Fire Starter: Soul Khan
Every MC can rap. Certainly some better than others, but for the most part, anyone calling themselves a rapper can rhyme words to tell a tale in their own unique way. But every once in a while, an MC comes along who's blessed with a booming voice that commands attention. Soul Khan's voice is probably his most distinguishing feature, which is not to take anything away from the former battle rapper's skills, but his deep delivery catches your ear.
"I wish I could say I had something to do with it, but that's all nature," Khan joked to Mixtape Daily. "I decided I wanted to make rap a career after I graduated college," Khan continued. "I mean, with a voice like mine, you could either go into politics, [be] a voice for 'Final Fantasy' characters or you could be a rapper," he laughed.
A native of Los Angeles' West Valley, Khan said he was initially "kind of annoyed" that people were frequently surprised to discover that he was the one spitting after hearing his music. In 2011, a white rapper shouldn't shock people, he thought.
"I've been rapping for, I guess now, 14 years," Khan said. "For a good amount of time, I wasn't very good at it — as I think most people [are not] when they start something. Eventually, [I] developed into a serviceable artist, and I just started rapping because it seemed like the most viable and vital means of communicating with listeners."
Although his style may scream Brooklyn, the L.A. rapper came to New York because he needed a challenge, and the city has embraced him wholeheartedly.
"It's tough to impress people, and if you're willing to go that extra mile, if you're willing to give credit to [New Yorkers'] cynicism and say, 'I'm willing to overpower that,' then when you do, you get love on a scale you couldn't imagine. If you win over a New York crowd, you're the best."
Khan's ready now to take on the rest of the world with the release of his Acknowledgment EP, one of three that he hopes to release this summer in the lead-up to his album, Soul Like Khan. The Acknowledgement EP was produced by DJ Element (who is also Khan's stage DJ), and the rapper described Element's production style as far more lively and uptempo than what he's used to. And that contrast motivated Khan to try something different.
"I made four songs that generally consider the subject of self-worth in some way, whether it was explicitly stated or just the mood, theme," Khan said. "I don't want to say motivation music, 'cause now the word 'motivation' is actually a hip-hop cliché, which is bizarre. But I get tweets and Facebook messages every day from people saying it does sort of give them that renewed purpose I was hoping to achieve."
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