Wal-Marts, Best Buys, and Strip Clubs

Everyone performing at the Casbah’s first local rap showcase next month was nominated in the Best Hip-Hop category at this year’s San Diego Music Awards — everyone except Kayo.

“I wasn’t nominated for anything,” says the self-described producer/rapper/promoter. “I’m on [the Casbah bill] because I have a business mind. I’ll be nominated next year.” Born and raised in Southeast San Diego, Kayo, 24, says he’s been rapping for ten years. “I’ve been living off my record label [On Fyre Entertainment] since I was 19.”

Kayo usually sells his CDs at local swap meets, nightclubs, and gas stations. “On a bad day I make $100.… My CD [100 Percent Hustle] is professionally packaged. It’s all in the presentation.” He says he usually sells them for ten dollars, but the price has ranged between three and twenty dollars. (“I’m willing to work with the consumer.”) Kayo says he is in his sixth 1000-copy pressing of 100 Percent Hustle.

On a recent Tuesday night he was in the Phoenix area, where he says he visits to sell his CDs on the street.

“I discovered it when my car broke down there once. I go to Wal-Marts, Best Buys, and strip clubs. People tend to look at me a little differently [in Arizona]. They are a little more rude there, but I haven’t seen any major racism.”

Kayo says he has found a “sweet spot” for disc sales, though he won’t divulge where.

“All I can say is, thank the military. Only one other guy – a Mexican rapper named Dido Brown – found out where it is.”

While the Casbah showcase may indicate a giant step for local hip-hop, Kayo says his fellow hip-hop artists are playing with a disadvantage.

“We get slept on. It seems like the country overlooks San Diego artists. Plus, everyone tries to be the one person who makes it instead of the whole scene making it. It’s like the crabs in the barrel – when one starts to climb out, the others pull you back in. Plus there’s a lack of effort. They might make a song, put it on MySpace, and think that’s it.”

Kayo, Deep Rooted, the Kneehighs, Young Mass, Addiquit, and Miki Vale appear December 14 at the Casbah.

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