Kevin McCall knows how to do it all.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with the exceptionally versatile talent – Kevin McCall, a.k.a. K-Mac. The songwriter/producer/singer/rapper (for now) opened up on a myriad of topics, including the current state of R&B, his plans to catapult his solo career, working with Marilyn Manson and more. Check out the dialogue below.
AJ: Kevin, can you introduce yourself to TheSource.com viewers?
Kevin McCall: What’s up, you can call me K-Mac, my friends call me K-Mac. I’m just glad to be here in New York. Most people may know me from “Deuces,” the dark-skinned dude in “Deuces” holding it down for team dark skin. Stand up! And I’m just doing my own thing now with R&B music, and producing, and working with different artists.
AJ: You’re from California, so what brings you to New York?
KM: I came out for the BMI Awards, and really had a good time. I knew it was gonna be a good turn out because it’s usually in LA, and that’s just right up the street from me, downtown LA. So to have it in New York, I knew a lot of people would show out, and I knew I’d be able to see a different crowd that doesn’t usually come to make that journey all the way to LA.
AJ: You won an award didn’t you?
KM: Yeah I won two awards. One for “Strip” featuring Chris Brown – shoutout to CB – and I also won another for “Birthday Cake” featuring Rihanna.
AJ: You’re currently signed to Chris Brown as a songwriter and producer, so how did that come about?
KM: After I did the first mixtape with him, just from being around and a stroke of luck or whatever – or fate, whatever you believe in – I did the first mixtape, and then after that, he was like, you’re unsigned, you’re not with any label or anything, so he jumped on that opportunity. He believed that I was an extremely talented person, and I’m glad that I’m able to show that he was right.
AJ: What came first for you then, was it the writing, the producing, the singing/rapping? What was first and how did you transition into the rest?
KM: I thought you were about to tell a really bad joke, like what came first, the chicken or the egg? [laughs]What came first I would say was the producing. I was a huge fan of Pharrell Williams and around that era, when I was in high school, the producers started getting recognition for all the dope beats: Dr. Dre, Timbaland, and all these dope producers. So I started wanting to produce, and I would remake those songs. I also started rapping. I wanted to be Eminem, and that’s why I still have those qualities in my music, and that’s why I’m able to be so versatile – sing, rap whatever. But really my number one thing is singing.
AJ: What was the first hit you wrote and how many songs did you have to write before you knew it was a hit?
K: My first hit…I think my first hit was the first song I ever wrote. It hasn’t came out yet, but I did just re-record it. I actually wrote it in 2005 in college. And, I’ll tell you the title of it is called “Ain’t Ready” and I didn’t change any of the lyrics or anything. I just got an upgraded beat. It’s just talkin about the relationship with a man and a woman, or even a woman and a woman, however you wanna look at it, and just that feeling of feeling like you’re not ready for love and the other person is pushing for something that you don’t want. I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to today.
AJ: Is “Aint Ready” gonna live on a forthcoming project, or will you be releasing the song anytime in the near future?
KM: I think I’m gonna put out an album at the top of the year, but I’m very very very confident I’m gonna put out another EP – the second Sextape EP.
AJ: What have you learned about yourself from recording each of your projects and how were you able to apply those lessons from one to the next?
KM: That’s a dope question. I think you can see the evolution of me as an artist, and just becoming confident and coming into my own and becoming my own person throughout each mixtape. One thing I could learn from looking back at my old mixtapes, what I could learn from my old self, is just to keep that hunger and that drive and that feeling of an underdog and also the feeling of being a fan, still lookin up to people – you just want to impress them. Never lose that because that makes good music too.
AJ: How do you plan on taking your career to the next level and no longer being completely associated with Chris Brown?
KM: I think just being bold and meeting other people and just exposing myself to new things. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been working heavily with Marilyn Manson, and a lot of other people, we’re just waiting to bring those projects out. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t have any features on my last two mixtapes. I don’t think I’m gonna be on the X album. I didn’t writer anything for the X album. That just shows the separation of me and him (CB) on an artist tip. Showing that we don’t lean on each other. I still make songs everyday. He still makes songs everyday, and we cool.
AJ: How’d you link up with Marilyn Manson?
KM: It was a dope set up. It was fate. Gucci Mane is a real good friend of mine; he comes to my studio whenever he’s in LA. I guess it was a movie premier or something. I forget what the movie is called. And Gucci Mane was in that movie. I guess it was a red carpet event. Marilyn Manson was there. He threw some smoke bombs, or some stink bombs at the whole party. Gucci was like, you’re a crazy white boy, you should come to the studio. And you know Marilyn doesn’t turn down any chances of some wild crazy stuff going on. He ended up coming to my studio. I met him. We made a funny ass song called “Fancy Bitch.” It’s dope. It’s me, him and Gucci. It’s not out. We have not released it, but I’ma hit him up and I’m gonna be like yo… they asking for the “Fancy Bitch” Let’s give it to them. I think people are really gonna like it. it’s a trap song.
AJ: In another interview I saw you do, you mentioned that there’s a void in R&B. Why do you think that void exists right now?
KM: I think that the rappers wanna be singers and singers wanna be rappers. And everybody, like especially on the R&B side, if you look across the board, they’re certain guys that stand out that are tryna be hard and stuff. And it’s like, why? The people that are really from the hood – and I’m raising my hand right now, you can’t see that – we wanna get out the hood. We don’t want to go back. We don’t want to gang bang, we don’t wanna do none of that. We wanna make it out! Like Jay Z did. Why do you wanna hang out in the hood? We should be billionaires and owning businesses and stuff like that. I think there’s dudes trying to fake the funk and a lot of people are really scared to do them and romance a lady. Say something poetic to her. Not always be the bad boy. People are scared to get their Smoky Robinson on. I don’t know why I think it’s cuz hip hop culture influences so many people, including me. That’s why I rap and sing. That’s why I’m gonna retire from rapping. Probably in September. I’m gonna put out one more rap mixtape and then I’m not rapping no more.
AJ: Do you think that cross over is working for anybody?
KM: I think it’s working for Drake. That’s it. The only person I like to hear rap and sing is Drake. And it’s because of both the words he uses and the beats and stuff too. So shoutout to Dreezy.
AJ: You’re currently dating a gorgeous woman by the name of Eva Marcille. How does being in a relationship affect your art, and with her in particular?
KM: I would say my relationships have always affected my music. Each one. “Deuces” was about a past relationship. I wrote most of my great songs, that I’m still using today, in 2008 when I had the worst heartbreak of my life with my first girlfriend. It inspired great music. Being with Eva has probably inspired my best music so far. I wrote a song about her called “Sunflower,” and it’s just about growth and all the things that sunflowers represent. That’s what I felt like she represented, so I wrote a song about it and it was dope.
AJ: When you were talking about Jay Z coming out the hood and being an entrepreneur, did that reference come from the fact that you have some business-related endeavors in the works?
KM: Well, I’m gonna start my own label, stuff like that. I wanna get into modeling a little bit, even acting. Just expanding myself as an artist because the music thing ain’t forever, and I don’t think that’s all God got in store for me. He wants me to try new things. Hopefully this music is just an avenue for getting to those things. As far as becoming a business mogul, I just think it’s important as a black man in the position that I am, where I will get a little bit of good money from songs and stuff, I think it’s important that I buy property. That’s something we don’t do. Invest my money well and also attack financial illiteracy and start teaching my people how to save their bread, and get out the hood because we should be moving forward you know. Not back.
Make sure to stay tuned for K-Mac’s second Sextape EP, and keep your eyes and ears open for that “Fancy Bitch.”
By Alana Johnson (@TheLadyLana)