Kid Capri talks new album, being a legend, and celebrity DJs

The legendary DJ spoke with theGrio about his career, and his brand new album, 'The Love.'

His name is legend. His voice is unmistakable. His influence is broad. He is Kid Capri, the Bronx–born DJ that’s has elevated the craft not just within hip-hop, but for the culture of DJing at large all over the world. 

From his in-demand mixtapes, his stint on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and hype stage shows, Capri’s fingerprints can be found across several eras of hip-hop, despite all the evolution and trends the game has seen. These days, he’s eager to show the world there’s more to his excellence than just two turntables and a microphone. 

Just days after his 55th birthday in February, Capri dropped The Love, his third career studio album, and first since 1998’s Soundtrack to the Streets. As producer and rapper on all 19 tracks, Capri is showcasing his versatility with rhymes, flows and cadences. 

Tracks like “The Truth Will Never Lie” and “Mr. Captain” address the toxic effects of social media. “Handsome Woman” finds Capri giving comfort to an LGBTQ woman. On “Da Binizz,” Capri takes pride in his legacy and success, while taking aim at his copycats.

Speaking of copycats, Capri’s influence on DJ culture has been so vast that a well-spring of celebrity DJs have sprung out over the past few years. However, Capri knows that fans will always prefer the real deal. He spoke with theGrio about his new album, his performance methodology, and his opinion about the celebrity DJ craze. 

Although The Love isn’t his first album, Capri’s reputation as a DJ has always overshadowed his ability as an MC. Even now, while still busy and in demand as ever for DJ gigs, Capri is looking to take that step to transcend the talents he’s best known for. 

That’s why I’m in the process of changing the narrative from just being a DJ and producing,” Capri told theGrio. “My stage show has been what it’s been. But now with this album I just put out, it will just show that I’m on a different level with how to make records and, you know, how to try to get the music to the people in this kind of way.

The music industry has changed dramatically since his last studio album, 1998’s Soundtrack to the Streets. Physical copies of music are all but a thing of the past, and streaming and downloading is king today. For some legacy artists, the transition has been difficult. But Capri, who’s always been ahead of the curve with technology trends, says that he’s cool with the current system, both as an artist and a DJ.

“It didn’t affect me in a bad way. If anything, it improved it because so much accessibility there for me,” Capri said. “I’m still used to doing my thing the traditional way, but I’m interested in what’s going on in technology. So I use what I need to use, I’ll use everything.”

Capri’s affinity for cutting edge technology, while retaining his passion for crate digging has helped him navigate through several sea changes in DJ culture. These days, celebrities, actors, athletes and musicians, are all dipping their toes into the profession, and getting big money and high profile festival gigs. Capri did not mince his words when it came to this new crop of celebrity DJs.

“I think it’s corny, the celebrity DJ thing. When they’re not hot in their music or in their genre or whatever they’re doing any more, they come here as a safe zone and they might never be good,” Capri said. “You don’t have to be as nice as me or the next person. You just play the music and that’s good for them. And they find their way in. I just think it’s corny. I’m not coming to your job acting, you know what I’m saying?”

Despite the influx of celebrity DJ’s, the demand for Capri’s unique ability remains unchanged. Evidence of his long-lasting importance to the hip-hop community was cemented deeper in 2017, when Kendrick Lamar enlisted him to record his signature mixtape and DJ tagging throughout the Compton MC’s DAMN. album. His contribution helped the album win five Grammys and rap music’s first Pulitzer Prize.

While Capri has always been able to fuse the “young and the old,” he credits Lamar with introducing him to a young audience learning about him for the first time. “He brought a lot of kids that probably didn’t know about Kid Capri in the world, because they probably went back and looked at the history and I was there. So, now they know.

Whether it’s new fans or devoted followers, Capri continues to rock a crowd in a way that only he can. Taking his talents all over the world, Capri became a master by understanding that he is a servant and being aware that people are moved by different sounds and styles depending on each city and community.

“The first thing is to know that it’s not about you; it’s bigger than you,” Capri said about his DJ shows. “So, there’s other places that have different attitudes. I come from New York, but Kentucky doesn’t really care about what’s going on in New York. They have their own style of their own thing that they’re doing. So, you have to know that you have to know the difference. You have to let go to these different places and give them what they want.”

With his DJ acumen high as ever, Capri wants The Love album to continue that legacy of greatness and evolution. “This album is important because it shows my growth, it shows what I do,” Capri said. “It shows that it don’t matter what era it is, my ear is always going to be sonically correct. So that’s what this does. That’s why everybody needs to go get this album. It’s really dope. It’s incredible.”

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