Rapper, producer, label owner, concert promoter and Founder of The Alumni, Kwamé Holland is one of the hardest working rappers from the Golden Era. He is recently took a break from touring and producing hit records for R&B artists and made waves with a revelation about his former boss, Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor’s nose for sniffing out legends.
On The Soren Baker Show while talking about his career, he dropped a little gem that is sure to knock anyone who loved 80s Hip-Hop to the ground.
The first gem was about how his debut album, The Boy Genius, got made.
Though he grew up with Hurby Luv Bug, he was taking too long to produce a demo for the then teenaged Kwamé. Upon referral from a mutual friend, he went to a spot called The Music Building and cut his first joint. He produced a song entitled, “She’s Not Just Another Woman.” No one liked this song. He went back to the drawing board. The day was Christmas morning… and that’s how hit songs like “The Rhythm” and “The Mic is Mine” on that magical night. Six of the eight songs on that debut album was made in that 8 hour session. Kwamé shares the songs with Hurby and Sylvia Robinson (of Sugar Hill Records Fame). Hurby is not responding fast enough, and so Robinson offers him a recording contract based off the demo. At the same time, his dad slipped the demo to Sony and they had an interest. This is exciting and upon returning back to Hurby, he finds out that the reason Hurby did not respond as quickly is because he was shopping it to a gang of labels and they were interested. Warner Bros., Atlantic and Epic records were presented by his neighborhood friend. He had a bidding war for the young gent. He wound up signing with another Sylvia… The Sylvia in the business… Sylvia Rhone.
The second gem is why he did not use vulgar language. Mostly for Kwamé, he never wanted to disrespect his Islamic faith or say/do something that would embarrass people that he cared about. He talks about his struggle to be authentic to who he saw himself, and what the crew wanted him to be. Just think about the polka-dots. He was 16, and had a few choice pieces to rock. He inter-swapped three pieces that he had, but some how created a movement. He could not spend money that he did not have.
The biggest gem that he dropped was about two of the dopest rappers of all time. Hurby apparently beat into his head that lyrical rappers would never work in Hip-Hop. The producer had his eyes on the bigger pie in the music industry, and was very much into making a cross-over rap record.
“He would say ‘Kane will never go anywhere. Rakim will never go anywhere. The people I was loving and the people I wanted to be on par with, he was just like it is not going to work. There are a million lyrical tough guys out here. You got to be ‘this,’ the light hearted high school kid that likes to have fun and chase girl.'”
But Kwamé again struggled to challenge his mentor. He understood in his heart that the artists who lasted forever focused more on artistry than gimmicks.
“On one end of the spectrum, you have Hurby saying ‘We got to go pop, we got to go pop'” Kwamé reflects. Then he continues “And then on the other end of the spectrum, I don’t want to be forgotten.”
Kwamé also gave props to people like Slick Rick, LL Cool J, KRS1 and Big Daddy Kane for not only being some of the top rappers of his time, but also for their production skills.