Get Your Mind Right
Producer Knxwledge takes 'em to church with his cinematic beat tapes.
Photos by Theo Jemison
Knxwledge’s music is many genres all at once and simultaneously no genre at all. He is heralded in the beat scene for his prodigious output, with over 60 projects released via his Bandcamp. However, in conversation he doesn’t overwhelm with the personality of a heavy output-driven purveyor of four-track recorded loops riddled with interminable directions. Instead, the Los Angeles-based producer is a well-versed musician with perfect comedic timing via Northeast slang–presumably a crossbreed of Philly and New York vernacular.
Five days before the release of the eighth installment of his Hexual Sealings series, and months before landing a production credit on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Knxwledge is relaxed, if not a bit weary. He speaks of film as a primary influence and it’s clear the Stones Throw Records-signed musical deviser has mastered the art of creating and transforming multiple influences to fit into his abstract perceptions of artistry.
His industrious and expressive sound is rooted in the church, born from Knx’s strict Pentecostal upbringing. When asked what his favorite project is, Knx says, “All the joints my moms likes are my favorites.” And that makes complete sense, since he drops a lot of gospel stuff. Born Glen Boothe, in Jackson, New Jersey, Knx spent six days a week in church from the time he was born until age 17. There, he developed a penchant for the broken instruments that populated the holy space. Armed with his Roland SP-303 sampler he would not only record the instruments that fascinated him but also the heated sermons delivered daily in his church.
While God’s house played a major role in terms of early influence, Philadelphia shaped the narrative of his output as well. His hometown is not far from the City of Brotherly Love, and Knx migrated to Philly early, meeting friend and fellow Stones Throw-signee Mndsgn and forming the Klipmode crew. Though he took in his fair share of SMACK DVD culture, when asked to pinpoint some direct influences, he mentions the school he attended an hour outside of the city, saying, “Cheyney University shaped what I do. I met so many cats who were putting me onto different sounds. I made a majority of the beats on my Bandcamp at Cheyney.”
Cheyney was also where he had a personal encounter with Meek Mill, inspiring him to use Mill’s acapellas that you can hear sprinkled through his instrumentals especially on WrapTaypes.Prt.6. But his use of Philly mixtape legends does not stop at Meek, gracefully weaving in emcees like Vodka and Peedi Crakk as well. Speaking on the latter, Knx recalls meeting
Peedi Crakk in South Philly. “I ran into him on South Street one time in front of the jewelry store he goes to. I ain’t have no shit on me at the time to give to him. I fucked up [Laughs]. I really wanna fuck with him on some shit though.”
His affinity for Philly emcees is just a single component in his layered, one of a kind formula. “It’s spontaneous for me,” says Knx, “I be getting bored with shit, that’s why there’s so much stuff. I don’t spend more than five to six minutes on each joint.” The level of detail in each track makes his claim hard to believe, especially with his layering of films like Belly, New Jack City, and The Five Heartbeats. “Those are monumental moments for me,” he explains. “My dad had all those movies on VHS. I know all of that shit word for word, man.” It’s evident that there is an element of relatability to these movies too, especially for avid supporters of hip hop.
Knxwledge’s artwork for his previous projects overflow with effortless ideas too, and tie directly back to the films from which he has drawn inspiration. The Jeff Jank artwork for his latest release, Hexual Sealings 8, almost appears as an aside. Clearly, Knxwledge’s visual aesthetic is in line with his breakneck creation of harmonious loops. Take a listen and you may just hear the essence of the effortless.