Straight out of the Mississippi Delta, comes KING KUJO, a rapper who earned the name "King" in the military, and much like the 200 pound St. Bernard dog (named Cujo), the rapper is looking to be an "unstoppable force," but in the hip hop game.
MemphisRap.com recently caught up with rapper and performer King Kujo, who spoke with us about his new music projects, past showcase wins in V107.9's Beat Tha Streetz Competition and the ThisIs50 Showcase, his hopes to one day soon put his hometown of Clarksdale, in the 'Mighty' Mississippi Delta, on the map nationally and more.
The rapper, who was raised in the city's Sasse Apartment projects, is a big and aggressive rapper and it shows in his music and his award-winning performances.
Starting his music career after serving his second tour, as reported on The ClarionLedger, in Iraq in the military, where he met a group of other soldiers and started an indie label, Grand 1 Entertainment, King Kujo has released 2 new songs including his first single entitled "Imma Dogg" and second one entitled "Feelin Myself".
Making his way out of Mississippi and into Memphis, the rapper was set to perform at the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Memphis at a promoted event entitled "The Live Music Showcase" but says he faced some problems with the showcase, which the rapper speaks about but claims he isn't letting it stop him from making his name and presence known in the Industry.
Check out Memphisrap.com's full interview with KING KUJO below:
MemphisRap.com: For people who don't know Kujo, tell them "Who is King Kujo?"
King Kujo: King Kujo is a leader of many things. King has his own way of doin things. Many wonder how I pull off the successful stunts that I pull. King is a man who does not fear taking a chance in order to make something happen. I am a very loyal, trustworthy, down-to-earth, well respected individual, who everybody loves. Now Kujo, on the other hand, as you may figure, is like the dogg. People have been calling me crazy all my life because I guess you can say I've always been a 'live' person and, like I said it, you never know what I'm about to do and how I'm about to do it whether it's verbal or physical. I also have that angry side to which I try not to expose but when I do get pissed it's nothing you want to deal with. I can't say in particular because it depends on the person and the situation. But believe me, 'we gonna fix it' immediately; but my way is not by the gun. I feel like that is a tool for necessary reasons. I've learned early life too short and violence ain't the answer to everything. I don't usually have issues but usually verbal corrections work just fine.
MemphisRap.com: Are you originally from Mississippi?
King Kujo: Yes. Born and raised!
MemphisRap.com: You say you came up in the Sasse Projects in Clarksdale, what was it like coming up there?
King Kujo: I can't complain. The projects was pretty tight as a whole. I was a 'youngin' so I can't really say too much but at the ages I was there, I use to play a lot of ball at Sasse Park. It was almost an everyday thang. We also use to play football on the grass til the property manager pulled up and made us 'scat' because they were trippin bout the grass. We use to gang up on bikes and go from hood to hood doing crazy stuff like getting chased by random dogs or anything. Just something exciting to do to get the adrenaline going.
MemphisRap.com: You have a military background, what led you to that?
King Kujo: Honestly going to the military was kind of a 'just because' thing. I had no real reason in particular for joining. Immediately after high school I just knew I wasn't going to go to college and a 9-to-5 just ain't never been my thang. So I figured it wouldn't hurt to try something new. So I left without telling almost everyone anything. For one, I knew no one would believe it. Just because it was me. I didn't know what to expect or how I would end up I just rolled with it. I really couldn't hardly believe it myself. I can't explain the feeling, I guess you can say I was still in shock myself.
MemphisRap.com: In your bio, you mentioned you got your name from the days in the military from peers saying "here comes King," why did they come to start calling you that?
King Kujo: It started from people joking saying I get away with murder and I get to do what I want to do whenever I want to. I'm extremely unique in so many ways, but the name just stuck the more they got to know me. I guess you can say when you walk, talk, look and act like royalty, it is what it is.
MemphisRap.com: What led you to get into music and was it before or after the military?
King Kujo: After I entered the military, I met Jermaine McRunells, native of Vickburg, MS and Thomas Hadnot, native of Welder, TX, both military veterans as well. We all became like family so early. Nothing could come between us. We were all in Iraq at the time tjat I was joking saying 'lemme get on a track.' I just went to rhyming on paper. They both stayed on me and told me to keep writing but I wouldn't because my mind hadn't quite clicked yet. Honestly, I if heard that stuff right now I'd laugh. I initially just wanted to be Blade Fontana's hype man because the chemistry was like LeBron and Wade together. He would do his thang and I would just do whateva and hit a scream or sum but that was just me being me. Tray was around but he hadn't started his project at the time, but after we got home and they saw me 'getting hyped' in the club they asked me could I put it on the track like that. I did a feature on one of Blade's tracks and they said "boi you found yo style that's what we want every time." But that still was not enough to get me serious so I continued to work on writing periodically as we toured again, when we got back to the states after the second tour. We finally did our first show, and from that moment on, I knew this was what I was born to do!
MemphisRap.com: We know by the time you got in contact with us, you were ready to get serious about your music career. Was there anything that happened life-wise or career-wise that caused you to start thinking differently and doing differently?
King Kujo: After separating from the military, I knew what I wanted to do so I decided to move away to strange land where I was not known by a soul. I used that time and sat back to get my brand together as well as get knowledge and work on my craft because I feel it's no way in hell I can't make it, so I've been serious the whole time. Now I'm just waiting on that golden opportunity to be seen by the right individual, but I also had two kids (my little Certified Pupps) recently so that only makes me more determined which I don't think I could have had any more of that already.
MemphisRap.com: You have utilized competitions and showcases in the past we see, which landed you first place in the V107.9 Beat Tha Streetz Competition and third place in the ThisIs50 Showcase. Were these some of the first showcases you performed in?
King Kujo: Yes, they were. I've done a few more after that but I don't like some of them because they are not all what they say they are. So, I select which ones I want to deal with if I am available at the time.
MemphisRap.com: Have you always been good at performing? Like, was it a natural thing, or did you gradually become a better performer with experience, because you have to be a good performer to take home prizes from showcases like those?
King Kujo: I must say it is all natural. I've always been like the center of attention; not scared to speak and I don't have a nervous bone in my body. I've actually been in front of people doing different things since I was a kid but never did I think that was just a warm up for what the people are about to see, now that I got this dream.
MemphisRap.com: What was it like to win your first showcase?
King Kujo: It was such a great feeling because I drove from SC to FL with one song I had just recorded; my first ever solo track. It was like 40 competitors. I won 3rd place in that showcase (Thisis50), but, the next day, the host (Mental Sepreme) called my phone and made sure it was me and he stated I had everything it took to make it, from the name to the look, to my own unique style and energy. At that time though I wasn't ready because I only had one song and I knew I needed more before I was able to start what I wanted so, I can say, to me - it was just a test.
MemphisRap.com: You say you faced some problems with the latest showcase called Live Music Showcase, which you were scheduled to perform at Hard Rock Cafe. What type of problems did you face or are facing with that?
King Kujo: Well, the show was canceled too many times. It really disappointed me in the worst way because I had put myself and my name out there to fans as well as strangers. This show was something I've been sitting back patiently waiting for. I felt it was an opportunity of a life time. With me being a new artist to the area, it really made me look bad when it came to promoting myself and getting people to be apart of the show. My performance was set up with a lot of time and energy wasted. It was one to remember, 'I Stamp and Approve' that. Currently, I am still working on that situation at hand. So just a warning to other artist - be careful with the Live Music Showcases - something ain't right about it. That also puts me in more of a protection mode and makes me not want to deal with people and there events but I have to find ways to expose myself; just gotta be more careful. Ain't a bump in the road King can't get over.
MemphisRap.com: There are some scam reports online dating back to 2011 and up to 2014, but none from Memphis we see, how do you feel about it?
King Kujo: Had I known I would have had to pass on that one. I don't have time to waste. I did research on the venue as well as the event and everything looked good but, like they say, ]everything that look good ain't good for ya'; I'll just continue to try to get to the bottom of it. If it is a scam, I encourage them to quit while they are ahead. Wrong is wrong.
MemphisRap.com: What would you tell artists thinking about entering a showcase, from what you've learned from your experience?
King Kujo: I would encourage most definitely them to 'just be careful who you deal with,' because people are 'out here on some other stuff.' With this game, you have a lot of wannabe's who are robbing people to get rich quick.
MemphisRap.com: Well hopefully, good news comes your way regarding the showcase.
MemphisRap.com: Let's talk about your new music project, "Da Name Speaks for Itzelf." You've released two songs so far, your first single "Imma Dogg" and your second single "Feelin Myself." What was the motivation behind your new music project and the first two singles?
King Kujo: The motivation for this album was me being misunderstood and questioned all my life on how I do things and why I do things. My response is always because 'I am who I am.' So I'm doing a lot of explaining on why I am KING KUJO. The motivation behind "Imma Dogg" was me just telling 'how I get down.' I never lied to women to sleep with them - no movies, no restaurants, no TV or games, gifts or nothing. Sex only! Honestly I have a gift and abused the s**t out of it. My personality did all the work. That- plus a sex addiction - is dangerous combination. "Feelin' Myself" was just me explaining how cocky I am and have always been. I love stuff big, loud and shiny. I do what I do and I do it well. You just never know what you'll see me do at anytime.
MemphisRap.com: Are you working under a label or under your own independent brand?
King Kujo: Grand 1 Entertainment is the label but KING KUJO alone is a Independent brand.
MemphisRap.com: What kind of response have you been getting from your music so far from people?
King Kujo: People are loving it or being very great at pretending, 'Lol.' They all say I have a hell of amount of energy and I sound different. "'Who am I and where I come from?' and 'Dude you live!'" -- those are a couple of things that I hear the most. I see that same response on some people's face but their pride won't let them give me my credit. It's OK, Kujo loves the haters and always have. I know I'm different and some people can't stand it.
MemphisRap.com: Is there a third single in the works to release soon, and if so, does it have a title yet?
King Kujo: Yes, the next single's title is "Keep Movin."
MemphisRap.com: So, what's your plans for 2015?
King Kujo: To get investors attention. It's only so much I can show until then. This project is huge and I can't skip a beat. I also plan to drop my first solo album "Da Name Speaks 4 Izelf" but I will not drop anything until I go on tour first. I also plan to get my entire camp down here from Texas and do big things as just a teaser for yall to see what's about to happen. Grand 1 Ent. is just something that can't be 'slept on' anymore and 'local ain't enough.'
MemphisRap.com: Is there anything you'd like to say before we come to the end of this interview?
King Kujo: Krunk Aint Dead!!!!! This year I'm makin it known! Nationally is my goal!!! Just keep your cable on!!!! That's where I belong!!!
MemphisRap.com: OK, last but not least, if anyone wants to contact you, how do they get in touch?
King Kujo: You can hit me on Instagram or Facebook @kingkujo. Email me: email@example.com or contact me via phone at 662-422-6655.