Why Pro Era’s Late Knight Really Is Special
After his show in VK Concerts, we had some time to have a chat with Pro Era’s Kirk Knight. We asked him about his first steps in the game as both a producer and a rapper; The beginning of his adventure with Joey Bada$$ and more.
Text by Erkut Gultekin, photos by Tara Boutaleb
When did you start producing hip-hop beats?
I think it was about five years ago in 2011. The first program I used was FL Studio. I started from zero with no knowledge at all so I guess you could call me an autodidact. I kept improving myself by practicing and using tutorials a lot. Capital STEEZ was the first artist to use one of my beats. It kind of boosted my motivation when I listened to it so I kept doing my thing.
What was Joey’s role in that?
I was close with him because we went to the same high school. The funny thing is, we were playing Modern Warfare online at the PS3 at that time. He was the first person that advised me to make the transition from making beats on the table to using an actual program.
What was the main reason you started rapping as well?
It’s impossible not to give it a try it when you see two talented artists like STEEZ and Joey rap together in 'Survival Tactics'. They talked a lot about the rap game and I learnt a lot from just seeing them doing their thing.
The music video of the song that eventually made Kirk want to rap. Rest in peace Capital STEEZ!
What do you think is your main advantage as both a producer and a rapper?
I know the picture that I can paint for my own beat better than anyone else. I instantly know what to say when I listen to one of my beats because I know what to expect. That’s how my beats are a part of me in a way. I guess that’s what makes me feel different than an ordinary rapper or producer. You can compare it to creating your own jungle and living in it.
Did you feel more like an actual recognized artist after you started rapping?
When I first started rapping it felt like I finally got rid of the underdog position I was assigned to as a producer. I learnt how you’re supposed to build an image of yourself when you get out as an artist, do shows, etc. I got to show more of my talent and that’s when people started perceiving me as an artist. It felt awesome because people finally started seeing me for what I wanted to be recognized for.
In your song called ‘Heaven is for real’, you say "I consider myself a storyteller: I'm a writer, a producer and an author. I'm an actor and I'm a director." What do you mean with that?
At the end of the day I started being a DJ and people first noticed me that way. Then I moved on to producing and rapping. I wrote lyrics for other people as well. But in a deeper level I meant that I’m the author, director and actor of my own life. By the way, not many people know this but I have acted in a movie as well.
So what’s the name of the movie that you’ve acted in?
It’s called ‘Patty Cake’ but it’s not out yet. It’s about this fat white girl that really doesn’t match the hip-hop look. She tries to rap though and it’s really funny. I play the rapper who turns out to be a mentor for her eventually. I have no clue about the release date though.
Who’s your biggest inspiration as both a producer and rapper?
Definitely Kanye West, he did both. Not just the old Kanye though. He’s being criticized a lot nowadays but there are not many artist who can do everything themselves. From him I learnt to be confident with what I do and just to be me. Also I think that you kind of have to advance as an artist. I mean there’s more to hip-hop besides just rapping. At the end of the day, who wants to go to a show and see an artist just rap for hours? What is the artist bringing other than rap? There are millions of rappers nowadays who do the same thing: Rapping about money, drugs and women. I don’t approve that. He really gave the mind of Kanye with every single album. He’s an artist that shows the people how he’s feeling.
Do you ask artists to do a shout-out when they use your beats?
A$AP Ferg shouts out to me in ‘FLEM’, I also appear in the music video. I was happy that Ferg mentioned me in the lyrics of the song but I didn’t ask him to do it. I think when a beat is really hot, it can speak for itself.
Do you prefer to perform at a concert venue like this one (VK Concerts) or festivals?
I’d definitely go for a small venue like this one. I like the intimacy because you get to direct and tell the fans how you really feel. At festivals you have to do more energetic songs. Nobody really cares to talk at a festival, everybody just wants to jump around and get their sneakers dirty. I love it when people actually listen and feel closer to me at my shows.