Proper Channels
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Proper Channels

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Hip Hop



The best kept secret in music


"Bon Mot, “Cheap Drinks, Poor Lighting” (Proper Channels Music)"

The simultaneous presentation of high and low fidelity permeates the debut solo release of MC Bon Mot, one-third of a group of underground local rappers and hip-hop producers called Proper Channels. Evident from the very beginning in the intentional scratchiness and vinyl-like warmth of the first track, Cheap Drinks, Poor Lighting instantly reminds one of the conscious alternative releases of the early 1990s. Indeed, the jazz and funk-influenced production of this record are not dissimilar from A Tribe Called Quest’s famous masterpiece, The Low End Theory. Neither is the consistently slow, greasy, resolutely lazy flow of the raps and the tracks containing them, and by extension the attention drawn to the content of the words. His choice of stage name is an invocation of itself, bon mot an obscure way to express a witty remark. And witty he is.

Samples drawn from the catalogue of deep cuts and rare grooves are sprinkled throughout and employed cleverly: a melody from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, the presence of Herbie Hancock’s bass player Paul Jackson, the Ohio Players’ “Alone” over a track about independence, even a vocal melody from a 1936 recording of Ella Fitzgerald. The latter is used to greatest effect, as the chorus of a track to emphasize the focus on the promise of future hope belying the hardships of one’s current situation, ending with all of Proper Channels’ rappers singing (rapping?) along with Ella at the top of their lungs: “The stars above have promised to meet us tomorrow… Till then my love, how dreary the new day will seem.”

A lot of the lyrics seem preoccupied with the anxiety of coming up lower or lower-middle class, with unadorned phrases like “spend nights working on a version of a new track, wishing I was better at the only thing I’m good at” cutting to the bone. The underlying motif of revering and respecting while subverting, and the scintillating wordplay and reversals (“but with perfection comes practice”) are what make this album so coherent and charming, be it usage of a thematically resonant jazz track from almost a century ago, or assertions concurrently tongue-in-cheek and rooted in truth. The consistency in cleverness of this record, be it from the production or lyrical perspective, make it a must-listen for fans of contemporary underground New Orleans hip-hop.

- Nick Benoit - Offbeat Magazine

"KS Joel Salutes The Beauty In Life’s Baby Steps On New Single (Premiere)"

KS Joel is a Metairie-born musician who’s spent recent years performing as part of local hip-hop group, Proper Channels. On December 15, he’ll celebrate his introduction as a solo artist when he releases his debut EP, Baby Steps.

In addition to playing the guitar and keys, KS Joel is a rapper/vocalist whose solo music is inspired, in part, by life’s habit of presenting obstacles. Three years in the works, Baby Steps is the culmination of his step into fatherhood at 22, marriage and personal growth.

All of it—the stress and the payoff—is toasted on the EP’s second single “Good,” premiering today (December 11) at

How did you come to the decision to pursue a solo EP? How does your solo stuff compare/contrast to Proper Channels?

I started writing songs that would become the EP in late 2015. My girlfriend at the time (currently my wife) got pregnant, and that was a catalyst for my growth as a person, and as an artist. I was only 22, didn’t have a job, was living with my parents, and I was still going to school. I had to do a lot of growing up, and the EP is sort of a documentation of that growth. In a rap group with two other MCs, I’m usually only doing a third of the writing for a song. I just had a bit more to say at that time. I was writing full songs, and my writing was becoming more personal, so it just made sense to turn it into a solo project. The guys were still very much a part of the project too, especially Tbone who produced, mixed, and recorded most of the EP.

How would you describe your sound as a solo artist? Are there other artists in New Orleans (or elsewhere) you find similar or inspiring?

I’ve heard a few times that I sound like Slug from Atmosphere, which I take as a huge compliment. They’re one of my favorite hip-hop groups, and Slug is definitely a big influence on me. Common Market and Wax are a couple more of my favorites. As far as local artists, I hesitate to say I sound like someone else because everybody here has such a unique sound and style. ET Deaux, Tone (both of whom will be performing at the release show), Alfred Banks, Rapbaum, Hellboy and Jon Deaux are some of my favorite local rappers. There’s so much talent in the New Orleans underground hip-hop community, and it’s really exciting to be even a small part of it. I get inspired just seeing so many different people doing their respective things.

What is the story behind “Good”?

This song is a little different from the rest of the EP. It’s more “genre-fluid” rather than straight-ahead rap. It’s about having a positive outlook in the face of personal struggle. I used to think of optimism as blissful ignorance or an unwillingness to face reality, but it’s really the opposite. It’s about accepting everything that is and still finding a way to be happy. I was stressing out about a lot of things at that time, and I was really worried about the future. Writing this song was like reminding myself to take a step back and appreciate all the beautiful things in life.

The composition was inspired by a beat Tbone made out of a looped sample. I recreated the riff from the sample, developed the chord progression a bit, and added some parts here and there, and it evolved into what it is now. I played the drums, keys, and guitar on the recording, and Tyler Self (of Roadside Glorious) played the bass. The big chorus at the end was the icing on the cake: Aleah Hyer added some vocals, and the Proper Channels guys, a couple other friends, and I did the handclaps. With the exception of Aleah’s vocals, we laid down everything for this song at The Recording Mill with the help of Evan Hall (also of Roadside Glorious).

What about the EP? What can you tell us about the body of work as a whole?

In a way, it’s a documentation of my transition into fatherhood, so I thought Baby Steps would be an appropriate name. That name actually came from a line in “Good,” and it’s come to mean a lot of different things to me. It’s a reminder that progress is an ongoing process. Nobody learns to walk overnight, just like you’re not going to achieve everything you want in life without putting in a lot of time and work. It’s also a reminder that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It was like my mantra during the process of making the EP itself. It took almost three years to finally complete everything for the project, and sometimes I would feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere or that I wasn’t dedicating as much time to it as I should. The phrase served as a reminder that as long as you’re taking steps toward your goal, even if they seem small, you’re still moving forward. Even if your steps are wobbly and you’re falling on your ass every now and then, at least you’re moving in the right direction.

Where are you from originally? When did you start making music? What kinds of music have you pursued in the past?

I grew up in Metairie, and I live there now. I’ve been a musician for most of my life, and I’ve always had an eclectic taste in music. I started playing around on a keyboard when I was about six years old, just picking out familiar melodies. I started playing guitar (my primary instrument) when I was about twelve. I grew up playing a lot of rock stuff, some metal, ska, jazz, funk, whatever I thought sounded cool. I didn’t start really getting into hip-hop until after high school. Bon Mot and I started writing raps in late 2011, just to see if we could do it. The next year, we started making music with Tbone and formed the group that would later become Proper Channels. I’ve played guitar and drums in a few other groups since then, but we’ve been working with each other pretty much the whole time, even in our respective “solo” works.

The Baby Steps EP Release Show will be Saturday, December 15 at The Howlin’ Wolf Den, starting at 8:00. Tickets are available here.

- Amanda Mester - Offbeat Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Proper Channels is a hip-hop group based in New Orleans, Louisiana. KS Joel, Bon Mot, & Plot Device combine witty lyrics with intricate production, forming a unique blend of their respective styles. After years of performing together, the parts have fused into a whole, creating a consistently high-energy group show. Each member creates their own distinct solo material in addition to the group efforts.

Band Members