What would happen if your band was signed to a record label that didn't support you, you're music was shunned by mainstream radio, members were battling drug addiction, and you had been banned or arrested in over 10 states? While most bands would have either thrown in the towel or hired an overpriced therapist, Southern California's Kottonmouth Kings have persevered through all of this and more. Every obstacle they faced was just another day in the life of a Kottonmouth King.
For most hip-hop acts, being in the game for a decade is reason enough to feel content, but for the Kottonmouth Kings, it's only the beginning. Releasing seven albums over the past decade, the Kings have stacked up some serious numbers. Soundscanning over 1,000,000 albums and another 1,000,000 concert tickets from over 1,500 live performances in their decade plus existence. Meanwhile, the Kings were named "Band of the Year" by High Times Magazine, while the band's last album, Fire It Up, debuted at number 42 on Billboard?s Top 200 and number 4 on the Billboard's Independent chart. In a time when bands are lucky to release a sophomore album, the Kottonmouth Kings are one of the hardest working groups in the music business and their numbers prove it.
On May 31st, 2005 the Kings will release their seventh audio assault onto the world with the release of the self-titled Kottonmouth Kings. The album sees the Kings ten years into the game and still at the top of their game. Opening with the album with "King Klick", the song re-affirms the Kings positions as innovators, while kicking off an explosive album. Featuring guest appearances from Cypress Hill on the smoked out "Put The Pipe Down" and Kansas City up and comers Tech N9Ne on "Fuck the Industry", Kottonmouth Kings self-titled album skillfully blends punk-rock and hip-hop like only the Kottonmouth Kings can do. Whether its the club banging beats of "Make It Hot", the punk rock fury of "Revolution" or the stoney vibes of "Let The Sunshine", this album shows that the Kottonmouth Kings are more relevant than ever.
The Kottonmouth Kings are at the epicenter of a constantly growing movement - a subculture that brings thousands of fans from all walks of life and bonds them through the incredible power of music. With a message of peace, love, unity, and the decriminalization of marijuana, the Kings have taken their subculture of free-thinking individuals and turned it into an institution too loud to be ignored by the mainstream.
"We have an extremely open-minded and loyal fan base," says emcee/producer Brad X, who founded the Kottonmouth Kings in 1994. "They range from fans of hip-hop and punk rock to stoners, even hippies. We have such a diverse group of people that support us, which makes it even more beautiful."
The Kottonmouth Kings themselves are as diverse as their fan base. Drummer Lou Dog was one of LA's largest club promoters before jumping behind the kit, while co-frontman D Loc threw away his college basketball scholarship in order to join the band. Kottonmouth founder and co-frontman Brad "Daddy" X has been playing punk rock and hip hop for more than 20 years now. In the mid-90's, X was the voice of California punk rock legends the Humble Gods - who released an album on Hollywood Records and were protested by Christian Conservatives. During that time, X himself shared the stage with everyone from punk legend Dee Dee Ramone to NOFX. On the opposite side, his hip-hop rap sheet is just as impressive; from signing a record deal with Eazy E's Ruthless Records to opening for everyone from Eminem to Ludacris?.
"For me, I could care less how many records we sold or any of that bullshit," replies rapper D Loc. "When I get out of the bus at the show and all the kids are waiting there and showing me these huge tattoos with our logo, that's what keeps me going," he says. "Sure it would be nice to be accepted by more mainstream music outlets because that would mean more people would hear our music and our message, but at the end of the day we're just happy here making music on our terms."
Much like Black Flag, NWA or the Grateful Dead, the Kottonmouth Kings have found a way to succeed despite a lack of critical acclaim and mainstream attention. The band and their movement, operate completely independent from the mainstream. Embracing the "do it yourself" attitude of the punk rock scene, the Kings release their albums through their highly successful, independent label Suburban Noize Records. In addition the label has released albums by California's OPM, Las Vegas rapper Big B, even Florida punk rockers Last Laugh.
"I think the corporate machine killed rock 'n' roll a long time ago. Everything is so safe and boring. That's why people continue to find out about a band like ours, because they are bored stiff with these mainstream acts that have been crammed down people's throats," says Brad X bluntly. "There are some stations that support what we do, but for the most part, they're either scared to play us or they think we're some Rap/Metal band, which is hilarious to me because we've never have played a lick of Rap/Metal in our lives," he adds with a chuckle.
"It always cracks us up when we pull into a town and some band with all the industry hype, big budget videos and a single on the radio has just played there the night before, but they only drew like 400 people. When you hear that and then our show is sold out; it's definitely a good feeling," says drummer Lou Dog.
"Ten years from now, I don't think people will remember many of the bands that are at the top of the charts or on the cover of mainstream magazines right now, but people will still remember that stoner band, the Kottonmouth Kings," closes band frontman Brad X. "You're not going to walk down the street and see a kid wearing a Grand Funk Railroad t-shirt, but you will see him with a Sex Pistols or Black Flag shirt. So, in 20 years, I highly doubt you'll see kids wearing a Hoobastank shirt, but they might be wearing a Kottonmouth Kings shirt. Fans who listen to us now; their kids will be listening to us someday."
The Kottonmouth Kings have consistently broken and then re-written the rules of the music business. From producing, distributing and promoting their own music to blowing off major labels, battling addiction and being arrested, the Kings do everything on their own terms. On May 31st, 2005, the Kottonmouth Kings will prove once again who really wears the krown, with the release of their explosive, self-titled album.