Interview with Artist, Producer “K.Le DaVincci,” Grandson of “Beale Streeters” Legend Earl Forest
MemphisRap.com conducts an interview with music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter, media personality and upcoming host of the 2014 Southern Entertainment Awards, K.Le DaVincci. Just months into launching a new website and months away from the start of a new solo music career, K.Le DaVincci, real name Christopher Forest, the grandson of music legend Earl Forest, the founding member of Memphis' infamous music group "Beale Streeters," an informal group of friends including music stars B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Johnny Ace, Junior Parker, and Rosco Gordon, spoke with MemphisRap.com in an exlusive interview.
K.Le DaVincci reveals to MemphisRap.com that he "is an aggressively enterprising person with the established set of attitudes" that may sometimes "come off as conceited or arrogant" that show in his claim to be the "next to blow."
Well one thing's for sure, the artist/producer, who is surely making some moves, has a rich musical background from being the grandson of music legend Earl Forest; to coming up around family including a father and brother who were also musicians; to gaining experience as a former affiliate of Memphis rap group X-Camp, who toured and traveled nationally meeting the likes of Russell Simmons and more.
When asked about what he plans to bring to the Music Industry table with his upcoming projects, DaVincci says he's bringing "originality, ingenuity, and creativity," which is just a few of the tools the versatile artist says he plans to use "to heighten the sound of Mid-South Hip-Hop" while "being the best artist [he] can be."
The producer, songwriter and rapper claims "there's a level of intelligence that is missing [from the Industry]," and he plans to incorporate that missing element into his upcoming music projects - with himself and others he works with - such as with his possible work with a "Queen of the Ring" freestyle battler Kiaunna "MsMurk" Johnson, who DaVinnci says he may have collabo work with in the near future.
Along with the music business and entertainment business including his upcoming hosting gig for the 2014 Southern Entertainment Awards, his upcoming solo music projects and other collaborative produced projects, DaVincci also goes in-depth about his relationship with his grandfather, musical legend Earl Forest, and more during his exclusive interview with MemphisRap.com.
Check out the full interview with K.Le DaVincci at MemphisRap.com:
MemphisRap.com: What's up K. Le. Who is K. Le DaVincci?
K. Le DaVincci: K.le DaVincci is an aggressively enterprising person with the established set of attitudes who often comes off as conceited or arrogant, with the qualities of being particularly worthy of everything he sets out to do. Long story short, I'm next to blow and people need to just get comfortable with that fact, and my real name is Christopher Forest.
MemphisRap.com: Where did the name K.Le DaVincci come from?
K. Le DaVincci: K.le is short for "Kazpale", pronounced "Kaz-pah-lay", which means Gifted with many hidden talents [A Name and meaning I made myself in an 7th Grade History/Geography Class with Ms. Fiveash at Bishop Byrne Middle and High School.]
People couldn't pronounce it, and when they would read it, they'd butcher my name up, so I shortened it to "K.Le" (Kay-Lee) so people could say it easier.
MemphisRap.com: You use to work with the former Memphis rap group X-Camp, right?
K. Le DaVincci: Yes, I've done songs with the group before, however I wasn't signed to the group, but we shared the same management at that time.
MemphisRap.com: We recall seeing pictures of X-Camp with Russell Simmons and other Industry people. At that time the group had a lot of X-Factor going on, right? What happened?
K. Le DaVincci: The group split up. No different than Bone Thugs and Harmony, Three Six Mafia, or the Hot Boyz. People have differences and when the differences overwhelm the main objective, it creates a friction. What that friction was or is, is not my story to tell.
MemphisRap.com: Are you still in touch with any of the former members?
K. Le DaVincci: Yes. I don't speak to the group collectively as much though. We have all grown as individuals since that time and have chosen to travel in separate directions, literally. Back then Johnathan "J-Mack" McDonald was my manager, today he is my consultant and also agent for other side projects. However, Latrice Cole of "I Am Who i Am Ent." is my acting manager at this time.
MemphisRap.com: Speaking on the music business, you have a rich music background being the grandson of Beale Streeters music legend and producer, Earl Forest. What was it like growing up around a musical great who had such an influence on the Memphis music industry?
K. Le DaVincci: Growing up, I never fully understood how great of a musician he was. When I would go to his home and see a few gold record plaques and studio equipment everywhere, at the age of 6 or 7 years old, it just looked cool, and became the normality for me. I had no idea he was "IDOLIZED" by many people in the blues community here in America, and way more over seas. He had his own record label, and had written, recorded, and worked with some of the greatest names in Blues, and even Rock and Roll. All I knew was he was my grandfather, and that I loved him.
MemphisRap.com: Did that have a lot influence on you becoming a producer, rapper and singer?
K. Le DaVincci: It definitely did, however my father was the initial musical influence of my life, but my grandfather also contributed from a musician standpoint because it's naturally in the Forest DNA. I have yet to meet any offspring from my grandfather that is not musically or could be entertainment related to this day, but just to stay on topic, my father placed keyboards and studio equipment in front of me all the time. So by the age of 11 and 12, I was already producing. It wasn't until I was introduced to my older brother, during my pre-teen years , that I became HEAVILY influenced to rap and married hip-hop as a whole. I knew then in the 6th grade, I was going to be a rapper. By the time I made it to the 7th grade, I made it up in my mind that THIS was going to be the life I chose, and here we are today.
MemphisRap.com: Back then Memphis had a rich music scene with many musicians collaborating with each other such as the case with your grandfather's group the "Beale Streeters" (B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Rosco Gordon, Johnny Ace, etc.). How do you feel about the Rap/R&B scene in Memphis now?
K. Le DaVincci: I have mixed emotions about our music scene, but overall I love it because it's Memphis. We have great artists, great producers, great engineers, we have great everything but, as a community, we are simply divided. Since there is so much talent here, everybody is fighting for that top spot or what many of our artist consider "The Top Spot." To give the readers at home an idea of what I think of Memphis, here's an example: Picture a neighborhood with 100 homes and on every door you knocked there was a rapper, a producer, or a singer that lived there that had TALENT. Now think of a city like that and you have Memphis. So who can you sell your music to, when everybody does the same thing as you and that's how the division begins because Artist "A" (your name here) feels he/she is a better artist than Artist "B" (your best friend's name here) and all the judges also are RAPPERS, SINGERS, AND ETC as well. It's really time for our city to come together long story short. We have what some may consider a "Memphis Movement," but a movement that moves no where is a standstill. That's my opinion. The funny thing about it though is it's like that everywhere in every ghetto, project, hood, city, state, country and continent. When I'm on international conference calls with my lads in the U.K., I hear the same thing. Hip-Hop is the same every where. Same rules apply.
MemphisRap.com: Did you get a chance to meet with any of the members of the "Beale Streeters" before your grandfather passed?
K. Le DaVincci: Sadly, No. I met them all at his funeral. To have B.B. King, and the presence of Ruby Wilson at a funeral as well as other down home blues celebrities at his funeral was overwhelming to me, because as a ghost writer you're paid to stay in the background, but everything that's in the dark always comes to light. Record labels are shady, based on a true Earl L. Forest story, but that's a topic I choose not to discuss, yet I feel as an indie artist I have that liberty to say.
MemphisRap.com: We remember you telling us during a conversation how your grandfather was supportive of your music career and actually gave you your first keyboard or should we say synthesizer. How old were you at the time and can you elaborate on that a little?
K. Le DaVincci: My grandfather had a small case of Alzheimer's disease and stayed in a retirement/nursing home. His long term memory seemed fine, he rarely forgot major things in his life, only things that may have happened recently but not all the time, so I couldn't spend the night or visit often because he needed rest. The summer of '92 I recall going over to his home, and asking a lot of questions, mostly about my family tree, which always led back to music because even his father, and grandfathers played instruments or sung. I seen one of MANY of his keyboards laying around, and I chose to play on it. My father heard me playing, and I asked him could I take it home, they (My Father - Earl L. Forest Jr. and Grandfather Earl L. Forest Sr.) both agreed I could have it. It was a Casio. He didn't just give it to me because I was playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" at the age of 7 or 8, but because I was playing natural chords with my right hand and had never played a keyboard of its caliber before, and basically knew the mechanics of it within minutes of using it. With the keyboard, he gave me great advice, "NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT." Over the years, if you could have seen some of the bulls*** (contract wise) people have pushed in front of me, I'm glad I took his advice.
MemphisRap.com: Now back to you as a music artist. What is K. Le Davincci bringing to game that is worth paying attention to?
K. Le DaVincci: Originality, ingenuity, and creativity. I really don't have any interests in engineering "fad" music, because it always fades away. In fact, the spelling of fad proves my point, an "E" is already missing; so, when I'm in the studio, I'm not thinking of just a catchy hook, or something that just sounds good... I'm thinking of a way to heighten the sound of Mid-South Hip-Hop, as well as being the best artist I can be. There's a level of intelligence that is missing, and that is something that I plan to incorporate in my E.P. next year (TBA). I'm not just thinking of a great tune to perform, I'm thinking of ways to ENTERTAIN.
MemphisRap.com: What do you feel sets you apart from other artists?
K. Le DaVincci: Simply being myself. Even identical twins differ in mannerisms. So when I produce a track, write the lyrics, record it, mix it, and master it all by myself, don't call me COCKY for having the self taught skill set to do it all, because I AM the definition of an "Independent Artist." That's what sets me apart. It's LITERALLY all me. I wear many hats, do many things, and when I'm in MY BOOTH at WAV SQUAD STUDIOS it's only me there. These are the facts that separate me from other artists by default. Are there others like me, with the same super natural abilities? Of course, but look how we've narrowed down that category of "Other Artists" down. Take Alicia Keys for example, when she initially started shopping for deals, she was only labeled as a "Singer," the labels didn't even take notice to the fact that she was recording her own songs and writing them herself, and I find it important that not only fans know, but "Other Artists" know as well because I'm not your basic recording artist. Go figure.
MemphisRap.com: You recently revealed you had a studio mishap and were rebuilding your music catalog. What are you working on now that you can reveal?
K. Le DaVincci: July 23, 2013 I released my indie single "You a Barbie" via i-Tunes. Earlier this year, I opened my website www.KLEDAVINCCI.com; I will be releasing a few official videos as well, and later this year I'll start recording on a new E.P. for 2014. To be honest, I haven't written a single song this year. I've been experiencing life, and the situations that I've encountered this year is what I'll showcase on my new E.P. I'm scheduled to start recording Saturday, December 21, 2013.
I'm also negotiating a contract with Kiaunna "MsMurk" Johnson, a "Queen of the Ring" freestyle battler. Nothing is set in stone with her as of yet so she's still a free agent but If I tell you any more about what's soon to come you won't have any reason to interview me again in the near future and you know I love MemphisRap.Com. To me, you all are the XXL Magazine of Memphis.
MemphisRap.com: Last week, you told us you may have some exclusive news soon, so what's the word on that?
K. Le DaVincci: Speaking of the near future again, (Laughing sarcastically) It's Official. I will be Co-Hosting the 2014 Southern Entertainment Awards (SEA's). The main host of the show is radio personality and Dj "Solo" from Streetz 94.5 FM station in Atlanta. With a few other surprises coming as well from other alike Models, Dj's, Musicians, you name it the whole nine yards. Think Red Carpet Extravaganza. It's only September now, but the energy is turned up to the MAX around this show. Nothing but greatness will come from the 11th Annual Southern Entertainment Awards (SEA's) . I'm just proud and honored to kick off another decade of dominance with such a prestigious award show in the south, dedicated to the south, and strictly for the south. I'm inviting EVERYONE to come out, and the other coasts should come to.
MemphisRap.com: Being an artist and a music producer, what tips can you give other rising artists?
K. Le DaVincci: Truthfully, the best tip I can give is "EXPECT NO TIPS!" This industry has 3 rules,
#1) DO NOT EXPECT ANYONE TO GIVE YOU ANYTHING. No tips, no help, no nothing, therefore you must be SELF MOTIVATED. So Grind Hard, and build a real following. F*** your Twitter, F*** your instagram, F*** your Facebook. Get your name in these streets.
#2) This industry is TRIAL and ERROR and nobody makes it the 1st time. There's a name for the people that DO make it LUCKILY the 1st time, and that name is "One Hit Wonder," because they we're just lucky the first time, they never really figured out how to come back and remain a relevant artist.
#3) Study GREAT artists that came before your time in FULL DETAIL. Learn from their paths of success, struggles, and sagas. That's what makes hip-hop grow as a culture. Hip-Hop is no older than about 35 years old (30+ Years ago)... Surely you can find a modern artist that you can relate to, that will help you on your path towards your musical career.
"The Game is to be sold, not to be told." -Snoop Dogg
MemphisRap.com: What's next for K. Le Davincci?
K. Le DaVincci: What's next for me is booking shows, and opening for mainstream acts, while simultaneously working on my new album, and building a better brand for 2014. Polishing my craft, my look, my sound and becoming the exception to the rule of hip-hop, by publishing quality for my fans to download. That's what's next for me. Doing it the DaVincci way.
MemphisRap.com: Any last words?
K. Le DaVincci: I want to thank MemphisRap.Com for shining the spot light on me out of hundreds of other artists. I want my fans to know this is #WavSquad and we're coming correct for 2014, so get ready. And be sure to log in on www.KleDaVincci.com and join the mailing list to stay up to par for the major events coming soon... and K. Michelle, I love you too I'm proud of you #100% baby.
MemphisRap.com: Thank you for doing this interview with us, we look forward to doing another one with you soon.
K. Le DaVincci: Thank you for having me.