One of the hardest-working, under-press-covered Hip-Hop acts in Milwaukee is the Hunter S. Thompson-monikered KingHellBastard. Live and on record, they’ll end any debate over what is and isn’t Hiphop by setting the example for you. And they’re taking their four-star road show all over the country in a week or two. Hence this little Q & A session. What follows is the most thorough, eloquent, and humorous set of answers to my questions, courtesy of KHB MC DNA. (Damn, that’s a lot of letters.) That’s what happens when you interview someone who’s real nice with words.
Fan-belt Milan: Give me the origin story of KingHellBastard (KHB). The line-up, too. For the kids that just don’t know.
DNA: KHB is DNA (me), Dana Coppafeel, Clark Beez, LMNtlyst, Animas, Reakt20, A-Biz and Dj One L for those that don’t know. A lot of people figure it’s just me, Dana and Shemp because that’s what they see around town all the time, but at times it has been much bigger. Six dudes on stage all at once is a clusterfuck though.
It came about fairly haphazardly through a bunch of us all hanging out in West Allis for a Summer and drinking/recording (in that order) over at Animas’ old place. Everybody already had previous crew affiliations or projects under their belt, but nobody seemed to be doing much at the moment– this is a little under three years ago– so I kinda hatched this idea of a flag we could all rally around and everybody really got behind it as their former groups kinda disintegrated. Animas and I were a group called The Royal We, Shemp was in The Pizdamen with Bobby Brewski & Aaron Wade, A-Biz and Reakt had been doing their thing for a while in Milwaukee and Madison respectively, and Dana Coppa had been part of The Rusty Ps, Intel Agents, Break Bread and everything else you can think of. He’s probably a member of The Wu-Tang Clan and I just dont know it.
The name KingHellBastard is a phrase from various Hunter S. Thompson books that I’ve read over the years and it just stuck in my head. He’d use it when he really liked something passionately, like “you should check out ‘Lie Down In Darkness’ by William Styron. It’s a king hell bastard of a novel.” That and it didn’t sound like a hip-hop group at all. Everyone else hated it at first, but I am a stubborn fucking person.
FBM: Now give me the low-down on the Rappetite For Destruction (best name ever) tour.
DNA: Yeah, I like that name too. It’s one of those funny/dumb/funny again sorta’ things that sticks with you.
We’re hitting the road for the month of May and the tour features KHB, Kid Millions, and the Dope Sandwich crew out of Savannah, GA. So far it’s looking like 18-19 shows in 23 days, and we’re hitting up a bunch of new cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte, Columbus, Dayton and others. The tour ends with our official album release at Mad Planet on May 31st… if we make it back.
FBM: Did previous road experience change the way you planned this tour out?
DNA: Yeah, last year was an eye opener for sure. We put together a tour with the Dope Sandwich guys last year, featuring J-Sands from Lone Catalysts. It was a blast, but it was thrown together in a couple weeks before we left. AND, at the last minute, Dana ended up breaking his leg so we had to figure out how to do our set without him. He did all the legwork last year and made the connects, so we basically owed it to him to go out there and make it happen.
People seemed to dig it, so this year we reconnected with the down-South guys to do a better-planned and bigger version without a headliner to account for. That’s no offense to J-Sands, because my man is a trooper and a great guy, but Underground Hip-Hop is a skin-of-your-teeth type of affair.
The planning of this tour wasn’t too different from last year. The major difference is that we have a history with more people, and a larger amount of people know who we are. We also seem to be one of the main crews that out-of-towners hit up for shows in Milwaukee, and those people go out of their way to help us out when we’re on the road. My rule has always been that the out-of-town crew gets paid first, so I guess all those nights people spent on my couches is paying off.
FBM: So what’s up with Cups & Bottles?
DNA: Cups & Bottles is a KHB side project, featuring me and Dana Coppafeel as “Cups Buckingham” and “Bottles Bagsworth”. We set out to make an album in the vein of Raekwon and Ghostface, or maybe Smif ‘N Wessun– basically a dynamic duo type project, since me and Dana always seem to be together. The sound is intentionally stripped-down and the vocals were recorded in three sessions because we just wanted it to be as honest as possible. It’s Hip-Hop, not Theoretical Physics, so we tried to trust our initial instincts as much as possible.
The album is called Marlo after the young gun on HBO’s The Wire, and it was recorded with our friend Dima the White Russian and features all his beats. Oh, it also has our boy Clark Beez as “Holden Cannes”, which is much funnier in print than when spoken. Anyways, we just released it in conjunction with a start-up label here in town called Uni-Fi Records, and it’s available at Hot Pop in the Third Ward, Lotus Land Records in Riverwest, as well as CDbaby.com and iTunes in the near future. Or out of my hand whenever you see me.
To hear more KHB, plus tracks from Cups & Bottle’s forthcoming Marlo, click here. And to see them when they come BACK from their tour: