ABOVE: ADAM KANE OF LIL KIDS.
In the 1989 film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the titular Bill and Ted have an electric-guitar, garage rock band called Wyld Stallyns and Eddie Vedder aspirations. Had the film been made five or six years later, Wyld Stallyns would have been a grunge-rock band. Today, Bill and Ted would definitely be making lackadaisical hip-hop. Perhaps it’s their easy-going demeanor and obvious youth, but the LIL KIDS (aka Nick Adams and Adam Kane) sort of remind us of a Bill and Ted hip-hop duo; a mixture of Beck and throwback rap—lyrics about Cheetos, Doritos and girls with some Run-DMC beats. A playful, juvenile experiment that proves hip-hop is a marginal medium no more, but rather the pop music of the 2000s.
Although Adam, who provides the nonchalant rap vocals, and Nick, who creates the beats, first met in middle school, LIL KIDS is a fairly new project. The duo released their first mixtape, Slow Rainbow, February 15 and have a new one, Young Hercules, coming out tomorrow.
HOMETOWN: Williamsburg, VA.
CURRENTLY LOCATED IN: Not-quite-Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.
STYLE OF MUSIC: Kane: The new stuff is kind of psychedelic ’80s synth-rap. Throwback hip-hop with somewhat of a psychedelic tinge to it. I’m not a very good singer but I want to branch out and maybe not necessarily just do rap. We’re definitely going to do another album after this and it’s going to be [very] different.Adams: Some of the new stuff is synth-ier but a lot of the beats are seriously golden-age hip-hop. I think the beats are going to keep changing. The consistency with LIL KIDS is probably going to be the vocal style.
CURRENT MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Adams: Pretty much everything that’s coming out of Greedhead right now.Kane: [Current artists I like are] Action Bronson, Das Racist, Big Baby Gandhi—he’s the man. The Cool Kids. New York—crazy good rap is coming out of here. I like how rap is getting less serious; now you can rap about whatever and people are cool with it.
EMOTIONAL INFLUENCES: Kane: During [our first mixtape] Slow Rainbow, that was one of the worst periods in my life; I was dating this girl for a while and she left me and I was really sad and I’m still kind of sad about it. A lot of Slow Rainbow is me being really fucking sad about life. [Our new mixtape] Young Hercules is half me being sad.
BEGINNINGS: Kane: For me—[to Adams] your shit is really good, so you could have thought about being pro before, because your beats are awesome—rap-wise, it just started because my guitar got stolen and I didn’t have anything to play. I started rapping probably three years ago and I was really bad; at parties I would just get really fucked up and start freestyling and it was funny or whatever. [But] then I actually started doing it all the time and I got really good; I started recording more and writing more than freestyling. A lot of rappers have mad notebooks, but whenever we’re about to record I just listen to the beat and start writing, so I guess it is kind of like…Adams: Whatever is on your head at the moment; a stream of consciousness.
GROWING UP IN A COLONIAL TOWN: Adams: Williamsburg, Virginia is a colonial town—there’s a huge tourism industry there, and they’ve kept the old Williamsburg preserved to look like it did in 1776. You always see people in the grocery store in three-cornered hats, you always know someone who works at the blacksmith’s.Kane: All the people I was friends with in high school are either in rehab, out of rehab, or in jail right now. Out of my group, I was one of the only people who got out and made something with their lives. There’s nothing to do, so people just do crazy drugs.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF HIP-HOP: Adams: [Our music] is not directly critical of hip-hop, but because we’ve chosen the hip-hop medium to do this very non-traditional hip-hop thing means that it’s kind of a [critical] lens. Some people might [listen to our stuff] and say “That doesn’t belong in hip-hop or in that song.” So there’s that aspect—which I think is cool—not caring but still enjoying rap as a vocal medium but not having to go along with the [traditional subject matters].Kane: Why do we still rap about “bitches”? I wish that I was on a whole ‘nother plane lyrically [from traditional rap], but people like that, they identify with that stuff. All our music is pretty sarcastic. I never thought we’d be doing interviews or that a lot of people would listen to our stuff. Our friends get it because they know me. It’s probably a bit weird if you’ve never met me; you probably think I’m the biggest cocky asshole. I really am being sarcastic most of the time, except for the more emotional shit, I guess sometimes that seeps through, and some of that is real, but it’s also exaggerated. Anything that’s super radical… I don’t really do that.
RISING INTERNET STARS: Adams: We try and feed all our download traffic to Bandcamp because it’s easier to check the stats and see where people are coming from. How often do we check? [laughs] This is embarrassing, it’s addicting.Kane: Lately, every day. For a while we didn’t get that many hits and every now and then there’d be a little spike, but ever since we were on Hype Machine…
THE RECORD LABEL ROUTE: Kane: A lot of A&Rs have been hitting us up. It’s cool, I guess, but at the same time it’s confusing—I’m 20 years old, I don’t necessarily know how to handle these things. There are so many artists now that are doing the independent thing, especially rappers.
HIP-HOP’S MOLLY MOMENT: Adams: I think molly’s having a moment everywhere. [laughs]Kane: Everyone’s just mad desperate to get fucked up and have some bass dropped in their face. Didn’t Madonna shout out “molly” on stage or something? The government’s probably got some [investment] in molly and wants everyone to take it, I don’t trust anyone.
BAD EXPERIENCES: Kane: We played this really shitty bar in Somerville, Massachusetts. We got there and they wouldn’t let us drink, which was the worst, because if I ever needed a drink, it was for that show. That was one of the worst shows I’ve ever been to, and it was also my show. My friend’s band went on a small East Coast tour and we went with them. That was, like, our second show. We were like, “We’re playing in Boston! Oh wait, we’re playing in Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston where no one goes.” There were organized-crime gangs in Somerville? I wish they would’ve showed up to our show. At least they would have rolled deep.Adams: Hopefully we can top that every single time.
INSECURITIES: Kane: I’m skinny-fat. If I’m not naked, people will be like, “Is he fat? I can’t really tell…” and then when I take my shirt off, “Dude, you’re fat.” Body issues for sure. But girls still like me sometimes.Adams: Sometimes I can’t recognize when everybody’s ready to chill—maybe I’m still on the edge of something that everybody’s totally forgotten about. I’ll hold on to little things and embarrass myself.
BIGGEST COMPLIMENT: Kane: Someone compared me to Beck and he’s my favorite artist of all time, so that was kind of cool, but he’s way sicker than I probably ever will be.
BIGGEST INSULT: Kane: Someone’s sister said that I sound like Drake, which isn’t bad, just confusing because I don’t think I really sound like Drake.