Aloha! Today we’re in a for a special treat - our friends Kwalified & Sirenz just released their newest album, Plane Ride from Hell! With that said, this week’s #FridayFeature is all about Kwalified! For the past decade, he has built his reputation as a dope freestyler, performer, and overall personality in Hawaii’s hip hop scene. He also visited my after-school Rap class a few months ago, and had a blast freestyling and talking with the kids. Personally, I’ve low key been a fan of Kwalified for some years now, so I’m excited to share his story with yall today. Scroll down for more of his interview, videos, and music.
OTDHipHop: What is your stage/music name? Please share any background on how you came up with it.
Kwalified: My stage name is Kwalified Emcee. I usually just go by Kwalified or Kwalified Emcee. The name I was going with originally was Katalyst. My good homie suggested Kwalified and I really rocked with it. So here we are.
OTDHipHop: How did you get started in music? Was it a gradual hobby that developed, or is it something you always wanted to do?
Kwalified: I wanted to be in the NBA. Haha. I come from a musical family. My dad played trumpet, my mom sang and played piano, my sisters could sing. We grew up going to church. Music was a big part of growing up. I would always try to freestyle and stuff when I was younger. As I got older, I started to take music more seriously, and it grew into love.
OTDHipHop: Why did you choose Hip Hop/Rap as your musical expression?
Kwalified: Hip hop was natural to me. It was just the first thing I thought to do musically. I’ve always been into other genres, and would love to experiment with them eventually, but hip hop is just my most natural form of musical expression.
OTDHipHop: Where are you from? And how does that influence your music and/or experience doing music?
Kwalified: I’m originally from San Diego, California. I consider Hawaii to be home. I guess both California and Hawaii are laid back places and that laid back feeling does find its way into my music from time to time. Beyond that, I’m not sure how else where I’m from affects my sound. I don’t know if I have a “regional” sound. I’m more fueled by how the music makes me feel.
OTDHipHop: Is music something you truly see as a potential career? What are some things you have learned when it comes to music and making it a lucrative business?
Kwalified: I definitely see music as a potential career. I feel like there are so many lanes and potential ways to make income now. You don’t even have to be super famous or break the bank producing your content.
I believe it’s extremely possible. One thing I’ve learned is that you’re gonna have to put in the work. No way around it. You just have to put in the work.
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.