Hot Hot Music
Riding the Beat
FTF KD knows his music will travel far. His lyrics and delivery tell the story of unshakeable confidence.
Not every day does an artist emerge fully formed. But that’s what happened with 25-year-old Arkansas native FTF KD. The U.S. Army veteran graduated from Kentucky State University and in 2020 launched his hip-hop career, writing and recording throughout the pandemic.
What resulted was his first album, Hotbox Muzik, which was released in early 2021, and a huge bank of as-yet-unreleased music that will be dripped out through 2021 and 2022, even as he continues to record and build his library. His voice oozes southern grit and confidence, each syllable packing a punch. But there’s more. The structure of his songs is unique as a fingerprint, yet can be explained through a comparison.
If you’ve ever seen Dave Chappelle’s YouTube release 8:46, you’ll notice that Chappelle winds up his set for 3 minutes and 40 seconds before he actually delves into the meat of the content he is there to deliver. That wind-up has the effect of building anticipation, of putting Chappelle completely in the driver’s seat: Let’s do this on my time. It’s a power move.
Consider that 3 minutes and 40 seconds out of the video’s 27 minutes and 20 seconds is a similar ratio to the wind-ups that set the stage for KD’s songs. You’ll find it all over his music: Feeling Different has a 13-second wind-up. 11:25 in Atlanta has a 10-second wind-up. KD sent me a freestyle the other day and it used the same device: wind ‘em up and then ride the beat.
This technique also reminds me of surfing. Surfers paddle out and wait for the perfect wave, and then they catch one and ride it much like KD lords over his beats. It’s all about waiting for the exact right moment of attack. KD’s dominance must have been forged through life: playing football, serving in the military, and staking his claim in a large family.
Born Kristopher Nelson in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, FTF KD is the second oldest in a family of seven children. He now lives in Frankfurt, Kentucky, and continues his life of service through his organization, Feed the Family (That’s what FTF stands for). Feed the Family does hands-on volunteer work, offers college scholarships, and cultivates a vision for strength and unity in the black community.
FTF KD is deeply spiritual and experiences the creative process as a sacred ritual, a means of connecting to the higher energy that resides within every one of us.
Like he usually does, FTF KD freestyled his song Kool and the Gang, but the video is another matter. It was carefully orchestrated to address the theme of death. This look-back on his life will help you understand what propelled him to contemplating spirituality as a guiding foundation.
FTF KD lost one of his younger sisters when she was 15. She was riding in his car with him during his senior year and a perpetrator shot into the car 15 times. It was Homecoming week. FTF KD took three bullets to the hand, but Adrian was hit in the top of her head and died.
When FTF KD was in college, he ran track, and mentored another student two years his junior. Grappling with a destructive relationship with a much-older man, Taviana took her own life last year as a sophmore.
Looking back at these formative experiences, FTF KD now says, “That’s not the end. It’s a transition.” He understands life on earth as part of a greater spiritual journey.
The video weaves together imagery — a grave site and a tattoo on FTF KD’s hand — honoring the lives of two young women who left this earth. The scenes in the tattoo shop were shot at A’Maysing Ink in Frankfort, Kentucky, home to tattoo artist and FTF KD’s mentor Chris Mays.
Like How I Move was FTF KD’s first venture into songwriting. That’s not to say he hadn’t recorded before, but he had exclusively freestyled. Now, he put pen to paper and wrote the lyrics for half of this song, and freestyled the rest in the studio.
The video starts off documentary-style, demonstrating what FTF stands for: Empowering the culture through entertainment, fashion, and community service, with an emphasis on the latter: giving to families.
FTF KD invited the dance troupe Sauce Campaign to help create the vibe for the video, and they are featured throughout. The story told in KD’s songs doesn’t always line up with the story told in his videos, but in Like How I Move, they do. The song is about his everyday life, how he moves day to day, and the video depicts him hanging out with friends on the corner just happy being alive and doing their thing.
FTF KD is ramping up for an as-yet-untitled EP release in early summer 2021. Stay tuned for details.
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