KoVu, a rapper who grew up outside of Chicago, sat down with us a few days ago. We chopped it up about representing the suburbs, going on tour with the likes of Tory Lanez, being well known in a small town, and more. Check out the full interview below:
rubyhornet: For any of our readers not familiar with KoVu, who is KoVu?
KoVu: KoVu is a young kid from the suburbs of Chicago. I grew up in Plainfield, Illinois. It was a small town where everyone was trying to be a rapper. I didn’t get into rapping until my freshman year at college in 2012/2013. Made a dorm room mixtape called Good Morning Nightmares. After taking a break, I came back in 2015/2016 and dropped my ep Contrast. Played a couple shows with Waka Flacka, Vic Mensa, and Tory Lanez. Now I’m here.
rubyhornet: KoVu comes from the Lion King, because your mom said you looked like Kovu, a character in the movie. What kind of influence does Disney have in the culture?
KoVu: Disney is like Apple, they have everything. I was a huge Power Rangers fan so when they took over that I was really upset. I’m looking forward to the new Lion King with Donald Glover and Beyoncé.
rubyhornet: You originally wanted to be a singer, like Chris Brown, over a rapper.
KoVu: I got into music through R&B. My favorite artist is Chris Brown. I would imitate his dance moves. Then once Drake came out, he showed people you could sing and rap. Chance is another big inspiration.
rubyhornet: Do you still feel that way?
KoVu: If I could sing, I would do that 100x over rapping. I always hear these hooks and have a melody, but need to find someone to lay it down. I’ve taken singing lessons and practice a lot, but I don’t have the pipes like Chris Brown.
rubyhornet: In high school you were into dancing and theater.
KoVu: My parents were going through a divorce during this time. My study hall teacher Miss Dunham, who happened to be the choir teacher, saw that I was frustrated all the time. She put me in a second study hall where it was just us and she would teach me how to play piano and read music. Then I joined choir, and later theater.
rubyhornet: How did this translate to your music and stage performance?
KoVu: My DJ, 1981 Toyoko and my other DJ, Cookup Cam turn up with me on stage. We make up dance moves and try to incorporate the crowd as part of the show. I like to make sure the crowd knows I’m just a person like them.
rubyhornet: Tell me about going on tour. Meeting Tory Lanez, Waka Flacka, and Vic Mensa.
KoVu: The Tory Lanez show was on my birthday. I just turned 22 and his stage energy was on another level. We played a whole Midwest tour with Waka. He taught me a lot about the business. He has his hands in a water company and an app to discover underground rappers. I only ran into Vic shortly at our show.
rubyhornet: How does it feel being well known in a small town?
KoVu: It’s weird. When I walk in somewhere, people whisper and talk. My friends still treat me the same. They are still going to call me an idiot. Kids in high school that didn’t talk to me have reached out about my music or have gone to some shows. It’s crazy to think that I’m representing this suburban town.
rubyhornet: The creative process on Contrast and working with only one engineer.
KoVu: JLP Studies Jimmy Renyolds. It’s rare to find an engineer when you tell him what you want and where it comes out exactly how you heard it. After we dropped Contrast it went on top 50 on ITunes. The creative process on the new album is different, I am showing more about my love life, my personal life, and going deeper than just the party aspect that my previous work covered. 4 years deep with Jimmy and I.
rubyhornet: What should fans be on the lookout for?
KoVu: Playboy, my new project with 16 songs. Coming soon.