We were so happy to have Duncan perform this past Friday, July 13 at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center! If you were not able to attend, we will be posting the live concert recording as an episode of our Did You hear? podcast.
To get the best sense of what Kansas City rapper, drummer and producer Duncan Burnett is about, watch his self-directed video for "Anthem" (embedded below), or any of his other videos for that matter. Burnett's skills as a vocalist, rapper, performer and video director are on full display, and it's captivating. His upcoming debut, EP, Black Boy Joy, features production and instrumental work by KC's Anthony Saunders and Dominique Sanders, AKA The Xtraordinairs. We are excited to share an interview with Burnett about this EP and other topics. Enjoy.
Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
Hey. My name is Duncan Burnett and I'm a rapper/artist, musician (drums) and producer. I hail from the great city of Olathe, KS. 913rd. Ya dig! Haha
My music is clean, soulful, positive, passion filled, hip hop music. Drawing inspiration from rock, R&B, soul, funk, jazz and pop to create a familiar but unique sound that everyone can enjoy.
Talk about the music you’ve been working on recently and your upcoming EP. What can fans expect?
It's been a while since I've released a project. I've made three full length projects since 2014. But they never quite made the cut because of the quality, and the fact that I am still learning how to rap and create songs. I'm new to the rap game. I took a break from trying to make a project, learned a lot and built connections with people. This lead to the creation of Black Boy Joy, my debut EP. I had the privilege of working with two of my favorite producers/musicians/artist Anthony Saunders and Dominique Sanders. (Check them out!)
Personally, I feel this is my best music to date. Best mixing, best production, and I'm just more confident in my skills as a rapper. You'll hear some spoken word, quality rapping, live instrumentation, some great grooves to get that head bobbin' (ranging from gospel, funk, future soul, hip hop and R&B) and I even got a trap song on there. It's super positive trap... but I think it's legit. Excited for the people to hear it.
What has been your greatest creative challenge with the new music? How did you work through that challenge?
My greatest challenge has been finding the right people to work with and having money to pay for it. I'm very particular and I’m a full time musician. So I don't make a ton of money or gig that often and quality music isn't free (especially when you have high standards like I do). So, I needed the highest quality product for the right deal. I had a deal with The Xtraordinairs to record an EP that they would produce but that was postponed, mainly because they were busy working with higher paying clients (which is cool lol you gotta make that money). This was a small setback, but I decided not give up on what I wanted. So I was willing to wait for the opportunity to work with Dom Sanders and Anthony Saunders. I ended up waiting about a year (give or take a few months) while doing shows, working to improve my artistry before I was able to get these magical sessions with Dom and Anthony separately. Dom ended up producing 3 of the 6 songs on the EP. Anthony produced one and sang as well. All at a very affordable rate. : ) Patience is truly a virtue. I always say that I don't hear "no" just "not yet" eventually you going to agree with me.
The videos you’ve made for your songs really bring out the sense of joy inherent in your work. How did you learn to direct and produce these videos?
First, Thank you. You never know who is really watching. I'm at the point where people give very little feedback to me as the artist. It's nice to know the energy is coming through. To answer you, I'm a visionary, I love learning, and I believe I can be pretty good at everything I do. Especially with a little practice. I despise waiting for people get things done, I'm about that action! (I got that from my dad. He learned to professionally cook BBQ by watching BBQ pit masters. He ended up getting 1st place in ribs in his his first competition, out of like 200 entries. Crazy. ) I watch videos, tutorials, and ask questions every time I'm with a videographer or photographer. Then I just apply the techniques in the simplest form possible to deliver the highest quality result. I still have work to do, but it's a solid start. My creativity is still limited by my resources but I make the most out of what I have. I could have nothing. If you have time to complain, you have time to find a solution to your problem.
What inspires you about hip-hop and futuristic soul in KC?
I'm still new to the hip hop scene. I'm more on the band side which was intentional given my musical background. However for hip-hop, I'm really into Gee Watts, Sauce, Khrystal, and Kartez Marcel. For Soul, It's Mae C. She is an amazing talent. For me, I caught this new wind when I discovered Eddie Moore and the Outercircle (Deandre manning, Zach Morrow, Adam Schlozman). These guys have changed my life. They’re amazing people. Word to Sam Sartorius and JeffreyStoX. They really support me and stick by me and inspire me to keep going by their level of commitment and musicianship. These guys have been crucial to my success and I hope they stay around for the long haul. Lastly, Dom Sanders. Since I met him he's been my #1 inspiration and my favorite musician and producer in KC. I'm tryna be like him when I grow up! lol
Duncan's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - this blew my 5th grade mind.
O U T L I E R S by Malcolm Gladwell - READ THIS.
48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene - good concepts.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - The Reality Distortion Field
V For Vendetta by Alan Moore. Classic. Great movie. Great words.