In February 2018, I went to the Haunted Kitchen, a local house-show staple in Lawrence, KS, and enjoyed what is still one of the most enticing and active hip-hop shows promoted by Petri Productions in 2018. On the bill featured up and coming local artists such as Solomon, A’Sean, and Lord Kiyoshi. Also on the bill was No$kope, a Chicago-born Kansas City rap artist who went beyond the call of the duty to interact and entertain the crowd that evening.
Jovon Savage has lived in the Kansas City area for the past 14 years but has only started to release his music within the last year, making him a fresh new face in the vibrant local hip-hop scene. With his first two EPs, the “Jeffrey Jordan” EP and the “Theory of Relativity” EP, you had the ability to witness somebody transition from a normal, everyday person into an eclectic artist that isn’t afraid to open their soul and give you a sneak peek into how they are feeling. This transition was more on the chill side though, touching into the grooves and rhythms already established by the chill-pop craze that has occurred in the underground rap scene.
Below are two of the newest music videos that provide insight into what I mean by eclectic. He is humble enough to know when to have a good time and poke fun at himself (the “Water is Wet” music video proves that point alone). But what is not surprising for those who get to know him is how well he keeps a steady balance of humility and seriousness. Guided by one of the best collaborative crew in the Kansas City area, No$kope’s upcoming EP will be expected to polish his solid chill-pop standing in Kansas City but will also break ground for him with more aggressive, raw material.
Within coming months, listeners will be able to see No$kope go down new, exciting paths with producer Boof Chief (Founder of Alldayyo Studios) and fellow rap artists Nightcrawler and CINQO. Charismatic artists like No$kope have a lot of range, not only in personality but in practice. After making a name for himself in Kansas City as somebody to pay attention to, all eyes are on him as we slowly get more insight on what makes No$kope a person.
Check out the two new promo music videos below for “KNEW THAT” and “Water is Wet.”
MK: For many of the new listeners who might not be familiar with you or your work, can you give a brief synopsis of who you are a person or artist before we get deeper in the interview?
NS: What is the deal? My name is No$kope and I represent Kansas City to the fullest. I hail from Chicago, Illinois, where I spent a beautiful 14 years of my life. I moved to Kansas City and the people here adopted me. People here made me the man I am today. So my art represents both cities. If I had to describe the type of music I make, I would say it is edgy. Sometimes my music can get slimy and grimy. Sometimes it is just like, “Wow, he is so vivid in explaining his emotions,” because that is just the Gemini in me. So what I represent are two different spectrums at two different times.
MK: So you recognize you are a Gemini? In what ways do you feel you can identify with that?
NS: I really do. I really read up [on the zodiac sign]. I cannot say that I am one of those “woke” astrology people because I will only read about Geminis. Like, my brother over here [points over to his brother], he is an Aries so that is supposed to be the Gemini’s best friend because they both have a strong mind. So I relate to that for sure. Geminis want to be a leader. I have always felt that if I was the hardest working person in that group, that group is going to fail. So I am always willing to step up and work and be the leader.
MK: When did you come to that realization about that with your personality?
NS: It was at a young age. Especially when I came to Kansas City because it was just different. I realized I could work on the business spectrum and I could be a contributing member of society. However, I can also creep on the street of Kansas City with my bros and do dumb shit. I could still be the same dumb kid I was in Chicago.
MK: When did you move to Kansas City, and at what age?
NS: I was born in Chicago. I moved to Kansas City in 2008 or 2009. I was 14 when we moved to Olathe, KS. I went to Blue Valley West High School and it was a big culture shock. I learned a lot from these people here.
MK: Where in Chicago where you coming from?
NS: I was coming from South Side.
MK: That is a huge difference. What motivated you and your family to come to Olathe?
NS: My pops. He got a job opportunity to move out here. His brother is in Kansas as well so that is the only other family we have out here. He came to Kansas to give me a better life, I guess. I think he ended up losing his job six months after we moved here though. He was a mechanical engineer. Life got was weird for us as a family for a while.
MK: What was your family structure like?
NS: You know I got my O.G. sister and my O.G. brother. My brother is 34 or 35 years old and he still lives in Chicago. He never left the city and never will. I respect that. My sister is 33 or 34. She was in Chicago most of her life but she moved out here to Kansas. Now it is her and my nephew.
MK: You talk about how it was a huge culture shock and change moving from South Side of Chicago to Olathe, Kansas. Olathe is plain, pristine and super white. How did that make you feel when you were a 14-year-old? What was your thinking and feeling process going through that change?
NS: I wanted to continue to be me but I wanted to fit in. So there was a big…it was uh…I do not know how to describe it. It was a big culture shock. Do I change who I am to fit in or do I continue to be me? That is where my Gemini personality strengthened because I have learned to incorporate both sides.
MK: What about you and who you wanted to be, did not fit in with everybody else? What was different about you from the situation or scenario?
NS: I am a knucklehead, you know what I am saying? I want to be in class talking shit, I want to be skipping high school and smoking. People were not on that, you know what I am saying? I guess that is what I am about. I love having fun just on a different level. You just do things differently. I go against systems for some reason.
MK: At first, how do you feel others viewed that?
NS: You know, everyone fears what they do not understand at first and that just translates to a hate and sometimes anger. But later on, they just see who I am and accept it. They let loose and had fun with me.
MK: How did your relationship with your parents vibe during the process of moving from Chicago to Kansas?
NS: It was super weird. When they brought me down here, they were very willing to change who they were so they were forcing me to change who I was. I was like, “No.” Like, you can take someone out of the streets but you cannot take the streets out of that person. We are just now healing, honestly. My music is really the best way for me to express myself. Other than that, I feel people just do not hear what I have to say. Since I started my music, my family and I have been talking. They are really happy that I am just motivated and doing something. Now we have common ground, you know? My family supports this because of how motivated I am.
MK: When did the moment that you knew that this was an art form that you wanted to chase hit you?
NS: I had been writing lyrics forever but something hit me when I graduated high school. I was discouraged by the scene. For example, everyone was into Lil’ Wayne when I graduated in 2013. Then, I linked up with my boy Joe (aka Nightcrawler), who is someone I make music with now. We went to high school together and we were best friends. He was in a similar situation to me, family wise. He came here from Jacksonville, Florida, which is the hood, you know? So now we tell our story together now.
MK: You both experienced a similar cultural transition from one city to another, which was super drastic. Maybe you could both operate on the same plain because of similar thought processes that pull from the same experiences? Interesting. You have two new promo singles that are going to promote an upcoming EP that you have. Is this the first time you have gone through the motions of making promo singles and music videos for the EP? Let us talk about that because it is something new and different. The music video process can be a little intimidating for some. What was your experience of putting that together?
NS: I had already put out two little EPs formerly, the “Jeffrey Jordan” EP and the “Theory of Relativity” EP. The “Jeffrey Jordan ” EP was to let people know, “Hey, I am here I am doing this well.” With the “Theory of Relativity” EP, I was starting to do shows and get some spins. This upcoming EP is my big boy. Now it is time to get some more attention. I am thinking Kansas City and bigger. I want eyes on me to recognize the talent. I want people to recognize my brother’s talent and all the team members around me. Yeah, it is a little intimidating but I have never met a challenge I could not face.
MK: When you face challenges of all types, business, personal, friendships and etc., what goes through your mind and how do you cope with the challenge?
NS: I know it is always going to get better. I see the finish line and I visualize it. I do not see the word, “No.” I do not see the outcome where I do not succeed.
MK: So these are the first two music videos that you have made. What was that like to go through? What was going through your head during the production process?
NS: I was thinking, “This is great. I need these videos and I am very excited that this is happening.” Those words were what was going through my head the entire time. I am an absolute entertainer until the end. I love to make people laugh, smile and dance. People are going to do all of that when they watch these videos. The generation now loves to be visually stimulated. They need to see cool shit and I have nothing but cool shit to show everyone.
MK: Overall, for you, as a local Kansas City artist who is trying to spread your wings, how important is the music video towards you and your identity?
NS: It is incredibly important. It is very important for the brand because people hear my music and they are liking it. But they do not know me. I think the video digs deeper into your personality. That is something people will want to hop onto. That is what I want the people to see.
MK: When it comes to representation, you have an Instagram for people to follow but you will also now have music videos. Both are important to you, your brand identity and who you are as a person. But how are these two mediums different?
NS: You can pose a picture at any time. With a video, you get to dig deeper. You can actually see what I am doing and who I am with. That is great. People will ask, “What is going on? What is the story behind the scenes?”
MK: Your first EP was to show people that you working and active with your music. You were saying, “This is what I am into. I am here.” The second EP was about establishing yourself in the community. You were doing live shows at that time. This upcoming EP is your way of establishing yourself in Kansas City and reaching out to a broader audience outside of the city. In terms of themes and art, what does this EP mean? Like, if your listeners were to treat it as a painting?
NS: This upcoming EP is a major representation of myself, my people and my team. There is a song for every mood. I am a pretty moody person. I do not know why that is. My music represents that. I know there are plenty of people in the world that are going through what I am going through constantly. They are having these emotions and they do not know how to deal with them or know how to express themselves. When they listen to this music, they can say the lyrics with such passion. They will memorize them. I want to touch them so quickly. The beats will make them feel such a way…that is what will represent this EP, like in the same way they can look at a visual piece and be like, “Wow.” They will just melt into that piece of art for a while and just stare at it. That is how it will be with my music. Hopefully, they will play it over and over again for whatever mood they are in. There is something for them.
MK: Imagine you lying in bed at night and it is right before you fall asleep. You are thinking deeply and you are motivated to do this new idea you are thinking about. What is motivating you? What deep inside touches you to the point where, you think, “I know I got to do this because of this.”
NS: I do not want to fail. Failure is not an option in life. I am getting stressed just thinking about failure. That is not someone I want to be, you know? Someone who failed. The fear of failure makes me hungry.
MK: Do you have that fear under control or balanced in your life? Sometimes, does is it affect you negatively?
NS: I just try to stay focused. I always try to look at the outcomes where I do not fail. I am fighting that fear of failure but telling myself that I am not going to fail. Yes, that can have anxiety with it. Why am I doing this? Am I going to be good enough? But then I reassert myself. I tell myself that my stuff is so different and that people like it. I am coming from a new approach.
Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for No$kope’s upcoming EP, which will release later in 2018.