Lo Village, a Hip-Hop/R&B group from Gaithersburg, MD has been on the scene since 2016 with beautiful tunes, terse verses and a sizeable fan following along the east coast and Spotify. They came up on our radar and we fell in love with their subtle, catchy sound. So, we decided to speak with with Kane Tabiri or MC Kane of Lo Village to talk their music, inspirations and what’s in store for them in the near future.
How did y’all meet?
Kane: So, me and Tyler or Charles Tyler, we went to the same elementary school. We played sports together and we started hanging out. He had been rapping for a while with his friends, just in high school, not really taking it seriously. Senior year, I started taking music more seriously and then I was like, when I go to school I want to learn about the music industry, I want to learn business. With that in mind, we created like a rap duo with just me and him. We were rapping for a while together, recording to put together a mix tape or something. We weren’t satisfied with what we were getting cos we’re perfectionists. In 2013, we added another member, Kwess. We did 2 projects with him as Lo Village and then he split from the group and we made another addition to the group to get that R&B flavor, get a female perspective into the group. She’s my sister, her name is Ama.
Oh, that’s great. I had no idea Ama was your sister.
Kane: Yeah, growing up I always knew she could sing and in my mind, I wanted her to be a solo artist that I threw word with on the label that I was building than going through college. So, after Kwess left, adding Ama was a no-brainer.
You come from a musical family?
Kane: Yeah, my family’s been big on records. They both had their own like collection of records and I would sit by the music player and just listen. I would tune it up, tune it down every morning. We’d wake and there’s music playing in the house so yeah, it was a big thing in my family and I’m not surprised that this is the outcome.
What is the inspiration for the name “Lo Village.” Does it have anything to do with Slum Village?
Kane: Yeah, we’re big on Slum Village. Dilla and the like. We knew about them growing up and before we had our name. But, it wasn’t so much slum village that we got our name from; we’re from a place called Montgomery village, Maryland. Montgomery Village is a town outside of Gaithersburg which is also another small city within Maryland that nobody really knows about. So, Montgomery village is the city we all grew up and met in. So, we all went with that. My family is from Ghana and Charles Tyler is from Trinidad and both our dads come from small villages.
That’s really cool. Moving onto your music, you have a new project coming out?
Kane: Yes. So, right now, we were actually with our producer in Upstate NY, getting more tracks in for our project. We want to kick off the summer with singles and then kind of cap it off with our project. We’re trying different approaches of releasing music now that we have different managers, producers. It’s a new day for Lo Village.
Do you have any videos we can look forward to?
Kane: You guys can expect some visuals soon. We’re very visual in conveying what we’re trying to get across with our music.
Since this interview, Lo Village has put out several new videos.
So, you’re saying your work needs to be very well represented visually?
Kane: Yes, because music is open to the listener’s perception. When we put out the music, we let it live for maybe a month or so and then we put a visual to it to make it known what is it that we’re trying to get across.
I wanted you to tell us a bit about your new project.
Kane: A big theme is kind of reflecting to when we were kids and look at earlier times, early 2000’s, growing up and how things used to be, nostalgia. Just reminiscing and kind of trying to bring in values and morals that may have been lost with the advent of technology and social media. It feels like we’ve done a 180 as society where everything that we knew, whether the way we listen to music, the way we interact with our family and friends, it’s all different now. We have these phones we’re always on, we have social media where we’re trying to impress people, and our minds are clouded with the wrong things so we’re trying to bring back more traditional values.
So, you fit in with the current climate but you’re grounded in your roots.
Kane: Exactly. We’re trying to find a way to match this new wave with what we grew up on, what we know. I was born in America but I’m trying to look for something deeper, my family being from Ghana, because this shit isn’t it. You know what I mean?
Kane: There’s so much to discover. It helps in personal development to know more about yourself. I feel like everybody should do that. And, if we can do that and convey it through our music, it’ll help others.
I totally get you. To talk a bit about your project – any particular song you’re rooting for?
Kane: So far, we’ve completed half the project and every song is exactly what we imagined it to be so I’d want all them to succeed. But, one particular song, ‘For The Children’ that has a summery, upbeat vibe may jump up because of the season.
Performing live can be daunting for some people. Does stage fright ever sneak up on you guys?
Kane: Uh, I don’t think stage fright is something that affects us. Because of how we’ve been practicing. What’s nerve wrecking is when the sound is incorrect. Making sure that everything is technically working – the levels on the mic, the beat is not too high or something like that. The little technical things that can go wrong, that’s more what makes you nervous than actually getting there and doing your thing on a stage.
The poshest venue you’ve played at versus the grittiest?
Kane: Well, Baltimore Sound Stage was somewhere that I saw some of my favorite artists growing up. So, performing there was really big for us. Just to see how things play out. We had a performance at Soho House where we were the headliners. We were closing it out. So, we went on at around 11:30. The show didn’t start till about 9:30 or 10. So, by the time we got on, everyone was leaving or talking. It was a Wednesday night; it would have been better if it was a Friday or a Saturday. If we weren’t the ones closing out, it may have been better. When you’ve seen the previous performance go on and they get such a good reception but then, by the end of the show everyone is ready to leave, it’s kind of discouraging but I mean, it comes with the territory.
I want to ask you about the whole process of putting your songs together? Are you guys all involved with the song writing bit? Do you guys write your own verses/bars?
Kane: Yeah, absolutely. One of us might give ideas to one another for maybe a chorus but each one of us, write our own verses too.
That makes sense. One of my favourites is ‘Souvenirs.’ That’s a proper jam. And, ‘Lately’ too.
Kane: Thank you. A big thanks.
Can you tell me a little about the concept for the music video for TDOLV?
Kane: I think I saw Dead Presidents earlier that year. They rob a bank and they’re dressed up the way we dressed up in that video. So, we just took that concept of how they were dressed and we created our own storyline based of what we were trying to get across in the song. We’re talking about a type of person that social media has created. The kind of person who places their values in the wrong thing like brands, drugs, guns, the girls who are just focused on their looks and getting men to buy them everything. We thought let’s dress like the masked people in Dead Pres and then kidnap that kind of a person and bring them into our world. Dead Pres meets lo Village sort of a vibe.
That’s quite fun. What was the driving force behind ‘The Birds?’
Kane: It’s another play on the concept of values. And, how they’ve changed now cos of how the way social media is. Whenever you hear the term “for the birds,” it’s something that isn’t important. Let me see how I can put this in context. Like, maybe showing off money on the internet or bragging or a girl exposing herself on the Internet. That would be for the birds.
I couldn’t have guessed that. What’s a day at the recording studio like?
Kane: We’re usually in there for about 5 to 6 hours a session. Earlier, when we used to work out of my own studio that I built, we would be there for a bit longer. Overnight sometimes. Now, we go to Upstate New-York, to our producer’s house. We’re there for about 5-6 hours. Just knocking out as much work as we can. Earlier, there used to be a lot of weed involved. But, now at my producer’s place, we don’t want to disrespect. So, maybe a beer or two.
Your favorite collaborations to date?
Kane: Our new producer, Frankie. He’s a 19-20 something college kid but he’s been producing for a while and the way he’s able to put beats together is incredible.
If you had the chance to go back in time as a group and do an album with a producer from the past, who would It be?
Kane: It would be Kanye from the past. 2003 soul samples. Another one – Quincy Jones, if we were born in an earlier time.
Have you had any particular person that’s come into yours as a group and has propelled you to do bigger things? Is there a distinct before or after for you when it comes to that person that came into your life?
Kane: Yeah, Kwess. Our third member. Before he had come in, we’d just been trying to perfect our music. We sat on the music for a long time. He expedited the process. He gave us a lot of confidence to put our music out there.
Your all-time favourite album?
Kane: It’s crazy cos I was having a discussion with one of my friends and this came up and I think it’s ‘Late Registration’ by Kanye. It’s kind of crazy cos for the longest time ‘College Dropout’ was my favorite album by Kanye, but it probably wasn’t my favorite album of all time. After I went back and listened to Late Registration by Kanye, I came to the conclusion that that’s the best album I ever heard.
Of all the music that’s come out in the last two years, do you have any favorite release?
Kane: I have two and they’re both from last year. Victory by Nipsey Hussle. I started listening to Nipsey in high school, around 2010ish. He’s also of African descent and I really gravitated towards him and his values. He never put out a studio album until 2018. Before that, it was just Mixtapes/Eps and projects. And, then he finally put out ‘Victory Lap’ and it was some of the most inspirational music I’ve listened to in my life. It really changed the way I looked at success. I felt like he stayed true to his himself with a creative spin to it. Feel like it’s one of the best pieces of music made in the last ten years. The second would be Daytona by Pusha T because Kanye’s production in that album is amazing because of the instrumentation, the vibe he was able to create and the way he was able to push his raps.
Thank you so much for speaking with us, Kane.
Kane: Thank you.
Check out Lo Village’s 2019 releases below
Words by Alina Gufran