It must be the 90s again. Conscious hip-hop is on the rise, steadily making its return. Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul (both of Black Hippy) — it’s refreshing to know that some rappers out there are taking rap back, teaching through their lyrics, as opposed to dumbing it down. I respect those who aim to uplift and relate, instead of those who knock their listeners down and alienate. I assure you, Katori is the former. We all love lyrics that make us say “me too!”, laidback beats that we can vibe to. Elephant in the Room offers up some fresh, new talent, hellbent on rearranging the state of rap. Among those on the front line is Katori Walker, a 22 year old West coast native dedicated to making rap an artform once again. I had a chance to catch up with him, and now, I introduce him to you. Be sure to download “Product of Poverty”, a mixtape that I promise you’ll fall in love with. Mirrors Presents: Katori Walker.
Mirrors: Tell us a little bit about where you’re from.
Katori: I’m from Pasadena, CA. I was born and raised here, and all my family lives here. I love my city because it made me who I am.
Mirrors: When did you know you wanted to become a rapper?
Katori: As an adolescent, my dad was a dj/producer and often had a lot of musicians coming in and out the house, and by seeing that, it inspired me to make music myself at the age of 12.
Mirrors: Any favorite rappers, musicians that inspire you?
Katori: All the members from Elephant in the Room inspire me. As far as household name artists, I would say 2pac, Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000 and Mr. Rex, an underground artist from Pasadena.
Mirrors: Your opinion on the state of hip-hop today?
Katori: Hip hop today is full of people who are in it for the money and not for the love the art. Too many people are trying to get rich quick, instead of feeding the minds of the youth.
Mirrors: What inspires your subject matter?
Katori: Growing up poor, being taken away from my mother, and being put in the foster home. Experiencing the loss of friends to gang violence.
Mirrors: What are some of your dreams and aspirations for your career?
Katori: To break through the barriers of where hip hop is today, and to spark a thought in people’s minds. And ultimately feed the minds of the youth.
Mirrors: What are you doing right now? How do you spend your free time?
Katori: Right now I’m answering the questions to this interview,lol. I usually don’t have free time. If I’m not at work, I’m making music, and if I’m not making music, I’m at work. I try not to take a break, because I need to succeed at what I do.
Mirrors: Favorite song right now? Favorite song of all time?
Katori: I don’t have a favorite song as of right now, but Lauryn Hill – Killing me Softly, is my all time favorite.
Mirrors: A little bit about your team, Elephant in the Room? What do you all hope to accomplish?
Katori: The members of my team are AEli, JHurt, Kiwan, CasualJamar, and myself. We hope to accomplish a change in the music industry; All the way from how musicians are treated, to the way it’s given to the fans)
Mirrors: What could fans expect if they were to attend a live concert?
Katori: Organic energy, a good time, and a bond from me to them.
Mirrors: What’s your personality like? Does it differ much from your music persona?
Katori: In my music, I’m more serious, and outside of that, I’m more playful, and a funny guy.
Mirrors: So far, what do you consider to be your “biggest break”, so to speak?
Katori: The success of POP, going on my first tour in Arizona, and having a team that supports me.
Mirrors: Who produces your songs? Where does your sound come from?
Katori: Various producers produce my songs. I pick/make beats that hit my heart and that sound good to me.
Mirrors: Hidden talents, or things people might not know about you?
Katori: I’m a photographer, and I am a barber. I also do all my own music videos.
Mirrors: Multi-talented. Very nice. Now, if there was one artist whose concert you could open, who would it be and why?
Katori: Tupac, because the pureness of his energy would reflect on me. I feel like I would be a great performer, knowing i was representing him. Since he is dead, I would say Kendrick Lamar, for the same reasons.
Mirrors: The mixtape is amazing. How did that collection of songs come together? And what about the title?
Katori: Over the course of the year being in the studio, the title came from thinking about how I was raised, and how I am a product of my environment.
Mirrors: Thank you Katori, for taking some time out to talk to me. I wish you all the success in the world, and good luck in the future. Listen to his mixtape, and then download it from DatPiff!