Sauce is all over Kansas City. The artist behind several hip-hop albums and collaborations, Sauce is also an entrepreneur, community organizer, family man and student. He's one of the spearheads behind the new We Are R.A.P. initiative, which pairs teens with older, more experienced hip-hop artists and through an eight-week course takes them through the writing, production and performance of original music. We are fortunate to share an interview with Sauce about his new album, creative process and influences.
Delve into your collaboration with Duncan Burnett and Gee Watts on “Summer Sauce.” Who brought what to the table? What did you end up learning from them that you’ll take to future projects?
At the time, me and Duncan were doing a lot of shows together and planned on creating some music. He was just starting in being more public as a music producer and Summer Sauce was the 1st project he exclusively produced (except one song). I came up with the idea and the rollout of summer sauce and he helped with the name and the sound of it. As we began choosing what song and content would make the album, I suggested adding Gee Watts as he is one of my favorite local rappers. Duncan and Gee just happened to be cousins and Duncan made it happen for me. We spilt everything 50/50 and created a great project. It even charted on the iTunes top 200 Hip-Hop charts! I’ve learned how to work with a producer from scratch and how that organic feel is tone of the best way to make music. We used a lot of live instruments and really shaped everything ourselves.
Your most recent EP, “I Love Sauce” is described as “a playlist of Hip-Hop love songs and ideas that didn't make previous projects or were previously incomplete.” What made you decide to finish and release this music in this way?
I just really wanted to explore more hip-hop love songs with my personal mid-west style. I wanted to make sure I had more music available online for people to see my range of content. From love, to social issues, etc., I can speak on it all.
In another interview you’ve discussed how an early love of reading led to an interest in lyrics and writing. What were some of those first books that inspired you and how did they capture your imagination?
Goosebumps books meant everything to me. I feel in love with storytelling and characters. Also, personal stories and autobiographies were big to me. Books like Nathan McCall’s Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America influenced me as well. I just really loved a great story, especially a relatable one, or ones I could see myself in that aren’t normal. This really made me want to write and explore literary devices once I started understanding hip-hop.
Talk about your creative process within the context of family, business and teaching demands. How do you make time for music?
My process is very spontaneous at times. I usually create music in the evenings when all the other things are done but sometimes, while driving or just being out in the city, I get inspired and pull out phone or notebook and start creating. I beatbox a bit so I create my ideas of music in my head, record them on my phone and send them to one of my producers and go from there. I also freestyle a lot and memorize most of my verses vs. physically writing everything. As far as all of the other things I do outside of rapping, I use them all to influence the music. So the more I’m doing other things, the more content and inspiration I can draw upon to make music. The hip-hop program, my internship, college, my family/home life, and business ventures—they all work together.
What music and/or artists are you currently raving about?
Currently I’m not listening to much music as I’m preparing for a release. As far as hip-hop, I’m digging Kuttybear’s new album “Trouble in Paradise,” and Nipsey Hussle’s “Victory Lap.” I have an R&B/Soul artist I really dig named Jade Novah and her new album is incredible. I also love jazz so I’ve been enjoying the new John Coltrane release of his lost recordings. There are also some up and coming local rappers that I’m really into to, names like Solomon (from the No Alternatives collective), A’Sean, Yanna the Supaflowa, and more.
What inspires you about hip-hop and rap in Kansas City?
The hustle. Everyone who makes something out of a scene that has no major record labels, a small market compared to other other genres here, no dedicated venues, etc., has literally done the impossible to have what they have. Look at Tech N9Ne for example, he definitely hasn’t done it by himself but his path was one of pure hustle. He literally had to get up and go get “it.” Seeing how hip-hop is growing into other economies of Kansas City is inspiring as well. Last year I was the only rapper to perform on the Kansas City Streetcar for their Holiday event, I’ve also performed at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a few public libraries, Art festivals and more. These are times where local hip-hop is making itself known to the art and tech community and its looks very promising.
Queen of Katwe (DVD): A movie that I passed on when it originally released. After I saw the movie and read up on the true story that inspired it, it inspired me.
Slavery By Another Name (Book/Movie): This is a piece of history that isn't taught in schools. It's a must-see for anyone who thinks they know American History.
Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.: This is the last book written by Martin Luther King JR. It is a complete view of him and his thoughts.
The Social Climber's Bible by Dirk Wittenborn: A fun and handy book for tips on improving your life.
The Richest Man In Babylon by George Clason: A great book filled with parables of financial life lessons.
Any Goosebumps Book: Goosebumps was my favorite book series as a pre-teen. I owned over 50 of the original releases!
Soul Eater (DVD): One of my favorite anime films ever made!
Game of Thrones (DVD): Some of the best storytelling in human history.