Hailing from Aurora ("Mississippi and Chambers, to be exact"), Haven has been rapping for ages. He's known for tongue twisting rhymes and maintaining a lyrical standard. King Kong is his debut, and it's already catching the eye of many in the hip-hop scene. Tracks like "Air Em Out," which is slated to be a single, showcases Haven's strength as an MC and caters to the club sound at the same time. We chopped it up with Haven on the chemistry in Jewell Tyme and the motivation to smash everything in sight with the release of King Kong.Westword: Haven is an interesting name for a rapper. How long have you been known as such?
Haven: I have been professionally known as Haven since 2003. I added "The Great" a few years later, but I don't use it all the time. I've had to use it more frequently due to the name being used by TV shows, rock groups, deejays, etc.
What was your relationship like with hip-hop when you were coming up?
I have an older sister and cousins who blessed me with real shit an early age. I knew all the words to E-40 "Federal" when I was nine. I had the Will Smith tape, Tupac, Ice Cube and Snoop when I was like ten or eleven. It was funny how you could recite whole songs and had no clue what they were talking about.
In my teens, I was introduced to the East Coast and a different type of lyricism -- Wu, Redman, Def Squad, DMX, that kind of shit. Hip hop helped raise me, just like everyone else who was influenced by it. It was like that cool older brother that taught you the shit you couldn't learn from your mom. When I first was getting into it, it was FOE that got me over to Jewell Tyme with 800 and they both have been influential in my rap career.
Tell me about King Kong.
King Kong is a beast. That's was my whole mind state when I went into this project. It started out as a mix tape, but it got bigger and better in my opinion. I wanted that shit to be aggressive, and kind of introduce a new me. I wanted to be lyrical and make cool songs at the same time. Even though Sideshow was my first project, this was my first album, and I wanted to make an impression.
I got production from 800 and 2-Set, but it was mainly produced by SO [Savier]. I have my family on there, FOE, Karma, 800, JMoney, DuceWyld. I got Dismantle from High Durt, B-Blacc, Thea, Allison Wright and Mane Rok. Shout out to everybody that helped make this shit, for real. I just wanted to kill shit on the microphone on this one. I think I hit it.
Around the hip-hop scene, you're well known for being an incredibly capable rapper. What are your thoughts on the state of hip-hop here in Denver?
I love the state of Colorado Hip hop right now. It wasn't like this when I first started getting down. People are working with each other. Even though we still have "circles" that we fucking around with, it seems like there's more branching out lately.
Our producers got really ill. I wasn't aware we had this many dope producers out here. The music is getting stronger, and we can compete with the big states now. We have plenty of room to grow. We have an array of different styles of hip-hop, rap, and I feel like we have a lot to offer.
The most epic conversations happening around the blogosphere in music these days is focused on Kanye's new album. What do you think?
Honestly, the only songs I have heard are the ones on Sirius. But, I have liked what I heard. I am a Kanye fan, so I'm probably gonna have a biased opinion anyway.
How would you describe your brand of hip-hop?
You know, I've thought about that, and I'm still not sure. I try to appeal to all hip hop listeners, so try to do songs for everybody. I guess I'll let other people decide what brand they want to put me in.
King Kong is your debut that is designed to smash the competition and the rap game in general. How are you compared to compete with other artists in your lane?
It's me, the whole album. I'm talking about shit I do, not saying what I feel like the game wants me to say. I'm shitting on dudes, lyrically. That's my thing. I have a stage performance, I can write songs, and I can rap for real. Only thing I'm missing is break dancing! If I had a mean backspin, you niggas would really be in trouble! I'm cool with all the other MCs in my lane, so it's no beef or nothing, but it should be some sort of competition. I think that drives good music.
Who are you listening to right now that's local?
Ok, so I listened to The Pirate signal's latest shit, and it was dope. Dispensary Music, Life after 31, Karma's shit, and that's about it. I listen to industry shit. I bump Jay-Z, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Royce, Wayne and even a little Drake.
What is Haven's creation process like? How do you choose your beats and such?
Studio pack is mad blunts, Gatorade, leather notebook, Bic pen. Gotta have that shit. When I pick beats it has to write itself. Ask my producers, when I hear a beat I like, my lips start moving, and the words just come, and the process begins.
When I write, I must have punch lines like every four bars at a minimum. I love hard drums. I don't really like west coast beats though. A couple of them are cool, but just not my style. I usually record pretty quickly. I'm not trying to rush it or anything; it just works out that way.
What can we expect from you with the release of King Kong?
I'm doing the release Dec 9 at Old Curtis Street Bar with Spoke-In-Wordz and 2012, my JTM family, a couple other cats. The digital release has already happened, so it's available on iTunes and whatnot. I'm in discussions with Lenny Lenn for the first couple of videos. I'm going to push the hell out of this album.