THE UMC'S

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INTERVIEW: CHRISTOPHER "MIC HANDZ" ROGERS

SPECIAL THANKS TO MJ SAVINO. 

VALIDATED: WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?

KOOL KIM: BORN IN BROOKLYN, RAISED IN STATEN ISLAND.

HAAS G: BROOKLYN BORN, THEN MOVED TO STATEN ISLAND IN '85.


VALIDATED: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR ARTIST NAME?

KOOL KIM: MY DUDE LARRY LOVE WHEN INTRODUCED TO ME SAID... "MAN I KNOW HIM, THAT'S KIM... KOOL KIM RIGHT THERE!" I WANTED TO BE THAT SO I RAN WITH IT.

HAAS G: I GOT MY NAME BEING GOD BODY. MY UNCLE IS F.O.I MUSLIM. HE GAVE ME THE NAME HASSAN.

VALIDATED: HOW DID YOU GUYS COME UP WITH THE NAME UMC'S?

UMC'S: WE WERE ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS "UNIVERSAL STEPPING STRONG" AS A PART OF A LARGER GROUP (WHICH I DON'T KNOW HOW THAT NAME CAME TO BE.) LOL... BUT EVENTUALLY WHEN THE LARGER GROUP SPLIT WE TOOK THE UNIVERSAL PART AND THEY KEPT THE STEPPING STRONG PART... AND THERE IT WAS U(NIVERSAL) MC'S.

VALIDATED: GROWING UP, WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WAS PLAYED IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD AND HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED THE MUSIC THAT YOU CREATE?

KOOL KIM: NOT A LOT OF MUSIC WAS PLAYED IN MY HOME. WHICH IS ODD BECAUSE YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD BE A THING BUT IT WASN'T. IT WASN'T AN ANTI-MUSIC HOUSE BUT IT WASN'T A RECORDS BEING PLAYED DURING DINNER TYPE OF LAB EITHER. WE WERE MORE OF A TV HOME.

HAAS G: I HAD RECORDS PLAYING CONSTANTLY FROM JAMES BROWN TO PATTI LABELLE. ENOUGH RECORDS FOR DAYS.

VALIDATED: WHO WAS THE STRONGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCE IN YOUR FAMILY?

KOOL KIM: ME.

HAAS G: I WOULD HAVE TO SAY MY GRANDMOTHER... SHE LOVED MUSIC.

VALIDATED: HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY FORMAL MUSICAL EDUCATION OR ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT?

KOOL KIM: YES, DURING PUBLIC AND INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL I STUDIED TRUMPET ALONG WITH MY CLASSMATE WHO WOULD LATER BECOME METHOD MAN. I ALSO LEARNED VIOLIN AND VIOLA.

HAAS G: SURE... THE WHISTLE WITH THE BIG BLOW GUM. LET ME STOP. LOL A LITTLE FLUTE, A LITTLE PIANO. THAT'S ALL.

VALIDATED: WHAT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL AMBITION BEFORE REALIZING MUSIC WAS YOUR CALLING?

KOOL KIM: BEING A COMIC BOOK ARTIST THAT IS UNTIL I REALIZED I COULDN'T REALLY DRAW THAT GOOD.

HAAS G: ELECTRICIAN, WHICH I AM.

VALIDATED: AT WHAT POINT MUSICALLY DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE ON TO SOMETHING?

KOOL KIM: I DON'T KNOW IF I EVER REALIZED I WAS ON TO SOMETHING. I'M STILL NOT SURE IF I'M ON TO SOMETHING OR I DIDN'T F*** AROUND AND WASTE MAD YEARS. BUT I LOVE IT... AND I LOVED WORKING WITH MY PARTNER AND DOING THINGS TOGETHER. THAT WAS A PRIME MOTIVATOR FOR ME.

HAAS G: WHEN I MADE A RECORD CALLED "INVADERS OF MY FRUIT BASKET". IT WAS THE MOST CREATIVE THING I EVER HEARD AND FELT.

VALIDATED: NAME THE HIP-HOP ARTISTS THAT INFLUENCED YOUR ART MOST AND WHY DID YOU FEEL GRAVITATED TO THEM?

KOOL KIM: SUPER LOVER C, CASANOVA RUD, PMD, RAKIM, DE LA SOUL... IT'S HARD TO PUT A FINGER ON WHAT AS MUCH AS THE MOMENTS, LINES AND CADENCES THAT WOULD OPEN MY OWN PATHWAYS OF THOUGHT.

HAAS G: RAKIM, MARLEY MARL, EPMD, DE LA SOUL, PUBLIC ENEMY, LL COOL JAY AND BDP FOR SURE. THEY WERE THE EPITOME OF HIP HOP.

VALIDATED: WHAT IS YOUR VANTAGE POINT WHEN YOU APPROACH YOUR MUSIC? WHAT DOES KOOL KIM STAND FOR AS AN ARTIST AND VOICE OF A INDUSTRY AND GENERATION? THEN AND NOW?

KOOL KIM: CANDID ART, CHARACTER, STRENGTH OF PURPOSE, SHOWMANSHIP, FUN AND ADVENTURE. THAT IS ME IN LIFE AND IN MUSIC.

HAAS G: I AM THE ORIGINAL MAN. MY JOINTS ARE AUTHENTIC. EVERYTHING I DO IS GENUINE. YOU ARE HERE TO MARK LEGACY. WHEN MY FLESH IS GONE MY SPIRIT CONTINUES.

VALIDATED: YOU ARE CLEARLY CONSIDERED  LEGENDS, HOW DOES THAT IDEAL AFFECT YOU AND IS THERE A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT ATTACHED GOING FROM DREAM AND AMBITION TO SUCCESS AND COMPLETION?

KOOL KIM: NO SIR, IT DOESN'T AFFECT ME. HOWEVER I AM HUMBLY THANKFUL THAT I COULD MATTER IN THIS WORLD TO THIS EXTENT AND I NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT I COULD NOT BE OR COULD NOT HAVE BEEN GIVEN THIS OPPORTUNITY BY THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SHOWN ME LOVE.

HAAS G: I'M CHILL, DESERVING OF LEGEND STATUS IS GREAT. BUT KNOW THIS, MY DUE DILIGENCE ISN'T COMPLETED UNTIL I MADE THE BEST WAY FOR MY FAMILY THAT I CAN POSSIBLY DO.

VALIDATED: WHAT WERE ONE OF YOUR FONDEST TOUR MEMORIES?

KOOL KIM: DIVING OFF THE STAGE OF SOUL TRAIN AND THEN LATER GETTING TOLD TO GO HOME BY DON CORNELIUS WHILE HE WAS IN A BATHROBE. LMAO

HASS G: GETTING INTO A BRAWL WITH DAS EFX AND COMING TOGETHER LATER ON FIGURING WE WERE GREAT PEOPLE AND SHOWING LOVE.

VALIDATED: WHAT WAS IT LIKE PERFORMING ON SOUL TRAIN?

HAAS G: THE GREATEST FEELING EVER. TO HAVE DON CORNELIUS INTRODUCE US WAS ICONIC. LEGACY SET... WE GO DOWN IN THE HISTORY BOOKS.

VALIDATED: WHAT SACRIFICES HAVE YOU MADE OR THINGS THAT YOU HAD TO GO WITHOUT BECAUSE YOU'VE INVESTED IN YOUR ARTISTRY?

KOOL KIM: DEVELOPING OTHER TALENTS THAT MIGHT HAVE MADE A MORE SECURE LIFE FOR MY FAMILY. RISKING MY FAMILIES COMFORT FOR A VERY UNSTABLE CAREER. AND THE VERY REAL DANGERS OF BEING FAMOUS AND THE "BAD GOOD" THINGS THAT COME WITH THAT.

HAAS G: I'VE SACRIFICED TIME, FAMILY TIME AND MONEY THAT I COULDN'T BUT FIGURED IT OUT.

VALIDATED: WHAT OTHER VENTURES HAVE YOU TAKEN OUTSIDE OF THE UMC'S?

KOOL KIM: I'M A SPORTS PROFESSIONAL, I PLAY PICKLEBALL AND OWN A MARKETING/MERCH COMPANY. I'VE DONE SO MANY THINGS IN MY LIFE JUST FOR THE SAKE OF BEING ABLE TO SAY I DID IT THAT WE COULD SPEND WEEKS DISCUSSING THEM.

HAAS G: I'M AN ELECTRICIAN BY TRADE SO I DO COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL ESTABLISHMENTS. I BUILD STUDIOS, HOUSES, ETC...

VALIDATED: WAS YOUR FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR ARTISTIC AMBITIONS? WHEN DID THEY REALIZE THAT YOUR TALENT WAS SO FAR BEYOND AVERAGE?

KOOL KIM: FROM THE DOOR MY MOTHER INVESTED HER EMOTIONAL SUPPORT, GUIDANCE, AND FINANCIAL AID WHERE NECESSARY.

HAAS G: MY FAM WAS ALWAYS SUPPORTIVE. THEY KNEW WHEN I HAD A PATCH OF GREY HAIR AT 9 YEARS OLD.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LYRICS REMERGING AS THE FOCUS IN HIP HOP AGAIN AND DO YOU THINK THAT THEY WILL EVER BE AS CELEBRATED AS THEY ONCE WERE?

KOOL KIM: SURE, IT'S A CIRCLE... NOTHING IS NEW OR OLD. WE ARE RE-ENTERING A PHASE WHERE THE DOMINANT DEMOGRAPHIC FOR THE MUSIC HAS MATURED ENOUGH TO WANT MORE AND AS A RESULT IT WILL DRIVE THE MARKET.

HAAS G: LYRICS ARE KEY, THAT DICTATES TO THE LISTENERS WHAT TO DO. POP MOLLY, POP MOLLY. WALL STREET VENTURES, WALL STREET VENTURES!

VALIDATED: NOT INCLUDING YOU, NAME THE MOST CREATIVE ARTIST YOU'VE EVER SEEN AND WHY.

KOOL KIM: CRAIG ANTHONY MILLER IS AN AMAZING PAINTER WHO I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH. I CAN'T EVEN AFFORD HIS WORK BUT IT'S F****** BRILLIANT.

HAAS G: DE LA SOUL... THEY WERE VERY INSPIRING TO ME. I LOVED  HOW THEY BASICALLY CREATED A WORLD AND LANGUAGE OF THEIR OWN IN THEIR ALBUMS.

VALIDATED: MARTIN LAWRENCE HAD A POSTER OF THE UMC'S HANGIN ON SET DURING THE EARLY EPISODES OF WHAT WENT ON TO BECOME AN ICONIC SHOW, OF ALL ARTIST YOU GUYS WERE THE CHARACTER REPRESENTATION OF HIS LOVE OF HIP-HOP. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING A SYMBOL FOR THE CULTURE?

KOOL KIM: ASIDE FROM IT BEING AN HONOR, NOT MUCH BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW!!! TO HECK WITH THE WALL. LMAO

HAAS G: ANOTHER MOMENT IN TIME FOR ME THAT WAS MONUMENTAL FOR ME. IT STANDS FOR SOMETHING POWERFUL AND OUTSPOKEN. KEPT US GOING THROUGH THE TIME OF GETTING S*** DONE.

VALIDATED: THE REEMERGENCE OF THE UMC'S, WHY NOW?

KOOL KIM: WHY NOT?

HAAS G: BECAUSE I CHOOSE TOO. IT'S TIME NOW.

VALIDATED: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NAVIGATING THE NOW DIGITAL LANDSCAPE OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS?

KOOL KIM: IT'S NO BIGGIE. IN FACT IT'S EASIER THAN SENDING A BUNCH OF TAPES IN THE MAIL TO A&R'S. LOL BUT WITH THE NEW ALGORITHMS THINGS AREN'T THE SAME AS WHEN I FIRST CAME OUT AS NYOIL. MOST DON'T KNOW I WAS THE FIRST ARTIST TO BE BANNED ON YOUTUBE. BUT EVEN STILL BACK THEN 2007 IF YOU DID SOMETHING SPECIAL IT WENT VIRAL. NOW THEY GOT SYSTEMS IN PLACE TO KEEP CERTAIN S*** FROM SPREADING WITHOUT A SOLID KNOWLEDGE OF SEO, KEYWORDS, ALGORITHMS AND MONEY.

HAAS G: I LEAVE THIS NEW TECH TO THE YOUTH. I JUST WANT TO BE THE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP GIVING GUIDANCE AS WE PROPEL TO ANOTHER LEVEL, BASED ON THE KNOWLEDGE I ACQUIRED ALREADY.

VALIDATED: TELL US ABOUT OTHER VENTURES OUTSIDE OF THE UMC'S THAT YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON.

KOOL KIM: I OWN A SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY, "PADDLE UP SPORTS". I ALSO HAVE A MERCHANDISING COMPANY, "QP APPAREL".

HAAS G: STRICTLY PRODUCING, REAL ESTATE, AND ELECTRICAL WORK.

VALIDATED: IF SOMEONE WAS TO CONSIDER YOU INNOVATORS AND PIONERING CONTRIBUTORS TO THE WORK OF HOP-HOP AND URBAN CULTURE, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR THOUGHT?

KOOL KIM: IT'S ONLY RIGHT. WE'VE DONE SO MANY AMAZING THINGS THAT PEOPLE ARE LARGELY UNAWARE OF. IF PEOPLE REALLY KNEW HOW DEEP WE RUN IN THIS WORLD AND THE THINGS WE'VE DONE WE WOULD BE CONSIDERED TOP 10 OR 5 HIP HOP DUO'S WITHOUT A DOUBT.

HAAS G: I AM SENT HERE TO DO MY DILIGENCE. I AM GOD SENT. I DO GOD'S WORK. I AM THE BUTTON, PRESS ME.


VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READER SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR ARTWORK ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA?

UMC’S: UMC'S INSTAGRAM HTTPS://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/THEUMCS/

UMC'S TWITTER HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/THEUMCS

UMC'S FACEBOOK HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/UMCHIPHOP/

KOOL KIM/ NYOIL IG HTTPS://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/NYOIL/

HAAS / FANTOM HTTPS://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/FANTOM_OF_THE_BEAT/

SPOTIFY HTTPS://OPEN.SPOTIFY.COM/ALBUM/1C8ZSC5CELEFXCB5LXSL2T

ITUNES HTTPS://ITUNES.APPLE.COM/US/ARTIST/THE-UMCS/27823454

Troy HendricksonComment