Hip hop is turning 50, and game-changers like Kid Capri haven’t stopped rocking for decades. He’s still releasing music, including his incredible The Love album. Even though he’s worked with everyone from JAY-Z and Nas to Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar, Kid Capri still has aspirations of getting in the studio with the new generation of rappers.
“I would like to work with Symba. He’s dope. I just did a record with Dave East on his new album, but I want to get Dave in the studio to do a whole album with him by myself,” Kid Capri told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the hip hop legend explains how JAY-Z and Big Pun impressed him, what he learned from Quincy Jones, and how his album The Love is indicative of his style of making music. Check out the exclusive chat with Kid Capri below.
Who was the first person you were in the studio with that felt like a big deal to you?
Quincy Jones. When I did the Q’s Jook Joint album, he called and asked me to come to the studio. I got there, and he and Rod Temperton, the guy who wrote the Off The Wall album for Michael Jackson, were there. We were sitting there, and I’m in between both of ’em. First of all, I couldn’t believe I got the call. Secondly, I couldn’t believe I was sitting in between these two monstrous dudes. When he told me to go into the booth to do the record, he turned the track on, and it was Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Bono. So, I’m on the record with Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Bono. It’s the first song on the album, called “Let the Good Times Roll.” That was when I knew I was somebody (laughs).
Did you learn anything from Quincy in that session?
I learned humility and respect. You look at his face and see his wisdom and knowledge. There’s nobody bigger than Quincy Jones. He invited me to come to this party. As soon as I walked into the party, Oprah Winfrey said, “Hey, there goes my baby, Kid Capri.” At the party, he brought me over to the 55 Grammys he won.
Your song credits stretch decades. What are some of your unreleased records?
I did a record with Jadakiss that was incredible and never came out. I did a record with LL [Cool J] called, “My Name is Love” that should have been on my The Love album that’s out now, but we never put it out. I had put it on the radio, and people just went crazy. Social media went crazy over this record, but we had a problem clearing the sample. They wanted too much money, and we held back on it.
Speaking of LL, in 2014, you posted about you two doing an album. We haven’t received it yet. What were you working on?
I gave him 28 beats for about two albums. I gave him the radio type of LL records, but he wanted to do something different than he always does. That’s why he is working with Q-Tip. They have a different kind of sound they’re trying to do. I hope it works out. I hope it does good for ’em.
November will mark the 25th anniversary of your Soundtrack to the Streets album featuring JAY-Z, Nas, Common, Snoop Dogg, Big Pun and more. How did JAY’s record “Like That” come about?
I had a different beat for him when we were doing the record. The beat I had was a record I got from New Orleans five years before the time we made that record. I couldn’t get the loop to lock in the machine for some reason. I had this record for five years but had it on tape just to hear it. I was playing it in the studio when JAY passed by and heard me playing the tape. He said, “Yo, what’s that?” I said, “This is something I had on a tape.” He said, “Yo, we need to do that.” I had this record for five years; he fixed it in five minutes (laughs). I remember him sitting on the couch after the beat was made, just listening to it. He said, “Play it again.” I played it again, and he went into the booth and did it in one take; he didn’t write down anything. It was the most amazing s**t I ever saw.
“We’re Unified” with Snoop Dogg and Slick Rick came in the aftermath of the East Coast/West Coast beef. Did that influence the making of the song?
Keep in mind, I was the announcer on the  Source Awards when Suge [Knight] said what he said. I was sitting in the fifth row, and the tension there was really crazy. But in the middle of all that was going on with the East Coast and West Coast, I was going back and forth to California getting super love. I never got any friction from anything. People always had open arms with me. I thought, “How can I make a record that will unify both coasts?” That’s when I did the record with Slick Rick in New York. Then I came to California and recorded Snoop Dogg. At the time, Snoop was a free agent. After we made that record, he signed the deal with Master P. I wanted that record to be the official video, but Master P tried to charge me $200,000 for the video (laughs). I said, “Alright, we ain’t going to do that.” I was mad at P about that, but we’re cool now. What I did instead of making it one video, I took three of the songs from the album — Snoop and Slick Rick’s record, Cam’ron’s record with Jermaine Dupri, and I took the Lost Boyz record and made the very first video mixtape.
Do any sessions from that time stick out to you?
They all stick with me, man. I remember Big Pun coming in with his family. There was another group on the album — I won’t say their name — that was in the booth. They were kind of drunk. They were feeling good and weren’t getting their stuff off quickly. Then Pun came in with his whole family, and he was sitting there. So I made the group in the booth come out and put Pun in the booth. Pun pulled up a chair, sat in the chair, had his family around him in the booth, put the beat on, and did it — one take. He was out of the booth in 10 minutes. It was incredible.
You’ve accomplished so much in hip hop. What keeps you motivated to continue working?
I love what I do and don’t do it for no ulterior motive. I grew up with it. I gave my whole life to it. My family has been in music. My dad, my grandfather — it’s just in my blood. It’s a testament to how I’ve been relevant all these years with no downtime. I do not run with the crowd to chase the new thing. I don’t follow the wave. When you follow the wave, and that plays out, you play out with it. When you are the wave, and you’re the one that has your own thing going, it can’t play out. I’m the one that brought the money to the DJ career. I’m the one that made us DJs look like artists instead of looking like somebody just playing records. I’m always fighting for the DJs.
Who is someone you still want to work with?
As far as the new dudes, I would like to work with Symba. He’s dope. I just did a record with Dave East on his new album, but I want to get Dave in the studio to do a whole album with him by myself. I want to get in the studio with Nas and do an entire album with him by myself. [Shout out] to Hit-Boy; he’s doing this thing. But I have something I want to do with Nas I think will work. I’ve pretty much worked with everybody. When Madonna called me to work with her, that was weird, but I came through with flying colors. It doesn’t matter who calls; I will make it the way it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t matter what the music is. I want to make music that will stand the test of time. If you listen to my Love album, that’s the direction I went in. I made an album that will stand the test of time and be here forever. It never gets played out like Soundtrack to the Streets never got played out.
What do you have coming up for the rest of 2023?
I got the [hip hop 50 show] at Yankee Stadium coming up. I got a Times Square show coming up. I’m working on another television show. I put myself in a very high place with the BET Awards because I gave them the highest-rated award show in BET history. When I curated that show, I was also the host. There is a writers strike going on, so I was the host, the performer, the DJ, and the curator. When the last segment ended — the dance segment — I fell to my knees because it was so stressful. It worked out great. I think everybody’s happy, especially my brother Jesse Collins.
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