Hip hop and Edmonton are words that we may not often put in the same sentence, until now. A new wave is hitting the scene, and he goes by the name TK Cab’ral. I had known of TK for years, but after his latest release I knew I needed to give this guy the spotlight he deserves.
TK is pushing the limits of Edmonton hip hop, straying from the classic struggle rap we perpetually see in this city and giving us some loopy beats, fresh flows, and a wide range of vocals. Off the record, TK told me one of the reasons his music has seen such immense growth is that he records a song every single day. This dude is completely dedicated to the craft, and it’s evident throughout this interview.
We want to get to know you. How did you initially make your musical ambition come to life?
TK: Since I was a kid, I’ve loved art. All kinds of art: movies, music, paintings. Everything like that. Music was just the easiest to get into. I also made a promise to somebody that I was going to be a rock star someday. That person meant a lot to me. So that’s a really big driving point on why I do my music and why I want to prove what I do is going to be great one day.
Has anything changed since then?
TK: Actually yeah, with that initial thought that “I always wanted to be a rock star.” I did play the guitar from about eight to when I was thirteen. But then, nothing against the guitar, it’s a beautiful instrument. It’s just, I couldn’t deliver these emotions I had inside of my head as quick as I wanted to, you know what I mean? Then I just grew a love for hip hop music to be specific, because prior to that I was only listening to bands like Kiss and ACDC.
I just figured rapping was the easiest way to just start teeing off what’s on my mind. And now I feel like I’m getting in the position where I don’t have to necessarily rely on rap. I don’t have to rap ridiculously fast on a whole song, I can deliver certain feelings in other ways.
It’s nice to have that flexibility and range. Are there any key influences who have inspired you to be the TK we have today?
TK: I’d have to say, guys who influenced me most would be like Tupac. I like Michael Jackson a lot. Ozzy Osbourne, he’s crazy; Kanye West, I think his music’s crazy. One of my favourite albums is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I feel like it’s just a nice, whole body of work with a bunch of different sounds. So when I’m making albums I’m kind of thinking in my head like “I want it to be diverse, but at the same time, link to one another.”
What meaning or purpose do you try and convey through your music?
TK: It would have to depend on the day and how I’m feeling, things like that. It’s hard for me to just release a single. I like to release full bodies of work, because then you can give them the whole range of feelings. Sometimes I want them to feel sad or sometimes I want them to feel happy, angry, or wonder what the hell they just listened to. That’s what I shoot for.
It almost works in opposites. On a day where I’m really happy I’ll make the saddest song. Because I can go there without it damaging me. I can go to the saddest point because I know the day is going good and I’ve got a bunch of good things going for me. On my sad days I try my best to make more uplifting music. If I can’t go uplifting I’ll go to raging, I’ll never just mope in sadness.
What does “success” as an artist look like to you?
TK: As an artist, it would just be people respecting [my] work. That’s already technically successful, it’s just how far do you want to take it, and what is going to cost for you to take it there? Let’s say I want to have stadiums solely so I could have some crazy set, with insane stuff from like medieval castles and spaceships. If I wanted to do that, then I need the money to do that. If I want to get the money for that, then I need to start from the ground up so technically I’m not successful, you know what I’m saying? It just depends on where you want to be. But at the moment, right now, with everything I’ve done up to this point I’m pretty happy with where I’m at.
One level at time. One thing I’ve noticed through your music and your videos and overall persona is that you really like to push the envelope a little bit with what you’re doing. Do you aim to stand out, is that something you try and do or are you just being yourself?
TK: Yeah, I’m just being myself. Because initially, when I was like fourteen-fifteen, I hear these flows that are just so whack. But if I listen closely it’s like I still rap like that, it’s just I learned how to make it work. For the longest time I didn’t even know how to count bars. Even now I’m pretty rough at it, I can only feel when it starts and ends. Even when I’m writing my music I can’t write it in bars because my rhyme scheme is all over the place. That’s what allows me to switch up the flow so many times in my songs.
How can Edmontonians support your rise as an artist?
TK: Just giving my stuff a chance, just listen to it, and if you like it, you know you’ll end up sharing it and downloading it, showing your friends. That’s all I’d like.
Okay so you’ve got a show coming up tonight (February 18), what do you do to get ready for a show?
TK: Initially I had this crazy ritual, but then I realized that made me go too much outside my head. So now, it’s almost like every other day.
I noticed the flashy jacket you’ve got one (Yellow Puffer Anorak – Golde Clothing). How did you get involved with them? I’ve noticed you reppin’ a lot of their stuff.
It’s my buddy actually, Ty Zar. We initially met when I was sixteen at DC Records. I heard his music, he heard my music. We didn’t even speak to each other, there was no need to at that moment. But then there was this other artist Toxik, he messaged me when I was nineteen. He’s like “Hey, yo, this Zar guy raps.” It’s the same guy that makes this (jacket). He said we should all get on a track together, and I’m like “yeah, no problem.” They came to my house and we were all chillin’. I knew Zar would be a homie of mine, we just kept chillin’ and one day he’s like “yo, would you like to model some stuff?” I was getting asked to model, and I had never really thought about it, I was never really confident like that before.
Doing that stuff with him made me become way more confident. Back then I was super shy, I was always inside of my head. Back at O’leary (we went to the same high school) I always had my headphones on, walking around, not talking to anyone. Now I feel like all the things I’ve been doing, from modelling to directing music videos and making music I’m allowing people to peek inside of my reality in the way I want them to without having to necessarily be like “this is how I think” or “this is how this is,” I want them to feel it and sit inside of it.
TK Cab’ral and Golde were recently featured in High Snobiety, a reputable online lifestyle news site which covers fashion and footwear.
You can find TK on Soundcloud (@Cab’ral), and I recommend you do. His music will take you on a journey. After recording this interview I listened to his most recent mixtape, 7HOURS, which he challenged himself to record in, you guessed it, seven hours. His personality is transparent and evident throughout the track list. Let me assure you, TK is not just a rapper. TK is a musician with a vision. Find him on Instagram @allthingstk, his music videos on Youtube @wearecannibalkingstv. Huge thank you to TK Cab’ral for taking the time on a concert day to have a chat with me.