Toronto rapper, Kavale, takes his concept of wanting more onto his debut EP Genius. Stripping down personal moments into lyrics, beats, and a clean production, Kavale’s debut EP is more than a hip-hop album, but the beginning of his underlying mission: tapping into his inner genius. While some may take the album title as a narcissistic approach, those who truly listen to Kavale’s tracks will grasp something entirely different. Genius embodies these relatable moments for his listeners, and reaches out to different aspects of his life for inspiration. The EP mimics each transition of life within the music, and at the end of the album, we are left with the lasting impression of inspiration.
As Kavale’s listeners grew, his track “Next Level” grew on the watch list for Tradiio as well. With a little help from Tradiio, I had the pleasure to interview Kavale and fully take on the concept of Genius. Kavale’s sincerity is felt within his answers and his debut EP Genius is just the first rise of success for the Toronto rapper, and I thank him very much for his time.
“Next Level” is the track that caught my attention, and possess anger in the momentum of your flow, which brings that track alive- was there a specific person or reasoning you were directing this song to?
“When I’m making music I like to really make music that reflects off of the moment, you know that I’m currently in, or the space I’m currently in. ‘Next Level’ was just one of those songs where you know, in my city I was reaching out to a lot of people, to work with, and I just felt that I was being slept on, a lot. There was just a lot of anger… it was just something I need to do, something you know, I had to prove myself, that I could really rap, and you know, that I really understand melodies. I really understand production. I really understand how to put these things together and make something really good, and yeah that’s just where the anger and frustration came on (for) Next Level.”
A line in “Next Level” states: “I put everything on the line.” What did you put on the line, and was it for your music?
“I put everything on the line, yeah, I mean, there was just a lot of stuff that I just had to put on the line. You know, for real, there was a lot of relationships, relationship situations that were affected by me wanting to do music so bad. You know I put a lot of time into it, a lot of effort, and you know a lot of things were affected. All the money that I get, all the little money that I get, it goes straight towards music and finding ways to better my craft. Yeah a lot of time goes into it- I’m literally doing this 24/7. I don’t club a lot. I don’t really hang out a lot. If I am hanging out, or if people are hanging out with me, it’s at the studio. So, everything is really music based for me, I’m just trying to get better, so when I say ‘I put everything on the line’ I sacrifice a lot of relationships, and friendships, and you know, just a social life. Money. You know all these things go into what I’m trying to do.”
I’m a fan of your album Genius. It shows so many sides of yourself, and a mix of well-crafted beats, flows, lyrics, and mashes well, such as a sample of Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream” on your track “The Thrill.” What was the process when creating this album?
“‘The Thrill‘ was actually inspired by that song. I was driving one day and listening to the radio, which I hardly ever do anymore, but I was listening to the radio, an old radio station, and I heard “Walking on a Dream” and you know, I would hear it a lot in the past but never listened to the lyrics, and the lyrics were saying certain keywords that you know I tuned into, and I was like you know what, I don’t know how I’m going to incorporate this with a song, if I’m gonna sample it, didn’t know what I was going to do at the time. Eventually I got the production from K Notes, and you know I sat with it, and I came up with the concept for you know The Thrill, alongside Daetrius Craig, which is featured on the song, and yeah it really just came together seamlessly, it wasn’t forced. And right before we mastered it I decided I’m like you know I gotta throw this clip of the song towards the end because it’s just needed. It’s very cohesive. So I threw it in at the end and it worked out pretty dope.”
What is Genius really about? Would you consider yourself a Genius?
Genius was really inspired by a Jay-Z interview I’ve seen, where he said ‘There’s a little bit of genius in us, it’s just about us tapping into our inner genius‘ and at that time I really felt like, I’m actually really, really, good at what I do. The world may not know it…yet, but I know to myself the level that I can reach and Genius, I feel you know that everybody has an inner genius, you know rather be you, you know your blog you’re really dope at writing and doing articles. You know whatever it is that you excel at, I feel that if you tap into it, and you really, really, try to own your craft, you can really become a genius at it. Not only music, chefs, whatever you do, designers, everybody has an inner genius in them that they can really tap into. So to answer the next question after that. It’s not that I consider myself a genius but that’s the mission. The mission is to ‘tap in’ and get to that inner genius within me. You know um, a lot of people really gave me a hard time with the title, I got a lot of backlash for it, started a bit of controversy. People would be like ‘oh you’re a self-proclaimed genius, you can’t call yourself that. You’re not that great. Blah, blah, blah’ so it stirred up a lot of conversation but the real meaning behind it is you should strive for greatness. Who wouldn’t strive to be great? Why wouldn’t you strive to tap into your inner genius and be great at what you do?
So do I consider myself a genius? I’m on the way. I’m tapping into it.
Is there a direction you are aiming for, if so, what is it?
“I’m just aiming to be the best version of me that I can be. You know like I said previously, tapping into that inner genius, just finding ways to inspire culture, and to inspire people to come after me. I feel that it’s very important to be my aim, and I’m only getting better. I always said everything that I do right now is just me working with what I can work with. You know, if you’re given the right platform the right funding behind it whatever my ideas are, or you know the right money or label situation, I feel like the possibilities are endless of the direction I can go, cause it can get really crazy. So you know I’m just trying to be the best me, the best version of me. That’s the aim right now.”
When someone is listening to you, what are you trying to get across with your music?
“Honestly, it’s just moments, capturing moments. I want, I would love for there to be a moment, or a song for every moment, that somebody is going through. Like if you’re going through relationship problems you should be able to find a song from me that represents that situation. If it’s going to the club, if its turning up, you know, real life situations. Family problems, whatever it is, whatever moment presents itself, even riding around in your city, going for a drive. I love to make music that matches those moments…”Forever” on Genius was one of those moments where I was driving and this was right after the situation happened, and I was just driving, and the sample that I used, you know that song was playing, and I was just driving to it and I was like, yo this captures a certain feeling. It’s all about feel for me. So yeah, I would love to just capture moments…that’s what I want to get across is just like a feeling, a feeling of that exact moment that person is going through, or whatever you’re going through at that specific time.”
Do you think you’re accomplishing this?
“Yes. But am I accomplishing it at the level that I wish I was accomplishing it? No, but that comes with time, that comes with growth, that comes with a better platform. The better platform is the more I can do. So it’s 50/50. I do feel like I’m doing it, but I feel that it can be done better.”
How did growing up in Toronto, Canada sculpt your sound?
“As you know Drake has put Toronto, aka the 6th, on the map. Toronto does represent a sound, you know a very atmospheric vibe sound. It does play a part in my sound but I also listen to a lot of music, different genres, I like to clash sounds. Drake played a huge part in sculpting my sound but in general, I’m just a fan of music and I listen to a lot of music. I could be listening to a rock album and I’m like this is the direction I wanna take right here, and I could completely go left or I could completely go right. I don’t have one sound. But Toronto, Drake… you know all the greats have played a huge, huge, huge, part in sculpting my sound and the city’s sound.”
Walk me through the typical process when you have an idea for a song.
“So usually, like I said there will be a moment, you know if I am in a specific moment. What usually happens is a line will pop into my head and Ill race for the phone or whatever is near me, a pen or a pad, and I’ll write down that line, and within that line, my team will come together and we’ll try to sculpt some sort of melody or beat to match this one specific line, and once we get that going, and the beat going, the rest is history. We sit down. We put the lyrics together. I actually start mumbling. I’ll mumble. I do a lot of demos where it’s just me mumbling at first because it’s just, the first reaction you get to a beat is the most sincere once. So I usually start mumbling the first thing that comes into my mind, and it’s usually very sincere so we record it and then I sit down and listen to that demo, or that mumbling, and pretty much add words to the mumbles- and keep piecing things together until I have the final product. And after that we record it, get it mixed, and we continue adding stuff and subtracting stuff until we feel it’s right where it needs to be. And yeah that’s just the typical process for a song.”
Who are your music influences?
“My musical influences would have to be, of course, Jay-Z, NAZ, Tupac Shakur, Biggie, or you know the greats. Then we go off into Andre3000, Kanye West, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big Sean, Florence and the Machine, How to Dress Well, it goes on and on. I really like, or love, a lot of artists and a lot of people influence me, but those are just a few to really name.”
Did you ever expect to grow your listener’s this year? I know you were on the “Watch List” for Tradiio and stayed consistent on the charts.
“I felt as though the more music I put out was the more my listeners were going to grow. I truly believe in my work. I truly believe in my artistry. I know what I can do. So it’s not really something that I doubt. So um, yeah the more music that I put out, the more I grow, the more I expect of my listeners to grow, but this year we’re trying to take it to a whole other level, trying to really build a cult following. As for the Tradiio Watch List, I had no idea about it. My manager brought it to my attention which is great, I know it’s a really great platform, but yeah that’s exactly what I’m talking about, just turning heads. I love being the underdog. I love when people don’t expect much from me or when people first hear me, and it’s just like ‘who is this guy?’ and to be on the Watch List, it means they’re watching right?
Man, I love it. This is what we do music for. We do music to touch people and to inspire people. To make people get a feeling.
So as long as I’m turning some heads, and as long as my listeners keep growing. I’ll be good, we’ll be good.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Yes, I am working on a new project. A full length project actually. My other project was about 6 songs, so you know we’re looking to do about a 12 song project. I will be releasing a single off of it, within the next few weeks to a month, I’ll say. I have a title for the project but the title will be released alongside the single when it’s ready to go, so yeah I’m working on new music. We got a lot of shows lined up, nothing really confirmed yet that I can speak of, but I have a lot of stuff coming up. Just launched the new website Kavale.co so check that out and you’ll be up to date with my latest moves and my latest music.
And I wanna say thank you for this interview man, I truly appreciate it, appreciate you taking your time off, appreciate everybody listening to the music, so I’m grateful for that. So yeah, keep doing what you’re doing, keep being great, and you know we’ll cross paths… eventually. Thank you.”