The Knux: From street warfare to soirées with socialites

"It may be one of the worst cities in the world to live in," says rapper Krispy Kream of New Orleans, where he and his brother Rah Al Milio lived before being chased out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "When I was 12, I saw somebody get their head blown off. Add it being hot as fuck, and you've got a volatile situation. Every time we walked out of the house, there was a war going on outside."

Together known as the experimental rap duo the Knux, the pair has morphed from Cajun survivalists to Hollywood up-and-comers, becoming the toast of the underground rap scene in only a few years. The two drew critical notice through touring with Common last summer; Rolling Stone recently slapped four stars on the Knux' challenging, electronic-influenced debut, Remind Me in Three Days ...

Though their affinity for throwback '80s duds, big gold chains, and oversized spectacles has them tarred with the "hipster rap" label, the Knux cite their production skills and chops on live instruments (including guitar, bass, and synthesizers) as proof of their ability to defy genres. With good reason: Remind Me in Three Days ... is as musically varied a hip-hop album as you'll hear this year, equally comfortable employing rock hooks ("Playboys"), techno-industrial beats ("Shine Again"), and throwback dance melodies ("Bang! Bang!," which Krispy proudly notes gets play in local electro clubs). The brothers are also excellent MCs. They're quick with double entendres, such as on the stomping first single, "Cappuccino" ("I need a fresh cappuccino with a mocha twist/Hey miss").

Katrina moved the Knux to the Hollywood hills.
Katrina moved the Knux to the Hollywood hills.

After acquiring their musical talents in school marching band and jazz band, the Knux later recorded rap songs with their uncle, a local New Orleans producer. They say they developed an interest in electronica while hanging out at raves selling Ecstasy and mushrooms. (Their favorite artists include the Prodigy and early BT.)

When Katrina hit, the brothers were in Dallas, and returned to find their apartment building burned to the ground. "We heard that a bum was trying to seek refuge in our house, and used the fireplace to warm himself up," Al says.

Having lost everything, they moved to Houston and continued sending out demos. The charismatic pair was pursued by a handful of imprints, and was even managed for a time by Beyoncé's father, Matthew Knowles. Eventually Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg took over and brought them to Interscope, where chairman Jimmy Iovine ceded to their demands of total creative control. "Basically, they trust us to make good music," Krispy says.

The real fun began upon their arrival in L.A. two years ago, when they moved into a "stupid huge-ass house" in the Hollywood hills and began throwing "Mötley Crüe"–style parties (Krispy's words). Al says their shindigs typically feature impromptu performances from the Knux and their musician friends, a vast array of controlled substances, and partygoers of all shapes and sizes: "Imagine everyone from socialite girls to muthafuckers we just scooped off the street to hood-ass fuckin' New Orleans motherfuckers to straight wannabe hipster motherfuckers."

The new album's title comes from anti-virus warnings that kept popping up on their computer, but also refers to the Knux' lifestyle in general. "It's like, 'Whatever important [information] you have to tell me, remind me in three days, because I'm about to get crazy this whole weekend,'" Al explains. Tommy Lee can surely relate.

 
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