Kristoff Krane and Carnage hosting young artist showcase Survival of the Fittest

Kristoff Krane, through working at Minneapolis's Youthlink (an organization for youth experiencing homelessness) met the four young rappers representing Friday's Survivial of the Fittest showcase at the Nicollet.

Gimme Noise met with the performers, fresh from a night hustling flyers and freestyling on Soul Tools Radio on KFAI alongside Kristoff and Carnage, to talk about the show and how their paths crossed.

Gimme Noise: How did the show come together initially?

Batman Da Kydd: It started out nonchalantly, we were just rapping and doing open mics and whatnot. [Kristoff Krane and] me and a couple members of Last 7eft met up with Carnage the Executioner, it kind of just flourished from there.

Peoplez: We did have a show from Lt. Sunnie called the Exposure Show that blew up, and once that happened, it just came to us, yo, we have to throw a show. Took us a minute to find a venue, because it's all ages, and a lot of venues don't do all ages because they sell alcohol.

Carnage: It's more important to make money off of liquor than to serve young artists.

Scola Se7en: At Kulture Klub, which is at Youthlink, they have an open mic every other week. We are all young artists and we brought the idea to Kristoff Krane, and he...

Batman Da Kydd: ...pushed it to the next level, man.

How did you initially get involved with Youthlink?

Kristoff Krane: I've been working with Youthlink for close to three years now, and I work really closely in arms with Kulture Klub, the art organization there, so somewhere along the way with all four of these individuals, we crossed paths, and it just kind of started off. First Batman [da Kydd] and I started going in the studio once a week, we had some sort of creative connection in there, and we both felt really comfortable in that setting.

Peoplez: He helped us put our first mixtapes out, me and Batman's first mixtape. He showed us Bandcamp and showed us how to put the tracks on there, he mixed a couple of the tracks. Kulture Klub had a class for engineering, for Pro Tools.

Kristoff: That was when Medium Zach was there, he's actually going to be DJing at the [Survival Of The Fittest] show.

Peoplez: Shout out to Batman, he engineers everything at Youthlink now, they gave him a job for it, he started as an intern and they hired him, cuz he's that dope. He's making beats now, Batman da Kydd is making really dope beats.

Tell me about the song "Survival of the Fittest" you worked on together.

Peoplez: Off the Mobb Deep [song] "Survival of the Fittest," we were just like, we're gonna name it [that because] it actually fits our description, how we all came together and who we are. We [were] all homeless.

Lt. Sunnie: We overcame that. We survived. My personal outlook on how everything came together, I remember after the Exposure Showcase [a performance at Intermedia Arts in November which featured Lt. Sunnie, Peoplez, and Batman Da Kydd] I had a newfound respect for each artist. Batman mentioned it to me, and I had just stopped working at Youthlink as a Youth Ambassador. I stay in St. Paul so I was away from them for a while, and we kept in touch. In my mind, it started out as a cypher, and then it led to a showcase, and now like everything else, I'm proud of who orchestrated it and I'm flattered to be a part of this opportunity, and I respect each and everyone of you all in here. I'm proud of all of us, it's only up from here.

Peoplez: Big ups to Kristoff too, I appreciate you a lot, dog. We used to freestyle all the time, he'd bring his guitar to the freestyle. It gives you just a different mindsight every time you talk to him, he's such a positive person and he believes in us. You're probably one of the main guys I know that believes in me. I appreciate it a lot, man. It's a privilege.

Batman: Honestly, you're my mentor, because you've seen that spark, and you put gas to it.

Lt. Sunnie: Same here.

Peoplez: You pushed us, man. Trust me.

Carnage: You're my mentor too. Seriously, inspirationally, I look to you if I'm in a rut, if so and so ain't goin right, I just go, what is Kristoff doing? He's making a change in people's lives. That's what he's doing.

Kristoff Krane: I really appreciate everything you [all] said. I've constantly learned the lesson time and time again [that] any time you think that you're helping somebody, that is an illusion. The moment you think that you've arrived at the answer, you realize that there's no such thing as an actual answer. This whole situation is a similar sort of thing as that. Even at the beginning, I was like, I'm going to do some sort of service, and even the other day, Sunnie was like, do you feel like you've learned something? The spirit behind all of your eyes, whatever it is you're trying to communicate and how important that is, that's the thing that I see, and it's my responsibility to work with that sort of connection.

That's exactly what happened with me and [Carnage when he initially convinced Eyedea to freestyle with me]. This is the full cycle of me being in a position where I was ready to share my voice with the world, and I was so overwhelmed. I didn't think I had any connections within the community, I can't do that sort of thing. It's always important to remember how you got where you got, and whoever it is for me -- my [family, Eyedea], Carnage, my wife...  This experience was [in] the spirit of that, remembering that. I think that's one of the most important lessons in life, not taking things for granted. So I see how much you guys respect what you're doing, and that's what you see.

[page] What can we expect at the performance?

Peoplez: It's gonna be [sets from] each person, [Kristoff Krane and Carnage] will be in-between all of our sets, doing whatever they do, beatboxing, rapping. Scola is rapping and hosting it. We got Sunnie going second, she's gonna kill it. [Batman and I] are a collabo, so ours is like...

Batman: ...intertwined.

Peoplez: [Plus there's] Icy Styles Crew, they're breakdancers, that's my cousin.

Batman: They battled the Jabbawockeez.

Carnage: That's pretty dope. That's a big deal.

Kristoff: When people come together with some sort of intention, or are brought together with some sort of common understanding, the spirit becomes it's own thing. We're doing it all professionally, we have a budget, we're paying somebody to have professional sound, stuff like this, so it really came together. I just want to commend everybody involved because the community has supported this, Soul Tools has supported it, Kulture Klub did the flyer and [my friend Pat Jensen] helped us out with the artwork, the whole community. Elpis Enterprises...

Lt. Sunnie: Elpis gives homeless youth working opportunities. It's all non-profit.. Good stuff, good spirits.

Scola Se7en: Right now I just enjoy this moment, you know? This moment came a long way. I've been knowing Jets Gang, Batman since Youthlink, 2 years, I ran into Sunnie at a couple open mics and got more familiar with her as an artist. Very talented people. The opportunity came, I was just on board, I was with that because these are very talented artists, especially with Kristoff Krane and Carnage, they top guys in MInnesota, it's like we running with some guys that are winning the league. This is history in the making.

Scola Se7en: Teamwork to make the dream work.

Peoplez: Let me ask this, personal question for Kristoff. I know it's different now, times change, but how did you get to where you are now? How did you do it? What was your path?

Kristoff: Like I said before, I had mentors. I had that sort of guidance with the people around me, and because of that I had the influences that came in through music, where I could hear that there was more, that whoever was speaking had some sort of a message, something happening on a deeper level. I don't know how else to frame it, but I just noticed for myself that the reason I started writing and the reason I got into this was, the same thing you guys are saying right are the same things I would express to [Eyedea].

I got The Many Faces of Oliver Hart record when I was driving to and from jail. When I was 19 years old I went to jail for like five months, and I listened to that record and there's a song called "Here For You," and I was like, there's somebody that knows how I feel right now. I'm not alone. I realized, this is powerful. What he's doing right here is legitimately helping my life. And then there was also songs on there that show the human potential, and how far you can push the boundaries of what people say is possible, and that's what I've seen with Carnage, that's what I've seen with [Eyedea] and a lot of these other role models around me.

Batman: That's what music is supposed to do.

Catch Batman Da Kydd, Lt. Sunnie, Peoplez, and Scola Se7en, with Kristoff Krane, Carnage the Exectutioner, Medium Zach, and Icy Stylez Crew at The Nicollet (1931 Nicollet Ave.), 6/13/14. All ages, $10 suggested donation.

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