Music Feature

A Philly Rapper You Should Know: Kuf Knotz

by Ryan O'Connell
The Philly rapper on Tupac, live bands versus DJ's and holograms.

An oral history of Kuf Knotz, as told by Kuf to two.one.five magazine.

Well Kuf is short for Kufie and Knotz is a play off of my hair. My friends used to call me Notty so I stuck with that and Kufie is a name given to me in college...It means spiritual warrior and born on a Friday (West African.)

I started writing little raps and rhymes around 5th grade, but I didn’t actually began saying them or speaking them out loud to people until high school.
Growing up in a musical household is what led me to become an MC. My Grandmother was a gospel singer (RIP Mary Vanderpool) and my brother was an MC. I would go to church every Sunday and hear my grandmother sing. I would always hear her sing around the house too, especially when she was cooking something. My brother and his friends were always in the basement smoking what I now know was pot and rapping and breakdancing. I would spy on them from the top of the steps. I was so intrigued by how my brother would put these words together and make up crazy stories in perfect time with someone making crazy noises out there mouth. I was blown away to say the least.

I grew up a little outside of Philly in Bryn Mawr. My family is from Buffalo.

My biggest musical influences have probably been Tupac, Q-Tip & The Roots. Tupac…I absolutely love his passion, writing and ability to reach a wide gamut of people. Q-Tip makes beautiful music, creates his own beats, has a very unique and distinct voice, which is very important and has mass appeal I dig. He is also so comfortable with being "outside of the box" as well. The Roots because they are a live band and have built their fan base in a ground up, grass roots movement type of way. Building it like that you make very loyal and appreciative fans and they consistently put out good music and work HARD!!! They experiment with music and Tariq (Black Thought) is definitely the illest lyricist out there.

I prefer to perform with a live band. I have been in four bands now since the start of my career so I have become very accustomed to the band dynamic and the live energy on stage that only a band can produce...not to say that I don’t enjoy rocking with a DJ I just prefer the band.

The Fire...yes something about The Fire I just love. It’s like you know you won’t make any money there but you still play there & have a blast, the vibe is great and what band in Philly hasn’t started out playing The Fire or played The Fire at some point.

Not only was I opening for Bruce Springsteen but it was for such a monumental and historic event (a rally for President Obama.) The campaign for the first Black president ever and it was on the (Ben Franklin) parkway in Philadelphia with 70,000 people in attendance. Nora Whittaker played the keys and sang vocals while I rhymed; it was an amazing 17 minutes! We did 3 songs all together. As an MC I was very proud to be able to get up there in front of young children, middle age people and older folks and not have to worry about editing myself or taking words out or being too offensive. I was proud that the music I make and words I write went over well with everyone and that such a diverse crowd could get into and enjoy "Hip Hop"…even though it was acoustic Hip Hop it was still Hip Hop.

BoomBox Logic was released in October 2010 on Mad Dragon Records. The making of the album took about 6 to 7 months. I went out to Spring City, PA to record the album with Rich Brickel at Studio 210. I would be in the studio for hours upon hours sometimes in a session from 8pm to 8am crazy but fun - I would have a lot of people at the sessions so it made for a real comfortable family/party type feel and everyone would encourage everyone else which was awesome. I enjoyed working with so many different artists and producers it really allows you to step outside of what you might consider your “thing” and open up to different styles and approach to making and writing songs.

(G.Love) and I met thru my friend Mutlu and began sitting in with G at shows and we become pretty cool so when I was doing my album I reached out to him and he was all about it.

Who isn’t a Digable Planets fan?

My summer plans are to finish up this album I am working on A Positive Light and to shoot a handful of dope videos & of course perform at some festivals! All the while enjoying the sunshine.

I wear my heart on my sleeve musically and am very dedicated to making music and making music with a message. I believe in writing positive tunes because I believe our words are very powerful. This newest album I am finishing up is a very uplifting fun and introspective album.

Hologram yes for sure!!! but let’s say that will be way down the line I have a lot more live performances left to do all over the world. The Tupac hologram performance was awesome. It’s really dope that Snoop did that - he definitely started something!

It would definitely be with Bob Marley! (If he could perform with a hologram of a dead artist.)

Yes indeed…soul.

Photos courtesy of Kuf Knotz.

A Philly Band/Rapper You Should Know is an ongoing series featuring oral histories of up and coming Philly Bands and Rappers.

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