5Q :: Local rappers raise funds for Superior animal shelterWe catch up with one of the featured performers at "Hip-Hop for Dogs," Kritical Kontact's Jesse “Jaze” Unger.
At first glance, the upcoming “Hip-Hop for Dogs” fundraiser for Animal Rescue Federation seems rather absurd: What does rap music have to do with our four-legged friends, anyway?
But then it hits you: This benefit for the Superior animal shelter makes total sense. Rappers love their pups. On top of everyone involved with Tha Dogg Pound, DMX album covers often feature canines (not to mention the fact that he occasionally barks during his songs), and OutKast’s Big Boi took his love of man’s best friend to the next level when he established Pitfall Kennels with his brother in the early ’90s.
With that in mind, we spoke to one of the performers at the June 18 concert at Norm’s, Jesse “Jaze” Unger. While his main group, Kritical Kontact, won’t be performing that night, he’ll be pulling off a solo set and fellow KKer David “Bliss” Kittelson will also be making an appearance (as part of the duo Modern Gentlemen):
Budgeteer: How did “Hip-Hop for Dogs” come about?
Unger: Well Craig Rhode of LocalM.com wanted to put on a hip-hop show/fundraiser and got at me.
He came up with the concept; I just helped put some of the names on the bill and am co-promoting it.
Can you talk about the dogs in your life? Are they rescues? Do they respond favorably to hip-hop?
My dogs or my dawgs? [Laughs] Nah, I have three dogs: I have OB, a pitbull. He’s seven. Shinnouk, a German shepherd/husky, is a two-year-old rescue. And Niko, a husky, is seven months old.
I’m a dog lover; every once in awhile I just take random trips up to Animal Allies to see the dogs. Sometimes I walk them, sometimes I just hang out — kind of a little getaway from reality.
Dude, OB loves hip-hop. I catch him bumping my tunes quite often. I know … weird, right?
What’s the deal with “Forever 27 Club”? Is it out yet? Your first solo release? Who collaborated on it with you?
Ha, glad you asked. No, it’s not out yet. I’ve been taking my time on it. It kind of got pushed back due to other obligations, but I’m still working on it. It will be my debut solo album.
The first song I released was called “All My Life,” featuring Nobuddie, Adam Mitchell and TexXxaS on the hook (and a beat by Span Phly), just showing how hard some of us cats work for the love of the music — not for the money and the fame. It has all original beats and verses.
I’ve been working with Span Phly from Arizona on some of the more memorable beats. I have Bliss, Nobuddie, Adam Mitchell, TexXxaS, JSC (Just Some Cat), C-Silence and Legitimit from the local sector, and a possible surprise appearance from Rek the Heavyweight (aka Spawn, formerly of Atmosphere). From the U.K. I’ve got my homies from Blud Kunnektion, Stretch and Kruz, on a few songs.
We’ll see. A lot of it’s in the works, but plans and aspirations are high, so I gotta keep the ball rolling.
With Bliss working on Modern Gentlemen with Cory “MC1980” Jezierski, is Kritical Kontact kind of taking a break? Is Larry “Legitimit” Letourneau doing the solo thing too?
Bliss is a workaholic! Nah, KK is never resting. We’re currently working on solo/side projects, but we always will continue to work together on shows, songs and very soon a new KK album.
Legitimit is currently working on his solo album. I believe it’s labeled “7UP and Lortabs,” but I may be mistaken.
Finally, you’ve already collaborated with a number of regional MCs — if you were able to expand your reach, who would you most want to work with?
Diabolic. Dude’s got some crazy wordplay. He just released his album on Viper Records, so, who knows, maybe you’ll see a guest appearance from him. Diabolic got his start with Immortal Technique and the underground battle circuit. Google him; you won’t be disappointed.
NEWS TO USE
“Hip-Hop for Dogs” will be held at 9 p.m. June 18 at Norm’s in Superior. Jaze, Modern Gentlemen (Bliss from Kritical Kontact and MC1980), Cannon, Rek the Heavyweight and the Long Doe Crew. Cost TBA; proceeds benefit ARF’s animal shelter.
Tags: june 18 2010, arts and entertainment, superior and lake, kritical kontact, jesse unger, animal rescue federation, animal shelter, budge a and e, duluth, budgeteer, superior, 5q, interview, rap, hip-hop, jaze, benefit, fundraiser, arf