OTwo Interviews: Khakikid

Image Credit: fnati.c

Isabella Ambrosio sits down with Dublin-based Khakikid, chatting about being an artist in Dublin and his beginnings in songwriting before Ambrosio attends his biggest headline show in Whelan’s on November 11th.

Khakikid’s name has made its way around Dublin by the looks of it, I had thought to myself stepping into Whelan’s. My mate with me, who knew of Khakikid, real name Abdu Huss, mentioned he’s got a lot of support within the underground community, and he just had a set at Longitude. It was admirable to see how many people came out to support him, especially the ones that knew him personally, all talking to my mate who they knew well. Khakikid was obviously not only a growing name, but he was also well-liked by the crowd. He’s is a fantastic performer, his energy always perfectly in line with the song, speaking with honesty and bouncing around the stage with everything he had. He stayed on rhythm for each and every song. At one point, he brought his mum on stage as it was her first time ever seeing him perform. The crowd knew his songs and he had incredible control over them. The energy was genuinely intoxicating, and it was absolutely incredible to see so many people bounce to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ as Khakikid’s final song. But, the crowd roared throughout the night as he sang his hits ‘Shlumped Up’, ‘Cozy’, and ‘Woodstock’. It was a great show. And I thought a lot about what he had mentioned during our interview two weeks before.

Khakikid had a gleaming smile and a loud voice when joining the Zoom call. He was casual, his curly hair very clearly wet from a shower, and he held an ELF bar in his hand for most of the interview. I felt a bit easier jumping into introductions because I had discovered I actually worked with one of his best friends for a few months. His mate and I worked in a pub together, and at one point, we had to paint the walls of the pub. We are bonded for life.

The interview started with Khakikid laughing, talking about how small Ireland is and how everyone knows everyone, before I hit him with a pretty deep question off the bat, “Because of how small the Irish music scene is, do you think that you’re kind of limited by your opportunities?”

He looks up at the ceiling for a second, “Em, no, I don’t think so. I feel like with the internet being a thing that you have so much access now to everything, and an infinite amount of people have access to your music. I feel like that you’re not that limited fortunately, but there aren’t as many people into rap music in Ireland. But, you have the entire world to share your music with and to play to.”

I nod in agreement, “So…”

He interrupts me with a laugh, “Let’s go. Let’s do this interview. Let’s go.” He gets a bit pumped. It’s amusing, the most energy I’ve ever seen from someone at ten in the morning, and I sit back, touching my fingers together.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait. I love how every time you go to ask me a question, you do this,” he mimics me putting my hands together and leaning forward with an interested look on his face. I laugh and think to myself, I’ve genuinely never noticed that before. And in retrospect, I think it’s because that’s what my therapist used to do when asking me a question.

“I have to, it’s how I think. I’ve got to look professional,” I chuckle, “And, with the music at your fingertips, I was actually talking to a band two weeks ago, called the Blondes, and one of their songs went viral on TikTok and they were just talking about how everything changed for them so quickly. But, do you think that the accessibility is going to make the music pool oversaturated?”

He scratches his chin and looks at the ceiling again before answering, “I suppose you could say it’s already oversaturated because there’s 80,000 songs uploaded to Spotify a day.”

“Really?” I’m somehow surprised by the statistic, but also not at all.

“Oh yeah, it’s true. Every single day, there’s almost 100,000 songs uploaded. And I think you could look at that and think it’s oversaturated, or you can look at it like it’s good because it’s so accessible and everyone has an opportunity to do it, so the best are really going to rise. Obviously, there’s still other things in the way. But, imagine, four years ago, you had to know someone who had some sort of studio or be able to afford a studio, but now you can make it in your bedroom. And if you’re talented and you’re a good songwriter, it doesn’t have the greatest quality, but you can put your music out there and people can see it, and I think that’s for the best, to be honest. Because there’s more people making music, then. I feel like that leads to the most amount of music, you know?” He gestures his hands wildly throughout his commentary, but it’s interesting.

“So, how did you get into music, and how did you get into songwriting?”

“I’ve been writing little raps since I was 12 years old. I always knew I wanted to be a rapper for some reason. And I was supposed to go to UCD, and I lied, and I told my mom that I got accepted into this science course and I was supposed to do maths and whatever. And it was like two months into the course when my mom said, ‘Why haven’t you gone to college?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my course just starts way later than everyone else’s.’ And then it was another two weeks before I was like, ‘Okay, Mom. I deferred my course. And I told her the worst thing you can ever say to a mother and that’s like, ‘I’m gonna become a rapper,’ you know what I mean?” He laughs at the end of it, “Looking back though, I do feel so bad for her because you want the best for your kids, and then they’re like, ‘Well, I’m gonna be a rapper’ because that seems so implausible. But, she’s onboard. She was always onboard, but I don’t feel bad for her anymore.”

“I read somewhere that you have four siblings? Five siblings?”

“Five siblings,” he nods, “It’s a big ol’ gaff, well, no, it’s a big ol’ family shoved into a tiny little gaff. I got my first bedroom this year,” he looks really proud. We continue talking back and forth for a bit and I notice he’s very animated when he speaks before I ask him.

“Have any of them influenced your music taste?”

“They haven’t influenced my music taste, but they’ll tell me if something’s too cringe. Not at all, because their barrier of cringe is a lot. To them, a lot of things are cringe. And everyone has some sort of anxiety when it comes to teetering on the edge of cringe and certain people can say things that someone else could say and they’d be looked at as cringe, but a different person mightn’t be looked at as cringe for saying the same thing. They’d be there to tell me that’s kind of whack, but nothing else no.”

“So, where would you say that your music taste comes from then?”

“My older brother had a 50 Cent CD when I was eight. And he never even listened to rap music. He just had that one CD. I stole that from him and I just played that. Ever since… And it got to a point, when I was 11, on Facebook, where I’d make rants about Eminem and how he’s the sickest rapper ever and all that kind of stuff. And you know how you get your Facebook memories, they come up and oh god. I have to delete and archive posts like every other day. I remember being 12 and having a girlfriend, and I said to her, ‘I’m gonna be a rapper and she’d ask ‘Oh, can you rap for us?’ And I rapped some Eminem lines and she said, ‘That’s sick, did you make that up?’ and I said ‘Uh, yeah, I made that up myself, don’t worry about it,’” he mimics the motions a 12 year old makes when trying to be cool, “But I’ve been into it for a really long time. And then I was supposed to go to college, but I thought, I can always go to college. I feel like rapping is a young person’s thing, I didn’t want to do college, finish college, and start rapping. I said, ‘fuck it’ and jumped into it and it seems like it’s going well so far.”

“I was listening to ‘Elevator Music’ [EP] and that’s a sick EP… I was told about you and I listened to ‘Shlumped Up’ and I thought immediately this is good. I love the funkiness of it. I feel like a lot of the Irish rap scene is really heavily reliant on drill. So, I thought it was really nice that you brought that into your music, and when my boyfriend listened to it, he said ‘Shit, this reminds me of Mac Miller.’”

“I love Mac Miller,” he sighs happily.

“So, how did you get into funk? I read that you started to learn how to produce in your bedroom.”

“I started rapping at 18, so around then, but I didn’t produce ‘Shlumped Up’. But I started producing bits, and getting the general idea of stuff down, but the more music I made, the more people wanted to work with me as I was slowly getting better. And the funky stuff came along because I really started listening to Mac Miller over COVID. I listened to him a lot when I was younger, and I don’t know, I came back to it and I was so impressed by how much his sound had evolved. Because the stuff before, I had some mad music before, I deleted all of it, yeah? I was proper like ‘angro’, angsty, punk boy rap music. It was terrible,” he laughs out of embarrassment, looking away for a moment, “People in Dublin will still kind of know about that stuff, but when I listened to Mac Miller, I loved his perspective and how much he had changed. And I thought it was okay to change and at that point, I started making songs in every genre there is. I would take, do you know Mitski? I was rapping over Bjork instrumentals, literally everything there was, I wanted to jump on anything. I jumped on a drill thing for the fun of rapping. I kind of got into funky stuff because that's where I felt most confident on those and that’s how I can express how I am, and how I feel on those, and be weird. It’s easier to be weird on a funky beat because it kind of goes hand-in-hand.” He leans, waiting for me to respond.

The interview goes on for another twenty minutes out of the half hour I had and we talked about everything. It was interesting to see how his mind worked and how he thought of music, and the way he wanted to approach it. He definitely changed my mind about the accessibility and possible oversaturation of music. Khakikid is a funky, upbeat Irish Mac Miller-influenced rapper who has a great stage presence. Keep your eye on him, he’s growing fast.