not necessarily know their history, so it’s good to show them that. Some people need to see that’s where we came from, because some of them get a misconception that that didn’t happen. For me, because I’m so well versed in the history of everything we’ve been through, I don’t like to keep beating that whole slavery thing. You’ve got 12 Years a Slave, Django, even Tyler Perry movies, it’s just all putting the black men in a submissive role. In all the slavery movies, it’s a lot of rape of black women. That’s one thing I hate to see. At the same time, some people need to see where we came from. I would rather see some black movies of us being kings, positive shit. Not only showing us as slaves, but, like, one on Black Wall Street, or something like Drumline, about black colleges…films showing us doing everyday stuff. Like the show “Insecure.” She’s just showing a black woman’s every day life — she’s got a job, she went to college, [and] she’s got a boyfriend. She’s just showing that we can do normal shit. I would rather see something that shows we’re normal people, we have ups and downs.
To shift gears, millennials are reportedly waiting longer to get married or not getting married at all. Finances is one of the reasons cited for why certain millennials decide not to get married. On the contrary, you recently got married. What motivated you to tie the knot? And is there any advice you would offer to other millennials who are on the fence about marriage?
Oh, yeah, man. I just got married. I’ve been with my wife for almost a decade. It is a lot of millennials that may not necessarily want to do that. I don’t really know why because it’s a very positive thing. I think you really need that to a certain extent to go forward in life. One person motivates the other. You need that balance. A man, you need that feminine energy around you to balance you out. I’m rough around the edges, but a woman, she’s gonna know and have skills that I can’t even think of. Finances, to be honest, I think it can be better with someone, but I think people have got to have the right mindset. It’s a lot of people that live their life off social media and TV. They live in a fantasy world. A lot of people are not tied to reality. To be honest, as far as black folks, a generation before us, a lot of our parents weren’t married. That’s just the honest truth, so we didn’t see the value in it. I think that has something to do with it, too. And then people are doing school longer. A lot of people are having kids outside of marriage. People are having different thoughts and feelings on the whole concept. I think it’s a little bit of rebellion. They have these false expectations of what a wife or a husband or a boyfriend or girlfriend is and what they’re supposed to do for you. And that leaves them lonely at the end of the day.
In your music, you’re open about your appreciation of marijuana. Though it’s still illegal in a lot of areas, several states are considering legalizing weed for recreational purposes. In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons to legalizing weed?
I don’t necessarily think it would be negative. The only con I can see is the corporations and government getting a hold of it and putting all this extra shit in it, just like they did tobacco. I can grow tobacco the same way I can grow marijuana, but corporations got a hold of it and put all of these additives in there, and it gives people cancer. I think weed should be legalized. I like to smoke weed, but at the same time, I would hate for it to be commercialized where they start adding all this extra stuff to it. That’s my only concern. I don’t think legalizing it would be anything more or less negative than alcohol or even cigarettes. I saw in Colorado it’s helping the economy out. Less people are going to jail because you can’t get arrested for having marijuana. They say marijuana is a gateway drug in terms of drug usage. It’s also a gateway drug in terms of, if you get arrested for marijuana, you’re in the system now. You might have had a gram or two of marijuana. If you have never committed a crime, the police don’t have a record on you, so they don’t know where to start. But if you’re in the system, they can easily look you up and say, ‘Oh, he got arrested for marijuana, he can possibly get arrested for something else.’ I think [legalizing it] will stop people from having to go to jail and having to pay all those court costs and court fees for just having some marijuana.
I appreciate your input. Is there anything else you would like to share with the family?
Yeah, two things. One is the irony of the election. Hip-hop hates Donald Trump now, but he would be [the most] hip-hop president. It’s ironic how he was in a Bobby Brown video, he used to invite Snoop and Luke to his parties, he’s the only president that did his own interlude — he was on Method Man’s second album. He was on the Fresh Prince. I don’t support nothing he says, don’t get me wrong. I just think that’s so ironic, how TI’s riding against him now. The whole hip-hop community is totally against him now, but he would be more hip-hop than even Obama. I just think that’s some funny shit. The other thing is Lil Wayne. What Lil’ Wayne said [about Black Lives Matter], he’s just speaking his mind. That’s how he feels. He knows he aint got Birdman no more, so those white folks don’t have to fund him. He’s not trying to be blackballed. He’s gotta play both sides of the fence. A lot of regular people don’t really understand that, but I peep what he was doing. A dude working his job everyday may want to say, ‘Fuck all these white folks.’ But at the end of the day, they’re feeding him, they’re feeding his family, so he’s got to go to work and be like, ‘Well, I don’t necessarily agree with Black Lives Matter.’ At the same time, we can’t be depending on these rappers to speak up for us. At the end of the day, Lil’ Wayne is an entertainer.