KUNGA 219 - Interview

Apparently Halifax, Nova Scotia, is quite a rich scene with plenty of hip hop artists of a new kind. Revealed after Buck 65 and Sixtoo - both of them affiliated to Anticon - here is Kunga 219, author of the brilliant Tharpa's Transcript and the adept of poetical rap with slow and melancolic atmospheres, just as his fellows. We wanted to know more about him and invited Kunga to answer our interview.

I must confess that I do not know you quite well: Where are you coming from, what’s your connection with Buck 65, Sixtoo, Sole (all of them participate to Tharpa’s Transcripts) and the Anticon crew?

Myself, Buck 65 and Sixtoo all reside in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - those two are artists that I looked up to for a while and whenever I got a chance to work with them I did...as for anticon artists I met up with them when I went out to San Fransisco a year and a half ago and when Sole came to Halifax last Christmas we put a little something together...

What’s the meaning of your name? and especially this number, 219?

Kunga means all joyful in tibetan and it is part of my buddhist refuge name - the 219 is part of a grand elaborate vision that I had for my future when I was just a young cat and we'll leave it at that... but 21+9 = 30 is a hint. I also liked the idea as I had seen it used in graf art - that a number could be another part of an artist's identification...

You’re part of The Goods. I’ve read that this duo has already released some classic material. Is this still available?

Yes The Goods have been together for 4 odd years and we have three full-length Goods albums available on cd - The Goods (good-01), Secondary Education (good-02) and Dream Sequence (good-03) - contact me @ Kunga219@hotmail.com to order or to find out where to order from.

Is The Goods still existing? What are the duo next projects? And DJ Gordski's?

Yes - The Goods - 4/Four is gonna be out in April and we have a gaggle of projects to come - all on GoodNightMusics so keep on the lookout Next is RooseveltTharpa - Elaborate Neurotics (good-05) feat. Tachichi.

Who is the nice sounding lady participating to your album?

Unleavened - she is a dope lady from Halifax and we are hopefully going to put out an EP together in the new year.

And who’s Tharpa?

Tharpa is my middle name - it means liberation in Tibetan - I used it to signify this album as being different from my previous work as "the MC from The Goods".

I interviewed Buck 65 a while back, and he told me that he had a very selective taste of hip hop. Do you share is view? How do you link your work to hip hop history?

I do have selective taste - I'm not as astutely critical as Buck is but I have a critical ear - nowadays I just don't care cause I think most stuff sucks and I try to just listen to what I'm feeling...I don't know how to link my work to hip-hop history - I can't see me just fitting in - if seen from a historical perspective I want to be seen as a Halifax artist - I don't want to be linked in with alternative hip-hop or as part of "the new school of art-rappers" - I just want people to remember what we did here in Halifax and I think we will get the recogniton we deserve when all is said and done...

I asked the previous question because your album reminds me of artists coming from other genres. I am referring to people such as Bark Psychosis or Hood, or to some German electronica acts, Tarwater for example. Do you know them? What are your influences outside hip hop?

I haven't heard of them but I'm glad you're comparing it to non hip-hop music. Some of the stuff I grew up listening to would be Murphy's Law, Bob Dylan, Misfits, and Jimi Hendrix. Newer music would be mainly Bjork... I love Akira Kurosawa films - Ran especially... I am also heavily influenced by buddhism. I am a vajrayana practicioner which is serious and is my life priority. Meditation has had a profound effect on me as an artist and more importantly as a person.

First Buck 65, then Sixtoo, then you, and then lots of other people. Is Halifax hip hop’s new Mecca?

I hope so - we have enough talent in this city right now that is completely slept on - I don't wanna be a bitter dude but we should be a household name by now , unfortunately things happen - however we revel ion obscurity so let it continue - I'm happy just making music - I would like to reach more fans thru touring though.

What can we expect from you and your fellows in 2001?

RooseveltTharpa - Elaborate Neurotics (Tachichi, Kunga219 & Gordski)
The Goods - 4/Four
The Sacred Cow (Kunga219 & Josh Martinez)
Pokey's Ambition (DJ Gordski's compilation album)

Buck 65 is fascinated by base ball, and you by basket ball. Have all of you is own favorite sport?

Well me and Tachichi are basketball heads, Gordski is a sports enthusiast in general and Josh Martinez is a hockey fan but other than that no...

I usually finish my interviews with the 4 following questions: 1) What is on your play-list right now?

MF Doom - No Snakes Alive / MF Grimm - The Original (MF)
Aceyalone - Ms Amerikkka
Big L - The Big Picture

not much else - I'm kinda bored with my selection.

2) Do we have a chance to see you and your Halifax fellows on stage in Europe?

I dunno - I would love to but we need to get booked and flown over - we do put on a dope live show - doper than almost everybody out now...

3) Do you know French hip hop (or French music, in general), and if yes, what is your opinion about it?

I don't know much but my opinion is that from what I have heard there is some very dope stuff out there...

4) Most of our compatriots do not understand English lyrics. Since yours are highly poetics, do you think they can appreciate your music at the same level as English speaking people do?

I don't understand what French MC's are saying, but I do know when I like the asthetic quality of an MC - his/her vocie, flow, enunciation, etc .Still I doubt I could appreciate the subtlties and poetic nature of their rhymes... I think the same goes towards you and your friends - while you may not be able to understand the lyrics perfectly well, if you appreciate the sound and the quality of the spoken word as I recorded it then it's all good - I'm just happy to hear that people in France have even heard of me, let alone that some have taken the time to listen to me.

Any final statement or message to end this interview?

Goodnightmusics.com in Feb 2001 and the rest is history. Thanks for taking the time to read what I have to say and support what you really like - otherwise it may never make it... fuck major label art - let's dance... lovespiecesmissestheaveragedrunkmc

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