Unlocking his own thoughts: An exclusive interview with Locke Kaushal

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A common argument made by WRGW’s bloggers and show hosts is that the DMV music scene kicks arse and more people need to pay attention…

Whelp, I am a conformist because Locke Kaushal, the Dale City, VA native and recent winner of the House Artist Grant has more talent than most of y’all’s favorite rappers.  In light of his most recent project, “A Sober Man’s Thoughts EP”, which everyone can check out on his SoundCloud, and purchase on iTunes, if they so choose, Locke granted WRGW an hour of his time to ask him some questions about himself and the new project. Below is the transcript of that glorious Q’n’A where Locke and I talk about Dale City, dreaming out loud, being superfluously swanky, and his new EP.

Mista Locke Kaushal, let me shed all interviewer-interviewee barriers and ask you, what’d you eat for lunch today? 

What? Wow…um, today I had leftover lasagna.

…How would you rate said lasagna?

Gotta give it a 10/10.  My mom made it actually, and to be honest I don’t think I could ever buy lasagna from a store or a restaurant because it just wouldn’t be the same as my mom’s. You know, I just feel like lasagna has to be homemade, I’ve had way to many horrible school lunches.

I feel that, school lunches are DANGEROUS. So, now that we know what you eat for lunch what can us tell me about yourself as a musician. Who is Locke Kaushal?

Awh man, I’m just a Virginia MC that’s trying to put some positivity out into the world with my music.

Relatable, honest, and we dig it. So then, why does hip hop need Locke Kaushal?

Hip Hop needs me because there is always a place for a solid Virginia MC and while Pusha is holding his own, he needs some help, and I’m trying to step up to the plate and give him a hand. See, if you really look at it, when it comes to Virginia hip hop, the state has a whole lot of unbelievable producers, but on the MC side, its really, at least recently, just Pusha. I’ll say it again, he needs some help!

Give him that help doe…So you’re specifically from Dale City, Virginia?

Right.

How has Dale City and it’s people influenced Locke Kaushal the man and the MC?

Well with out going into too much detail, Dale City is very much its own city amongst the surrounding towns. It’s a place generally where blacks and hispanics live, and fits into the dichotomy, as does the entire DMV area, of the haves and have-nots. Living in Dale City, which is an area middle and lower class families, and then going to school in a town called Woodbridge near Dale City, with…the white folks at the IT school, I’ve found it’s either you’re rich and living well, or you are truly trying to get by paycheck by paycheck. So, to answer your question, because I’ve seen both sides of that duality I’m able to inject a whole lot of different ideas, and ask a lot of different questions in my music.

You are a man of Dream Out Loud Entertainment. How, through your music, do you dream out loud?

Well the reason is really in the name of the company, I, and the other members of the company, made a decision amongst ourselves that we do not want to work for somebody else, sit behind a desk, or be an employee making somebody else money the rest of our lives. So, through my music, I’m giving out to the people through my music, my dreams of not working for somebody else.

For real you need to tagline that answer. So, lets move away from the music questions for a bit, and throw some random questions out there. The Washington Wizards, how do you project they will during the playoffs?

Well, I mean I hope they do well, but my dad grew up in the Chi, so go bulls man.

..You heard it here Washington Wizards: Locke Kaushal says, “good luck.” So, to move away from sports, you are an avid reader correct?

I do like to read, yes.

What book have you been reading lately, and how has it inspired your more recent song writing?

Well right now I am re-reading the Autobiography of Malcom X, which has, more than anything, made me feel like as a human being, we have an obligation to uplift ourselves and our communities, regardless of what that community may be. You know, I just want to inject glimmers of hope in peoples lives through my music. Oh, and the book has also helped me learn some new vocab, so I’ll be able to sprinkle some nice SAT words in a verse or two.

Ha! That’s so ill. Moving on, who are the young bosses of the Woodrow Wilson High School?

How did you know about the young bosses man? Wow, so yeah, that’s a club that one of friends who works at Wilson High School started for some of the black males at the school. Young bosses is a club where the guy who started, myself, and some other people mentor young highschoolers. For me, being a mentor has been really fulfilling, you know, getting to see the progress in these kids. However, now, as my music has picked up, I haven’t been able to mentor necessarily as much as I would like to. Keep in mind though, I’m a teacher at Wilson, so I get to check in with some of my young bosses on the regular just to make sure they are alright. I gotta say though, if I may add,  being a teacher makes me feel like Clark Kent sometimes because its like I hop in the phone booth a teacher and come out a rapper.

Awesome man. The teacher who raps, who would have known? Quickly, as I had in our last meeting on WRGW Jellies and Jams, I must ask you if you have done anything superfluously swanky today?

Actually, and unfortunately no. I have been so busy in the past three days that I have been the opposite of superfluously swanky. You know, I’ve been so off my game that my boss had to pull me aside and tell me “Locke, get yourself together.” But, while recent Locke has not been swanky at all, being superfluously swanky, for those who don’t know, is my goal to be as posh as a possibly all the time.

Well then you need to get your life together homie. So, we know something else about you Locke, and that is that you are a man of film. If you could work with one actor or actress, who would it be?

Awh man, Sanaa Lathan, she is gorgeous. You know I would love to work with her, as a co-star.

Thats the right choice. So lastly lastly, before we talk about this album, lets talk about the Broccoli City Festival which you will performing at, in LA, on May 3rd. You know, what’s interesting about this Broccoli City Festival is that it’s really a space where music and doing the right thing – taking care of body- merge, where they connect. So, as an artist performing in that space, do you see room for more promotion of music and doing the right thing together? 

Definitely man. I see this festival as the perfect example of how you can bridge that gap. Because when people think healthy, organic lifestyle, for some reason they feel it has to be lame or that the food is disgusting. But, as the Broccoli City Festival has shown, you can bring people together with dope music and encourage them to take care of their bodies by eating healthier and exercising at the same time. You know actually, the people at Broccoli City Festival have this weekly running group called the District Running Collective that goes out every Wednesday night and just runs a couple miles, which is a beautiful thing because, especially for the black community, and no doubt for everyone else, a lot of us don’t go out and exercise as much as we should. But you know its weird because we actually start and end our runs at a bar, so after we feel awesome and tired from running, we will go inside and have a drink like “what the heck who cares”.

Now that we have painted the picture of the man that is Locke Kaushal, lets talk about the music. What kind of value do you hope music, and all of its positive stories and words, bring to your listeners?

I think the value in my music and stories is really that they are genuine. As an artists, I’m in a position where I am going to be critiqued by other people, so if I am being genuine with my songs and stories, than I people respect that because what I am given out is really just a reflection of me. Moreover, in being myself I am not falling into the whole gimmicky realm of this music world, which I want to make clear I don’t hate on,  but I think there is something really valuable to people about my music because they can relate to it.

Beautiful. Now we need to talk about your new project, “A Sober Man’s Thoughts EP”. So lets start first with the single “Year of the Cat” . What type of story is being told with “Year of the Cat”?

The story in that song is about relationship in which a female is using her body to get what she wants. You know, a couple of the other tracks earlier in the EP talk about love in a more positive light, but when that song comes in, the content and lyrics switch over to the darker side, and parts of relationships. That song, amongst as all others, is a very, very figurative song.

How many tracks are on the projects?

There are seven tracks on the project.

Any features we should be excited about?

Yes. Darren Hanible is the only feature on the album.

Is there an interesting story behind how you linked up with Darren?

Well actually yeah! I was at House DC Studios recording the project, and he was there too, giving me advise, you know, bouncing off some ideas. So, after I laid down my verse for the track that he is on, “Side by Side,” my man Carlin said I should get another voice on the song, so I told Hanible I had song for him if he wanted to be on the project. Then I showed him the song and was like, “Yo, while I’ve been listening to you record all your tracks, of all the ones I hoping you would ask me to get on, this song was the one I wanted to hop on most.” For me that was awesome, because it was a very organic moment in the making of the project.

Organic like the food…So are there any particular songs we should be prepared for that are going to have our necks snapping back and forth?

Awh man, so there’s this track on the project called “Brown Skin Lover’” that I feel like is really hot. You know all the ladies that have heard it, and all the people who have seen me perform it live have been coming to me like, “Yo when is this song dropping? I need it.” So I think that one will be a nice little standout track… then of course the one with Darren which is dope, and I think that all the other track I have got going are really really solid, you know I think everybody’s going to like them.

So we have gone through singles, the features, and how many songs are gonna be on the EP, but tell us about what kind of themes and topics are going to be heard throughout this project.

…I touch religion, relationships, and really just everyday life type things man. You know there’s definitely some random thoughts of mine up in there, some cool bravado. I gotta tell you, for me, the purpose of making this project was to make a music that anybody, whether they are heading to work, the gym, class, home, the club, or anywhere where people are truly in their sober state of mind would dig and want to listen to. You know, we all have thoughts religion that we might not say out loud, and about relationship that we might not out loud, and will keep to ourselves when we are in our regular state of mind. So, this project, through its subject matter, is kind of an ode to those things we think about.

Very ill, because anyone who knows the discography of Locke Kaushal will know you released a project called “A Drunken Man’s Words”, which would make it seem that the title of this new project is intentional. Is that so? An what might have been the intention?

Of course that was the intention man. So, with “A Drunken Man’s Words” I wanted to drop some knowledge really just in the funkiest way possible.  With that project I really had an uncle of mine in mind, who is this wino type dude that while in his most pastured-state of mind will say some of the most insightful things you have ever heard. So the intention of the two projects having closely related titles is to flip from the drunken works unc’ was saying to the to the thoughts a sober man might think about, but would not dare ever talk about. So yeah, between the two projects its kind of like a flip.

So, let’s test you and make the concept of the album real. What are some of the sober thoughts you have had today but would not dare say?

Today the biggest one was probably “is it 4:30 yet,” because that’s when I get off work. But I also definitely had some bizarre ones today too, although we don’t have to talk about them. For me bizarre thoughts really aren’t anything out of the ordinary.

Who do you hope hears your new project?

If I could have it my way, I would like everyone to come in contact with it in one way or another, even if it is just a video, or an iTunes snippet and they decide they don’t like it. You know, I should also mention that I am kind of getting to the point where I am starting to be a little more interested with the industry people have to say about some of my material because generally I have just been doing this music stuff for me, and I and I want to know what the men in the suits have to say about what I’m doing. But, let me say this, if I had to pick between the men in the suits and the people, then of course I would pick the people. You know, right now the people are a given, so I feel comfortable getting some feedback from the industry people.

Your explanation of this project you have outfitted makes the project seem quite special. However, the way in which it was made, which we have not really talk about, was in itself very special: it created impart with your winning of DC House Studio’s “House Artist Grant.” What was that experience like for you?

It was amazing. To be able to focus on just music for that duration of time makes it so I cannot wait until I don’t have to work a 9 to 5 to be able to keep my music moving. You know, it was just awesome. The people at DC House Studio are just ridiculously talented. They helped us out a lot with choosing which tracks should be one the project, the sequence of those tracks, the mixing, the mastering, the recording of the project – that was ALL House. They were pretty much just like, “Locke come in, bring your voice and your lyrics and we will take care of the rest.”

So dope! But last question. You must have plans for yourself moving forward as an artist. So, where does “A Sober Man’s Thoughts” fit in your longer music career? Is it a launchpad for something bigger? Is it just a taste of your music? What is it?

It’s definitely a launchpad, and I really like that, so much that I might use it in my other interviews about the project. And yeah, it is also a taste of my music, and of me in a place where I’m not just making the music because I love the music, as I always have and always will, but in a space where I am serious about what I am doing, and think I can actually profit off my music. And of course give back to my peoples with whatever that profit may be. So this is definitely a launchpad because I plan on dropping my next full length project later on this year. You know, for those who have followed my music, I dropped a project called “The Rise” last September, which was seven songs, and this project here is seven songs. So that full length project I drop at the end of this year will be a way of letting the people know that I can drop a solid 13 to 15 track project, and it will be dope.

 

You heard it from the man. Locke Kaushal, DMV’s own and the man you all need to get up on before hip hoppers from outside the district get into his music heavy and you are feel uncomfortable claiming him as your city’s artist because you were sleeping while they were up listening.

Check out the “A Sober Man’s Thoughts” now, follow dude on twitter, and be on the lookout for more great music in the future.

Peace, Love, & Locka.

-DG

 

Photo credit: Sky of DC House Studio

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