There's something to be said about a group that boldly calls itself, CunninLynguists. Since 2001, the Kentucky-bred group, which consist of rapper Natti and producers/rappers Deacon the Villain and Kno, has redefined what it means to be courageous with their music, during a time when cookie-cutter groups are getting all the mainstream attention. Backed by a fiercely loyal following of fans who gravitate to the group's Dungeon Family-eque, gutter-gospel sound, the crew recently dropped Strange Journey Vol. 2, a quick follow up to their widely-appreciated Vol. 1. We caught up with Kno (aka Ryan Wisler) and got his take on Denver, touring and what's made CunninLynguists the best thing to come out of Kentucky since the Derby.
Westword (Jacinta Howard): Describe CunninLynguists in two words
Kno: Melodic hip-hop.
WW: Why was it necessary to create a Vol. 2 for Strange Journey?
K: Overflow of dope shit! You have to keep the fans appeased, and they seem real happy with it.
WW: Who's the hardest person in the group to travel with?
K: I think Natti is allergic to gluten. We'll just leave it at that.
WW: You've said many times that your group name started off as joke. If you had to rename yourselves today, what would it be?
K: I think someone seriously named themselves Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique, so there goes that. Me and Grieves came up with a good band name last night : "Refrigerated Tit Milk".
WW: You put Phonte and Witchdoctor on a song together. Where do you get these ideas?
K: Seemed pretty natural to us. I've always known Tay was a big Dungeon Family fan, and it turned out perfect, in my opinion.
WW: You've worked with everyone, from Evidence and Cee-Lo to E-40 and Devin the Dude. Why does everyone like you guys so much?
K: I think other artists respect our work ethic. To create and maintain such a dedicated fanbase from scratch is something that honestly isn't that easy to do. You'd be surprised at the number of more "well known" artists that have hit us up about putting them on tour with us in Europe, etc. This shit is hard work, for real -- and any artist with drive sees it for what it is. Plus it helps that we aren't garbage.
WW: Last time we talked you called your sound 'path music'. Still an accurate description?
K: Absolutely. I think 3 Stacks said it best on "What A Job this Is" with Devin The Dude -- people live their lives to our music. There was a girl at our show tonight in Portland with a half-sleeve, full-color tattoo of the artwork from A Piece of Strange. That is amazing to me. "Buzz" artists can sell a million ring tones and never have that type of real, pure connection with their fans.
WW: Tell me something about Kentucky that doesn't involve horses.
K: College basketball is a religion. All praise John "Jesus" Wall.
WW: When you think about Denver, what's the first word that pops into your mind?
WW: What's the best hip-hop album of all time?
K: Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders and Outkast's ATLiens would have to fight to the death for that title for me.
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WW: If you could say "hello" to anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
K: My mother. One day, hopefully.