HipHopGame tracked down Kurious, who released one of the best albums of the ‘90s with A Constipated Monkey, which is being re-released today. Kurious gives a great interview about the making of that album, working with the Beatnuts, where he’s been and what he’s up to now. If you don’t know about Kurious and A Constipated Monkey, now’s the time to get up on it.
I’m doing good, man. I’m doing good.
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything from you. Where have you been?
I guess to me it just feels like I’ve been living my life like I do. The music has always been a part of it but I haven’t had a compiled project. I have some shows this weekend in Ohio and that’s going to be new too because I haven’t done shows in awhile. I’m looking forward to that.
You’ve made guest appearances through the years, but have you stayed making music consistently through the years?
Yeah, man. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wake up and think about it. Everything to me is just about lyrics. It’s about everything you’re seeing. I make sure I do songs here and there, but a big piece of time will go by without me getting in the studio. I have piles of notebooks of stuff that I just write and I still don’t use it. Even when I go to make a song, I start fresh. I have to dig into these books and see how many songs I can get out of them. I may have a whole ‘nother album.
Has it been hard to stay focused on music as you get older and have more responsibilities?
Yep, it is. The hard part is the following through of the whole thing. When you have kids and you have immediate needs, it’s easy for days to go by without you getting in the studio. You still move and think in terms of music, but it’s so easy to get caught up in being a man and providing for your family and dealing with those daily, regular activities.
You released one of the most slept-on albums in hip-hop when you came with A Constipated Monkey in 1994 and now that album is being re-released. What motivated the re-release?
You know what really did that? My man Block City and MySpace. I’m not a big computer dude. I always have it in my head that I want to do a project and I always have songs in my head. A couple of months can’t go by without me laying something down and that’s still too long, but what really opened my mind was MySpace and my page. It enables me to link up with people such as yourself and people that are into your music and people that are asking about you. I run into people on the trains and there’s people that want to hear my stuff, but the computer just takes it to a whole ‘nother level. It allows you to see that there’s a whole world out there. It’s inspirational.
Were you surprised to find that you still had fans in 2007?
That’s amazing to me. I don’t even feel like I deserve that right there. I feel real fortunate. I’m willing to start from scratch with this music and so many artists have put out so many things and for people to remember me, I really consider that a blessing.
How important is it that A Constipated Monkey gets another chance in hip-hop today as a re-release?
I wasn’t looking for people to re-release it. I’m not so familiar with that market of who’s going to be looking for it in the underground. I go to work, I jump in my car and I listen to my radio. I might catch a video on TV at night, but I’m not that in tune with the hip-hop genres. I just make music for my life. I’m not looking at this as something to get new people. I’m looking to bring people back and take people back to ’94. I’m not looking at it like, ‘Here’s me now.’ They can get an idea of who I was and the new record can come out and they can see who I am now.
Is A Constipated Monkey one of the great albums from the ‘90s?
Yeah. Me, personally, I like it. I’m the type of person where it’s hard for me to get into my stuff. I get into myself when I perform it and make it, but as far as judging it, I can’t do that. I can tell you about a bunch of other great albums from the ‘90s. But for myself, I’ll just leave that up to other people to enjoy.
What was it like back in ’94 when “Walk Like A Duck” was out?
Those days were incredible. I’m sure today for new artists that are coming up, that excitement is the same. You’re entering a world that you loved all your life and now you’re alive in it through hearing yourself on the radio. Now you’re in the airwaves and now you’re alive and breathing. I can tell you about those times for me. It was amazing. There was just a great sprit. It was so festive and so wild and so positive and so negative. It was very united. There wasn’t so much cloning. Everybody was themselves. You would have different acts and we’d all be chilling together but everybody would be coming from a different angle. There was more unity, especially amongst New York rappers. There wasn’t so much posturing.
What was it like working with the Beatnuts back then?
Them dudes, let me tell you, them dudes, man, they’re so amazing. Aside from being great producers and great artists, at the very core, they are just great music lovers. They are just breathing music. They have so much love and respect for old records. They stay beat digging and they have so much respect for the game. And they stay on top of their equipment. They’re just straight up music.
Was there more attention placed on being a Latino rapper in the early ‘90s or do people pay more attention to that today?
Back then, I would get it some. On one hand, on the hip-hop side, it’s just hip-hop and I’m just an artist. But on the other side, I love my culture so I have no problem with that. I loved doing shows with Fat Joe and the Beatnuts. On one hand, hip-hop is hip-hop and you don’t have to typecast me as a Latino artist, but on the other hand, being a Latino artist is cool. I’m kind of schizo when it comes to that. I’m proud of it but really, in essence, it doesn’t matter.
I think it mattered more back then. Now you have Joell Ortiz, Fat Joe and Tru Life. There’s a few real good artists out there. I feel like when I came up, it was more of an oddity, so maybe people were more like, ‘Oh, he’s a Latino.’ Since Pun, we’ve gotten a little more used to seeing it. There was Fat Joe the Beatnuts and more…I think it was more of a commodity back then. I think the game is a little more diverse now. You have rappers of more diversity coming up. You have Asian rappers and Eminem. Pretty soon you’re going to hear every culture represented in hip-hop.
How do you feel hearing “Walk Like A Duck” today?
I was listening to it last night, laughing. I was bugging. It was funky. It’s some real funky, bloody shit.
Do you have a favorite track from A Constipated Monkey?
Yeah. I have a tie between a couple. I love “I’m Kurious” and “Uptown Shit.” I would say those two would be my favorites there. Those jams are so New York to me. They just represent New York at that time. “I’m Kurious” is more introspective. That song amazes me when I hear it. I was 18 when I made that and that was one of the first songs that I ever made. I pride myself on that song. With all the dumb shit that I did and how I was bugging out, I’m surprised that I had that, that there was a drop of some kind of sanity in my brain. I like that. And then “Uptown Shit” to me, that’s just like New York and partying. It’s showing the aspect of how we do it in the streets of New York. When we’re not killing each other and bugging out, this is what we used to do. We used to drink 40s in the street as long as they were in a bag and we used to play the corners deep before the cops started coming around all the time. It showed a love for your people and how we would just chill at night and crack jokes and snap. It’s not just the song. The video shows that too. I would definitely say that that’s a favorite of mine.
What are your goals for the re-release of A Constipated Monkey?
My goals for the re-release is just to refresh people’s memories if they forgot about it and also to just give people a history lesson if they haven’t heard it at all. Maybe a friend can tell them about it. You can’t just go to Tower and find the original. It’s harder to find now. Hopefully people can flash back to that. And it’s also like a history review to get ready for the next record. And they can also catch the songs that I’ve been in between that and my new project. It’s an ill jump from ’94 to 2007.
One of your new tracks you released is “Hold Me Tight.” On A Constipated Monkey, you talk about getting more head than a guillotine basket and “Hold Me Tight” is very spiritual. It seems as though you’ve grown up a lot.
I have. Whatever I’m focusing on at the time when I’m making music, it will come out. I had people asking me if I was a Christian rapper from that song, but I just like to think things out in a different way. My name is Kurious. I always like to ask why and I always like to take things further and I like to ponder these things out. But definitely back then it was party and there were bitches and there was drinking. That’s what came out. But now I guess I’ve been through a lot and different feelings and different thoughts come out.
From looking at your comments on HipHopGame for “Hold Me Tight,” it’s clear that a lot of fans have no idea who you are. What do you have to do to get the fans that have never heard A Constipated Monkey?
That’s a good question. That’s one that’s going to either unfold and answer itself or maybe I have to take certain proactive measures that I’m not really in tune with right now. I do make that music, but what do young people want to hear? I talk to people. Not that that would affect what I write about, but it could just put a twist on me to more effectively communicate to a newer generation where their ways are a little bit different from the hip-hop that I came up off of.
I feel like “Hold Me Tight” was a risky track for you to release being that fans haven’t heard from you in so long. Do you feel that way?
You know what’s funny? Maybe I did, but I didn’t think about it. You kind of vibe off of the people that you’re in the studio with. My man Vic did those two beats. Vic is very religious and he always talks to me about that. He put that beat up and I wrote that song in 20 minutes. When I’m around him, I don’t even want to curse. He tells me to not walk in the flesh. It’s almost like I channeled him. I could have been around a bunch of drunk motherfuckers and hit it from that side too. That wasn’t designed to come out. That was just one of the new songs that I made and it got picked up by DeWolfe just in case somebody wants to use it in a movie. That’s not the only way I’m bringing it. It’s just one song. That’s not my new angle. It’s none of that. I could turn around and play you something else right now. It’s not going to be nothing that’s too crazy or too wild but it’s definitely going to be in a different direction than “Hold Me Tight.”
In “Hold Me Tight” you say, “I wish I could get rich and start again.” Do you have any regrets?
I wouldn’t use the word “regret.” I wouldn’t use that word. It sounds so cliché, but everything you go through is who you are at the present moment. I’m content and it wouldn’t do things differently. But if I had the chance to go back and do things differently, I would do some things differently. But you learn through failure and you learn through falling. Obviously I would go back and not fall, but you have to fall. But I wouldn’t have fallen in certain aspects of my life.
How’s your new project coming?
It’s taking on a life of its own. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s real hip-hop. It has a bit of that typical hip-hop and when I say “typical,” I mean that New York, Bronx, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s feel to it. It’s from a grown man’s perspective and it’s about how I view life. Kids could like it, but it is a thinking man’s record. You can’t just throw it on and pop your pussy to it. It’s a party and it’s motivating and there are a lot of thing in there to contemplate. I think a lot of people that use their thinker can identify with some of the things I contemplate in my lyrics.
How would you describe your growth as an artist and as a person from ’94 to 2007?
Man, I really think, like anyone else, I’ve grown a lot. I think I’ve had an accelerated type of growth because I’m the type of person that’s always looking to grow. Some mistakes I make over, but I think now I’m pretty good at picking up things and keeping it moving. I feel that as a person I’ve come a long way. And that’s not to sound perfect because I’ve definitely done a lot of dumb shit, but today I definitely have way more direction, way more strength and way more power.
You’ve worked with MF Doom on “?” on his album Operation: Doomsday. What was that like for you and what kind of relationship do you have with Doom?
Oh, man, that’s just friendship. That’s just Doom calling me up like, ‘Yo, I have to turn my album in tomorrow and I need you on it.’ I jumped on the train and he had the little Roland machine in his house and I laid that verse right there. Me and Doom are like brothers. That’s a friendship. That’s just a phone call. It’s nothing.
How is Doom helping your new project?
He’ll have a beat on it.
How close do you work with MF Grimm and the Monsta Island Czars?
Grimm is my brother. Grimm is the strongest dude that I know. Grimm is the dude that you talk to when you want a reality check. You talk to Perce. We grew up together in the same neighborhood. We were running around and it was him and King Sun that really got me rapping. That’s a different level right there. But with the Monsta Island Czars, I know Grimm and I know Doom. I met some of the other dudes, but I’m not really into it like that. If they need me, I’m there, but I can’t really sit there and tell you that I know these dudes. I don’t even know the name that they gave me. I just do it for the love of my people, but as far as the ins and outs of Monsta Island Czars, nah, I don’t really know that. I just rep for my peeps. That’s all I know.
What do you have to do to be a successful artist in 2007?
Man, I’m learning as I go. I just have to be real focused and diligent. I have to get up and take care of these things, even if they’re considered mundane like making your bed. I have to be diligent. You let the creativity go there but you have to do the steps and the work and be upfront with people and be responsible and keep your word.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming artists?
Get into your art and say what you feel. Constantly ask yourself why you’re doing it and keep checking yourself to make sure that you’re coming from the right place. And don’t get caught up in the wrong image. It’s like Sprite – “Image is nothing, thirst is everything.” Be conscious of your generation and don’t go against hip-hop. You have to love hip-hop and embrace it and bring what you bring to it. Don’t bring something that somebody else has already brought.
What’s the next move for Kurious?
The next move for Kurious is to just keep making these songs. I look forward to getting shows. I hope I can get booked. It’s all in the strength of the product so right now I’m just in the lab trying to make the best product I can. I have to keep the show thing up. I want to share what I have to say and I want to do it live. I want to hit the stages and I want to get my rhymes off. I have a lot of shit on my chest and I want it to hit their ears, even if it’s only one or two people. I want to hit them and I want them to hear what I’m talking about.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Just do what you do and just live life, man. It can be taken at any time. Just enjoy your life. This hip-hop thing that we have is a beautiful thing. Hip-hop is hip-hop and it goes through its changes, but it’s ours and we just have to ride with it. Love it, respect it, cherish it and enjoy it.
Kurious Jorge Promo Video for re-release of "A Constipated Monkey" (Amalgam Digital) SEPT 18th 2007