Interview with Substantial & KD Foxx

Maryland-born MC, producer, artist and educator Substantial teams up with KDFoxx for one of the best collaborations you’ll hear this year. Working together on the new track ‘Your Great Weapon’ it’s safe to say this project is certainly turning heads across the globe. Legendary rapper/activist, Chuck D of Public Enemy referred to Substantial as “One of the great MCs of our time.” His soulful and introspective brand of rap has received critical acclaim from The Source, HipHopDX, Ebony.com, DJBooth.net, and Okayplayer.com

Introduce yourselves and your hidden talent!

KD: Howdy! My name is Kenya Danino, but most know me as KD or KDFoxx. I am a black manga artist and freelancer of over 8 years in the illustration and animation industries. Some of my more notable collaborations are on merchandise design and advertisements for Soho Press, Dreamworks Animation, and LeftField Media’s AnimeNYC. My hidden talent is translating energy and sound into visual art via my synesthesia.

Substantial: Peace World. My name’s Substantial, I’m an MC, Producer, Author, and educator. My hidden talent is Printmaking (Linocuts, Woodcuts, Etching, etc.)

What’s our writing process like?

KD: While I have never written music, I did develop a disiplined ear for what sounds easily pleasing and what sounds are complex and challenging. While writing and illustrating Animal Arithmetic, I often imagine each characters soundtrack based on their personality, by mixing and matching the rhythms of my favorite genres of music: Neo Soul, Orchestral, Hip Hop, R&B, Blues and Jazz. Instrumentals help a ton when writing specific parts of plot, as I have a very cinematic brain.

Substantial: I usually write the music first, unless a topic or lyric hits me first but those things are usually triggered by the music. I’ll usually produce the beat, play around with different melodies and flows, do a lot of skatting and then I write the lyrics (most times).

Who are your main musical influences and why?

KD: Other than my friend and partner Substantial here whose music is dope for MANY reasons, the art I create is greatly inspired by the sounds of: Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Nana Caymmi, Fatoumata Diawara, Massive Attack, Gorillaz, Nujabes, JDilla, Uyama Hiroto, Theivery Corperation and recently Amazarashi. I siphon the energy from the songs these artists make to create the amaglam aesthetic that is Animal Arithmetic.

Substantial: Common, Andre 3000, Nas, Black Thought, Redman, and Stevie Wonder are some of the biggest musical influences. Common and 3 Stacks have been lyrically sharp but also never scared to be vulnerable. Nas, Black Thought, and Redman are all very different but they are arguably some of the most consistent MCs to ever do it. Stevie Wonder in my opinion is one of the most prolific and greatest songwriters of all time and everyone I mentioned is an amazing storyteller. I aim to embody all of that as an artist. Their music over the years has been the soundtrack to my life along with so many others and has also motivated me to continue to grow as an artist.

What’s in store for us for the rest of the year.

Substantial: Our album Animal Arithmetic, Vol. 1 drops on February 4th. Summertime I plan to release my next solo album and throughout the year I plan to continue my monthly ‘Live from Home’ Youtube concert series due to ‘Rona. Some spot dates, cons, and maybe a tour when it’s a bit safer out here.

KD: Along with what Substantial has already said, Animal Arithmetic: Beasts of Burden the manga will also drop soon between the months of march and June. We are also working behind the scenes to create more music and Animal Arithmetic related artforms for the future. Stay tuned!

Tell Moggblog about our latest release and the inspiration behind that.

Substantial: Our new collab project is called Animal Arithmetic, Vol. 1. The music I wrote, performed, and produced for it was inspired by KD’s art and concept for the manga. The album’s filled with soulful, mostly jazz and funk-infused Hip-Hop instrumentals soundscape live instrumentation by Jonathan Smalls, Malcolm Jackson, Marukabis, Marcus D, and Mason Lieberman. It also features guest vocals from EyeQ and MLLN along with voice-over actors Ashley, Christen, Binks, Daniel Acosta, Farah Naz Rishi, Hunter Scott, Noell Webber, and Rachelle Etienne-Robinson.

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