When I told Knxwledge that he was our decade's J Dilla, he didn't quite know what to say. It got a little awkward while I waited for a response. "That is a crazy statement," he finally choked out. But is it really that unfathomable a comparison? Like Dilla, Knx lives and breathes hip hop – making countless beats a week and producing for the illest cats in the game. Both are also key members of the Stones Throw family – even after Dilla's passing in 2006, posthumous releases were brought out though the label. Both are incredibly prolific – Knx's bandcamp discography is evidence alone. Since 2009 he's released 70-plus mixtapes, albums and EPs. Dilla and Knx a "crazy" comparison? I don't think so.
The LA beat scene is a rabbit hole. As a listener, just when you think you know the game, you fall headfirst into a brighter and richer soundscape. Unlike Alice though, you don't reach the bottom – you keep falling and falling. It's brilliant.
Knxwledge (AKAGlen Boothe) is an invaluable player in that bottomless wonderland. Fusing hip hop, soul and jazz, Knx provides the perfect soundtrack for those late night feeds and early morning car rides. Put simply, his music is very cool and very west coast.
Like Knx's music, the "LA" sound is equally epitomised through the iconic label Stones Throw, founded in 1996 by Peanut Butter Wolf. The label has played host to a bunch of key hip hop records, including Dilla's Donuts, Madvillian's Madvilliany and Quasimoto's The Unseen. After Knx made the move from Philly to LA in 2009, it didn't take long for Wolf to snatch him up.
"I was playing a Boiler Room session,” Knx says. “Wolf came up to me while I was playing a Charizma remix and we had a meeting a few days after that. I'd met him back in Philly when I lived there a few times. We're family now. Wolf is an incredible human being.”
Raised in New Jersey, Knx's affection for music was inevitable. Not only was his house full of instruments, but the church he belonged to was also a goldmine, stocked with an array of instruments that he would eventually inherit. After establishing skills on a bunch of instruments, Knx turned to production and sampling.
"I was always trying to record,” he says. “I was playing everything from scratch. In the beginning everything was primarily keys and drum-based. I bought a Roland SP-303 – that was my first piece of hardware I could get my hands on. I wasn't able to have a computer yet.”
The last six years have been fruitful to say the least. An impressive discography and numerous production credits has awarded Knx ubiquity on the west coast. A recent collaboration with crooner Anderson Paak (under the name NxWorries) is scheduled for manifestation any day now. Having already released a very sexy single called Suede, the duo are tying up some loose ends on a forthcoming full-length.
"It's gonna be a good one,” Knx says. “I'm just getting the artwork done and we've just done a video for Suede. It's coming out soon.”
The rest of 2015 will undoubtedly see even more collaborations and mixtapes, but the producer is currently carrying out an Australian tour. Having played the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at last week’s Splendour in the Grass, he's coming our way next weekend to play the Toff in Town.
So how does such a prolific producer with such a huge back catalogue decide what to play in a single set? "That's a good question,” he says. “I actually don't ever plan anything when I play. It's kind of weird, but less stressful that way. I just like mixing it up and playing whatever. I'll either drag something in or I'll just stop everything and ask somebody in the crowd what they want me to play. My computer is full of songs – I'll just play whatever."
BY DINA AMIN
Red Bull Music Academy presents KNXWLEDGE, with special guests Cazeaux Oslo, Average Rap Band and Raaghe, on Friday August 7 at the Toff in Town.