Melo Kan (@melokan) stands firmly in the cross roads of west coast hip hop’s past and present-future. The emcee hailing from Compton, California looks to one side at all those who came before him; Cube, Pac, E-40, Dre, Snoop and many others who laid the concrete path and then he looks to the other side at the mounting tsunami of hungry emcees waiting to crash onto the scene. Taking it all in he asks himself what’s the difference between me and my counterparts? His answer “Nothing we’re all chasing a dream and wanting to be heard. Lyrical Postmen/women is what I call us, because we have a message to deliver to the people.”
The recent release of Melo Kan’s latest EP “Mama’s Only Sun” is definitely raising the bar and solidifying the seasoned emcee’s position as a leader in the west coast’s next generation of hip hop trendsetters. With production by Grammy award winning Production Company 1500 or Nothing and features by Kendrick Lamar and crossover heat makers Melo delivers steadfast rhymes aimed at entertaining listeners while promoting a higher level of personal intellect.
KBB: What’s going on Melo Kan? Let’s dive right in. Being a fairly new artist from the West Coast, how important is it to establish your own identity from the stigma of gangster rap Cali is known for?
Melo Kan: Do you remember “To Live and Die in LA” by Makaveli when he says “every n***a in LA got a little bit of thug in’em”? That’s how I feel. So, some of that’ll seep thru but it’s imperative to me as an artist that the larger portion of my identity be associated with something more progressive.
KBB: What sets you apart from other MCs in your niche of hip hop?
Melo Kan: I get that question all the time. And really I feel we are more similar than different. In my “niche” we’re all chasing a dream and wanting to be heard. Lyrical Postmen/women is what I call us, because we have a message to deliver to the people.
KBB: Do you feel the odds are stacked against you because you’re style doesn’t fit commercial standards?
Melo Kan: Absolutely, but I welcome the challenge. There’s no progress without struggle. Will a man of peace not be tested with war? The key is to stay true to who you are.
KBB: Do you think the level of intellect has an impact on the type of music an artist creates?
Melo Kan: Of course, if your life experience only consists of your ten block radius that you call a hood, and you don’t read, or desire to know anything other than what you see, then your content will be limited. As I’m sure we can all testify to the monotony of the music today.
KBB: Do you feel artists that have yet to break the seal on their own career stand in a place to critique others?
Melo Kan: Anyone can be a critic. People that can’t even right a lyric or play a drum are in charge of telling the people what’s “hot”. Therefore, it’s implicit in being an artist that people will view, analyze, and criticize your work.
KBB: With advances in social media, many artists are building superficial “celebrity”. Do you think this helps or hinders their success and longevity?
Melo Kan: It’s competitive out there. You really have to just get in where you fit in. Social media has helped artists where a label might not have given them the chance.
KBB: The music conference season is in full swing, how important is it for aspiring talent to attend these events?
Melo Kan: I think it’s good for any artist to check them out and see what goes on.
KBB: Are there benefits of these types of industry gatherings?
Melo Kan: You definitely can make connections. This business is a heavy percentage of who you know.
KBB: Who are a few unsigned artists and MCs that you rock to on a regular?
Melo Kan: Dom Kennedy, Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf (well I guess he is signed now), S-Mak, El Prez, Lite, Remy Ranthoven, Chris Focus, shoot a bunch of dudes [laughing].
KBB: What do you feel is the biggest challenges independent artist face?
Melo Kan: Self-destruction; A lot of indies pace themselves by industry standards and end up burning out when certain things don’t happen within a certain time frame. I tell folks all the time, this is a marathon. I’m 12 years in it and still making consistently dope music. Either you ARE music or you MAKE music. Anything you make, you can stop making, but you can never change WHO you ARE.
KBB: What are some steps you’ve taken to help you grow as an artist?
Melo Kan: Failures, setbacks and bad decisions, it’s all a part of the journey. The tears and the pain cause unbelievable breakthroughs and growth.
KBB: You have a charismatic stage presence. Did it take work to get comfortable performing?
Melo Kan: I’ve never really been afraid of performing in front of crowds. But the more stages I rock, the more my attitude of “ownership” becomes prevalent.
KBB: A lot of independent artist don’t have proper management. Is management something that is crucial when trying to move forward in a music career?
Melo Kan: It’s helpful. I don’t have a real management team myself and I know that hurts me in some areas. But you have to do what you have to do until you can find someone suitable to represent your level of artistry.
KBB: How important is it for indie artist to be as proactive as possible when promoting themselves?
Melo Kan: Extremely, what I found is you can’t wait on any one including your own team at times to do the work you know needs to be done. The grind is just that, putting your own work in is an inevitable element of success.
KBB: Who would you like to work with if given the opportunity?
Melo Kan: E40. Talk about longevity. That brother is living proof and probably has the longest running career in hip hop!
KBB: Being an artist is a full time job. What is your daily routine?
Melo Kan: True it’s a full time job, but there isn’t always full time pay ya dig? So I have to keep a few hustles to keep the lights on. Every day I exercise: my mind thru reading, my body through weight training or martial arts depending on the day, and my spirit through meditation.
KBB: What makes the west coast so special?
Melo Kan: The west is special just because we can make a double-U with our fingers. Who else can do that?! [Laughing]
KBB: Who are some of the west coast artist that paved the way for you?
Melo Kan: I’d have to say E40, DJ Quik, Eazy E, 2Pac and Too Short, Spice 1, Suga Free, WC, Above the Law and 2nd II None. I could go on and on.
KBB: Do you think DJs are bias against really repping west coast artist?
Melo Kan: Yes. But from my understanding of how the universe works, there’s always an opening somewhere if something is closed. Simple law of opposites, my job is to find the opening and exploit it.
KBB: Any final words before we go?
Melo Kan: I appreciate y’all giving me this space, I enjoyed myself. Oh and one more thing… Don’t stop doing what you do! Yehdat!!