Many times after a rapper reaches success, their focus not only becomes music but of enterprise. The rise and fall of Hip-Hoppers in history has taught us that establishing businesses guarantees longevity in the music industry. Like Jay-Z and Kanye West, who have created brands for themselves down to the late Nipsey Hussle who has left a reminding legacy of not only self-starting, but philanthropy shows the greater purpose of success is to create opportunity. It’s rare to find that generous quality in a rapper’s humble beginnings, and that’s what I admire about Emci Kyng.
I met Kyng, (his real name) at an art function a few months ago. While the greet was brief, he quickly reached out to me a week after to attend an Open Mic he organized. Located at Trend Up, a local urban wear shop in Downtown Buffalo, the event named “Fall Down” gathered a handful of up and coming artists in an intimate setting to perform. While I enjoyed the raw, fresh-faced talent of singers, poets and dancers, I particularly took a liking to Kyng, who I quickly realized was so much more than a friendly socialite.
At the witty age of eighteen, Emci Kyng who raps, produces, hosts and organizes more events than I can count, has now created his own business. “Foruandi,” is an intellectual collective that assists in growing burgeoning artist social presence. Some of the services “Foruandi” provides includes photography, studio time and creating merchandise. While currently gaining traction in his business, Kyng will soon be putting out his first full length project Called “8, the mixtape.” I had the opportunity to sit down with him a few weeks ago to talk about life, music, business and everything in between.
I want to start with your story first, because I don’t know your story or background. Just an overview.
“So, I was born in Buffalo…I lived in Buffalo for eight years and then I ended up moving to (Washington) D.C. because my father had got some opportunities…and then I lived down there for eight years.”
That makes sense.
“It’s kind of funny because eight has been a number in my life type shit. And when you think of seven, you think of like the number of completion, and when you think of eight you think of like New Beginnings. I was born in the eight month- on August twenty-fourth.”
“…It’s funny, even the girl that I’m with now, when I first met her she..”
I thought you were gonna say she was eight.
“I wish I would’ve met her when I was eight. It would’ve saved me so much trauma…when I met her she had the number eight in white on her back…Eight is the number of my life.
“So yeah I’ve lived in D.C. and Buffalo. So I kind of got the culture of both cities a little bit. Like people from Buffalo are like “Bro, you’re not from Buffalo,” and D.C is like “Yo, you not from D.C.”
You don’t have a Buffalo vibe either.
“…I’m just from earth…People ask me, I’m from earth. The soil.”
“Ever since I was younger, even in my mother’s stomach like I would just… be dancin’ and bumpin’ around in her stomach and stuff…Music has always been a really big influence on me…Ever since I was a baby I’ve had that in me.
“When I was three, I started playing the Djembe, which is like an African percussion instrument. And around four, I started singing in the car… I started performing in my church. Singing songs in my church, but not with the choir, like solo. And I would sing. I would sing these songs and like grown men would be crying type stuff. Women would be “sing that song again type stuff,” and from like nine years old I started to get into rapping… my dad bought me a rap album. It was a Christian rap album.”
By who? I grew up heavy in Christian Rap.
“It was Lecrae.”
Okay, we gon’ have to talk about that later… That’s really all I grew up on.
“But yea, around like nine, I heard my first album my Dad got for me as a gift…I was always singing but like started writing my own songs…Taking Psalms from the Bible and putting melodies to it. I would sing the songs in church and like they would go crazy. It was like a hit… People were going home and coming back telling me they were singin’ it and this and that.”
“It was something about the spirit that got inside of me that made me like that..I wanna say around like thirteen I got an MP3 player for the first time so now I had YouTube so I could listen to everybody’s different stuff. But I would take like CDs and stuff from my uncle’s car and from my Dad’s CD stack because he used to be in Hip-Hop and he had a studio, like his own building that he was doing different stuff, mentoring artists and then he wrote for… a magazine. He was doing a lot of stuff.”
Is he in Buffalo now?
“Yea. He’s in buffalo now but he moves back and forth…I would just listen to music all the time and then around thirteen I started writing and that’s when I would say I started writing seriously. Around nine I made melodies and wrote stuff but around thirteen like it was jive I was writing everyday.”
“I’m at school, I’m writing. I’m at church , ‘sposed to be listening to the service, I’m writing. I’m supposed to be goin’ to sleep, I’m writing; listening to music..Music was so much of a big part. I ate, slept and breathed that ish… So I started writing a lot of songs and started recording a little bit. Then recording them on garage band on the computer and stuff and that’s where I got some of my earlier songs which those joints. If you go way, deep, deep in my SoundCloud, Like you’ll see some of the songs I put out years ago like type stuff.”
Everyone has to start somewhere.
“Right, Like the thing is though it was good, it wasn’t bad but I had made the beats myself. Like I had produced the beats because of the skills I got from playing drums and singing. I heard melodies automatically and I was also in drum circles…Like Djembe drum circles and African circles where they danced. All that good type of stuff…My parents really put me in that…Around like fifteen I started seeking to get performances that weren’t at church.
And how old are you right now?
“So I would get performances that weren’t at church…I started to going to a couple of different open mics. This is when I moved back to Buffalo. Then I did have a couple of performances while I was in D.C. but it wasn’t many I was just getting into it…I loved it. Performing on stage and moving the crowd and taking them through the highs and lows and whole experience… I loved that.
“Dance has always been in me and I’ve always wanted to dance. When I was nine or so I started trying to B-boy and break dance. But I really didn’t get much into it like the air flares and stuff…I like to dance and be expressive but I’m a little skeptical about stuff. You mean to tell me If I break my neck doing this move that I’m never gonna be able to walk again? I don’t think I wanna learn how to do a back flip.”
“So a year ago, I started dancing and I was around a lot of dancers at BCAT (Buffalo Center of Arts and Technology). Shouts out to them…It was a lot of dancers in there and to me when I look at things I’m very observant and I can see how something is moving. And these dancers jive sucked.”
I know exactly what you mean, I’ve seen it before.
“I practiced dancing and I danced – this was during the summer, this was last summer actually- I practiced dancing in my room in front of a mirror, practicing my forms all that, facial expressions and I just practiced three hours, four hours a day. As much as I could.”
When I first met you at Solis, I thought you were a dancer. You looked like a dancer to me.
“I am a dancer.”
Yea, you are a dancer but you’re way more than that. You’re a multi-faceted person.
“I am you and I.”
Yea. We have to talk about that too, but right now on your topic.
“Also, a year and a half ago-ish I started getting into poetry. I had always written poetry but not as consistently as I do now. I ran into a mentor, Solomon Dixon…he took my poetry to a different level just because of how he thinks…Like how I’ve studied dancing, and how I’ve studied singing and making melodies and how I used to write like everyday. Like three songs a day type stuff, he did that with poetry. All of it for me… all of them are really just an outlet to express myself. Some things that I don’t even use sometimes. Like I can play the guitar, I used to play it really often like how I do poetry really often now. I just have so many channels… I’m like thankful for music because…
It’s such a great way to communicate.
“It’s really grounded me throughout my years…I don’t really like much stuff.
One thing I wanted to ask too for you growing up is do you feel like you were an introverted kid?
“Nah, I’m extroverted as hell.”
Yea, I can tell.
“But it’s weird because I’m not really extroverted. I’m really introverted as fuck.”
“I love people, but I also love myself. People are weird to me. Humans are humans. Everybody has something about them that’s kind of weird.”
Once you get to know them, everybody has something weird about them. You’re right about that.
“People get on my nerves, but I love people at the same time.”
Where did “Foruandi” come in? Where did that start?
“Essentially, there’s a lot of artists but there’s not a lot of businesses…like for lower- level artists, like for people that’s up and coming, there’s not a lot of young kids saying “Ooo I wanna be a manager, or I wanna own my own record label.” It’s a lot of kids saying “Ooo I wanna be a…”
“Yes, so you there’s that and there’s the fact that like I have a mind that is like really aimed creatively because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve written a book…”
You’ve written a book? You’ beat me man.
“Yea, I’ve written a book, I’ve started multiple businesses when I lived in D.C. You know like landscaping companies…We had a monopoly in like the whole neighborhood type stuff…it’s a lot of people saying they want to be a Hip- Hop artist but for me it’s the combination of entrepreneurship and creativity.”
You’ve got the right idea.
“Yea. Because I like seeing visions come to play like in the real world.”
Right, I think another issue is too that you have a lot of rappers,artist and singers- whoever…They don’t utilize the resources right in their backyard. If you’re not good at editing, hire somebody to edit. If you’re not good at promoting get somebody to promote. If you want to succeed at this art get people that’s the best at what they’re doing and all work together as a team. People don’t have that mindset, specifically in Buffalo. It’s great that you are considering these things.
What is it (Foruandi)? It is a business, organization? What is it?
“Essentially, it’s an intellectual collective in a sense that my mind and other minds…come up with things that will further artists. And so we do things like logos, videos, music…Instagram management, like anything an artist thinks that they need in order to further their music career, someone who is serious about that.”
So you’re kind of like a full package deal for an artist. You provide them with exposure, strategize their social media…?
“As far as social media-yea. As far as like marketing and advertising?- No. not yet.But really what it is is giving you something to market and advertise.”
Where did the idea come from?When did this start?
“Probably within the past like three months or so…And it’s going great to be honest.
I did take a look at your SoundCloud… “Break it down” is a great song.
You don’t have “One Time” on there. Why not? It’s a great song. (“One time” is a highly requested song at Emci Kyng’s events he performs)
“Because, I’m working on a project.”
Okay, so “One Time” could possibly be apart of the project? Possibly?
“It’s gon’ be on there… that joint, yea I don’t wanna say too much but those songs-like people love those songs… they always hit me up like “Yo, where can I find that.” And I’m like sorry you gotta go by what’s already on there G.”
…You can tell you have a great musicality. And considering your background now I can understand it. You grew up singing and rapping…Every time I hear your music I always enjoy it. If you keep doing it, I can definitely see your following growing…I think another thing that makes me happy to see what you’re doing is that your community based…A lot of times people like you that have talent kind of do their own thing and forget about everybody else. But you’re very community based and bringing everybody up with you and giving them time to share their talents. I always enjoy when you have your events a Trend Up- I think that’s an amazing collaboration. How did you get that started?
“Essentially, I was like “Yo,” he (Gio, owner of Trend Up) was like “Yo” and then we were like “Event, Event.” And then I named it that. And then like it started becoming something…that event is kind of like to get the correct vibe going. But also to like focus on the artist.”
I was really shocked to find out you were eighteen because your level of maturity and awareness is very rare for guys eighteen.
“It’s a blessing and a curse.”
As far as the music, what’s your plans for the upcoming year?
“I want to keep doing these events, but more music videos…putting up more quality stuff. Kind of just showing people who I am and what I stand for. Showing them that I really am “For u and i,” as my message.”
No hints or anything about the project your putting out?
“The number eight.”
…Probably eight tracks on it.
Do you have a time frame of when you’ll put it out?”
“The number eight.”
Be sure to check out Emci Kyng’s business and connect with him at http://www.foruandi.com/.