The Gray Kid

The Gray Kid

Monday, 30 October 2006

Steve Cooper will admit he’s more than a rapper, although he doesn’t mind the title. He’s also a booty-shakin, falsetto-singing, public policy-workin’ kid from the East coast who is using the good fortune he’s finding in Los Angeles as he inches toward fame.

So, you moved here 6 months ago from NY. Do you think you can “make it” easier here than in NYC?

It’s not even close. Physically the labels aren’t there. The community of musicians is much bigger, much more connected in LA than in NY. In NY, these cats are fighting for every last dime and it feels kinda exclusive. Stars barely ever come out of NY anyway and make a huge impact (except most of the mainstream rappers and really, the South is killing the game with that these days). In LA, you have zillions of paid, professional musicians, even bands that suck who have big fan bases, and just in general more people going to more shows and supporting more things. That builds the community and everyone benefits. The bottom line is the biggest rock band to come out of NY in the last 5 years is probably the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…and Karen O. moved to LA!!!

Do you get offended when you get branded as a rapper?

I don’t get offended when people call me a rapper, after all I rap about being the best rapper alive so I’ve got to be ready to wear that. We came up learning from MCs who were basically like, “If you don’t think you’re the best then you shouldn’t spit at all”…but I think it’s a short sell. It’s like I’m spending all this time singing and shaking my ass, why you gotta pigeon hole me like that? It’s not cool, but it’s fine! That’s the other thing, you can’t be all sensitive about it.

What do you do during the day?

Well, for my day job I write and edit for a consumer group, doing mostly tech policy, telecommunications, and sometimes other topics like natural gas. It’s sweet though because the research I do and the stuff I write is about anything from Napster court cases, to blogging and collaborative production on the Internet…really current stuff that informs how we, as musicians and artists and creators, need to maneuver and think in the digital age.

What’s your ethnic background?

Jewish…but we don’t celebrate the holidays. I don’t even know what Passover is. When I was six years old my parents asked if I wanted to go to Sunday school and I was like “Nope! Time to go run around in circles in the sun.”

So you were over that fast. There have been other Jewish rappers who have done alright…I think they’re called…hmm…the Beastie Boys?

(laughing) Yeah and the guys who made the Beastie Boys. I was actually in NY a couple weeks ago and I was speaking with this old cat who was composing jazz while sitting at this bar, 7A. We struck up this conversation and he goes on this long, insanely well-put rant about how jazz would have never been what it was without the Jews…”no Jews, no jazz” he said. It was too much to explain now, but he ended it by saying: “…and if you go look at Dizzy Gillespie’s first studio recording…round ’48 or ’49…you know who’s playing the bass? Soul Brother Murray Shapinski…”

Well you play your shows by yourself now…you lookin’ to hire the next Murray Shapinski to play with you?

That would be vicious. I don’t have that band yet, you know, I’ve been doing these solo shows for two years. …I’ve always seen this as something that would have a band when the real world-touring came around, when there was more exposure…AND BUDGETS!!! But it’s hard to build that from the ground up and get it exactly how you want it, especially when this has been working so well so far, and I think it has a certain impact on people to see me go it alone…All things in time.

Well, I think you have balls…especially since I saw you play on an indie club night which seemed odd

Well is there really any bill that I make all that much sense on, on paper? That’s the crazy thing, always trying to convince the club that it will work. Since they haven’t seen me they don’t understand how I relate to the indie kids or the other non-rap fans. It’s really just people shit at the end of the day. The best songs are for everyone, I think.


Comments are closed.