Photos by Tanya Rudenko and Elena Shameless
Everyone knows that hip-hop/rap music is a global phenomenon that has no end in sight. It’s always interesting to me when we get the opportunity to interview some of the top up-n-coming talent around the globe to really see how this genre of music has been embraced in their country. We know the roots began in NYC but now the music has branched out to all four corners of the earth. I had the pleasure of encountering a young woman from Moscow, Russia that has the hunger, skill, smarts, looks and grind that it takes to make it in the industry. She can hold her own in the male dominated music form and has the credentials to back it up. As an independent (unsigned) artist, she has garnered the respect of the rap community where she is from and is blazing a trail for future female mc’s to follow. Most importantly, she is loved and supported by her country. She has big plans for the future and I can’t see her not attaining anything that she puts her mind to. I’d like to introduce everyone to the young lady that is spear heading the evolution of the hip-hop/rap scene in Moscow…The Russian Rap Princess “KAYTA”.
Hello Kayta and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
KAYTA: Hey! It’s a pleasure for me to have a chance to share my thoughts and feelings to the worldwide auditory through the pages of such a magnificent magazine as yours. Thanks for the honor!
You are quite welcome. Tell us a little about your childhood and where you grew up.
KAYTA: Well I can say I had an ordinary childhood that was colored up by my creative parents…however I doubt if this kind of childhood could be named an ordinary one though. I’ll always be eternally grateful to my mom and dad for what they put in me, and how they always let me be myself …see this formed me up and gave me what I can now share with the auditory
– My soul. Since I was an extremely creative child who always was in the mode of singing, dancing and composing something, I had the chance to spend wonderful times at different artistic schools. My first steps on stage were made at the early years and I guess back then my future was defined very quickly. Plus it’s kind of a dynasty cuz my dad is a musician too. And though our musical taste is, different due to different styles, the main role played by the feeling behind the music always gets us in the same direction. Most of ma childhood days I spent growing up in Moscow, Russia but also had the chance to travel a lot since my childhood. I’ve been to a lot of countries around the world and believe this in someway also formed my vision after seeing, feeling and getting to know different places and different cultures. I would rather say I’ve always had that international flavor around me.
Where did your desire to become a rap artist come from?
KAYTA: In my own words, I’m pretty sure that every rap-artist is a poet first of all. The poetry of the streets is more expressive than its conventional prototype and this is the mission of the modern poetical rebels to express their emotions to those who care about life itself. I always wrote and still keep writing. All my lyrics are like a reflection of my nature and ma ambient world. It didn’t start with any reason or beginning because I’m looking for some material aspects. It all came by itself, just that when I came back to Moscow after a year spent in Africa everything inside me said that I had no way besides being a rap-artist. This is my mission. This is my unconditional love to the magical mixture – music, poetry and the streets.
Describe to us what the current hip-hop culture is like in Russia.
KAYTA: Now I can proudly announce that we really have rap in Russia. It’s quite different from its western relatives, but during the last few years, really great steps were made that gave our hip-hop culture a good advantage. You know it was pretty strange that for many years a country that has always been the motherland of the greatest poetic talents didn’t take rap-music as serious as it should be. I guess it was the difference in mentality, but however, time did reduce the gap and misunderstandings between generations. This has favored the rise of really quality music, and has been of great importance in the development in general, both musically and culturally wise. Lots of talented artists, bunch of thematic shows and parties and etc. In my point of view, our hip-hop culture has a lot of ways for its development. It has many years of history, a lot has been done, a lot more is to be done, and a lot more is coming. I really believe in the potentiality of the Russian rap-music.
Was it difficult for you to be accepted in the male dominated music form?
KAYTA: Well as rumors say, we are living in a man’s world, but the truth is that I’ve never felt any male domination problems on myself. I’ve heard about it a lot though. To me, rap-music is a prerogative of the powerful persons, powerful by the state of mind I can say. It’s not a matter of sex. This is a matter of what you got to say to the world and how you say it. All of us are humans. Thus I see no reason why we shouldn’t respect each other and work to give out what comes from the heart.
You’ve done so much I don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with you giving me your description of your rap style and how it makes you unique.
KAYTA: Since my childhood all my lyrics were based on life itself so it makes my style pretty versatile. I grew up on 2Pac, Naughty By Nature, Onyx and many other iconic artists so all of them made a big addition on the forming of my own feeling about my own style. No matter the language behind the lyrics, be it Russian or English, club or just a lyrical track with sum political flavor– I always stay me, and my style is thus pretty recognizable. I’m a perfectionist, and that I admire. I always do music by the way I feel it so it rides in the same line with ma feelings and I’m glad that most often my vision coincides with those of my beatmakers and engineers. Also I’m always on the lookout for new ways to express my ideas and make them bright. So it’s all about how I spread my feelings to the audience around world, and to those in particular who know how to listen and hear what I have behind the lines.
Are there other female rappers making noise in Russia or are you alone in your battle to have the boys make room for you?
KAYTA: Nah, I’m not alone. And I’m happy bout this for it means our industry is developing in the right direction. Sometime I hear that we have no female rap artists out here except a few. But I see now we have a pretty good number of artists so it’s only a time question.
Who is “Da Duce” and what role does he play in your career?
KAYTA: Da Duce is a talented rap-artist who I’m permanently working with out here in Russia. We met a long time ago and our get together became very productive. He’s also an extremely talented Beatmaker with a distant vision of the rap industry and a pretty unique vision for the Russian rap-music industry. He has work with several Russian artist and other artists around the globe. I’m glad to get a chance to work with him because I’m always on the look out for collaborations with really talented artists who has their own feeling about music. It’s very important. We both working on our joint album that will be released this summer and I believe will make real noise by its fresh components that will be new to the industry and our industry in particular.
Your credentials are impressive. You won several awards in 2007. Which awards were they and how did you feel after winning them?
KAYTA: As it’s said – hard work pays off – literally. I’ve never been focused on commercial music or I can say I’ve never work for the material components or quick fame. I always did what I wanted to, but soon I realized that the auditory was really digging ma swag! Their love and support became the greatest proof that I’m doing what’s right. And often when interviewed with the questions about my own favorite songs, I couldn’t always give an answer because all of them are meaningful and have a part of ma soul inside. It’s an honor that people who voted for me felt me and that’s why I was nominated as the Best Hip-Hop Artist and Professional Sound of The Year at the Club-Awards-2007. The truth is that I didn’t even know the details. We were just invited together with Da Duce and my group to the ceremony that took place in one of the clubs in Moscow. It was a great surprise.
Then you followed that up with another “Best Hip Hop Project” award in 2008…correct?
KAYTA: Yes, absolutely! It was at the Best of the Best Award ceremony organized every year with the patronage of the government that governs Moscow. It was kind of a national annual award to various people of different professions that have professionally contributed in the development of the country but culturally economically or otherwise. It was an award for professionalism in the field of each and every nominee. I was nominated for hip-hops contribution of in the cultural development and its vision to the actions of humanity. I’ve been really honored. And I’m going to continue with my mission, because if my music can help just one child and I have the chance to see him or her smile – then ma mission is on the right part! Plus, Da Duce and I were the only rap-artists to have ever been nominated in the history of such an Award
You were the first rap artist to perform at one of the biggest clubs in Moscow called “Metelitsa”. How did the opportunity come about and what was that experience like for you?
KAYTA: For many years in our country rap-music had always been specific and had less preference as in position to pop or rock music. It was pretty difficult for rap-artists to have the chance to perform somewhere where only another music styles were preferred – including some clubs, concert stages and TV- programs. So when the organizers of one of the stars event called and informed us to perform at Metelitsa, I was a little surprised cause actually it was exactly one of the main clubs where rap was never allowed at all. But however, I always had that feeling people would soon change their position about rap-music - C’mon we living in modern world and there is no place for funny prejudices. Our performance went perfect. The auditory loved what they saw. The headliner of that event European pop star and his management agreed that it was really hot and fresh! Actually, it wasn’t my first experience performing rap at a pop-music event. One of the biggest was my performance at the big concert in Luzhniki (Luzhniki stadium).
One of your tracks caught the attention of the Russian Olympic Committee in 2008. Talk to me about this huge honor.
KAYTA: Yes, it was our greatest honor ever. It was a big live show with TV Bridge at the Red Square dedicated to Olympic Games -2008 in Beijing. And at that moment me and Da Duce were working on the track dedicated to Moscow-city (originally the track was created as a soundtrack to the TV-show dedicated to the Moscow life) and during process of work the organizers asked if we would love to take part in the Olympic Forum called, “Olympic Friendship-2008”. I was like Yeah! Fo’ sho’! So I sent a demo of our track “Moscow-City” to the Olympic Committee and as soon as we could expect we got back an official invitation for our participation. Finally, when we arrived at the Red Square, we saw not only a crowd of international auditory with a high number of children, but also found out that our track was chosen as the main track of the Forum. More over, it was their first experience in Russia to ever invite rap-artists to such a meaningful event.
It was an unbelievable feeling to perform at the Red Square in front of an international auditory, with video and photo cameras of mass-press from all round the world. And the main thing was that it was our “Moscow-City” tracks premier and he was doing his thang airing out the environment of the main square of our country that is and has always known to be the heart of Moscow.
You have been labeled, “the most popular rap artist in the Russian underground industry”. How does that title make you feel?
KAYTA: To me, it has always been an honor that my music has never been separated to commerce or underground only. It always had that golden middle, and I’m so glad about this cuz it shows I’m respected by both sides. I can be invited as a star judge to perform at the underground events or perform at the stadiums of any glamorous clubs, not only in Russia but worldwide – the result is the same – people take my music as their own. And it means it’s near to a universal stuff for those who prefer to listen to real style. Also I don’t think our underground has no future, see it’s only a streets prerogative. It develops and should be admired cuz most times the greatest talents have always come out exactly from the basement - meaning from the underground. And that’s why I’m so proud that I have a huge respect from them. It’s very important because that style is 100% real.
Do you have HATER’S in Russia? With all of the success that you have garnered thus far in your career, you must have some hater’s. If so, how do you deal with the jealousy and negativity?
KAYTA: Perfect quote concerning haters would be, “I doubt if the cat worries about what the mouse talks”. And I doubt if hate can make someone happy permanently. I feel sorry and sad about people who prefer to hate than to live their own lives. But on the other hand, haters do rise proportionally with your popularity, which means that you really got something they jealous of.
Now, with so much success regarding your music, are you currently signed with a MAJOR recording label? And if not, is that your ultimate goal or will an Indie label suffice?
KAYTA: First of all, I’m really proud to be Independent. I know such a part is harder and longer but it’s my way. Plus our industry has that kind of specific that sometime it’s much better off to be independent than signed. Like I always say it’s pretty easy to sign something, the question is what to do next. During my career I’ve had lots of offers from labels out here but they couldn’t offer something that I couldn’t do by myself. So I preferred to have rather a friendly relationship with some of them and we help each other on many subjects than to be their artist and risk getting stock into a situation that you start to do something that doesn’t suit your own point of view.
In fact, I got my own label Thug4Life which is coming up in the near future. The label will be based on helping young artists make their steps in the industry. Its also one of the projects I’m working on. Plus, I’m also featured on Da Duce’s label Hu$$le - On Productions. I still have many interesting collaborations with different labels, beatmakers, artists and producers worldwide. I don’t refuse the fact that one day I’ll get to work with a major label. But when I get to do so, it means the label is one of a kind…the best one I must say `cause I’m pretty picky to everything that concerns my music.
You can rap both in Russian and English language. Do you have any aspirations on one day coming to the US to further your bright career?
KAYTA: Yes, the States is definitely on my map. First of all, this is a good chance to touch the ground of a place where the story began, knowledge about the roots is always as important as its future. Plus, I really have a lot of plans and connections concerning my music and shows over there. So I think it could be really productive for both sides.
Are you currently working on a new album?
KAYTA: Yeah, I do. Actually during this year, I plan to release two new albums and several singles. This summer the album that I’m working on together with Da Duce will be released. It will be like a collection of different track that were recorded together during the past few years and it will include already popular tracks like “Moscow-City”, “Like Dat”, “Keep it gangsta” and more. Branded new tracks will also be presented on the album – “System Prisoners”, “Street Angels” and many more. We plan to shoot several video to support the album and make several promo tours. Also by the end of this year I plan to release my solo album. Work on it began already. I’m going to lay down my feelings to the fullest on it. It’s going to be a projection of who I am. I plan to have several features with talented artist from Russia, Western Europe and the states on it. I’m sure that my auditory will not be disappointed with that. At the moment most of its ingredients and secret flavor is top secret! Aight! Ha! Ha! We in the kitchen! I feel it will be what my fans, auditory and listeners around the globe have been waiting for.
You are an attractive young woman – respectfully - thus modeling or acting would seem to be a natural step for you. Do you have interest in either?
KAYTA: Thanks! Well acting looks very interesting to me because I think that this is one of those ultimate arts that can give you a chance to put a part of your soul in something that will be meaningful for the new generations. I’ve taken courses at the acting school and planning to continue this kind of education in the nearest future `cause I think specific education always is a good polishing point to even the brightest and most talented. I already have experience in movie shooting and a few upcoming projects are on the desk. But at the moment, my music career has the highest place on my charts. All others activities, including my own book that I’m working on at the moment is like an addition, but still also important.
Weren’t you a model for Latimeria Design Group’s new hip hop clothing collection a few years ago?
KAYTA: Yes, working with that company was a nice experience for me as a model. The collection’s designer wanted me as a female rap-artist and a few different male-artists to represent his new collection of hip-hop clothes. I was really glad to be part of that because it showed that even our Russian fashion designers got on the hip-hop bus and was feeling the hip-hop style and that’s quite impressive.
Is there anything else you have coming up that you would like to promote at this time?
KAYTA: Beside my upcoming albums and shows the main project at the moment is my single dedicated to the person who has had the highest influence on me and my vision about music, Michael Jackson. Since childhood, I was and still am addicted to his art and will always be grateful to him because he molded up a real artist and person in me. I can proudly say that I’ve always been a huge fan of his music and been impressed about all what he gave to the world indeed. Several times I even met him in person. And it was incredible and so much impressive.
I compose this track called “L.O.V.E” a long time ago and def this is the track that I’ve been working on for a very long time. But it’s impossible to hurry because in every sound and every word I tried to put a part of my soul and feelings about the legend and greatest person ever. I’m going to release that track this month of June and as bonuses to the single there will also be a few remixes on MJ’s classics, Jackson 5 tracks and more. I must say, this is one of the most important things that I’ve ever done in my career.
Your talent is evident and your future is bright. We appreciate you for sharing your talent and insight into your country. Please let the readers know how they can keep up with your career and sample/purchase your music.
KAYTA: First of all this is my official website – www.kayta.ru that was recently updated with the latest news, music and tour dates. I really appreciate the different social networks and websites that have been helping me communicate with listeners and build a unique fan base all around the world. My Myspace music page is – www.myspace.com/k8ta and Myspace personal page – www.myspace.com/babykayta . Of course you can follow me on Twitter and get the most out of my everyday living – www.twitter/KaytaOfficial . Much love and respect!