So who is he? Ko the Timeless, AKA Koushik Chatterjee hits fans at their core when he voices his poetry into hip-hop over beats laced with Eastern influences. Ko first discovered A Tribe Called Quest at the age of eight; he fell in love with the poetic elegance of the lyrics and beats that would float in his mind all day.
In elementary school following his parent's footsteps (who both still to this day perform traditional Bengali Music) he picked up his first instrument, the piano. Ko followed playing the piano with the violin, and in middle school started plucking away at a guitar. In high school Ko started pairing his love of poetry with music, and immersed himself into hip-hop culture. In 2007 Ko met DJ AV and recorded Fly Away.
He also met Panama, an already rising hip-hop star and actor from HBO's The Wire who taught him the ways of the industry. Within four months Ko finished recording his Poetics Mixtape. Born in Chicago and now residing in Baltimore, Ko brings to us the voice of the next generation; an Eastern hip-hop artist with an international influence. In the age of globalization and a world community, Ko aims to bring people together through his music and influential lyrical poetry.
Website and/or Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/kothetimeless
Shakti: Alright before we start, you are the first desi rapper I'm going to interview.
I'm a bit nervous about what questions to ask you.
Shak: Most Memorable Moment on Stage:
KO: At Ultrabar in D.C. I was performing before a huge mixed crowd and at first I wasn't sure if they were going to feel my music. But as I was closing my set, I realized that all around me flashes were going off and everyone; Indian, White, Black, Hispanic, EVERYONE. They were all taking pictures or videos with their cell phones and the crowd erupted just as I finished with "Thank you." At that moment I realized that not only should I take pride in my lyrical ability, but also the fact that I can rock the entire club.
Shak: Most Memorable Moment in the Studio:
KO: Before I started to record I would observe my good friend Panama recording. He's been in the game for years; he's also the guy who beats up Bubbles in HBO's The Wire in season 4 for those who watch. Anyway he's been like a mentor so the very first time I watched him lay down tracks, ad-libs and drops, I had realized what "being in the booth" really means. The energy you get from the feeling of being mic'ed up in the booth alone is another world. Then you just lose yourself in the music and let your mind flow. The first time I felt that... mind-blowing.
Shak: I see that you have launched a mixtape called Mellow Dramatic. Why did you pick that name?
KO: Well my style of music is very mellow, laid back. High-energy lyrics to get you on your feet even if you are just chilling, listening. A dramatic impact with a mellow vibe.
Shak: In one of your videos, you have a Porsche, where did u get that car from?
KO: Hahaha, well that car isn't mine. We were shooting for my "A Day in the Life of a Dreamer" music video coming later this summer, when my friend showed me his new ride: a guards red 1994 Porsche 968. At that moment I knew I wanted it to be in my music video. As for me, I'm going to wait for my Nissan GTR, man... Finally relieved they brought the Skyline over.
Shak: Out of all the places in the world, where would you like to perform?
KO: I would love to perform at Madison Square Garden. I mean, it's not the most exotic place, like performing in Brazil or something. But its just...when you perform at MSG, you know you made it.
Shak: Out of all your tracks, which one is your favourite?
KO: My favourite track...hmm...I would have to say Fly Away from my first mixtape, Poetics. It was moment I had taken all the skills I had learned and ethics needed to compose a song and successfully combined them. Also at that moment everyone around me started to realize that I did have a talent as a songwriter and then I was back to my dream.
Shak: Who is your favourite mainstream producer you would like to work with?
KO: My favourite mainstream producer has GOT to be Timberland. Not only does he make hits, he innovates. He sets trends and raises the bar for other producers to follow. My favourites before him were DJ Premier of Gangstarr and Ali Shaheed Mohammed of A Tribe Called Quest. I grew up on Hip-hop jazz.
Shak: Who in the South Asian scene would you like to collaborate with (repeats are always welcome)?
KO: My boy Srikanth from India. Sick flow and just a good person at heart. As for collabos with full production, Dr. Zeus has some fire beats I would love to spit on. Also we would need a nice singer, Jay Sean and Raghav would both rock the beat. Jay Sean if you reading this, I never got a call bro for when I gave you my first demo when you performed at Fur in DC. Haha it’s all good I understand a lot of work before I get to work with you. But I'm coming.
Shak: If you had the opportunity to work with a female singer for an upcoming album, what would you say to that?
KO: That would be great. I would want to first work with one of the legends...Lata Mangeshkar! For more towards a pop scene, Aruna from Toronto, CA has an amazing voice!
Shak: Do you have any shoutouts that you want to give to people because I know you do?
KO: Well, of course. Panama for guidance. DJ Navi for getting me started on some of my first projects. Niaz of SlowMotion Prod. for helping me with basically all media. Chase D for teaching me the ropes, haha! Fans. Believers. I would just be Ko without them. All my love and respect to those who help me fight for my dream, especially the ones that were here from the get-go. You know who you are.
Shak: KO The Timeless, last question. Why, Where, and When did you come up with this name?
KO: I was at a bar with my roommates in Baltimore, and they were playing all the new hits at the time. Everyone was pretty tired and was getting off the dance floor when all of a sudden; they played Puffy's "Mo' Money Mo' Problems.". Everyone shot up with excitement, full energy everywhere. My roommate stumbled across the crowd and yelled to me, "This will NEVER get old!" And I replied...”yea..it’s timeless." That very moment I realized I wanted to make an impact on this world like that... So Ko became... Ko the timeless.