Kid Pharaoh is a 17 year old solo MC and producer hailing from Sydney. With a completely self produced mixtape and some Triple J airplay, this young artist’s 18th birthday can’t come soon enough. Far beyond his years in maturity and talent, he is one to keep an eye on as he paves his way forward. With his first release the ’97 Chronicles just dropped and receiving good hype from industry heavy weights around the country, he’s about to show everyone he is more than just a kid from the suburbs. Sarah Connor caught up with Kid Pharaoh to see how he got the ball rolling and what’s in store for the coming year.
So where are you from and where are you at, at this point in your life?
I came from Blacktown, Sydney and I was born in 1997 and my childhood house number was 97. So where I am from is the inspiration behind my latest release the ’97 Chronicles. I guess it’s the story so far. I got into music at a young age and really started teaching myself the fundamentals of lyricism and production. I am from an Egyptian heritage, which is where I took my name from. I’ve moved around a fair bit, living from rural to coastal areas. Right now, me and my family have settled down while I am finishing up high school. I am still steadily working on music and looking forward to the new year.
At 17, you’ve put out a mixtape, gave a solid entry in the Briggs, King of the Town competition and have been attracting the attention of some hip hop heavy weights. Tell us about where you get your skills from?
Hip hop introduced itself to me at a young age. My cousins were really the ones to introduce it. I remember the first rap track I ever heard was back in 2004 when I was 7. It was Jesus Walks by Kanye. Everything about that track just drew me in and I was in love with it. At first I was just listening to whatever I heard on the radio or TV. Then I started independently digging into it. I started listening to lots of 90s hip hop including Nas, Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang. That’s when the real love for the art began. With people like Nas, his lyricism and story telling ability had me in awe. Then eventually there just came a time when I said ” Lemme try this.” So I started off writing to popular instrumentals. That was around 2010.
In terms of beats, I didn’t start doing production until around 2012/2013. My production didn’t start sounding good until I started soul searching – literally. When I started searching for soul samples, that’s when things started to feel right. This year is where I made the most progress with this project that I just wrapped up. I feel like its my best work to date, production and lyrics wise. It’s the first time I’ve spat over my own production.
Do you feel your age holds you back? Or do you feel its a benefit?
It’s a gift and a curse. If you are making music that can compete with artists nearly double your age, that’s a huge thing. It’s definitely something people will respect. But there is still a very long way to go for me. But sometimes with age, some people just won’t take the time of day to check you out. In the age of social media, damn near everyone is trying to be a rapper and a lot of them are young people. When people see and hear all these teenaged internet rappers and the ones that aren’t too good, they kind of get sick of it. So I don’t really use my age as a distinguishing factor to separate myself from others. I just leave that to the music.
What release have you been working on and where do you want to take it?
I just released my mixtape the ’97 Chronicles. It is available for free download at http://kidpharoah.bandcamp.com It’s a very nostalgic tape and focuses a lot on my childhood experiences. I did all the beats and it was the first time I had rapped over my own production. I teamed up with some big Aussie hip hop names including L-FRESH the LION and Koolta. It was an honour working with these guys. So the project is up and running as it is but in the future I would love to land some support act slots in order to get my music out there further. I would love to increase its exposure and I’m definitely gonna upload some more tracks to my Triple J Unearthed profile and hope I can get some radio play.
Any collabs or other projects?
I have been making beats and other people have been rapping over them. So I definitely see myself continuing to produce for other artists and get myself out there through my production. In terms of the MC side of things I definitely want to start gigging and build a strong core for my music. So once I start gigging and getting my music out there, who knows. Some rappers think the most important thing is to get signed but right now it’s easier than ever to do it yourself independently. But whatever happens I’ve always got to keep the music as the top priority.
What’s the measure of success for you?
A successful artist isn’t someone who has the most fans or is selling the most records but is able to maintain a long lasting career while still staying true to themselves and their morals. Longevity is the key. Obviously the ability to gain things like strong sales and a strong fan base are important but if you are able to do all those things without sacrificing your morals or the quality of your music that’s extremely applaudable.
Where do you want to see yourself and your music?
I want to tour, release albums and work with some of my favourite artists. That’s the dream. I want to be at a point where this is my day job. People think I am crazy for chasing this dream since there is a very slim chance of making it but it’s that faith I have that drives me. It’s kind of like a blind faith. I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not but all I know is I’m going to work so hard until it comes true.
What artists are you digging at the moment?
I’m always pumping my regulars like Kanye, Nas, J. Cole, Kendrick. But in terms of Aussie, it’s Remi, L Fresh the LION, Allday, Baro and the whole One Day crew. The future is very bright for hip hop down here. It’s crazy because I only recently started getting into Aussie hip hop. I’ve always been into US hip hop and in my early days I just used to rap in an American accent since all I was listening to was US rap. But in the last couple of years of really getting into Aussie hip hop I’ve realised that there’s no use trying to be something that you are not and that’s when I started rapping in my natural accent. As an artist, being real is your biggest asset.
What do you think are the most useful skills for an MC?
The most useful skill for an MC is the ability to connect with an audience. The best MC’s are the ones that make you think. You have to make sure you are rapping the lyrics that you are for a reason and not just for the sake of doing so. Everything you do as an artist has to have meaning behind it. MC’s are in the position where people are locked into what they are saying, your every move is being monitored essentially. Hip hop has had plenty of bad press through out the years due to the things that rappers say in their lyrics and how it has a bad influence on kids or whatever. So this is just a testament to the fact that as an MC you have plenty of people listening. So you’ve gotta make what you are saying worthwhile. As KRS ONE said, “If hip hop has the ability to corrupt young minds it also has the ability to uplift them.”
You can catch Kid Pharaoh’s mixtape at http://kidpharaoh.bandcamp.com