Delaware rapper creates 'Diamond Love,' a hometown anthem
Known as the ‘small wonder,’ Delaware’s hip-hop scene is relatively underground. Aside from a few emcees who create local hits that chart regionally, there has yet to be a Delaware rapper who has broken through on the national stage.
Enter Kae Hock. While some of his peers run to bigger rap markets like New York or Philly to pursue success, Hock embraces where he is from and has crafted an anthem to show his state some love. Hock recently sat down with theGrio to talk about his Delaware track ‘Diamond Love,’ his start in the music business, and what he believes is holding his state back from being relevant in rap.
THEGRIO: Tell us about your inspiration into getting into the music business.
KAE HOCK: My name is Kae Hock, an abbreviation for Kyle Hockaday and I was raised in Newark, Delaware. Music is something that has always been in my life. My mother moved to Delaware from Jersey and my father was back in Jersey; they split up when I was very young. He used to own a record store and I found a lot of inspiration from the youth that I was exposed to [at the record store] as a young child. He had a couple of artists and I would see dudes like Kris Kross come by. As a young man, I thought [it] was inspiring to see other young gentlemen making it in the music industry. It made me know at that young age that it was something I could pursue professionally.
So Kris Kross inspired you to get started in the industry?
As a young child, I definitely wore a couple of my jeans backwards, but artistically, my inspiration didn’t necessarily come from Kris Kross. I really started to fall in love with the music when I started to get exposed to Snoop Dog, Nas, Biggie, Jay Z, and Tupac. Those were the cats that made me think: ‘wow, I need to make a classic album that could compete with these guys.’
What is the sound of Delaware?
I think the sound of Delaware is something that we’re still trying to formulate at this moment. There is not one particular sound. If I had to say that there was a sound that is dominating Delaware, I would give credit to a young gentleman named Sap. He’s produced for Mac Miller, which earned him his first song on the billboard charts and he produced for Wiz Khalifa and a bunch of other top artists. He also produced Meek Mill’s street single, I’m in My Bag, which is one of the songs that helped Meek establish the big local buzz that he had before he blew. At the same time, we don’t have a sound that is “the Delaware sound.” I’m trying to be one of the artists who can come out and make that sound more fulfilled. My sound is more of a hardcore soul sound.
Being a part of the southern tri-state region including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is it hard to separate Delaware from the more established states, musically?
We’re still trying to craft it, though I get a lot of my influence from Jersey as well. Delaware is a melting pot.
Tell me the influences for your song. You reference a lot of state history that most people just aren’t aware of.
The producer sent me the track and told me to go to work. I felt that Delaware needed a song that epitomized it. So I put something together and it was kind of skimming the surface about how we are hardcore. Being from Delaware, we got that fight in us and sometime we always feel like we have something to prove. When I sent it to him, he said “you could go into a lot more detail about Delaware,” and he was right. So I revisited the song and started thinking about all the interesting facts about Delaware that people don’t really know, like this being the first place Bob Marley lived when he came to the United States, and a lot of other facts. I just wanted to bring a lot of those topics to the forefront and also add in a splash of my personal experience. Some of the younger people might not know me but I wanted to put out a record for Delaware. This is where my feet are, this is where my home and heart is, this is where my mother rests her head, this is where my closest friends are. I wanted to bring all that emotion into the song.
What’s holding Delaware and other small states back from succeeding in hip-hop over the long term?
There is a real big “crabs in the barrel” mentality here. Everyone raps and has a crew now, so people haven’t really gravitated to one artist or one sound. We are also a little overshadowed by the bigger cities around the area like Philadelphia. I just want to erase that negative reputation that Delaware has locally. I felt like it was more important to bring a positive light on Delaware.
For people that hear Diamond Love, what would you want them to take away from the track?
I want them to take away that Delaware has a history, a strong history and a bright future. Look out for the talent that comes out of Delaware and come visit.