Big dreams, small fish, little pond / Drop me in the ocean, I promise I’ll swim fine / Steer clear of the sharks and piranhas, I get by / Rather not be alive if I let this shit slip by.
These bars end Protocol, the languid, fantastic lead single off Kill Cosmos’s new EP Kill Season, which is due out next month. The lyrics tell you a lot about where the Louisiana-born-and-based rapper has been and where he wants to go.
Kill’s trademark casual delivery belies a fiery talent. Influenced by and rooted in the South, his religious upbringing, and an early love of science fiction writing, Kill seeks to be authentically himself in the face of an often inauthentic world: sharing his ambitions, fears, and many moods with wit, deft rhymes, and seemingly endless flow. During an extensive conversation with WtMM, Kill Cosmos talks about the track Protocol, his new EP, growing up and writing rhymes, and his journey thus far as an independent artist.
[WtMM] Let’s start with Protocol and that awesome jazz saxophone-and-piano sample. Where did it and the beat come from? How did that come together and how did you know you wanted to do something with it?
The beat is all [producer] 5ivekay. That’s my partner in crime. He’s so vibed out, he knows exactly what’s going to make me excited. He found that sample — I dunno where! But, he put it together and sent it to me.
Did you know what you wanted to do right away on top of that or did you have to work with it a bit? Is that how you work? Music first and then lyrics or vice-versa?
Both. If I already have lyrics and a melody that I want, then I go to 5ivekay with that and he’ll build the beat around it. But, if I get a beat from him, I just try to vibe with it for a minute. Or something jumps out at me right away. That’s what happened with Protocol. It’s just one of those songs that jumped out at me automatically.
What else is going on in this track, musically? What’s special about it for you?
The jazz and the tempo. I love a slow song. I love a slow beat.
Yeah. It matches up for me, as a listener, with your delivery. I mean, you can go rapid fire if you need to and you want to, but it seems like the songs that have that slow burn match up with how you come across.
I smoke a lot of weed, so you know… [Laughs]
Whatever it takes to stay mellow, right?! In terms of the lyrics, I hear a lot in there, including hunger and self-belief but also fears of achieving what you want to achieve in music and wariness of ‘sharks and piranhas.’ Are you trying to convey something particular or is it more capturing your state of mind?
Basically, the whole song is about my state of mind right now. This is how I feel. But, with the first verse, I just wanted to give appreciation to my team and the people that I’m around. You know, give them shout outs and make sure people know that’s who’s behind me. I made it to be an anthem for me and my team.
#Life and Times
You’re from Louisiana. Tell me the name of the city where you’re from? You’re Skyping from there now, right?
Yeah. From Opelousas. [Ed. note: A small city in southern Louisiana, about an hour due west of Baton Rouge]
Born and raised there? Is that home?
Yes, yes, born and raised. I’ve done some moving around. But, most of the time coming up has been in Opelousas.
Is being from and living in that place a source of inspiration or struggle in your music?
Both. ‘Cause to be honest, I love, I love where I come from. And, there’s a lot of talent from here. It’s inspiring when we come together and talk about politics or hip hop and things. But, at the same time, it’s depressing. Because, it’s like…look I do my thing, I do my thing to the best of my abilities. But, we have really talented people here. People who are blowing some of the mainstream acts out of the water. But, a small town isn’t very, uh, supportive. People here want you to be poppin’ somewhere else. It’s like, if you’re an artist from here, you got be gettin’ on somewhere else to be popular in our city.
Yeah, my wife’s from a small town. Everyone’s all up in everyone else’s shit.
Right. Everybody knows everybody and so you ain’t nobody special.
How did you get your start rapping and performing?
Well, as far rapping and writing raps, I started in, like, junior high. Just hearing, you know, Lil’ Wayne….like mixtape Wayne! He was almost too good and I thought “Yo, I can do this.” I don’t know if it’s like this for everybody, but once you start listening to rap and hip hop enough and you start getting punchlines in your head and thinking “Yo, this is too cold. I’m gonna write this down,” then you know.
I had a group of friends that I went to church with we would freestyle a lot. You know that Made Men beat? Drake and Rick Ross? We freestyled on that one beat, like, four times a day for an entire summer!
As far as performing, I didn’t start doing anything until my senior year in high school. I did the senior talent show. And, the reception we got from that…I was hooked.
So, it gets in your blood and in your bones and you decide you wanna do this and perform. But, then you have to cobble that together. How has that been for you? Probably a whole other interview, right?
Ach. [Laughs ruefully] Right! Educating myself has been weird and hard. This is the most I’ve been in arguments and hostile with other people. People guarding it like it’s the Krabby Patty secret formula. Like, you gotta be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to find out about BMI and all that stuff. It’s just
#Music and Sci Fi
To our readers who have never heard of you, how would you describe Kill Cosmos?
Like a variety pack of chips! [Laughs] I’ve got a little bit of what everybody likes. You wanna hear lyrics? I got that. You wanna have fun? I got that. You wanna just get high and listen to some good music? I got that.
I want to be all-encompassing because I’m in a hundred different moods all the time and I want the music to reflect that. Because, look, the reason I got hooked on hip hop was that I was a basically a loner, but I had music. I didn’t really want to talk to people, I just wanted to jam on my earphones. And, if there’s a kid out there like that
That’s comes through for me, for sure, listening to your music. You’re trying to be authentic. You’re channeling what you got, you’re not trying to varnish it…
It’s crazy you say that, because it goes back to the other question you asked if it inspires me being from a small town. That’s part of what keeps me authentic! Like, I’m gonna lie on this track and then push my lies with people I grew up with? “You killed who?!” C’mon…
You drop a lot of references to space, aliens, general astrology…and it’s right there in your name with ‘cosmos.’ Where does that come from? Why do you come back to those themes so often?
When I was kid, I used to read a lot. I loved Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series. I loved “Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card. He said a bunch of offensive things later that I found out about, but while he was likeable I liked his books!
#The New EP
Tell us more about the upcoming EP, Kill Season.
There’s a thing people say in a lot of rough neighborhoods, “It’s too cold to be fighting.” I’m riffing off that. ‘Cause, now, out here for me, it’s not cold anymore. It’s warm enough for a fight! I’m Kill Cosmos and it’s my season and I just wanna be killin’ these records.
You released your full-length debut, Starlord Unlimited, just last October, 2018. Then, a slew of singles followed last fall. And, now ‘Protocol’ and the Kill Season EP. What does the release of Kill Season mean for you in your career to-date?
It’s the next step. And, I feel like this EP is going to get the attention that Starlord didn’t. ‘Cause, like I said, I’m getting better on all fronts. My hooks are going to be better. My lyrics are going to be better. The beats. Everything.
Definitely. Of course, my favorite track off Starlord was the hook-less, chorus-less ‘Deceptive’ — which is just you *going.*
Thanks, man. That’s one of my favorites too. I’m always interested to hear what’s people’s favorite track off of Starlord because it has so much variety and it tells you a lot about what you gravitate toward as a fan.
Well, again, I connected immediately with the way your music comes from a real honest place. I love that it shows up and that I can hear that in your music. Hell, I’m trying to do that in my day-to-day, so when I hear it in music, it helps me feel like, “Alright, we’re all struggling. No one’s got it figured out.” And, that’s nice in a time when everyone’s gotta present like they got it figured out.
That’s kinda my whole thing. My whole image. I have a mixtape called Jesus’s Little Brother and the basis behind it is you can’t judge people for their shortcomings if they’re trying, because we’re all children of God. If you believe in God. Or whatever you believe in, we all come from the same place.
Can you see the way you write songs and your work as an artist evolving as you go along through all of this work or are you just doing now what you’ve wanted to do for a while?
It’s a little bit of both! I am evolving because I wanna push myself to the limits. I wanna do certain kinds of tracks I haven’t done yet. Different creativity. Metaphors. Better hooks. I wanna be a god MC. I wanna be on Mt. Rushmore at the end. So, of course, I’m gonna push myself and push my pen to whatever the limits are…and then past that.
Big thanks to Kill Cosmos for taking the time to talk to WtMM. Get to know more about Kill Cosmos by following him on the sites below and be sure to look for the new EP, Kill Season, coming out in April.