Fresh off the mixing board, BlkSknn just dropped his latest album, Quiet Kid in the Corner. This is his first full-length release in over five years and the growth in his artistry is evident. Acting as a self-portrait, this album gives you glimpses into his life. The production from Soufend Music, whom he collaborates with frequently, really ties everything together giving it a well-rounded, cohesive sound throughout.
Before its release, I sat down with BlkSknn to discuss his album, as well as how he approaches his work and how he got to this point in his artistry. As he kicked back in my living room with a cool, calm and collected demeanor, he sparked a blunt and started telling me his story.
Sourced from BlkSknn Instagram (@sknnjaminbutton)
“I worked in rental car sales and one day I brought in all of my uniforms and said, ‘This is my last day.’ After that, I started doing Postmates. One day while waiting for a pizza I was listening to Tribe Called Quest and heard Phife Dawg rapping and said, “you know what, I could probably do that.”
I asked him if that was the moment where he started to take things seriously and switched to being a full time artist, “I probably didn’t start taking it super seriously until about 2021. Before that, I thought I was taking it seriously, but I wasn’t.”
We discussed what it means to take being a rapper, or artist in general, seriously. It encompasses way more than just making the music; you have to develop your sound, develop your marketing assets and strategies, and then be able to implement them and follow through on yourself in whatever way necessary.
“I always prided myself in the marketing shit. I used to do door to door before I did the rental car sales. That shit is so hard, and it takes a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of finesse in the words you are choosing, the order you’re saying those words and how quickly you say those words; how high you speak, how low you speak. All of those little things tie into making the sale or not making the sale. On top of that, is how you look, how you present yourself, how you present the product itself. So, I feel like I learned a lot from that, and I just tie that into what I do now. Makes it a lot easier thinking of it that way, myself and what I’m creating as a brand or a product.”
Finding Your Place in the Industry
In today’s market, social media is king when it comes to getting your name out there and attracting more fans. BlkSknn and I discussed the importance of being able to disrupt people’s newsfeeds long enough to not only get their attention but pique their interest. I was curious to know, though, whether he would rather have a large fanbase or a smaller, more dedicated fanbase. He told me, “the dedicated fanbase is way more important to me. Honestly, I don’t really care about trying to reach as many people as possible. I know that as I do this, I’m going to find people along the way. As long as I continue to curate this properly, it’ll work out.
There’s nothing that you take your time with to build, that doesn’t do well. If you take your time to build something and be intentional about it, it’s gonna’ be aight.”BlkSknn
Process of Releasing
With all of these different aspects to worry about during an album rollout, I wanted to know what his process was for releasing music is. “For me, the first, and most important thing when preparing a release is that I’m confident in the music itself.” BlkSknn went on to say, “I can play every song on the project and feel confident in what it sounds like, how it makes you feel when you hear it. If that’s not there, then nothing else will work out. Like, if I won’t listen to it in the car while I’m driving around, what’s the point of putting it out?”
Continuing on he said, “From there, the artwork has to- I like to imagine colors with sounds. So, the artwork meets that with a color profile that matches the sound of the project, those two things have to match up and it has to feel cohesive. Once those two things are there, honestly, everything else falls in line.”
Quiet Kid in the Corner album artwork.
In this instance, his album Quiet Kid in the Corner features a photo of BlkSknn as a baby in the center of a baby blue-ish, kind of Robin’s Egg blue, background. I feel the simplicity of the album makes it seem more relatable and allows the weight of the lyrics to rise above and stand out. On top of that, scrolling through his Instagram, his social media promotion in the days and weeks leading up to the album release are aesthetically pleasing and well-polished.
“I’ll make a bunch of random online content, well not random. My brain works in a weird way so, it doesn’t always make sense to people, but what I’ll do is, I’ll pick a theme and make a bunch of content on that one theme. All of that content will be for however long it lasts me. I post whenever I feel comfortable, I make sure I don’t oversaturate it or overstimulate people. I take days off from social media to make sure I got my brain right. Really, it’s all about having shit ready and having the creative mind to keep going. As long as I make sure that the art’s there and that I’m okay.”
He added on to that saying, “I feel like I’m at the stage where I’m still finding my core audience, so, there’s not really a checklist because I’m trying a bunch of new things. So, I’m taking all of the things I’ve done before and just adding new things to that.”
About Quiet Kid in the Corner
As you press play on the new album, the opening of the title track, “Quiet Kid,” has a larger than life, very spiritual tone to it at the beginning. While discussing his album, BlkSknn told me, “The new project is called Quiet Kid in the Corner. Basically, the concept behind it is feeling othered so many times that you feel like the person in the corner watching everything that’s happening. It’s almost like a story of triumph, a coming of age kind of story, realizing who you are and leaning into that instead of backing away from it. Almost like a biography, not a full biography of myself but glimpses into life, different moments over my whole life, actually. It’s super personal but also wrapped up in a way where it’s digestible.”
With BlkSknn opting to write rhymes about real life more often than not, I wondered whether the seasons played a factor in what he was writing or the sounds that he liked to write to. He told me, “Sometimes I’ll write but I’ll imagine a day and what it feels like. So, I guess the season would lend to that because it might be warm outside, it might not be.”
Explaining further he said, “When it is warmer out, I tend to write more bouncy music, I like to pick bouncier beats, get a little faster tempo or I’ll pick something with a lot of vocal samples, that’s my favorite shit, but it’ll feel bright. In wintertime, I’ll pick something that’s warm, in a ‘it’s warm inside but cold outside’ type of way. You know it’s cold but it’s artificially warm, which is a different type of warm than outside warm. For winter and spring, I feel like there’s a time in the middle where you want both of those, which is why I’m dropping my album this spring because the album feels like April.”
What Do You Listen To?
In wrapping up our conversation, I wanted to get more insight into BlkSknn’s musical tastes, so, I asked him to give me a song, artist, or genre that he might be listening to at any given point in the day. This is what he said:
When you wake up in the morning:
“I got this Ronnie Dyson record, he has a rendition of “A Song for You” on there, that shit’s beautiful. Super old shit, I like that in the morning.”
When the sun is shining in the middle of the day:
“I might put on Max B ‘Why you do that?’”
When the sun is setting and you’re chilling back at the crib:
“Probably something like Saba”
When it’s the middle of the night, insomnia kicks in and you can’t go to sleep:
“Some Griselda ‘cause I’m kind of angry I can’t sleep. I used to listen to a lot of Griselda, but it made me real aggressive, you know. I really believe that what you put in your brain is what you’re going to be like. You know? So, it made me real aggressive. Once I stopped listening to so much Griselda, I became less aggressive. That’s not saying they’re bad for you, but music makes me feel a type of way.”
Watch the Full Interview with BlkSknn
Album Listening Party
Quiet Kid in the Corner is available on all streaming platforms now. If you happen to be in Bellingham on April 20, BlkSknn is having an album release party at Black Noise Records from 7:30-10pm. The following day, April 21, he’ll be at Throwbacks Northwest for a Seattle celebration.