Out Hip-Hop Artist Part II: KIN4LIFE, The First Ladies of Hip-Hop

Re-posted From October 1, 2011

When you turn on the radio or tune in to any popular music channel you will notice the airwaves are flooded with mainstream artists taking up the gay cause. And while these efforts are appreciated there are many out artists who we must acknowledge by showing our love as they continue to make good music and pave the way for new artists to come out.

Female rappers NOR and IQ known as KIN4LIFE have been delivering their brand of music and entertainment to the community for 12 years. Their musical style can be described as blend of R&B and hip-hop and many other genres which can be heard in their hits “Make-up Girl” and “Lone Ranger,” which they wrote as a rallying call for gay youth in response to bullying. The Mount Vernon born-Atlanta based duo has appeared everywhere from the PBS-TV magazine “In the Life,” and in Tiona McClodden’s documentary, “black/womyn.: conversations with lesbians of African descent” to the covers of publications such as The Chicago Free Press, and IKONS Magazine. PRIDEINDEX talked to them earlier this past summer just as they were preparing for their second appearance at Inferno DR, the annual Labor Day event in the Dominican Republic. We talked about their music, upcoming projects on their label NORIQ Records.

PRIDEINDEX (PI): How did you come together and collaborate as KIN?

NOR: Years ago in the nineties I was in a group with another female and IQ managed us. She got our music played on college radio stations and got us booked for shows and auditions; she was great at handling our business. But I was a great fan of IQ’s music and I sort of forced her to get in the group. I said “why don’t you get in the group, it will be all three us don’t worry about it.”  I really wanted to be in a group with her. And that other girl sort of fell by the way side because she did not have the same work ethic. So IQ and I were the last two standing so we never looked back.

PI: How did you get the name KIN4LIFE?

NOR: We had an album back in 2002 called KIN4LIFE but we were originally called KIN. The album was everywhere; it took on a life of its own and people started calling us KIN4LIFE so we were actually re-named by our fans. Thank you fans!

IQ: NOR and I knew each other since elementary school and so the name KIN which means family fit. We are family for life because we were friends before the music.

PI: Tell us about the projects are you currently working on and what’s next, do you have an album coming out, are you in the studio recording?

IQ: We have a lot stuff going on, we have a mix tape series Welcome to Planet Noriq Volume 1: and Volume 2 is coming up in the next month. our next CD is tentatively titled “Money Brings Trouble.” You know how titles change but we’re almost finished and looking to bring that out in the last quarter. We have tons of other projects; we’ve just signed an R&B artist from St. Louis, Jali Reynolds, to our label NORIQ Records. Her first single is called Destination LOVE available on iTunes.

PI: How would you describe your musical style? And what themes do you cover in your music?

NOR: We have established a multi genre, we’re hip-hop based but we have extended that with many different sounds between drum & base, electro, pop, rock and R&B we can’t just be put in a box we just like to make good music. Some of our influences range from the Notorious B.I.G; to Jill Scott so it varies we are very versatile.

PI: You mentioned Jill Scott so does that mean that either one of you is into spoken word or has tried it out before?

IQ: YES.  I did poetry in my high school and college years. So yes we’re also vocalist and R&B songwriters, the singing and songwriter is part of our every day.

NOR: We have our hands in some of everything, Music is poetry put to instrumentals and music

PI: Who are some of the mainstream artists that you would like to work with if you had the chance to?

NOR: I’d like to work with HOV.  I love Jay-Z, and Kanye West.  I would especially like to work with Missy and Queen Latifah, the powerful women in the industry. I look up to so many artist for different reason so I’m pretty open to working with whoever’s out there doing the right thing and making good records.

IQ: I agree with NOR, Jay-Z, and Missy are my idols. I would love to work with Missy. And there are a lot of young artist that coming out that now that I think are exciting and I think would be cool to work in the studio with. And I would love to work with some of the classic female hip hop artists we haven’t heard from in a while like Bahamadia.

PI: Are there any out hip-hop artist that you would not mind working with or that you admire?

IQ: We have worked with Nicky Click; we had a lot of fun with her in the studio. I really respect an out male artist Rasta, the record we made with him has not dropped but I really respect what he’s doing. We have rocked with some of the young generation that has reached out to us because they are looking for some direction. And I would love to give a shot out to Lady Twist on VHI, we did a record with her and she’s dope. We have been really blessed to work with people we respect thus far.

PI: At what point did you know that you wanted to do this versus doing anything else?

NOR: Twenty years ago,  the first time when I wrote my first rhyme I knew that I was good and I was meant for it and there was nothing else in this world that I wanted to do. I actually wrote it down I typed out a little bio when I was a kid. I knew when I grew up I either want to be a veterinarian, because I loved animals or a rapper. 

IQ: I wrote my first R&B song about love as a child; my grandmother asked me “what do you know about love, what do you know about that?” So I hid away in my room and kept all of my songs private. I wrote R&B, rap and poetry all through high school years but it was not until I went to college when one of my classmates told me to go and do this open mic. So I did it and everyone on campus was talking about me and how good it was for a month I became known as that girl that did the open mic and I remember I was obsessed with the wonderful feeling of performing in front of an audience on the stage. And I was addicted.

PI: Folks are telling our gay youth that ‘things are going to get better in” response to homophobia, coming out and bullying, what advice do you offer to gay youth in response bullying and homophobia?
We created a song called Lone Ranger, which spoke out from our prospective, the LGBT prospective against bullying. What I feel is that I want our kids and our youth, and our adults, and our parents, and our aunts and our uncles to do something more than it gets better. It gets better means that you’re just sitting around waiting for something to get better. Lone Ranger — we put out to let them know that our kids don’t have time to waiting for things to get better. It’s up to you to make it better. SO I don’t subscribe to it gets better, how long does it take for things to get better? You have to stand up and fight and speak out and make things better. Sometimes if you just talk, if you tell a teacher, tell your parents and take the silence away and so that we don’t have to walk around being like a lone ranger just feeling isolated enough like we might take our own lives. But I want us to more than just say it will get better,  I want us to get active.

PI: When people want to get in touch with you to perform what is the best way to get in touch with you?

NOR: They can email Artist First Inc., Melody Forrester at mforrester@artist1st.com she handles the business for us. You can also go to KIN4LIFE.com or go to our record label email at Noriqrecords@gmail.com it will get to the right person.

PI: The last time you came to Chicago a fiasco occured where you were supposed to perform but did not due some fucked up actions on the part of a certain “UNNAMED PERSON.” Will you ever come back to Chicago?

NOR: You have to let Chi-town know that KIN4LIFE misses them and do not want that to be the last experience we have of Chicago we want to come back. Chicago is a beautiful city and we have plenty of footage of the city from our trip.

IQ: We thought we were doing a positive fundraiser event with “THAT UNNAMED PERSON;” we’re not going to let anybody take us down just to raise money. So what did we do when we got home we called the Better Business Bureau on his ass.  He confused us with some hip hoppers that did not have an education.

PI: What advice would you offer to aspiring artists?

NOR: Be aware of false promises people will tell you. It will seem like something is going to happen then it does not happen, but don’t give up. In spite of any opposition that may happen always do your own thing and do not depend on anybody else and stay in your zone, do not focus on what other people are doing. If you cannot find a producer, learn how to make your own beats. If you cannot find a studio then build your own, just do it yourself.

IQ: And taking it one step further you cannot get anything unless you work for it. No one owes you anything and you‘re not more talented than anybody else. Most of this comes as a result of hard work in terms of studying your market, studying what you want to do. Read a book and understand what you’re doing with your money and have some understanding of what you want just like anything this is a career that you study, learn and research putting your best foot forward and don’t have so many expectations of the outside. Do for yourself and good things will come to you.

NOR: Continue do it because you love it and not because of the fame not because you’re going to be popular. Do it for the passion and love for the game.

PI: Anything else you would like to say?

NOR: We consider ourselves the Malcolm and Martin of the LGBT community we are going to make some major, major noise over here with our music and our movement for the community so whether people like it or not it’s going to come raw but it’s going to come real.

IQ: Artist and labels, check out The KIN Factory Recording Studio for your next project, where we’ve recorded most everything we’ve done over the past 12 years.

NOR: Check us out every Wednesday 10:00 pm central time at Ustream KIN4Life TV:    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kin4life-tv-tester

Follow @KIN4LIFE on Twitter

Like KIN4Life on Facebook

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/tiffjones820

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/kin4life