Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution Challenge Each Other to Do Better as Duo Nyck at Knight
Two of the bigger names in Pro Era are teaming up for a collaborative album. Nyck Caution, a rowdy lyricist from Brooklyn’s Mill Basin neighborhood, and Kirk Knight, a colorful Brooklynite who splits his time behind the boards making soulful records for just about everyone in the Tri-state and beyond while also laying rhymes here and there, combine forces to form Nyck @ Knight. A play off Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite programming block than ran for over 30 years, the two Pros merge their styles into a new sound that should make hip-hop fans heart flutter.
Nyck @ Knight's first offering, “Off the Wall," a track off their upcoming self-titled project, is a wonderful first taste of what's to come as both artists sound like they're as hungry as ever. Their next track, "Dial Up," which is also produced by 1-900, finds both artists out of there comfort zone, pushing each other sonically.
The two have helped each other along the way to this journey as a duo. Kirk's producing background has helped Nyck use his vocals in different ways that he didn't do previously on Disguise the Limit. Caution is clearly an influence on Knight with the latter rhyming the best he's done in his career.
Kirk and Nyck have been working on a collaborative project for a while and with Nyck @ Knight coming out this Friday (July 21), we spoke to them about what they taught each other, why they joined up in the first place and what are some of the topics they touch on for the project.
XXL: So, when you announced the collaborative project, it actually made perfect sense. The music would sound amazing together. Did y’all learn something from each other while y'all were making the album?
Kirk Knight: I definitely got better at rapping through his album. I’m definitely a way better rapper. I feel like he’s a better producer, but we’ll see.
Nyck Caution: This was the first time I had ever really worked with someone like on every song. I’ve worked with people. I’ve worked with Joey on a couple records, I’ve worked with other Pros, but we didn’t…there are eight records and we did six of them together, so one solo one each but yeah, we did every song together.
Kirk: Even the solo ones I touched the beat.
Nyck: And he did the [beat] when I was there. We were involved in the whole process.
What was the inspiration behind Nyck @ Knight?
Nyck: I mean, it was kind of always brewing since we did this video in like 2013. It was just like a studio session with me and Kirk and I think that’s when we came up with the name. I think and we were like, “Yo, Nyck @ Knight” and then it was always a thing. But we both wanted to release our solo projects first. After those came out, the time was right and it just finally made sense to do it
How do y’all differ and how are y'all the same?
Nyck: He makes beats. That first off…
Kirk: In terms of our chemistry together, like what difference is he is one of the most…he’s top five in my opinion and in terms of producers I’m top five, I also rap as well.
Nyck: Top five, there’s only like five producers in Pro Era.
Kirk: [Laughs] Still top five, it don’t matter. And the energy just works well together because for example Madlib and MF Doom right, Madlib is egoless when he does stuff with Quasimoto and I feel like it takes a person with no ego in terms of the rapping aspect so he’s subjective to everything to what he wants to do. I’m supposed to make that variation of Nyck's vision through me is what we’re basically doing. So it’s like he’ll give me a rap or something like that and I will match his energy in terms of what he’s saying in terms of sonically because his energy is not like the rest of the Pros.
Some Pros rap like 82 BPMs some rap like 95 BPMs and he’s like 120,130 so sometimes there’s more high energy kinda thing. So in my part of doing the album, I’m like creating the music for him to dance on and I’m just interjecting myself into it as a musical piece. I’m not even looking at it like me rapping, I’m more or less just matching him. Whatever he’s trying to do, unless I have a really strong opinion on something in terms of like, "Ok, I feel like this should be the topic of song" and I know my strong point are hooks, ’cause kind of build around what he’s trying to do so we can paint a bigger picture of initially what he wants to do along with mine. That’s how I would combine it, you feel me? And it takes an egoless person to do that.
You said this has been brewing since 2013. So when did you actually start recording? When did you finish?
Nyck: We did this shit in like two months. What happened was we were basically talking about doing it I guess since September, October of 2016. We were saying we were going to start recording in December and I think we actually started in like this past January or some shit.
Nyck: And the first session we had, it wasn’t even a recording session it was just withone of our engineers and he just played us like four sampleless samples, it was royalty-free sample, so we could use them. [Our engineer] played like four of them and all four made the projects. In that one session we were like, "Lets do this, do that."
Kirk: I just basically made four drafts and then after the four drafts you start building on it like demo songs. It was easy for me to make demos with Nyck because he’s already the person with the verse, the first person in the booth already. I’m more or less the person who takes a little longer with my verses because I’m making the beat but it was easy to paint the picture around what he already had. So it’s like, while I’m making the beat he’s already got a couple words.
Nyck: The actual recording took like a month or two.
Were y'all into the show Nick at Nite when y'all was growing up?
Kirk: Hell yeah, that’s the point. Kenan & Kel.
Nyck: Cosby Show. Nick at Nite wasn’t cartoons. It was like 7 p.m., 8 p.m. when it would start; Roseanne, Full House, Home Improvements, shit like that.
Is it going to be a lot of Nick at Nite actual programming influences on the album?
Kirk: It was more or less making our own variation of what we were thinking Nick at Nite is if two people would actually do it musically.
Nyck: It’s like loosely based on it. The content has bits and pieces of it like we might do a VCR type of effect on the shit to give it like a vintage look but the actual project isn’t like super skit heavy, you know?
Kirk: It’s more or less the catchiness.
What are some of the topics you touch on in the project?
Kirk: It’s all on our writing styles. When we were came out, I’ll speak for me, when I came out I was young as shit so like most of my songs in the early years I couldn’t really articulate myself. So now my newest things, most of my verses are more or less past tense, reminiscing on things, comparing them to items in the real world, things like little imagery, like the visual verse. Nyck’s verses are intense. Its kinda like you wouldn’t think he’s this short when you listen to him rapping shit [laughs].
Nyck: [Laughs] You would think I’m shorter and I just got a Napoleon complex.
Kirk: It’s the wordplay. He’s way more in the pocket than me. I’m more or less just telling a story from the eyes of a young nigga that couldn’t really articulate what he seen yet and now that I grew older, a lot of homies died and this, that and the third, I’m able to articulate those same feelings that I didn’t understand before.
So a lot of my new shit is like that in general. It wasn’t like us being like, "Ok, we have to write like this on Nyck @ Nite." It’s more or less combining both of the worlds of what we already do in a more articulated sense, a more broader sense that everybody can understand that shit. For Pro Era listeners and listeners in general, it doesn’t really matter. It’s like the best of both worlds.
Nyck: The whole project we didn’t really go in with a concept, we just kinda took each song as it came.
Kirk: Yeah, it wasn’t like, "Oh, ok, cool, so we’re going to talk about women." It was just more or less like I’d make the beat and whatever came to the dome is. That’s it.
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