I Got A Story To Tell takes a look at emerging hip-hop artists, told through the words of guest contributor Louis Fagelson
Looking for passion-stuffed bars with fluid, groovy beats? Quavius Black should be on your playlist
Kway combines vivid imagery with gentle rhythmic hooks while fusing jazz-filled instrumentals with lyrics that cover everything from broken relationships to an at-large look at the structural problems in society. The vehemently lyrical artist out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi can hit every destination on the emotional spectrum. Kway’s chronicles conduct listeners on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, making his tracks as enjoyable as they are replayable.
Kway’s new single “Get Well Soon” discusses his experience with women and alcohol and his struggle to control the ups and downs that come with the two. The combination of the wavy instrumental and his robust flow creates a filled-out yet relaxed track to vibe with.
Although he was born in New Jersey, Kway has been a resident of Hattiesburg, Mississippi since he was 13. With a full ride to Alcorn State University for engineering, his career in music began when he was 18, although hip-hop wasn’t his original route. He started off as the lead man in various indy-rock bands touring across Mississippi.
When asked about his first gigs, he said: “Man, it was mostly indy/alternative rock. Hella mellow and very amateur.”
In early 2013, Kway began pursuing a solo career in rap. “I was about to turn 20 and was over people downplaying my skill level,” Kway explained, “so I started making it my business to assure every artist in my city that no matter how they felt about my approach they simply couldn’t out rap me. Back then, I kept like 20 16’s in the back of my head ready to fire off at any time.”
After some time at ASU, he made the decision to pursue music rather than a degree. His parents weren’t fans of the decision and kicked him out, which led to the inspiration for the Appetite Demo.
“I was working on a project called Agitated When Hungry back then with my first engineer, GK, and a composer from here in Hattiesburg, Josh Hale.” Kway pointed out, “Jazz was a heavy influence and we really piggy-backed off that old 50’s swing sound. I had it out with Shaka, the owner of the studio and went homeless shortly afterwards. I wrote and recorded the Appetite Demo in a homie’s basement after a near five-month hiatus from recording. It did well locally and landed me my first published interview in Dime Magazine.”
Kway mentioned that by the time he released the demo he was so far removed from the concept of Agitated When Hungry that he had basically abandoned the project and the demo ended up standing alone. His early style features raw, clever wordplay and provides a window peering into Kway’s relationship struggles and hunger.
Later that year he released an EP called 4 More, which was produced by Nepo. Kway explained, “Nepo was a soundcloud producer that made the beat for a tracked titled “Deja Vu” that was getting a lot of local attention through open mics and college functions, so naturally I hollered at him about helping me out for my next joint; which was 4 More. After that dropped something happened and I can’t quite remember what, but it’s like he fell off the face of the Earth.”
Kway’s next project, This is a Mixtape compiles instrumentals from some of his favorite Soundcloud producers. Showing off his versatility, Kway murks beats of all flavors. While some tracks on the mixtape such as “Gone” and “Night Shift” retain the jazzy sound that he incorporated when he released his first singles, producers like Ktoven and Coubo are featured bringing some spacey, wavy sounds.
“I literally wrote that joint in three days, recorded it in one night, and released in the next week.” Kway said, “I can’t believe I let myself do it all in one night and drop it with the least amount of revision. I guess it was just a space I was in.”
twelve16 marked a new era for Kway. Released in late 2016, the 16-track album is his most complete project to date. It has a futuristic feel; Kway’s experimentation with voice effects over rhythmically soothing beats creates a laid-back vibe that transcends rap to feelings of R&B/soul. Multiple producers are featured on the album including TC, Cord, Taron, Donato, MVTTHEW, Jupiter, Playboy Pat, and Ebone & Elaine. The project is dark at times and gives Kway a platform to talk about the demons he was facing and his introverted lifestyle. In his song “allalonw,” Kway provides some background on meeting (or failing to meet) the expectations he holds for himself:
“All alone. all alone. Ain’t no wrong and I feel better all alone.”
“It’s like no matter how long you argue with yourself, you’ll always be right, and it’s easier knowing you either accomplished or disappointed only yourself and no one else.”
When speaking about where he found direction for the album, Kway said, “My influences were all over the place. Bobby Womack, Travis Scott, Wolfe De MÇHLS, The Weeknd’s Thursday, Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo, Earl’s Doris, and a plethora of others.”
“It was a wild time to be honest; it was mostly depression fueled, however. Living with, fighting, and conquering demons, it was a pretty dark time for me, 2016, but it was easily the most exciting and inspirational. The project was made roughly over the course of eight to nine months, so my disposition fluctuated according to how things were going, but the primary driving force behind making the music was trying to have a group therapy session with me and all of my demons to either force them out of me, or make a rent agreement.”
Kway’s newest project, LL&F combines his original jazz-influenced sound with the wavy voice effects found on twelve16. The EP marks Kway’s victory over the demons from his past and has a more positive overall feel than twelve16.
“I was coming out of everything that I experienced when putting together twelve16 and I had all these emotions. LL&F stands for “love life and forgiveness”. It was really me forgiving myself for all the suffering I had experienced in the past.”
Pursuing a message of self expression and love, his sound is almost aqueous and the range of emotions that his catalog withholds is deep enough to hit any mood listeners are searching for. Kway’s high-level production and ability to set a multitude of different vibes sets him apart from his peers. The themes he raps about are as relatable as they are legitimate. You won’t find any fillers here, Kway comes at listeners with heartfelt lyrics that leaves them digging deeper into his already-deep discography.
Outside the booth, Kway is an authentic and emotional person. He clearly cares deeply for his music and is happy to give the ins-and-outs of the experience creating it. Not only is it apparent that he has a deep knowledge of rap’s history and current state, he has used this knowledge to find a niche unlike any of his peers. His newer projects incorporate singing and soothing yet not overwhelming voice effects that overstep the traditional style of simple lines over a beat. His creative personality is mirrored in his music and in a world of cookie-cutter rappers, Kway paves his own path.
His single “Get Well Soon” is the center for new music to come. His restless attitude is a recipe for more releases in the near future. Be on the lookout for Kway in 2017, this will be a big year for ‘Lil Foot.
Take an excuse listen to Kway’s newest single, “Get Well Soon”:
King Louie reps East Tennakey with Super Saiyan swag. Dope instrumentals are great but I’m looking for lyrics that will tell a story. Wordplay and delivery are key. Hit me up on twitter @lfagelson.