LA-based musician Sidizen King is revolutionizing hip-hop from the inside out—his combination of electronica, indie rock, rap and house makes for a style King refers to as “Electronic Hip-Hop.” The rapper already has an established following, and his constant output makes King one of rap’s most prolific up-and-comers.
Tracks like “One Day” and “Disappear” featuring LA rock band The Moth and The Flame showcase King’s true talent—mixing genre to create a fresh sound, and in the process, redefining the conventions of hip-hop. This January, King will release his debut album, with a new single dropping every month until then. With an unbeatable flow and experimental production, Sidizen King is surely one of hip-hop’s most promising emerging artists.
Photographer Alexandra Cabral shot King, styled by Britt Layton in designs from J.W. Anderson and Helmut Lang, and asked him some questions about his music. View the editorial, above, and keep reading for King’s interview, below.
How would you describe your sound?
The production is pretty diverse (future bass, indie rock, tropical house), but the most straightforward way to encapsulate it would be ‘Electronic Hip Hop.’ […] Someone messaged me on Soundcloud once saying, ‘If Kid Cudi and Lupe Fiasco had a child, you’d be the friend that everyone mistook for her brother.’ […] I think there can be a lot of benefit to having a consistent, identifiable sound, especially from a business standpoint, but it can also be creatively stifling. I can’t make music unless the process is creatively fulfilling, and for me that means varying the production and experimenting with cadence and melody.
Has the ease of creating and distributing music on the internet presented any drawbacks?
The pros outweigh the cons, for sure, but I think the historic barriers (e.g., expensive equipment and marketing) that technology has helped break down, [used to reserve] music, film, and photography to people who were sincerely passionate about their art. You see a lot more under-qualified people trying their hand at music to get some love on social media, or people with big Instagram followings deciding that they’re photographers all of a sudden. It messes things up, because often times paid opportunities will go to someone with a big social media following and amateur ability over someone who’s truly skilled.
What five artists are you listening to right now?
Sufjan Stevens, Tupac, The Moth and The Flame, Solange and Flume.
What draws you to the music you like best?
It needs to move me in some direction emotionally, preferably an emotion I can relate to. I think we all look for that subconsciously in music, and for that reason, I think the music we gravitate to most says a lot about us—they should make a dating app that pairs people based on their Spotify listening habits.
What’s your favorite song lyric and why?
I’ll go with, ‘How you gon’ win when you ain’t right within?’ from ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ by Ms. Lauryn Hill—that’s scripture right there. So much of what we see and hear is that happiness comes from external things, when in reality, lasting happiness has to come from within.
Why do you think fashion and hip-hop are so intertwined?
There are so many parallels between the two worlds, from the attitude to the creative expression. Fashion has always been a principal element of hip-hop culture, but until recently, the fashion world didn’t necessarily reciprocate the love. Hip-hop and high fashion have borrowed from and flirted with each other for awhile, so it’s great to see that relationship consummated with rappers becoming prominent representatives of some of the most well-known fashion houses. That all being said, I don’t think every rapper should force fashion into their songs, and not all fashion houses should have ‘rap representatives’—there’s certainly good business reasons for doing both, but you run the risk of sullying the integrity of the art if it’s not a natural pairing.