Emerging Atlanta-based artist Kolo has been making waves for a while now. With a slew of projects, EPs, and visuals under his belt, the Nigerian-born artist has been consistent for the better half of three years now. On the release of his latest 15-song project ‘The Last Manifesto,’ Kolo keeps the spirit of real MCs still intact. With a sound that’s uniquely all his own, Kolo manages to showcase his artistry over the 55-minute project nicely. Briefly, after the release, we had the chance to sit down with Kolo for a Q&A where we talked ‘The Last Manifesto,’ quarantine habits, song creation process, and much more. Check it out down below.
For those who don’t know, where are you from?
I’m originally from Nigeria, but I’ve lived in the U.S. most of my life. I’ve lived in the state of Georgia the whole time. I’ve bounced around the state quite a bit but I’ve mostly been in the Atlanta area.
Did you have any early music influences? Who were your favorite artists growing up?
I would say that my early musical influences were the artists my mom and dad were playing when I was young. Early in my life, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey were the first artists I remember hearing, and those two artists are some of my favorite artists ever to this day. When I was 11 my uncle bought The Massacre, by 50 Cent and was just randomly playing it in his room. I remember going in there with my brother and just listening to it and having my mind blown thinking, “what is this?” I’ve been hooked on hip-hop ever since.
During this quarantine, people have been keeping themselves occupied in unique ways. How have you been keeping yourself busy?
Honestly, just making music. Early in quarantine, I was making a bunch of music that was reflective of our new lifestyle and just creating to free my mind and reflect on things. Music really is a safe haven for me at all times even when things get chaotic. Although this pandemic has been rough, one of the bright sides has been finding creative ways to present art to people and to use the internet in unique ways. It’s a challenge that I definitely welcomed.
Where do you think your headspace is now compared to – let’s say 1-2 years ago in terms of your artistry?
The main difference is confidence. I think naturally I’ve gotten better in every aspect but the confidence has grown leaps and bounds from two years ago. I’m just incredibly sure of myself. I know my worth and I know I’m destined for great things and that allows me to stick on this path even though people might not see what I see.
Let’s jump into the music a bit. You recently dropped your new project ‘The Last Manifesto.’ How did the concept for it come together?
Well, I made three EPs during graduate school from 2016-2017 and that was really the learning period of me making music. After the creation of those three pieces, I kind of realized that I had hit a ceiling. I needed to push myself to create something more ambitious and daring. Also, I started looking at my life as an artist and realized that my legacy would be empty without a full album that showed the wide scope of who I am. I always postponed the idea for an album because I felt like I wasn’t ready, but in 2018 I realized that you may never feel fully ready. You just have to take the leap. I saw this as my final statement to give to the world.
Do you have a process for song creation or is it more of a spur of the moment thing?
It’s a little bit of a mixture. I will say most of my creation is premeditated and methodic. I’m always making beats and then I create songs based on the beats that meet certain standards. I take time to write over these beats even if I have them for weeks/months. Sometimes though things happen in the spur of the moment. A song on this project, ‘Alone,’ was produced and written in two hours just because it became a therapy session for how I was feeling that day.
How would you say your music has transitioned over time? What new sounds or tools have you added or subtracted to your creative process?
I think it’s just become more polished. I think I had an idea who I wanted to be from the jump but I didn’t know how to execute and now I believe I do. I also believe I implement more R&B influences into my music now, which I barely did before. It’s extended my range and I love R&B so it’s really just me doing what I like to do. I use a program called Ableton that really has further improved my abilities to create from scratch.
Do you feel like you’ve found your style, or is it something you’re still working on?
I have definitely found my style as an artist. I feel like I’m an all-in-one artist that does a variety of things well. Versatility is my calling card.
Do you plan on rolling out any visuals oﬀ of the project?
We released a video for the intro of the album, “Prologue,” the same day the album dropped on December 15th. I have a video coming for one of the singles, “Infinity Bars,” that will be dropping before the end of the year. And then we will be dropping more new videos from the album in 2021.
What do you like to get into outside of work? Whether it be with your team or solo?
I like going to the gym and trying to stay healthy. Definitely love watching sports (soccer and basketball especially). I’m also a huge TV series addict. Definitely need to read more books though. Maybe that can be my resolution for 2021.
What can we expect from you moving forward? Or is everything under wraps?
Just more of everything to be honest. More visuals. I have a series called Free Basement, in which I rap in my studio basement over current and classic beats. I will be bringing back that series in 2021. I got new music that I will continue to drop and just keep pushing the Free Basement brand. I feel like this album is the start of a new era and I’m excited to see where things go. I know the sky’s the limit and I’ll push this thing as far as it can go.