Life is complex. It has a staccato rhythm them drives and falls over the drum pattern of our heart beats. It isn’t a 2 dimensional caricature or even a 3 dimensional reality. Life is a 4th dimensional invasion from a place we can’t see, only feel. KA.lil (formerly Khingz) makes music for life. Not just about or based on but FOR life. For living for growing and tearing down walls that might stop that process.
His art is a reflection of the art of living. As such it refuses to be nailed down, categorized, pasteurized or defined on any but its own terms. This has always been his greatest strength and challenge as a creator. Wearing and breaking labels with every song made. Daring the listener to admit that rap music can be made differently. That it can mean more. Each album created has been an exploration of who KA.lil is, as well as the world that raised him. Between Saturday Night and Sunday Morning his new album continues this tradition, while finding new lands to explore with the same lyrical dexterity and absolute passion that have become his hallmark.
Me, I play the microphone and your emotions.
1999 Maroon Colony: Daze Like This
2001 Khalil Crisis: Mi Vida Negra
2005 Abyssinian Creole: Sexy Beast EP
2005 Abyssinian Creole: Sexy Beast LP
2007 Gabriel Teodros: Lovework
2009 Khingz: From Slaveships to Spaceships
2009 The Building Project: Moving Pictures
2009 Khingz & DJ Ian Head Present: How to Be A Villain EP
2010 State of the Artist (featured on Rock It Slow as part of Hi-Life)
2010 Conscience (featured on No Regrets)
Khingz Mxtape Series:
2004 Be Cool
2006 Hillionaire Boys Club
2007 Khingz County
2008 Bigger Than Jeezuz
2009 Cold Hearted in Cloud City
2010 Pho99 Quicc Tape
Khingz: Time to Share the Wealth
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Backpacker flossin’: Khingz raps for thugs, nerds, and outsiders. Details: Khingz With the Physi...Backpacker flossin’: Khingz raps for thugs, nerds, and outsiders.
Khingz With the Physics, Yirim Seck, DJ Daps 1. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. $10 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. 8 p.m. Sat., June 20.
MP3: Blaq Han Solo
Khalil Equiano has been back in Seattle less than 48 hours, and already he's plotting his escape. The 30-year-old MC, who also goes by the name Khingz, disappeared from Seattle six weeks ago to work at a temporary diversity camp for youth in California. Now that he's home, you'd think Khingz would be excited to gear up for the release of his new album, From Slaveships to Spaceships, which hit stores this week. The record was a full two years in the making, and according to Khingz, he's excited that audiences will finally hear it. But he doesn't see the need to spend a lot of time promoting the album locally, despite how much love he has for this city.
"I feel like we got way too much talent in Seattle for everyone to just be here," Khingz says during a two-hour drive across the city. "I think [Seattle rappers] could accomplish more by getting out, living elsewhere, and whatever opportunities you get you share it with your people back home. But for everyone to just be living here, and constantly doing shows together, I don't fully agree with that."
For years, Khingz made a name for himself as one of Seattle's wittier wordsmiths, partly because of his swift, didactic rhymes on various projects and at live shows, but also because he fits the role of the post-Rawkus-era backpacker-rapper to a T. With his glasses, long locks, and Burton backpack, you could easily assume he'd spent his early days listening to too much golden-era Souls of Mischief and A Tribe Called Quest.
But despite the conscious MC tag that he rightfully deserves, it wasn't so long ago that Khingz was ensconced in a world of gangster rap—literally. He spent his formative years as a 47th Ave. Santana Blocc crip, and between the ages of 10 and 20 put in work on the streets gangbanging. At 15 he was shot twice, and he was heavily involved in the city's storied South End/Central District beef that's claimed the lives of countless youth over the years. It's nothing he's overly proud of, nor is he scared to talk about it. He admits it shaped who he is now, but even though he's left that life behind, certain tell-all scars from those days linger.
"When you start banging that young, it doesn't completely go away," he explains.
Via luck or fate, Khingz's saving grace came through music. The more he freestyled with friends, the better he dealt with it all. "Back then, I felt like two of the things that all the big homeys used to be impressed by the most was that I could fight and that I could rap," he says as we wind through Rainier Beach. "So I used to just do both as often as I could whenever they were around. It was all gangster-rap shit, but I eventually got turned on to groups like Boot Camp Click and Nas and De La Soul, and that started to change."
Listening to Khingz's songs now, you'd never know banging was such a prevalent part of his past. The calming flow of From Slaveships to Spaceships has a more laid-back, breezy feel that delves into topics as varied as race relations, politics, and the joy of eating at Del Taco with a loved one. Important songs like "Reach In" and "Good Again" reflect on street realities, though there's nothing gangster about them. "Blaq Han Solo," possibly the album's best cut, showcases Khingz's skill for writing about romance and relationships. Another gem, "Pony Boy," recounts his upbringing and the stereotypes he dealt with in the multicultural neighborhood of Rainier Beach. In the song's chorus, he sings, "I'm an outsider/blacks, Latinos, and Asians/and the white girls love me 'cause I'm black and I'm skating." He throws darts at everyone who picked on him as a kid in that song, especially those who made fun of him for being sort of a "thug nerd."
"Even though I was banging, I had this secret life all to myself that revolved around comics and science fiction," he says as our drive shifts yet again, through Skyway. "I just couldn't really share it with anybody, but I was big into Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, shit like that."
Although an hour earlier he was enthusiastically talking about his plans to leave Seattle and tour behind the new record, his voice is even more excited as he points out apartment buildings, schools, taco trucks, and tiny places in the South End where most of his memories still reside. He's lived in various neighborhoods on that side of town, and has a story for each one. We've just made a temporary pit stop at the Skyway Park Bowl and Casino when a Somali teenager named Ahmed recognizes Khingz from a recent performance.
"Hey, didn't you perform at the K'naan show?" he asks. The two get into a 10-minute conversation about K'naan and hip-hop. Khingz did perform alongside Gabriel Teodros at the March 10 K'naan show, and it's interesting that his raps that night left an imprint on the mind of a teenager from his old neighborhood. "See, it's shit like that that trips me out," he says as we pull out of the parking lot. "People remember you for stuff like that and it's crazy."
Less than a month from now, unfortunately, Khingz plans to move to Vancouver, B.C., where his girlfriend resides; his upcoming album-release party may be one of his last local performances.
"I like coming back to Seattle," he says. "I like missing it and coming home. There's so much love in the city and so many talented artists. I do love it. But I've got to get on the road and keep doing music. That's a part of what will always keep me coming back here."
Khingz's Royally Awesome New Album
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"Khingz is the best he's ever been." Now let's chat about Khingz. Since he's been on the scene—an..."Khingz is the best he's ever been."
Now let's chat about Khingz. Since he's been on the scene—and that's been a long time now—he's made his hallmark not just his fierce lyrics and lightning-struck delivery, but his individual vision, his refusal to be boxed in. From utterly decimating MC battles to grassroots activism to decrying colonialism and homophobia on his now eight-year-old debut album, Mi Vida Negra, the cat most know as Khalil has always forgone being hard in favor of being complicated. His last decent chunk of work, Abyssinian Creole's Sexy Beast, was a study in the contrasts between him and his brother Gabriel Teodros, with Khingz providing the brassy, boastful counterpoint to Gabe's righteous affirmations.
On his long-awaited sophomore album, From Slaveships to Spaceships, Khingz rolls out his own personal vision of the Harlem Renaissance's New Negro: an outsider, a bookish black skater, a proud "Southside rider" from Rainier Valley who grew up around gangs and "more Filipinos than Daly City." Finding a shockingly expressive middle ground between head-taking lyricism and unblinking outrospection—just check the unstoppable "Bladed Poems"—Khingz is the best he's ever been. The production, mostly courtesy of newcomer Toast, is frantic and futuristic, if at times amateurish, but big K's full commitment insists to your ears that it's all intentional.
Khalil's uncontestable heart remains his greatest weapon, whether it's the sensitive poet's heart he spills dry on joints like "Escape Society" and the title track or the asphalt-bred hoart he shows on fuck-you-I'm-me anthems like "Pony Boy" (which is my serious joint): "It's funny I got dissed for being too dark/But not acting black enough and it tore me apart/Basically I was too nigga and not nigga enough/And it all finished the minute I stopped and said fuck 'em!"
So don't miss the CD release (Sat June 20 at Chop Suey) for someone who will always be one of the finest MCs to ever emerge from Seattle, no matter where his wandering feet take him, be it the Bay, Brooklyn, or Burkina Faso. Also on the bill are the Physics—who, quiet as kept, are readying some of the best hiphop this raggedy town will be lucky to claim as its own, come time—and Yirim Seck, who desperately needs to have an album out soon (be it solo, with LaRue as Black Aries, or with Pearl Dragon and Rajnii as Pyrate Radio). The whole throwdown is being spun by the trumptight Daps1 and hosted by the one and only Spaceman. Going up!
Khingz comes full circle with new album, From Slaveships to Spaceships
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"A musical tale of liberation that is as inspiring as he intended it to be." 5/5 Stars As Khal..."A musical tale of liberation that is as inspiring as he intended it to be."
As Khalil Equiano began his set at the Chop Suey album release party for his highly anticipated solo debut From Slaveships to Spaceships, there was nothing but good vibes and positivity. Every so often, his trademark braids shook free, flying out with the passionate words of his new release.
Seattle has latched onto the 30-year-old emcee, also known as Khingz. His approach to the city itself and the music that’s produced here are very different. The album’s flowing sound echoes the vibe that’s come to represent Seattle hip-hop, not harmless or soft but without a doubt conscious. From race relations to coming up as a “thug nerd,” he creates a portrait based on pure lyricism that results in one of the best hip-hop albums of the year, from Seattle or otherwise.
Khingz has a wide array of talents, and his solo project utilizes the full arsenal. On the track “Pony Boy,” he challenges the stereotypes he dealt with in the multicultural South End of Seattle: “I’m an outsider / Blacks, Latinos and Asians / And the white girls love me ‘cause I’m black and I’m skating.” Meanwhile, “Blaq Han Solo” — maybe the best track on the album, despite the fact that he nearly left it off — showcases his ability to write a “ghetto love hymn.” Ultimately, the record delves into a deeper mental understanding that channels the rapper’s struggle into a powerful message.
Starting at age 10, the artist put in nearly a decade of gangbanging, and at 15, he was shot twice. Being so deeply involved in the city’s South End/Central District conflict is something impossible to completely escape, and while Khingz doesn’t glamorize a gangster-rap image, he doesn’t shy away from the realities of street life either.
“I’m coming from a personal and a political stance, which are really very closely aligned,” he said. “In the political stance, I’m talking about scientific mental colonization that happens when a group of people is never really free. On a personal level, it’s about seeing how that colonization played out in my life with gangbanging … that I thought [was] necessary at the time.”
In many ways, the album is a product not only of his life as a gangbanger in the South End or his work on the other side of the struggle as a youth and community programs volunteer, but a representation of his complete self-destruction and reincarnation. It’s the culmination of his transformation into a man of honor and his musical tale of liberation that is as inspiring as he intended it to be.
One Be Lo featuring Khingz, Yirim Seck and JusMoni
July 3 at 8 p.m.
The Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., $7
Reach reporter Nick Feldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 10 Best Local Albums of 2009 . . . So Far
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"One of the boldest and most soul-baring albums this year." What's the Buzz? Khingz has spent the..."One of the boldest and most soul-baring albums this year."
What's the Buzz? Khingz has spent the bulk of the year not promoting the album. But within less than two weeks, almost everyone who's heard this album has given it kudos galore. That's because From Slaveships to Spaceships is one of the boldest and most soul-baring albums this year. What it lacks in high-quality production is easily made up for by courageous rhymes that showcase why Khingz is one of the most visual MCs in Seattle.
Review of the Month
"From Slaveships to Spaceships is fiery and soul salvaging..."
We Review The Program - Day 3
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Khingz himself looked friendly and braided, dapper in his purple "WE (RUN) SEA" shirt and ready for ...Khingz himself looked friendly and braided, dapper in his purple "WE (RUN) SEA" shirt and ready for the revolution should it occur on Day Three of The Program. He burst in with a particularly awesome beat, brought up Nam and Gabriel Teodros by the second song (all the hands in the crowd were up), and directed his love towards the South Side. There was an adorable song about Revolutionary Love ("when each person is held up and respected!" -- Khingz), and with Teodros doing his signature spread-fingered full arm wave and Nam doing his signature happy grin, we thought we were set for special guests until Neezie Pleaze arrived as well for a track or two. With the Massline folks it's always a family show.
by Katelyn Hackett
Khalil Crisis - Mi Vida Negra LP
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As y’all requested- Khalil‘s debut CD, before the Crisis came to an end(as he said when he rechriste...As y’all requested- Khalil‘s debut CD, before the Crisis came to an end(as he said when he rechristened himself as Khingz). 11 tracks, 8 from Vitamin D, who recorded this whole project @ The Pharmacy with K-Stiell. “Real In The Field” was always my jam, still is.
Khalil Crisis - Mi Vida Negra
Also: read his blog.
Also also: go to this show if you want Khingz to ever drop From Slaveships To Spaceships:
Shout to Kitty Wu!
Putting Seattle hip hop on the map
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At this point in the evening, Khingz and his buddy/partner Gabriel Teodros took the stage. Joining t...At this point in the evening, Khingz and his buddy/partner Gabriel Teodros took the stage. Joining them mid-set was south Seattleite Nam (watch for his solo cd release announcement in about three months). Khingz and Teodros are known for their uncompromisingly political, socially conscious music; this night's show was no disappointment, with a rousing, angry, and very timely performance of "This Is For The Cops." (Upon arising Monday morning, Seattlest was greeted with news of another dubious police/South Seattleite encounter at Yesler that occurred that morning. Khingz' "This Is 4 Tha Cops," full of South Seattle outrage, should get some radio play right now.) Check it out here. We have a mild crush on Khingz/Teodros' DJ WD-40, in other news.
by Katelyn Hackett
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Rap is perhaps the easiest genres of music to create music in. All it requires is a microphone and a...Rap is perhaps the easiest genres of music to create music in. All it requires is a microphone and a computer program capable of mixing vocal tracks and beat squences. Even though it's easy to make the music, it's not easy to make it good. Writing rythmic poetry, and designing full-bodied melodic rythms to go with them is a master craft, with a difficulty equal to that of playing any instrument in any band. It's because rapping deceitfully appears easy that so many crappy rappers are out there. It's also the reason that rappers who used to make good music turn out crap before their career's end. Khingz makes rap, and he makes it well.
"No Apology 07" is a slow rap with backed with an amazingly engineered hip-hop hacked melody. The lyrics have so much poetic potency that they could be read on their own. Khingz uses an ingredient that is the both the most important and the most neglected in rap: intelligent articulation. He expresses his views and his culture, without abandoning language, and without distorting his message. In his own words Khingz is "More hood than gold fronts on a 2 year old. Yet with the intelligence of W.E.B Dubois."
Khingz grew up in Washington. Not Washington D.C. but the state. Even though he hasn't blown up yet, he's played shows in a wide variety of locations. He's also put out a couple CD's. When he puts out his next album it will be interesting to see how well it does. His fan base will undoubtedly grow with time, as long as his music continues on the path it's on now.
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by Larry Mizell Jr. [Especially] since summer, there's been some great local music dropping [this...by Larry Mizell Jr.
[Especially] since summer, there's been some great local music dropping [this year], some classic LPs," says Gabriel Teodros, half of Abyssinian Creole (the other half, Khingz, is in Europe at the moment). True, 206 rap fanatics have been treated to a series of dope albums from their own backyard; let's hope our scene and our city's notoriously low self-esteem will improve accordingly. As we creep closer to a real breakthrough, you can peep Seatown heads bumping joints from Framework, Grayskul, or Macklemore, rocking those ill new "The North West" hoodies from local clothier Crisis Clothing (www.crisis1.com) while blowing the best of the local horticulture. It's a beautiful thing.
If you've been around the scene or have caught some shows over the last few years, then you've probably noticed one or both of the members of Abyssinian Creole—the latest to contribute another classic album to the town's wealth—doing their thing. Teodros and Khingz are easily two of Seattle's most recognizable figures—having dropped their own solo albums Sun to a Recycled Soul and Mi Vida Negra, respectively—and, interestingly enough, they sport very different styles... Gabe's the spiritual backpacker slinging CDs out his backpack, who'd rather build with his neighbor than battle him; Khingz (AKA Khalil Crisis) is the universally feared battler, whose vicious, acid-tongued bars brought him first place at the inaugural Brainstorm battle.
However, the easy chemistry between the two on their debut LP, Sexy Beast, dispels such perceptions. "Me and Khalil have been homies for a long time," Gabe recounts. "He was in a group called Maroon Colony—one of the only live hiphop crews around at the time—and I was in 500 Years. We ended up doing a lot of shows together, and based on some of the conversations we'd been having, I asked him to get on 'Gold.' He told me I was the only other MC he was willing to work with at the time, just because he knew I was dependable."
While the distance between their mindsets is not as wide as many would believe, physically, the two are miles apart, as Khingz now calls Oakland, California, home. "It's hard... we miss a lot of show opportunities and whatnot," Gabe laments. "We actually recorded this album in real short spans, whenever Khalil came back through town, we'd just go knock out 10 songs." The results of these sessions were pieced together by the LP's sole producer, Kitone.
The younger brother of a longtime friend of Gabriel, Kitone started making beats at age 11; Sexy Beast's warm tones and old-school soul are testament to Kitone's craftsmanship on the Yamaha Motif. "Basically, Gabe had one of my beat CDs when he and Khalil were in New York, and they ended up wanting to write to every one," says the young producer.
The sound was there, but what would they call it? "Abyssinian Creole? That came from both of our backgrounds," Gabe relates. "Abyssinia is one of the older names for Eritrea, and Creole is from Haiti; it's like bridging the oldest African nation to the newest African tongue." Fitting, considering Gabe and Khalil first collaborated on the cut "Gold" off of Recycled Soul, which touched on the state of the continent.
Sexy Beast kicks off in style with the slinky Eastern vibes of "Abyssinian Creole," with Khingz proclaiming that "rap won't die till I do/it lives and survives you/despite you, just to spite you." AbCreole's magic derives from the balance between Khalil's braggadocious jewels and Gabriel's heartfelt honesty, plus the soulful swell of Kitone's boardwork, resulting in intimate, upbeat songs that feel as familiar as your next-door neighbor. For examples, peep such cuts as "The Ultimate" and the Moka Only-featured "Same as I Ever Was." Two of the town's finest—Blue Scholars' Geologic and Macklemore—check in as well on "The Elixer" [sic] and "Crushes Heaven," respectively; the collaborations (all too rare in local rap) are just part of what makes this album so distinctly Seattle. Columbia City, Beacon Hill, and the Vista all get namechecked in the ebullient "Southside," which will touch anybody whose youth revolved around Rainier Avenue.
"I have a lot of love for the South End," Teodros proclaims. "It's getting really gentrified now. I go there and feel like an outsider. Anywhere you see the Starbucks and the Subways start springing up, you know it's over." Seattle is changing around us, but I don't think it's over. This one feels like a beginning. recommended
The Set changes with each show so that I keep it dynamic and exciting not only for the crowd but myself.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.