Kid Sublime

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Kid Sublime


Despite earning much of his acclaim for both hip hop and dance productions, the Kid doesn’t believe in classifying himself. Speaking in his hyperactive Euro-English, he says succinctly “I’m focused on my own thing.” Whatever genre he is involved in, “It’s the same vibe” and he is drawn to “Anything soulful. Period.” For many people music is as essential as the air they breathe. For Sublime, who began playing drums and piano as a young child, it’s very much the same. Calling hip hop culture his “Foster parent,” he affirms “I learned so much from the culture, it’s crazy. People don’t really see the value of it yet, just do the math and think about how many people are saved by this music.”

Like many of the greats, from Pete Rock to Madlib, jazz caught his attention at a young age and inspired his future sensibilities. Having spent his summer learning to play Duke Ellington at around 5-years-old, Sublime believes his work with the MPC sampler is an extension of the improvisation of his jazz heroes. “Yes, an MPC is most def an instrument.” He like many others credits the late J Dilla for proving the art of sampling. “It took Dilla to show the world it is one. 15 people can use the same MPC or saxophone, but you immediately hear who the nicest is on his instrument. If you got it in you, you just need your weapon of choice to get it out.” Throwing himself into music so early in life, having the support of his parents was important. “Shit, my parents been crazy supportive. Mainly because they’re artists themselves they understood how important personal development for a kid is.”

At age 10 a whole new world opened up as he met some fellow music lovers that were listening to this relatively new sound coming from overseas. Skateboarding on the streets of Amsterdam, he met other kids who were pumping hip hop on their Walkmans. Hearing the kinship between jazz and hip hop, he says “I’ve always been playing piano and drums, so getting into rap music was a natural development.” Trading mixtapes with his friends, it was artists such as De La Soul and Digable Planets and cuts like Step In The Arena by Gang Starr that “Made me wanna’ be a DJ!” Dutch emcee Extince was another big influence, “We all listened to him. Go Google his track Spraakwater, amazing.” Speaking on the current scene in Amsterdam, he reveals, “The rap cats are on sum ‘Glam-Hop-Lil’ Wayne’ kinda’ stuff, but there’s a lot of good emcees and rappers outside the city.” He does say ruefully though that “Hip hop is a fashion thing nowadays, not so much a lifestyle, a state of being.”

Teaching himself the tricks of the trade he would need to be a DJ, Sublime began practicing on the classic Technics SL 100 turntable, with homemade slipmats. After a couple of years he worked up the courage to enter a scratching competition. At age 17 he won the title of ‘Rookie of the Year,’ landing a job at the Fat Beats record store in Amsterdam. For Sublime it was a dream come true, getting to DJ for visiting artists like Common and Slum Village. Inspired by the revered DJ Rob Swift he started producing his own hip hop mixtapes, and bought himself an MPC sampler. In between live shows, Sublime dropped his first 12″ single, titled ‘Tea for Two.’ Ironically his breakthrough single was a house track, rather than a straight hip hop effort, eventually being remixed by the likes of Recloose, Rich Medina and Danny Krivit. Forming the DJ trio Rednose Distrikt, along with Aardvarck and Steven de Peven, he was on the road for two years straight.

Over a decade later and with respect in both the dance and hip hop communities, Sublime is now a well-rounded veteran. Excited for his upcoming Australian tour, Sublime has several new projects on the way. With the hip hop scene “on a major level right now in Holland,” he is going back to his roots and releasing an all Dutch hip hop album. Ever the internationalist, Sublime also wants to put together an international version of the album. “On the Dutch version its mainly gonna be me rhyming, some ignant street and club shit. It’s a lot of fun doing it. Get that bullshit of my chest!”

Amidst all the chest pumping, his biggest passion project is something on the more soulful side. Speaking on the project, which will showcase his singer-songwriter chops, Sublime states, ”Basically I start writing a song behind the piano, which is different from starting to write a song from a loop you catch on vinyl or a random groove you tap. It’s basically like writing a poem, finding the right words and chords.” A departure from his earlier work, Sublime is producing what could be his biggest breakthrough release. “This is definitely gonna be my ace record. Not so much for the heads, DJs and people who are deep in their music, but something everybody can relate to. It’s a radio record, straight up ballads. Just me and my piano.” Taking his time with the new epic, he affirms “Sometimes this process can take up to a year before the track is done. It’s a whole ‘nother way of writing, you really kinda’ let it all go.”