Know Boundaries
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Know Boundaries


Band Hip Hop Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rick's Cafe"

"Never have I felt Luther's dance floor sway so much from the dancing and moving of the crowd! Shoulder to shoulder and with a line going down the stairs, out the door, down the street, and around the corner..."

"Know Boundaries is gaining quite a reputation as a great band. With members who appear to range in age from early twenties to late thirties, Know Boundaries demonstrated just what all the hype and attention is about by nearly blowing the roof off of the place."

"Kicking off with the mid-tempo "Stations," the soulful crooning of guitarist/vocalist/percussionist Aaron Blacker only hinted at the intensity that was about to erupt. Take the stage for the group's second number "Breath of the Dying," vocalist/rapper/percussionist Jermel Randolph positively exploded into one of the finest performances I've ever seen and the band never looked back."

"As was recently reported by Isthmus' Tom Laskin, Randolph just has the "stuff" it takes to catapult a band into super-stardom. The intensity of his rap delivery is so mesmerizing you simply can't deny its gravitational pull. Ironically, the only artist I can compare him to is Bob Marley. That's not in the sense of musical style because there is very little direct reggae influence apparent in Know Boundaries (although I'm sure the music and message of that great man have not fallen on deaf ears), but rather in the sheer magnetism of Randolph as a man of his own message."

"Throughout the course of their set I was continually impressed by the unique combination that the dual frontman combination of Blacker and Randolph brought to the band, especially when they traded vocal lines and harmonized."

"The other members of Know Boundaries are equally as impressive. Bassist 'J' Granberg was tight and funky, able to crosse genres with ease. Their mid-song tempo changes were right on the money, operating as if of one mind. Really impressive. I also found myself looking up toward the suspended speakers and wondering where "that sound" was coming from. That's because guitarist Dave Osmalov was making some incredibly spacey and swirling sounds that blended nicely with his jazz and funk rhythm playing."

"My no-holds-barred pick for local band destined for stardom." - Rick Tvedt

"The Isthmus"

"Pouring on the charm"
"Know Boundaries have charisma to burn"

"Charisma doesn't mean much in popular music anymore. Michelle Branch doesn't have it, nor do Sleater-Kinney or Ja Rule or Shania Twain. Higher profile performers today get by on how well they've been packaged for the marketplace and, in rare cases, the strength of their songs (e.g., Sleater-Kinney). That ineffable personal power we call charisma is a rarity, and that's what makes this Madison band Know Boundaries, a six-man rock-meets-rap-funk-and-jazz aggregation so intriguing. They're becoming a solid draw among a young, contemporary-minded crowd for two reasons: Their music finds the groove in a variety of styles, and the rapping-half of their double front-man lineup, Jermel Randolph, has a personal magnetism that works well in front of a crowd."

"Like many area bands, Know Boundaries is a mix of students, low-wage earners with a jones for the creative life, and/or trained musicians. In that way, they're unexceptional. But a packed 18-and-up show at Luther's Blues late in December was anything but, with kids crowding the stage, enraptured by Randolph's pogoing, dreadlock-flinging love affair with the microphone. Co-front-man Aaron Blacker corralled a knot of partisans with his smooth '70's approach to rock ballads and Dave Matthews-style pop tunes, but Randolph was the difference-maker. That's not because Madison hasn't seen this approach to musical fusion before - it has. Randolph changes the game because he just has "it." Even people at the December show who clearly weren't 100% converted by Know Boundaries' music realized as much. You could see it in their eyes, in the way they kept sneaking looks at the stage after another pull on their beers."

"Although he's African American and co-fronting a band that features electric guitar, Randolph, who numbers Byron, Shakespeare and Maya Angelou among his literary heroes, makes a point of emphasizing that he doesn't emulate Lenny Kravits or Jimi Hendrix. That's just too close to the kind of constraining stereotypes that, lamentably, rock 'n' roll traffics in so easily. He also emphasizes that Know Boundaries don't want to be pegged as simply another jamming funk-rock band."

"And they shouldn't be. Blacker's hints of Robert Plant and Matthews during the warmest ballads are facets of Know Boundaries' sound that move them away from the usual booty-shaking machines."

"With so much going for them, have Know Boundaries arrived? In a way. At this stage of their young career, they're a cinch to attract a substantial youthful audience to whatever local venue they choose to play.... Randolph and company have a chance to connect with kids all over the country."
- Tom Laskin

"Rick's Cafe"

"Know Boundaries took the stage following Hightop's set. Well known for their unique sound and aggressive stage presence, they evoked the passion of Rage Against the Machine and the intricate rhythms of Galactic.

"The band has an extremely original and organic sound, combining strong bass lines with passionate rhymes.

"The burgeoning crowd was up and on their feet for much of the set, getting their groove on to Know Boundaries' funky anti-establishment tunes like "Homeland Security" and "Be All You Can Be."

"All in all, the band has a very authentic and original sound, and have a good chance of bringing national attention to the Madison scene." - Joel Troge

"The Isthmus"

"Know Boundaries is part of the reason Madison-made hip-hop began to burn brightly a few years after the turn of the millenium." - The Isthmus

"The Onion"

"Know Boundaries' magnetic take on rock-and-hip-hop fusion involves more than flailing guitars; the group actually builds an intricate, interesting background underneath the thought-provoking front men Jermel Randolph and Aaron Blacker." - A. V. Club

"Rick's Cafe"

"Know Boundaries displayed an unlimited supply of energy and passion. The key to Know Boundaries' style is their remarkable ability to rock as a hip-hop band, and rock hard, but still keep a safe distance from rap-metal territory (although some of the funky, heavy bass lines and minimalist, wah-soaked guitar parts recall Rage Against the Machine). With songs about dangerous women and the importance of individuality, fully dreaded frontman Jermel Randolph exuded charisma and skill." - John Payne

"The Badger Herald"

It’s been said that Helvetica is the most widely used type font in the world. If mainstream music, specifically commercial rap and rock, is the Helvetica of the music industry, then Know Boundaries is Wingdings.

While discussion of fonts may seem out of place in an article about music, it was just one of the many topics to arise during a recent interview with the Madison-based band.

The Badger Herald spoke to lead singer/rapper Jermel “Cloak” Randolph and keyboardist/band manager Aaron “AK” Konkol.

Know Boundaries is the combination of the minds of Cloak and AK, yet the two personalities could not be more diametrically opposed. Cloak is the outgoing, undeniable force of the group, which is probably why he is the spokesperson for the band both on and off the stage. When Cloak speaks (or raps), the ideas come in bursts. His delivery either on stage or in a chair is a very animated everything-and-the-kitchen-sink thought process — and it is absolutely fascinating to watch.

AK, conversely, is laid back, taking care to choose his wording of whatever point he wants to make. That is not to say, however, that AK is smarter or a more effective speaker than Cloak; they’re just different.

That said, both men rub against the grain in their appearances: Cloak has colored dreadlocks, and AK has a Deadhead-ish beard. Their respective looks may or may not help explain their personalities.

Before Cloak arrives, AK describes him in vivid detail. “He’s ridiculously charismatic. The first time you see him, if he didn’t look the way he did you’d still know him […] You’d take notice just because of his style. He’s the guy; he’s clearly meant to be a rock star.”

Know Boundaries’ history is a simple one: Both men knew each other for 15 years and formed various bands. But, from the ashes of these failed attempts they formed Know Boundaries, a band which prides itself on its half rap, half rock music style.

And it’s this mixing-of-spices approach that explains their sound. Says Cloak, “That’s why we tried to do the whole one-half rapping and one-half singing. We just kinda merged the two.”

Cloak recalls the first time he heard local rap group Smokin’ with Superman. “That’s pretty sweet, rapping with a live band.” He adds, “It was just a coincidence when an opportunity to be the other live band, or the only live band [in Madison], presented itself with a rapper.”

Perhaps the most striking thing about KB is their connection to the Midwest, specifically Madison. Not only did they all grow up here, but they also see this area exploding with musical potential.

Says AK, “The real music comes from the Midwest. Everyone takes it and then moves out to the coasts and give the coasts all the props. So we’re not going anywhere. We’re gonna rip it hard right here and do what we gotta do.”

AK adds, “We might travel, but we’re always gonna be reppin’ the M-a-d. This place has so much creative energy and so many awesome artists that it’s ridiculous. And nobody knows about it — this could be the next Seattle, but nobody really knows. It’s getting so polarized, L.A., New York, and the Dirty South. Oh, and then Kanye and Common — they represent the whole Midwest.”

Being from Madison, it probably comes as no surprise that KB is politically minded, especially lyrically. That doesn’t mean, however, that they just want to be a political band.

Says AK, “We definitely want to do other things. We don’t wanna be the speakers for the revolution or anything, but at the same time we take the experience that we have in our lives and the feelings we have from the world around us and put it into the music.”

Cloak then jumps in, “I wouldn’t call it political; I would call it more like sociology. See, politics has to think of like a Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton song. I wouldn’t write something like that. I don’t necessarily consider us political, but these days politics seem to have their hand in everybody’s cookie jar. You can almost talk about anything, and it’ll sound political.”

Songwriting may be a strength for KB, but their secret weapon is their live show.

“Everyone always says energy. I know it’s vague, but we’re gonna bring the energy from all different walks of life, all different levels of energy — spiritual energy, emotional energy. You’re definitely gonna be moving around a lot,” asserts Cloak.

He continues, “You can’t look away. You may not like us — we may be too loud, too annoying, maybe talk about things that you’re not into at the moment, but a lot of people have told us, ‘I tried to talk through the whole show, but I just could not keep my eyes off the stage.’ [People] will know that there’s something different us than the average local band.”

Cloak also wants KB and the fans to be a community. “That’s a big part of moving on to the next level: creating the ‘we.’ It is their music. We feel like it’s theirs and they take ownership of it, and then we can go to that next level.”

Know Boundaries is just trying to support the city — and the music — from which they came. But fans also have to do their part.

“Madison people need to take a more active approach to their own scene,” Cloak says. “Reporters always ask us what we think about the [Madison] scene. It’s not so much what I think about the scene. I think it’s about the people who are avoiding going to the shows — what do they think about the scene? And what can we do as a city to uplift our own musical scene? If we want music in our town, and we want it to be good, we have to support it.” - Steve Lampiris- March 27, 2008

"Bodog Nation"

"It's somewhere between perfection and insanity"
- Laura Gosselin - 2/11/2008


Right now Know Boundaries is working on their first full length studio album, due out in fall/winter 2008

In early May of 2007, KB released "Live @ the High Noon Saloon 9.30.2006," the second in an ongoing series of straight-to-tape live recordings. This show was particularly good being that it was the first High Noon show with the new lineup. It's available for preview/purchase both at their website: & on CDBaby:

Then in September of 2007 they followed up with the release of the third in the straight-to-tape series: "LIVE 7.14.2007 @ UW Terrace" which won the Madison Area Music Award (MAMA) for Best Hip-hop Album of 2007. This album is available for digital download at their website:

The first in the straight-to-tape series, "Live @ Union South 9.1.2006," was released at the High Noon show on 9.30.2006, and included the MAMA winning Track "the sling blade"

In 2004 KB released their first EP, "In the Black of Our Minds." It's available here: or here:



In a culture that seems all too content to ignore the atrocities, injustices, and contradictions of the world, Madison, Wisconsin’s KNOW BOUNDARIES assaults the ears of listeners and offers them the opportunity to “eat the red pill” and truly see the reality of the world around them.

By combining the mediums of Hiphop and rock into an organic, modern, tour-de-force, KNOW BOUNDARIES takes listeners on a musical ride exposing them to a wide variety of musical and intellectual influences. Fusing the “boom-bap” of THE ROOTS, the sonic freedom of The Mars Volta, the bombastic energy of ONYX, the intellectual curiosity of Saul Williams, the rawness of Rage Against The Machine, and the fluid creativity of Jack Kerouac, KNOW BOUNDARIES creates a distinctly unique, yet completely accessible sound that is sure to ‘maraud for ears’ at an astonishing rate.

Response to KNOW BOUNDARIES has been immediate, and their resume abounds with awards and accolades. In only a short time, they have garnered national label interest, received corporate sponsorship through Budweiser’s “True Music” program, showcased at numerous industry conferences, received Madison Area Music Awards (MAMA) for Best Hiphop Group or Artist in 2003, Best Hip-hop Song of 2006, Most Unique Group or Artist & Best Hip-hop Album of 2007, and opened up for nationally touring groups such as THE ROOTS, the Black Eyed Peas, Cypress Hill, the Gin Blossoms, Sound Tribe Sector Nine, 3 Days Grace, Caroline Spine, Buckcherry, Fastball, & Something Corporate.

Unlike many genre-blending groups, KNOW BOUNDARIES gets props from both Hiphop and rock camps. The six members of the band are well-educated, articulate musicians that bring their own individual vibes to the table resulting in the one-of-a-kind KNOW BOUNDARIES sound. Think Muse meets Blackalicious, Mars Volta meets the Little Brother, Radiohead meets Outkast, and Nine Inch Nails meet THE ROOTS.

If you're into poetry, politics, & music, KNOW BOUNDARIES will more than satisfy.

For the latest information on gigs, news, and merchandise, check out: and





aaron j. konkol
1813 Kropf Ave.
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608-712-6566

music is available for digital download at:


& you can buy the physical CDs at: &