Kristopher Campbell, better known as K Camp, headlines a new crop of southern rap artists keeping Atlanta at the top of its game. Though only 27 years old, the rapper-singer-producer already released two EPs, an album and more than a dozen mixtapes, and he regularly releases stand-alone singles like "Good Problem" now at radio. K Camp, who spent the early part of 2017 getting his business straight, previously lit up the airwaves with platinum-selling singles like "Money Baby" and "Cut Her Off," and his full-length debut, 2015's Only Way Is Up, followed with "Comfortable" and "Lil Bit." PRØHBTD spoke with the cannabis-friendly rapper about the new single, his favorite strain and what his new album definitely won't be called.
I have to start by asking for your take on what happened at Charlottesville.
My take on what happened at Charlottesville, I don't really... all that I gotta say is that Trump's gotta go. That's all I got to say about that situation. There's a lot going on, but Trump gotta go.
You released "Good Problem" this summer. Is this a stand-alone single, or does it preview your next album or EP?
Nah, it's a stand-alone single, and I've got more ideas coming right after, so it's a true single. I got one for the radio, and I got one for the underground working at the same time.
Which song is for the underground?
Do you think this will be your last single for the year or do you see more on the way?
No, it's never gonna be my last single. I make music. This is what I do. You know what I'm saying? Music, music….
I meant will this be the last single that gets a major push and music video and all that.
We only in, what, August?
"Good Problem" might take us all the way to 2018. So it might be the only major single I put out this year. There will be more next year.
You have released five mixtapes since 2015. What role do the mixtapes play in helping you grow as an artist and collaborate with other artists?
Nowadays, if you ask me, man, mixtapes and albums are pretty much the same thing. It's two worlds when it comes to music: You got the mainstream and you got the underground. It's good to drop major singles with the labels, keeping the normal 9 to 5 going-to-work-everyday people satisfied, and you got the underground music with the mixtape. It's two different worlds, and the mixtape gang is the world that keeps you paid, you know what I'm saying? You get booked for shows and you can stay relevant. They both play hand to hand, but you gotta learn how to capitalize on both.
Are there elements on K.I.S.S. 4, your most recent mixtape, that reflect what your sophomore album might sound like?
K.I.S.S. 4... I have been doing that series since 2011, 2012. Every time I drop the K.I.S.S. projects, my fanbase eats that up every time. As far as direction, it's really just the same formula. Just the way I put the record together, it's better. I got my producer Bobby Kritical on music. I've got my own label so I'm just checking my brain and checking my gang, really.
Wikipedia suggests that your next album will be called Selling Blow. Any truth to that?
That's on Wikipedia.
That's on Wikipedia?
Shit. Nah, definitely not going to be called Selling Blow.
Last year, you pointed to In Due Time as the reference for your second album. Does that hold true still?
Yeah, it's going to be in that vein. In Due Time really broke the barrier as far as my sound and who I was as an artist. I done been through a lot since then, and I feel like my second album has got to feel advanced. They gotta see where I'm at now. I'm still getting the same gold record, I'm still getting the female and the party shit, but they got to feel where I'm coming from at this point in my life and my career.
Only Way Is Up was a successful debut album. What are a few elements of the debut album that you want to expand upon with future music, and what are key areas where you want to mix things up?
With the next album the only thing I will want is just more promotion and a tour. Last time with Only Way Is Up, I didn't tour off the album, and I feel like the promotion wasn't proper. They did what they had to do, but I want to roll it out the right way, and I want to tour off that album.
You've said you write about current events. What current events tend to coming through most in your most recent batch of songs?
I'm writing about everything that's going on in my life. When I say current events, it could be anything. I can make a song about what happened today, I can make a song about the girl I was with last night, what we did last night, and I could put it in a whole record. You know what I'm saying? That's how I like to base my music. All my music comes from the heart. It's real and authentic, and you can relate to it if you've ever been in that situation. I ain't gonna sit there and lie to you and tell you some false shit through a record. I'll tell you exactly what's going on so people can take it how they want to take it.
Do you find you write better when you are happy, sad or angry?
I don't need to write records. Every song that I make for the past three, four, five years has been off the top of my head. And I make the best records in all the moods, you know what I'm saying? Music is about emotion, and I put all my emotions in my music. When I'm sad, I make a record. When I'm happy, I make a record. That's how you get the best stuff... when you really record off a mood.
Do you write or perform better when you smoke?
Nah, I can't, I can't... record? Yes. I can do a solo, but a show? I can't smoke weed and go perform, but I can record.
How do you think it helps in the studio?
It opens my mind up a little bit. It probably relaxes me, puts me at ease. It lets the vibe just take me away.
My understanding is that you moved to California.
When you lived in Atlanta, were you smoking local cannabis or did you get it from California?
I was smoking LA weed. I was smoking [King] Louis XIII.
Now being here in California, I assume are you exploring more strains?
I'm down to smoke whatever's smoking, but I'm back in Atlanta now.
So you've left California?
I'm back home. But when I was in LA, I just needed a whole different vibe. I needed some new energy in my life so I had to go out there and just take my whole squad with me and just work and see what the hell was going on. That was pretty much my main focus.
Why were you kicked out of the house on Lyric Avenue where you recorded your last EP?
We were doing way too much fucking partying. We had parties every damn day... big parties. There was just too much going on. And the neighbors did not like it.
The funny thing is, you had great parties on Lyric Avenue, but the EP has a mellower vibe. What do you think the Lyric Ave EP said about your evolution as an artist?
That EP just... I think that was the most current project I ever put together. 'Cause the street name was Lyric Avenue, I recorded all of the record based on what the hell was going on at the time in that house. I had the studio set up in the basement, and every day I just went down there for a couple of hours. Create, create, create. That was the first time I ever did a project that was just so new and fresh. Everything was just happening at that moment and it felt good.
What was the best house party you threw at the Lyric Avenue house?
My damn birthday, man.
You worked your way up through the underground open-mic scene. How competitive is the underground, and were the other underground rappers largely supportive or ready to step all over each other to get to the top?
Man, it's like 50-50. You got your group of artists who want to see you win and to get off each other. And you got that group of artists who don't give a fuck and do anything to try to black ball [you]. That was when we really had to be out here passing out CDs and going to every club trying to get the record played. Nowadays you put a record on SoundCloud and get a bunch of spins in 30 minutes, so shit is different.
Are you happy with the way you were able to come up?
Well, yeah. That 'ground made me who I am, you know? You use new techniques today. Like right now we are doing radio in all these cities, and we're really out here on the road touching the PDs (Note: Program Directors) and getting this record played. So you gotta do that. Some folks don't know how to do that, and that's how they fail.
When deciding if you want to work with a certain producer, what do you look for in their tracks?
What do I look for in tracks? I look for that feeling, man. You know I can tell in the first 15 or 20 seconds of the beat if I'm going to like it or not. Low vibe... you hear it as soon as you cut on. As far as I'm concerned, my producer Bobby Kritical gets me all the stuff I need right now. I don't really have to reach to no outside source 'cause my producer's going to be the next biggest thing in Atlanta coming out the city.
And he's signed to your label, correct?
Yeah, yeah. Bobby Kritical. It's all signed up.
What will the new generation of rappers coming up right now contribute to the lasting legacy of hip-hop as an art form?
What are they going to contribute? I don't know. It could be something that lasts a long time or it could be a trend. A lot of trendy shit comes and goes. You can't call it nowadays. The game has changed, and everything has evolved, and you can't really control it. You got to just wait and see. To be real.
How has the big picture changed for K Camp in the past year?
The picture that has changed is just too much. Just a year and a half ago, I wanted to stop making music because I had a lot of shit going on behind the scenes as far as my management and the connect with the label. There was a lot of shit going on so I wanted to take a little break, and it kind of fucked me up. At the same time, it made me better because it made me go back to the drawing board to figure out what I had to do and what I can't do. I signed my first producer. I signed my first artist. Now I got a single about to shoot up the charts. I needed that time off. Now I'm back, and I ain't going nowhere.
David Jenison (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Main photo by MEENO, inline photos by Ashley Osborn.