LEIF(kolt)
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LEIF(kolt)

San Diego, California, United States

San Diego, California, United States
Band Hip Hop Singer/Songwriter

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Petoskey native Leif Kolt now calls San Diego home. Nevertheless, the worldview is far from sunny on his second album, “Spiders and Widows.”

Thematically, it is split between ruminations on failed and never-were relationships occasionally spiked with sex, and spelunking through the political haze of post-9/11, post-industrial, new world order America. The former has been played. The latter, however, stands out from the standard political fare found in the rap world — cliched black power rah-rah that never comes to pass (“Stop the Violence” doesn’t seem to have worked out too well) all the way to Five-Percent Nation mysticism that makes sense only if you smoke five blunts a day. And then you realize it’s worthless, anyway.

On the second track, “We Are All Terrorists,” Kolt rhymes about our house-of-cards global economy and the disconnect created by modern communications, where we are awash in information overload. Maybe generations to come will have a better grasp, tailor-made and marked, “Got my DNA sample in a petri dish, and I’m growing kids with their faces anonymous.”

Anarchic leanings come to the fore on “Spilled Coffee,” because sometimes it seems like the only logical escape from this hopeless political-media construction. “Conspiracy theory is overused, because we’re paranoid of the leaders we choose.”

Kolt takes shots at the Moet, Bentley and hoes-at-the-pool hip-hop spectacle, as well as our save-not credit crunch culture, with the anti-materialist, anti-consumerism “Happy Consumer,” the residue of which make it impossible to read the actual quality articles in Esquire because of all the ads and fashion spreads. Eh, personal pet peeve alert.

On the apolitical tracks as well, Kolt comes off as a gifted, creative rapper. He’s a blond guy from Michigan, and, yes, he occasionally sounds like the old self-depracating Eminem. But more often, his goofy, obnoxious, sometimes deadpan delivery is more like that of Bootie Brown from The Phracyde, B-Real of Cypress Hill, MC 900-Foot Jesus and about 1,000 punk rock sneerers.

The production is hectic, perfectly fitted to Kolt’s rhyme style. It seems sparse at first, but upon further listen you realize there’s more going on there, it’s just not overwhelming. Particularly effective are the stanza breaks on “Happy Consumer,” the wacked out string samples on “So Sick,” and the straight drum kick interrupting the piano loop on “Spilled Coffee.”

Like 95 percent of hip-hop albums, Spiders and Widows runs a little long, though there is a saving grace on the 12th track, “Choke Coach.” Alas, Spree doesn’t make a cameo there. And in fact, unlike most rap records, there are no guest MCs. Kolt carries it well, but we all — rapper and listeners — need a break sometimes.

Some guys are just built for themselves, I guess. On “Widows”: “Some say I’m a headphone MC. F--- that, I’m an alone MC.”
- The Graphic


Rap and hip-hop music has been a volcanic presence in American music for 30 years now, erupting with messages of social justice and new rhythms that other musical genres have either lost or never had.
Yet, for all of that upheaval, few Northern Michigan artists have touched hip-hop. Musically, ours is a reactionary holdout against an urban revolution.
Until now, that is.
Petoskey’s Leif Kolt, 23, is shaking up the scene with his rhymes, rhythms and kinetic stage show. And his new CD, “Choatic Neutral” features 11 original songs which achieve a lyrical depth and complexity that’s likely to jolt Northern Michigan listeners from their La-Z-Boys with the shock of the new.

“The first time that i discovered magic
i was locked alone in the attic
talking in the night to ghosts out of habit
with a forked tongue and a warped lung.

Leif lacks the menace of 50 Cent and the polish of a Nelly or Usher, but he makes up ground with a mix of humor and rhymes that weave like spaghettti through a pop culture narrative. An unattributed paragraph from his press kit offers a glimpse at what he’s into:
“Leif’s strange and often dark sense of humor allows him to borrow from the curent fad that mainstream rap has become, and make it his own, poking fun at the MTV culture and lifestyle, while oddly emulating it at the same time. His fan base is composed of a wide range of art/poetry lovers, hardcore and punk fans, rap fans, folk and even classical music lovers. By acting like a human and reflecting that in his music, Leif (Kolt) touches the parts of us that tie us together, defying the very definitions of heart, hip-hop, poetry and performance.”

Listen to the pops and clicks
when the forked tongue licks
the roof of my mouth
where the skin’s ripped.

ART SCHOOL
Leif got his start freestyling on college radio while attending art school at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
“I think my experiences at 91.5 were the starting point for me,” he says in his press kit. “Attending art school and getting into hip-hop at the same time was perfect for me. I got exposed to both idea systems at the same time, and in my case the two fused together.”
With a background in guitar, drums and high school band, Leif is able to round out his self-produced CD tracks, which are laden with samples. He’s had six releases since 1999, recording his tracks on a home studio. “My PC is a piece of junk but it allows me to get comfortable when I create, and you’ve got to love making music in your robe and slippers.”
In addition to art school, he attributes the Beastie Boys as a musical influence, and that’s about where his music comes down in the rap spectrum. He’s also been compared to Radiohead, Anticon, Buck65, Atmosphere, Outkasts and 311.

We were born in the red shift
with our name written neatly on a pink slip,
and we’re living on the death of a star
falling from the heavens,
like the specks of dust we are.

THE POETRY THING
One intuits from listening that Leif isn’t interested in just making music. Rather, he seems to be a poet who frames his thoughts with urban dance rhythms. He takes care to vary his vocal style, and in a refreshing change from many college-age white rappers, doesn’t lay on the phoney tough guy vibe, which seldom, (okay, never) seems to work.
Instead, you get the sense that Leif Kolt’s work is honest, and that perhaps is the highest praise for any artist.
With performances at cities across the state, including his recent CD release in Petoskey and opening for Juvenile last year at Ground Zero in TC, one can only imagine that Leif Kolt is poised to shake up Northern Michigan’s music scene in a way that the old guard can’t yet begin to comprehend.

-- by Robert Downes
- Northern Express


Discography

2009- Dead is the New Rich
2007- Spiders and Widows
2005 - Chaotic Neutral
2004- Tambourine
2002- Meloncholic at the Meatwagon
2000 - Definition of Is
1999 - Adam's Eve

Also find LEIF(kolt) music streaming online at Pandora Radio, Head Case Radio, and Shades Radio.

LEIF's music has been heard on radio stations from San Diego (94.9 KBZT) to Michigan (91.5 WUPX).

Photos

Bio

Playing live since 1999, LEIF(kolt) has developed
a commanding and engaging stage presence, earning him spots at venues and festivals
across the country. His gifted talents as a songwriter have earned him accolades writing music for various art installations and preformances and in 2007 he was an Internet
Song of the Year Nominee for his song "Boozehound". A talented and recognized designer and video producer, LEIF(kolt)'s lyrics are highly influenced by his involvement in the visual arts, cleverly weaving each song into a rich and engaging narrative.

His highly eclectic background is reflected in some of his influences, sighting Salvador Dali, Charles Bukowski, Bob Marley, The Beastie Boys, Bob Dylan, and Nirvana as some of the artists he has learned from.

In an industry and market so saturated with talent, LEIF(kolt)'s genuine personality and charisma paired with his unconditional dedication his art set him into a class by himself. When one watches LEIF(kolt) preform you get a sense that not only does he truly believe in what he is saying, but that he is not hiding anything and is unafraid to open his arms and bear his soul to an audience.

"LEIF(Kolt) takes shots at the Moet, Bentley and hoes-at-the-pool hip-hop spectacle, as well as our save-not credit crunch culture...Spelunking through the political haze of post-9/11, post industrial, new world order America"
--STEVE BELL, THE GRAPHIC, AUGUST 23, 2007