Exclusive: K.A.A.N.: Abstract Art and the Influence of Hip-Hop in Social Matters

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K.A.A.N.

K.A.A.N. (a.k.a. Brandon Perry) is a 24-year-old wordsmith who is starting to garner some much deserved attention from the hip-hop blogs and fans around the web.

Dropping songs without notice, K.A.A.N continues to gain new followers and wowing listeners along the way. His 90s style hip-hop will remind you of Kendrick, but K.A.A.N. will let you know he's telling his own story.

HYPEFRESH's Megan Berberich (@MEGBERB) finds out more about this rising rapper in this exclusive interview.

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Megan: Abstract Art was your first mixtape that dropped earlier this year. Walk us through the concept for this mixtape. There’s a multitude of topics and heavy issues within the seventeen songs.. was there a process to how you built the tape or was it more organic and you just let things happen?

KAAN- With the project I just wanted to make something that people could listen to, and formulate they’re own opinion from it. The definition of the term its self abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. I wanted to do that with the sounds, cadences, flows, and subject matter of the project. There was no real process to making the music. There were fifteen songs done for the project. I listened to them when they were all done, and I didn’t think they fit well together in a project format. We ended up just throwing those songs on Soundcloud, and starting from scratch. We just kept making music, and in about five, or six months the project was complete.

MB: What’s your favorite track off of Abstract Art? What does it mean to you?

KAAN- My favorite tracks off the project are probably the two tendencies records. Mainly because I’m telling a story that starts in tendencies part one, and ends in tendencies part two. It’s a story about poverty, and struggle. It meant something to me because the guys that I really liked listening to growing up were great story tellers, and could make you visualize a story with just they’re words. That’s a skill with in the craft that I want to perfect.

MB- When/how did you start rapping? Who influenced you?

KAAN- I started writing, and recording about three years ago now. I’ve always freestyled though. I never recorded it, or freestyled for anyone, but I would just freestyle over songs that were playing on the radio if I was driving. I would just start randomly freestyling. It was never anything serious though. I’ve listened to Tupac’s music for a long time now. Started when I was really young, and haven’t stopped since. His music made me want to rap. His whole image. The things he talked about in his music to me, it was all dope. I was just blown away. I didn’t actually try to rap until I went to a Logic show at soundstage in Baltimore. I hadn’t even heard his music before. I went to see him with my younger brother, and his friends. Tayib Ali was the opener for him. It was crazy though how people reacted to logic when he was on stage. The blunts had worn off, so I’m sober as shit watching this guy, who looked like a normal person which is not how a lot of artist period present them selves. He looked like a normal ass guy killing shit. The people that were there, were loving it. He made it look so easy I was like fuck it I’m going to try it. I understood how much works goes into to making music. To do what he did that night takes a lot work.

MB -K.A.A.N. is an acronym for ‘Knowledge Above All Nonsense.’ What’s the story behind this name? Why don’t you think people consciously listen to lyrics anymore?

KAAN- I was working front desk at a hotel, and I was trying to think of a name. At first I was going to go with my real name, but I thought it was kind of corny, and already been done a lot. I thought of kaan from Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. I thought it sounded kind of dope, and I changed the H to an A to make it an acronym that meant something to me. I think people don’t consciously listen to lyrics because people don’t really want to think for them selves. People are listening to artist strictly for their production in some cases. When its just a catchy up-tempo beat it’s easy to digest. People don’t re wind songs, or really sit, and try to dissect lyrics. People want to hear what everyone else is listening to. It’s more of a popularity contest. Even with underground artists, or guys that are only getting buzz on the internet. Some people wont even play a song because it doesn’t have a certain number of plays, or views.

MB -You’ve mentioned before that you took a break from writing because you didn’t want to be ‘average’ and it had no real substance. You wanted to (and still want to) differentiate yourself. What makes you different? What changed in your attitudes/writing/mantra that made you go from ‘average’ to your authentic self? What other artists do you see differentiating themselves?

KAAN- I think what makes me different is the content. It’s all relatable. I’ve lived in a trailer park that was tiny as hell. I’ve also lived in the suburbs. I feel like the subject matter, and content any one can relate to. If they can get past the faster cadence at times, and really listen to the music I think people will hear stories, or experiences that they have been through before. I think Kendrick differentiated himself with his last project, which was spoken word p funk, honestly. It was all poetry. Earl Sweatshirt, and Vince Staples are making really interesting stuff. I’m still playing because of the Internet by Childish Gambino. Really tough stuff. Chance the Rapper, and the social experiment are really dope. I like them a lot collectively, as well as individually. Donnie trumpet is amazing. Also, Mick Jenkins. He’s always talking about something in his music. Plus his voice, and sound reminds me of the dungeon family. They’re an older rap group out of Atlanta. They’re a collective of Atlanta artists. The groups got Outkast in it, Cello, Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, Big Gipp, Ricko Wade, and others as well. Really dope group.

MB - How important do you think it is to be socially conscious in your writing? Especially in a world where it seems as though police brutality is ever increasing. What do you think hip-hop’s role is as a platform?

KAAN- I think it’s important to speak on socially conscious issues. At least something that means something to you personally. I think it’s hard though, because it seems like we live in a world were this younger generation believes that there is real equality within this country, I guess because there is no more open public segregation. People really think we are all equal. It’s crazy to me cause it’s like sometimes people don’t even want to hear about racial issues because they think its a thing of the past. It’s really wild to see, and hear the genuine disconnect that is still a reality. I don’t think hip-hop can help honestly. Its so commercial, and watered down I don’t see hip-hop, or rap music helping a struggle that has existed since the conception of this country. People will always point out Kendrick Lamar, or J. Cole, but in the 90’s Rodney king gets beat in the streets by police, and NWA makes ‘Fuck the Police. Tupac talks about riots happening because of the social injustices of that time on 2pacalyps now his debut album. A year later it’s the L.A riots over the Rodney king verdict. Public enemy made a career out of making socially conscious music with a combative, confrontational tone too. Chuck D was speaking the teachings of Malcom x, and Marcus Garvey. Are the artist making that kind of music? Yes. I’m sure that they are, but the difference is that music like that used to be at the forefront. Fight the power got tons of radio play, fuck the police got plenty of radio play, Brenda’s got a baby got a lot of radio play. It’s not like that any more. You’re looked at as weird, or even racist yourself for understanding the real true dynamic of this country, and how it works.

MB-What does the future hold for you? More projects coming up?

KAAN- I really don’t know what the future holds for me. I know I’m just going to keep making music. I have a small remix project of old classic hip hop beats finished called 1/12/199? along with the visuals for it. No real release date yet, but I’m just going to keep writing, and recording and see what happens.

Keep up with KAAN on Twitter// Instagram// Soundcloud// Facebook // YouTube.