On probably the hottest day in London so far, I took time out to catch up with a man with his ear to the streets of London’s underground scene. We spent time in his garden full of vegetables and sampled some of his produce as he broke down his view on Hip Hop and how it can be utilised positively in a modern setting and his vision for self-sustainability.
sunchild – KMT Welcome to the Consciousness Lounge can you please give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do?
KMT – Alright, well KMT is a Hip Hop teacher, and a Hip Hop teacher is a title I use as well as being a DJ and MC. I also deal with Hip Hop as a social cohesion model. I use it in two ways; to basically raise social issues and also to bring social groups together as well; where you may have a racial or religious group that doesn’t work together and I will then use the model and elements of Hip Hop to bring these groups together.
sunchild – Can you tell us about your name KMT and what it means?
KMT – Well when I started I was always inspired by the ability of Hip Hop to educate and with me growing up in England I didn’t have many positive role models, Hip Hop was the most positive role model for me and one of the most positive people that I encountered was KRS 1. I always wanted a name that has a meaning but also gives me the opportunity to reach for something.
So I picked KMT which is an abbreviation for Kemet; the name for Ancient Egypt and I liked that because I wanted to put it into a modern day context and into a Hip Hop context. I saw the power of that civilisation and in Hip Hop civilisation I saw the power in something so positive and so dynamic. So when I first picked that name it was because I wanted to do something positive, educational and which had a spiritual theme to it. So I picked Kemet and I abbreviated it to KMT because it was easier for people to understand and access.
sunchild – I know that you always have your ear to the streets, so could you tell us about the London scene and about the ‘who’s’ and ‘who’s not’s’ in the industry at the moment.
KMT – Well to be honest I try not to deal too much with the industry because the industry tends to only be about the majors and I tend to deal with all of it from the grass roots people to major signed artists as well. I am a fan of Asheber and the Afrikan revolution and Got 2 Remember because that’s the group I work with quite closely and manage as well. The reason I like what they’re doing is because they are inter-generational and their music is so unique in terms of the music they are creating. They are one of the few bands that are able to transcend all music genres.
MC’s I like, well boy, that’s a good one, there are so many people I like for different reasons. I would say David Jay because of his overall ability to be a wordsmith, I like people like Lean for his freestyle ability, I like Archer for his overall vibes, and I like Ty for his Hip Hop. There are so many that I do like; Logic, DJ Snuff for what he is doing for the scene so many I can’t think of them all, apologies if I missed anyone.
sunchild – What inspires you? And can you tell us what you do to stay relevant and fresh in an ever changing cosmopolitan environment like London?
KMT – (Laughs) Well I think you are experiencing it right now, the Consciousness Lounge is quite appropriate. I mean we chilling in my garden and you are seeing the project where we are working on self sustainability and my long term project is to enable people to be able to live more freely because for a lot of people money is a major issue, so if you cant make money then you have to be in a position where you don’t spend it and become a consumer. For me being self sustainable, (my flat mate Ramsey is our chief gardener and you have just sampled some food from our garden) is what we do.
We’re looking at investing in some natural energy or a geo thermal source and then having our own water supply. The idea being that in 2 to 3 years we will be completely self sustainable and won’t have to rely on a major company dictating to us how much we should pay for energy because the energy belongs to the earth. How can anyone dictate how much you should pay for it? I know it sound ‘hippyish’ but you need to check the logic because the sun is free so why do we pay for the suns energy?
That’s what I’m really interested in, is how Hip Hop can be a lifestyle and not just the music.
sunchild – What kind of music are you most into and what are your sets built up on?
KMT – I am really getting more into the Afrikan sounds. I have travelled to Ghana, Morocco, Egypt and Gambia and I’m loving the way technology is enabling this re-emergence of old traditional sounds with the new. I like the fact that Emcees are revisiting traditional music in their local communities, fusing that and bringing it into a modern day context. For example One Love from Ghana who I forgot to mention earlier is the epitome of that style he really captures that for me.
He is mixed Romanian and Ashanti but he has an ability to translate that and bring the 2 cultures together so perfectly. It doesn’t have to be Afrikan, it can be Japanese and American or it could be Irish but I’m really interested in those people bringing their stories in a modern day context. I don’t really like artists that try to emulate other people and other people’s environments. I like artists that can paint a picture of themselves and their own environment.
sunchild – Are you strictly a DJ or do you have any other hidden talents?
KMT – (Laughs) Well I do spit a few bars but I’m surrounded by Emcees so when people ask ‘Do you rap?’ I say ‘No’, because I’m surrounded by real Emcees. I do a bit of hosting; I’m a workshop tutor and a project manager. So I tend to manage my own projects in terms of organising staff. My main thing is my vibe and my ability to bring people together as well as to inspire people.
sunchild – Can you break down a day/week in the life of KMT?
KMT – Well day time is focusing more on workshops, which depending of the client, consists of various things. For example I have a workshop on Tuesday in Lambeth/Brixton, we are engaging young people, and my role is to speak to them from a musical perspective by showing them all the possibilities that music can produce, e.g. we took the kids out on a trip to Brighton, which is outside of London, to the University of Brighton.
We also try to teach them that you shouldn’t allow music to limit you, as we live in a culture where music is not allowing people to expand and grow. It keeps people in boxes and segregated and distant. I try to encourage the exploration and evolution and expansion of it.
In the evenings, I usually have meetings or I’m busy with back end things, paper work etc or I’m DJ’ing or organising gigs for various artists that I work with as well. So in nut shell it breaks down to workshops, DJ’s and artists but there’s a lot more involved in any one component.
I don’t only teach youngsters I also teach teachers. I’m actually going to a workshop this weekend called Love Music Hate Racism and within that I will teach how Hip Hop can be used in a class room and on the playground because the key thing for teachers is to teach them how to communicate. They can talk about anything but they need to know how to communicate through Hip Hop and communicate with their students more effectively.
sunchild – How receptive are London crowds to new music and sounds? I’m sure the
KMT – Consciousness community would especially be interested to know about how popular is Afrikan music/Afrikan Hip Hop is out here.
Well what’s really beautiful about Britain is that it’s like a melting pot or it’s so diverse and I’m referring to people who are claiming back their culture. Many artists, who are based here because they have been marginalised, have looked further back such as an artist like Ty Breeze. An example of an artist that has gone back to Afrika and looked at their origins and have brought that to the fore front, well more I’d say in terms of his style, and I like people who can do that and that’s not just with Afrikan music, it’s the same with people from Jamaica and reggae.
Afrikan music is very popular out here and I DJ at places called Passing Clouds and Shunt and Afrikan music brings sunshine especially in a place like Britain where it’s dark and gloomy. When you hear good Afrikan music I have to say, it brings sunshine to those environments and you can see the warmth when you’re playing it and people are getting down. I love to play Afrikan music cause of the drums man! I’m a sucker for drums and when I hear good drums, whether in a traditional or modern setting, it just blows me away. So Afrikan music is very popular; we have places like Passing Clouds, Shunt. We got DJ’s like Eric Soul, Reahton Ray.
There’s loads of underground people like DJ Edu on BBC 1 Extra, so it’s starting to get on par with mainstream music, you starting to see Afrikan music and afro beat in a mainstream sense now and you starting to see Hip Hop funky house all Afrikan. It’s definitely expanding and growing so it’s really exciting for me because I like the mixture. My set goes from popular music to deep Afrikan music because I like to mix all the flavours to show that this is my journey; going back to Afrika musically through to America, Japan, Jamaica… and that’s me.
sunchild – Where can people find out more about KMT and get in touch and purchase your music?
KMT – BOOK ME MAN! Call me up, get me over, you know its one thing to consume it but if you get me over there, I mean I love Afrika. Well I won’t generalise I don’t like all parts of Afrika but I love the vibe and because of my work that I have done I can translate it easily out there as well. So get me out there to do some projects, some culture exchanges and I will bring out all the music.
On an internet basis my website is www.nu-kmt.com and if you click on that you will see loads of links; Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc. But the website is the first source of contact, my interview with Dead Prez is on there, you will see Boris Johnson the mayor of London just everything I’m up to at the moment.
sunchild – Do you have any final words comments or a message of inspiration for the Consciousness community?
KMT – Follow your heart and if you don’t have money don’t think it’s the only resource that you have at your disposal, we as human beings are the biggest resource, because sometimes when you don’t have money you think that you can’t do things. We have people, arms, legs, mouths, we have so many tools that we can tap into…don’t abuse them, utilise them.
KMT thanks for blessing us with your time it was a pleasure to have you on the consciousness lounge, stay peace and love.