Interview With Music Producer, Rapper, Author & Mentor Curtiss King
October 31, 2018 | Interviews
Curtiss King is a producer, rapper, author and mentor to thousands of aspiring artists and producers through his YouTube channel – Curtiss King TV.
With production credits for artists such as such as Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, E-40, and MURS, as well as companies like MTV, VH1, and Vans, Curtiss has established himself as an important resource for up-and-coming artists, producers and creatives in general.
Uptown Plug had the pleasure of speaking with Curtiss about getting his start in the music business, building a brand, the independent music scene, favourite records of 2018, and plenty more!
1) When you first started producing beats, grinding away day after day on your dreams, do you remember the exact moment when you realised you could make a living from it?
In the beginning I didn’t really give the idea much thought that I could make a living at this. My main concern was learning how to become a better music producer because I truly loved the process of making music.
However, I think after I received my first check (many years after I started) from VANS for a couple of beats of mine that they chose for their Skateboard DVD, the realization that I could make this a living started to kick in.
2) As someone who got his start in the music industry during the early 2000s, what are your thoughts on how the business has evolved, particularly on the production side of things?
I think the music industry is what it is depending on your experience. When I was actively within the traditional music industry I always felt like someone else’s employee.
What I mean by that is I always felt like I had to rely upon someone else’s ‘OK’ before I could move up and build my business within the industry.
I had to wait for rappers to get the green light from A&Rs, whom were also waiting on the higher ups at the label to green light their green light. I quickly found out that it wasn’t an environment for independent thinkers and self starters like myself.
The moment that I stopped pursuing the traditional industry and I told myself “You gotta make this happen on your own independently” everything changed for me for the better.
Independence meant no more middle men making decisions on when I get paid.
Now the ball is in my court and I get to connect and do business with independent rappers from all over the world minus the politics.
There’s no better feeling than knowing I get to determine my own schedule and work on whatever music I want to work on and still get paid for it. If I was still pursuing the traditional industry I would not have the six figure business that I have today.
3) You’ve had a lot of success building your brand using multiple channels – penning guest articles, creating YouTube videos, authoring a book, and plenty more. How important is it for producers these days to create and maintain a strong brand in order to stand out from the crowd?
I think that music producers should first seek to eliminate the thought of standing out from the crowd.
Producers should focus on their business and do their best to F.O.C.U.S, which is an acronym to Follow One Course Until Success. Producer get so wrapped up in feeling like they have to be like someone else and follow exactly in their footsteps.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Producers should focus on consistently doing what comes easy to them but difficult for other producers.
My advice for producers is to stop looking for voids to fill, and start sharing the voids you have already filled. Success works like a pinball machine: you have to put the coin in and play ball to rack up points.
The longer you play the more opportunities come your way to level up.
4) Your YouTube channel is a goldmine for artists and producers looking for advice and motivation for their music career. What initially motivated you to create the channel and what has been the response from your viewers?
When I first began my YouTube channel I just wanted to teach the lessons that my peers never taught me about the music business.
There was already an abundance of tutorials about how to make beats but not many that spoke to the mental health challenges that rappers and music producers face on a daily basis.
Additionally, I knew going in that rappers weren’t known as the most business savvy creatives, but I wanted to share information that could shift that narrative.
I knew that producers have traditionally had a difficult time expressing themselves on camera due to them being introverts, so I decided to share ways to break out of that shell.
Rappers and music producers alike were attracted to my personality and honesty and in less than two years, 1500 videos, and 100,000 subscribers later my YouTube channel was a huge success.
5) In my opinion, we are in the golden age for independent music with artists like Chance the Rapper, Tech N9ne, Curren$y, Joey Bada$$, E-40 and plenty more flourishing with no major label backing. What are your thoughts on the independent music industry and its evolution over the past few decade?
I think that the independent music industry has always been a thriving community, however now we have more tools and platforms to share our art.
It’s a beautiful time to be independent because the playing field is more level. All of those artists that you have named are rewriting the rules of independence and pushing the boundaries of how far we can take our respective businesses.
6) From a production point of view, what have been some of your favourite records released in 2018?
- KIDS SEE GHOSTS – “Reborn”
- J. Cole – “ATM”
- Denzel Curry – “SUMO & MAD I GOT IT”
- SOB x RBE x Kendrick Lamar – “Paramedic!”
- Travis Scott – “SICKO MODE”
- Nipsey Hussle – “Rap Ni**as”
- T.I. ft. Meek Mill – “JEFE”
7) What’s next for Curtiss King?
Further elevation. More beats for my website. More online courses for rappers and music producers. More YouTube videos. Continuing to be the most amazing husband and father that I can be.
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