K Camp Explains the Importance of an Artist’s Evolution: “Don’t Get Left Behind”
Prior to releasing his new EP, Lyric Ave, K Camp was moving in silence. In 2016, the rapper has kept himself busy with collaborations and song releases but he hasn't been making the same noise he once did when he dropped tracks like "Cut Her Off" and "Comfortable." However, that doesn't mean he's been sitting idle.
Little did hip-hop fans know that the Atlanta native, who released his debut album, Only Way Is Up, last year was tucked away across the country in Los Angeles with plans of churning up an abundance of hits. In early September, the rapper returned to the scene with the new project, Lyric Ave, following his 2015 mixtape, K.I.S.S. 3.
A listen to the new EP finds K Camp proclaiming that he's “not a rapper” and opting for a change to more mellow beats rather than the turn up trap sound he's known for. Plus mentions of residing in a new location quickly make fans realize he's going through a few changes with this latest effort. Posted up in L.A. for the past few months, the 2015 XXL Freshman was shacked up on the same street Walt Disney previously lived on -- Lyric Avenue -- and the creative juices started flowing. In an effort to encourage evolution from the formula that previously brought him success, the 26-year-old held on to his traditional style but at the same time linked up with fresh faces to add a new sound to the one that the industry has grown to expect from him.
XXL linked up with K Camp to not only chop it up about the style changes on Lyric Ave but also to reflect on what he's learned over the past two years, evolving and discuss plans for his sophomore album.
XXL: Your new EP, Lyric Ave, was inspired by some time you spent in LA. Can you tell us a little about the EP and life on Lyric Avenue?
K Camp: The six months on Lyric Ave. was a movie. You should have came out. It was just straight turn up and creating. We had the studio built in a dungeon part of the crib. The whole Lyric Ave project was a current event. I just had to drop something for the fans. The last project I dropped was my album. K.I.S.S. 3 was a project but that was for the females. It counts but it don’t count as far as the streets. So, I had to give my fans something and that’s how I came up with Lyric Ave.
How did living in L.A. influence your music?
It didn’t change it. My last album was mostly produced by Big Fruit. I’m no longer working with Fruit at the moment and I signed some new producers—Bobby Critical, who’s the greatest. When it comes to the sound, it’s probably a little different. It’s some updated K Camp. It’s really just growth. [I’m] trying new producers out and just elevating the sound trying to take it to the next level.
Yeah, there were definitely some beats on Lyric Ave that weren’t traditional K Camp beats.
It was a whole different feel and the next project might be something even crazier.
What’s the biggest difference between living in L.A. and in Atlanta?
Atlanta is home. L.A. is full of strangers—stranger danger. The weed is different, of course. The weather is different. The vibe is different. In Atlanta, we’re based off trap, our whole culture is trap. In L.A., it’s more like uptempo. It’s a whole different feel. I just had to leave the city for a little bit and catch a different vibe—network with some different artists and really just increase the bag. I just had to increase the bag. We ran it up in [Atlanta]. I love the city but we had to go somewhere else to get some more cheese.
I know you had to have some crazy stories from your time in L.A.
We got too many stories. Us fighting, police showing up, girls getting kicked out and going back home to their hometown, flights for them to get the hell on. I seen cocaine get sniffed off counter tops. It’s been reckless. Jacuzzi parties.
L.A. is wild when it comes to house parties. Did you learn anything from the Chris Brown-Baylee Curran ordeal?
Yeah, I did but it didn’t stop us from letting them come over [laughs].
[Laughs] You’re supposed to learn from this.
But nah, I have to stop throwing parties at my crib. We got kicked out of Lyric Ave. and we got kicked out of the Airbnb that we were temporarily staying in. We’re down to the last crib right now. If we get kicked out, then I’m going back to Atlanta.
It seems you’re stuck in between staying in L.A. and going back to ATL.
Yeah, I miss home. I miss the culture. I miss Magic City. I miss The Flame [Blue Flame]. I just miss the city but I’m at a point in my career where I got to really make up my mind about where I want to be at. I have to elevate to the next level because I’m at the bottom of [my current] level. I have to find out how to get to the next level. I think L.A. was a good move for right now but don’t be surprised if I go back to Atlanta because it’s time to take the streets back. That’s really what time it is. That’s what we’re on right now.
We love that trap sound from K Camp.
Yeah, I still got that, we 'bout to drop something soon. I got an exclusive and it might come this month. It’s a street project.
In the beginning of Lyric Ave, you said you weren’t a rapper. We were a little taken aback by that. What did you mean?
What I meant by “I am not a rapper”—no offense to rappers because we all started as rappers—I do so much more than rap. I’m a songwriter. I recorded the whole Lyric Ave by myself. I engineer. I work my whole projects. I’m the one that’s putting track one to track six. I’m creating the whole thing. That’s not just a rapper. I’m a man of many talents. I got to let the world know that I’m not just a rapper. They have to get that installed in their heads.
So you weren’t trying to be lyrical with Lyric Ave?
Not at all. I’m talking still ratchet shit on that motherfucka. The first song I rapped. I know how to rap now. That’s another thing. When I dropped Lyric Ave, I did not want folks to think it was a lyrical ass project. I didn’t want to confuse [them]. I knew it was going to happen like that but once I did interviews, niggas knew what the hell I was talking about but it wasn’t really a lyricist project.
Lyric Ave. was the street I stayed on. I stayed on the same street as Walt Disney. He lived in the first house. That was really a sign that I had to drop that [project] and name it Lyric Ave. RIP Walt Disney. If he would have known that was the street, he probably would have downloaded the tape too.
Back to the topic of lyrics. With all the stuff that’s going on with Lil Yachty and being vocal about not being into lyrics, how do you feel? You’re right in the middle of those two generations of hip-hop.
That’s a good question. Where I stand on it, music doesn’t have boundaries. You can’t really put nobody in a box on how they’re creating. But real music still exists. You got Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick, K Camp, everybody that’s still creating and dropping good shit. It doesn’t mean that theirs still isn’t good. We’re jamming to that too. It is what it is. Music is always changing. You’re always going to have to evolve.
You have to stay ahead of the curve and make sure you don’t get left behind. That’s the most important thing. The niggas coming in can easily change the whole game and then the nigga that’s rapping about politicians, they don’t want to hear that shit anymore. Nobody wants to hear that hip-hop hip-hop shit. Honestly, I refuse to sit there and listen to it because there’s just a new wave going. It changes, man. You can’t really control the shit. Who knows what y’all next cover is going to be. Who knows who y’all are going to have on it next. Y’all the ones influencing the shit. Y’all the ones that’s changing the shit so what do y’all got up y’all sleeve? Y’all tell us.
We’re trying [laughs].
Y’all are pioneering the shit.
So are you working on a sophomore album at all?
I’m definitely working on it. I already got records. I got so many records that I’m just waiting on the perfect time. It has to make sense. You can drop but if it don’t make sense, it’s pointless. I’m just on the build up. I took so much time off. I took like five months off. When I moved from Atlanta to L.A., I took like five months off—restructured my whole thing.
That’s why I’ve been so quiet because I was really just trying to rebuild my shit because I changed management. It was just a whole bunch of shit going on. I went quiet so I’ve got to build that hype again. All I have to do is flood their ass and fuck the Billboards up. I am working on a sophomore album. I’ve got like five records but I’m not going to drop that until it’s time—probably like next year. We’re gonna plan this shit out.
What producers are you looking at for the album? Bobby Critical?
Bobby Critical, that’s my dog. Bobby is evolving too. He’s got the opportunity to take over Atlanta if he stops playing. Him and Music Majors are some fools when it comes to making beats. As far as going back to Fruit, I ain’t spoke to Fruit in months so it depends but I’m really into evolving myself and trying to figure out how I can keep shitting on niggas.
How are you evolving on your sophomore album?
You remember my In Due Time project?
I’m thinking In Due Time part two. That project was the struggle coming up and getting to the point that I’m at now. It was talking about getting where I wanted to go. Now I’m going to give them the game and still talk about what I’m going through because everybody is going through shit. I’m going to give them that platform and really just give them the spiel. I think that’s where I’m going with it.
You have a line on "Hungry N Lurkin" that goes “Jumped in the game as a student, now I feel like the teacher." What did you mean by that?
That’s real though. When I was coming up, I used to always just study who inspired me in the game. I was a student of the game. I’m still a student of the game but now I’m in it. It feels like we’ve been in this game for so long but it’s only been like two-and-a-half years officially. But I feel like I’ve learned so much shit these last two years. I’ve dealt with so much bullshit. I’ve seen a lot so now I feel like I can give niggas the game. You really can’t play me when it comes to all that other shit. I’m too advanced. Now I feel like the teacher.
Okay, professor. Do you have a title?
Not yet. It has to ring a bell.
Lastly, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned during the past two years?
You can’t be loyal to everybody because everybody doesn’t deserve your loyalty. That’s one of the biggest things. You’ve got to grow. Some people are in your life for a reason or a season—and how to save money. I’m saving while niggas out here blowing their money.
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