DJ Kuttin Kandi Spins Some Real Shit


Leroy - Posted on 17 March 2014

Author: 
Leoy Moore/DJ Kuttin Kandi

Krip-Hop Nation (KHN) – So glad to finally getting a chance to interview you.  You had a health scare some time ago.  How are you feeling now?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  Hello, thank you for inviting me to do this interview.  And yes, I did have a health scare nearly 2 years ago.  I am feeling good now and getting healthier everyday.   However, the thing about “the scare” that happened didn’t just happen it was a gradual decline in my health over the years.  I had been having the symptoms of my heart condition and other serious health conditions for quite some time I just didn’t pay attention to them.

KHN:  Do you think we support each other in the underground?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  I think there are many folks in the underground/independent Hip Hop scene that do support each other but I also think that we can always do more to help one another and lift each other up.  There’s always room for progression.  At the same time I do believe that there are certain scenarios/situations and individuals/people or groups that don’t support at all.  I also think that positionality, power and privilege plays a role in how someone would get more

KHN:  As a poet what are your main goals?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  As a poet, my main goal is always to tell my story and to express my feelings.  There’s nothing like being able to express your hurts, wounds, struggles, joys, tears and love on stage.  By nature, I’m honestly shy in person but when I’m on stage I am able to unshed, release and let loose.  I am able to show my fears and my vulnerability.  For some reason, it is easier for me to speak my truth through poetry than it is for me to be able to speak it one on one with someone.  Poetry helps me to find my voice.

KHN:  I read that you are writing your autobiography tell us more and why is it so important to put this out?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  I have learned from my mentors that it is important to tell our story; otherwise someone is going to tell it for us.  For me to tell my story means that I am claiming my space, saying that “I am here” and “I exist”.  Growing up, I have often felt silenced and unheard… writing and performing has always been a way for me to tell people that I am here, to voice myself and to tell my story.  Telling my story is also very healing for me, it helps me to “let go” as it is important for me to share a part of myself… it’s my contribution to my community.

KHN:  In your view what is Hip-Hop today and what is a Hip-Hop activist?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  Hip Hop is alive.  I don’t necessarily like it when folks say that Hip Hop is dead because it isn’t dead.  Perhaps to the mainstream world, what is being heard on radio and on mainstream media it appears to be dead but the culture and the true essence of Hip Hop is very much alive… It is alive around the world with so many people contributing to Hip Hop’s purpose and principals.  As far as Hip Hop Activist - well, I always claim myself as that since I do utilize Hip Hop as a vehicle to create radical change and to organize within our communities. 

KHN:  What has changed in your life after your health situation?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  After my hospitalization and heart scare in April 2012, I had 3 major surgeries/procedures within the last 2 years, which include a pacemaker, implant and heart ablations.  I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB) and most recently Supra Ventricular Tachycardia (SVT).  Since 2012, I’ve dedicated my life to living a healthy lifestyle with change of eating habits and daily healthy exercises.  However, what most people don’t understand is that my condition isn’t necessarily a biological issue.  SVT is an electrical issue of the heart.  While, I’ve changed a lot in my life like being vegetarian and etc.… and while I am no longer diabetic, have no high cholesterol and no high blood pressure and even being off a majority of medications… arrhythmia’s are quite different.  There are many things I do on my own end to continue living healthy to prevent any tragedies or incidents to happen again but at the same time my heart condition is a lot more complicated than people realize.  I have various invisible disabilities, one of them being my heart condition.  In the last few months alone, I’ve had many SVT episodes which include dizziness, shortness of breath, and etc.… last month alone I fainted while out at an event.  While I am working with the best holistic practitioners and cardiologists to help me sort out what my next steps will be, my life has changed where I must have accommodations met, ensure my own safety and well-being, and know my disability rights.

KHN:  You worked on some video documentaries please explain some of them?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  I wouldn’t say I am a professional documentarian but on some activist exposure trips and travels from some of the tours/performances I’ve done I have filmed short docs about them and the things I have learned while I was on the trips.  meeting people from different communities, their struggles and the organizing they do for themselves, their lands and their people.

KHN:  In your workshops/presentations, what do you talk about?

DJ Kuttin Kandi: I do various different workshops, sometimes on Hip Hop, sometimes on Wom*n in Hip Hop, on Poetry but whatever the subject I always connect it along the intersections of race, class, gender, abilities, etc. and connecting it to power, privilege and oppression. 

KHN:  I have to ask this, what do you think about Krip-Hop Nation and have you your work talked about your health and how the Hip-Hop arena treat people with disabilities?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  I believe Krip Hop Nation is important because it and you honors and embraces musicians with disabilities.. bringing to the forefront all of us who are here, who have been here… It is a necessary movement for too often we are silenced, shunned, shamed when the truth is we are alive, living, resisting, surviving as we are thriving. 

It took me a long time to share my health with folks.  When public announcements came out about my heart condition and heart surgery, pacemaker implant in 2012 everyone had a huge reaction.  But I’ve been having health issues long before 2012 and have been actively trying to work on it for years.  When people see a large wom*n of color the fat-shaming, sizism and fatphobia happens… immediately there were forums of so much fat-shaming about me… about how I wasn’t working on my health.. then the interview I had… I revealed a lot about my mental health.. sharing even though I was scared of the feedback.  And of course there were the ignorant comments.. again the abelism.  There are many providers and in the health care industry who don’t know or understand invisible disabilities… so of course again when they see a large wom*n of color they immediately place judgment… assume I haven’t been working on my health for a long time… but because I’m not that standard healthy “size” they assume I haven’t been working on it at all.  Plus they ignore all the other struggles I’ve had that intersect with the heart disease.

As far as how Hip Hop treats people with disabilities - I think its not limited to Hip Hop, of course “it’s bigger than Hip Hop”.. but I can say when it comes to the abelism - it does takes place, the ignorance, the discrimination that happens.. the ablest micro aggressions when folks don’t realize they are being discriminating.. when spaces aren’t inclusive.. when disability justice is secondary to all other struggles issues.. it happens… it happens all the time.  And it’s disheartening to me when even social justice and conscious folks who leave us out of the justice movements… that’s the part that’s heartbreaking to me.  The micro aggressions are real.

KHN:  What are the main issue that Hip-Hop have to deal with?

DJ Kuttin Kandi:  It would be hard for me to pinpoint a main issue when it comes to Hip Hop.  Hip Hop is a beautiful culture filled with beautiful people who contribute, participate and celebrate it… but it’s also complex.  It’s not perfect.  And when it comes to taking on issues… I believe it all intersects… and I believe just as bell hooks believes that in order to end one oppression we must end all oppressions.  So as we work on one issue, we must understand connections.. the roots.. and how it’s all part of a system… a white supremacist patriarchy system.  And of course we all can’t take on everything (even tho we are strong warriors and we know we can)… because we also must take care of ourselves.  we must be aware of activism burn out.  However, we can be part of conversations… continued conversations amongst one another… where we critique, challenge, interrogate and be able to be uncomfortable… to be able to understand and to learn from one another.   I believe if we do this.. we are taking down one issue at a time while working on it simultaneously too.

KHN:  What are you working on now?

DJ Kuttin Kandi: Right now, I’m working on balance.  Balancing my life, so that I can be here for the revolution.  So that I can continue on with the struggle… building my strength everyday.. the spiritual, emotional and physical strength… preparing that warrior in me…. because the battles ahead only get much harder.  and I’m going to be ready for it.

KHN:  Any last words and how can people follow your work?

DJ Kuttin Kandi: People can follow me at kuttinkandi.net, twitter, Facebook page or my instagram. But most of all… you can meet me in person.. I like the heart to heart connections.

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