Kottonmouth Komrades

Music, marijuana and one bands battle for your civil liberties

During the drive to KROQ, the conversation darts from the power of the World Bank to the pointlessness of international borders to parents allowing their children to be raised by televisions and computers to the growing control that those same computers give artists over their work and, finally, to the influence that comes with being a popular band.

"My mom was askin' me, 'Are you registered to vote? Are you going to vote?'" laughs Brad X. "I'm like, 'Listen, Mom, why do I need to vote? I have a platform to share my ideas and beliefs with more people than one vote could ever do.'"

The interview at KROQ goes well, as far as it went—a few softball questions, a few smart-ass answers. Outside the studio, everybody gets a Popsicle and then climbs into the van. KROQ has been spinning "Peace Not Greed," but other stations have been balking at adding the Kottonmouth Kings to their playlists. But Aimee, the woman overseeing the Kottonmouth Kings' radio promotion, has come up with a strategy for getting airplay from hip-hop stations. During the ride back to Capitol Records, she reveals it to the band: the new single will be sent to those stations without identifying the artists. The band will be called KMK, disguising the fact that it is a bunch of white boys. If the station plays the record, says Aimee, she will reveal the KMK is actually the Kottonmouth Kings.

"The problem is that radio overthinks everything," Aimee explains. "If the people from Power 106 hear a Kottonmouth Kings record on KROQ, then they're not gonna want to play it. But if they don't know it's them and play it and get good response, then they're going to play it, regardless. So you kinda have to trick 'em."

But as Aimee proudly unveils the plan, the Kottonmouth Kings begin to smolder. When she gets to the phrase "trick 'em," an argument is ignited:

BRAD X: We don't have to trick 'em! We don't have to fuckin' hide from nothin'! That's fuckin' record-company bullshit right there! Kottonmouth Kings, we're proud. We stand behind what we do. We ain't ashamed 'cause we're white and we do hip-hop. If they want us, they want us.

KEVIN ZINGER: Somebody in the big round building thought it would be a good idea, right? They said, "Hey! We got a great band that makes great hip-hop tracks! But they're white! And black people are scared of white people who rap! So let's just put some fuckin' question mark on it and send it to 'em, and maybe they'll play it 'cause they won't know they're white!" That's the fuckin' stupidest concept I've ever fuckin' heard in my entire life.

AIMEE: It's not because the record company is ashamed you're white. It's because your last couple of singles have gone to alternative radio. The problem is the program directors and the music directors stereotype it. It's not because you're white and do rap. Look at Eminem and how he's working among formats.

ZINGER: You make our point! Eminem was on Power and KROQ.

AIMEE: Exactly!

BRAD: Same songs!

AIMEE: It has nothing to do with being white.

BRAD: I don't hear WhoRidas on KROQ.

AIMEE: It has to do with how the stations are going to go into tunnel vision, and they're going to see it like . . .

BRAD: You're assuming that, but that ain't how it is. We were at fuckin' Power 106, and they were totally down. We did a fuckin' show with them!

ZINGER: I was in their office, played 'em a track. They said, "This shit's the fuckin' bomb!" They said, "We got to get you guys on Power." We lined it all up, without any outside help whatever. But the next thing you know, when the big machine got involved, it got all fuckin' fucked up. They pulled our song off the air.

AIMEE: Of course you guys should be proud of who you are. Absolutely. Some of that works, but not all the time. If they saw the new single come in as Kottonmouth Kings—not everyone, this is an overview—they may not necessarily . . . they might just say, "Oh, that's the song we heard on KROQ." So they might . . .

D-LOC: I don't know who convinced you people of that ideology behind everything. That is not how that works.

ZINGER: You know as well as I do, Aimee, a fuckin' great song is a great song.

AIMEE: Absolutely.

ZINGER: That's the philosophy you need to go into with promotion—this is a great song and the station has every reason in the world to play this song. To try to avoid what it is just risks getting it . . .

D-LOC: Limited into one format.

AIMEE: I work every format. I'm in at Power. I played this for them the second we got it. And I know how half these people think. People overthink shit all the time.

BRAD: That's why we don't put our efforts and energy into worrying about that. We put out records to the people. The people will decide ultimately. They're not worried about program directors or whatever. If they're not into Kottonmouth Kings, fuck 'em! Straight up! I don't care! We make music for people who want the music, know what I mean? If people like us, then they'll play us. If they don't, they won't. We don't write songs for radio, anyway. They edit the hell out of our songs. So we're not losing any sleep. It ain't any weed outta my sack.

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