TK & Picaso have their hands all over LA’s burgeoning rap scene.
Last year I went to the 2020Hiieffect office in downtown Los Angeles to meet with the mastermind behind that and so much more in a man named TK Kimbro. He was super involved in the local music scene and ran a weed company, so me being the weed-smoking hip-hop connoisseur that I am, I was very much looking forward to meeting the one they called “The Hand.”
Not long after arriving, I was formally introduced to his partner in success, Picaso. We were talking over artists they worked with and how I could best support them—I was blogging full-time before getting my A&R job with Alamo—and they showed me a litany of the area’s best.
From Shoreline Mafia’s infectious hit “Musty,” to the grit and undeniable talent of 03 Greedo, to the wave-making stylings of Drakeo The Ruler and The Stinc Team, I was thoroughly impressed. Minutes later, we were joined by the architect of LA’s sound, RonRon The Producer, who’s orchestrated a plethora of hits from the aforementioned rappers. While it was still somewhat early, after listening and talking to them it was clear that there was an massive tidal wave on it’s way, with TK and P at the reigns.
Fast-forward a year later and each of their artists have racked up a wild amount of accolades. From million dollar deals for Shoreline with Atlantic Records and Greedo with Alamo, to tens of millions of plays, sold out shows and tours—not to mention a healthy handful of hit records to boot—the men behind R Baron had more than proven their ear and knack for being able to develop and elevate talent from early on.
It was only right we caught up with them to talk more about some of the stars on their roster, as unfortunately Drakeo and The Stinc Team have been targeted and locked up by LA’s boys in blue at the peak of their buzz. For deeper details and information on their legal situations, I’d highly suggest reading Jeff Weiss‘ stellar interview with Drakeo from behind bars HERE.
Otherwise, let’s get into it…
When did you first start working behind the scenes in music?
P: About 5 years ago with a artist named Raven Sorvino. Before that I was an artist myself with a movement called Language Artz. Raven came at the tailend of that and from there I went fully behind the scenes.
TK: First off, shout out to you Hef the best ears in the game. You know you have your hand on the culture so salute that. I’m the business half and translator for the brand. I bring the historical or OG context and close the deals.
I’ve been involved in rap and the streets since I was a young kid. So I’ve been through every era of rap from the $80 until now but this is the most I’ve been in the forefront or directly influencing the culture.
You guys are really facilitating something special on the West Coast. Who are some of the artists you work with?
P: My brotha 03 Greedo, Shoreline Mafia, RonRon, Drakeo The Ruler, Maxo Kream, The Stinc Team, JoogFTR, AceTheFace, ManManSavage to name a few.
TK: Mac P Dawg, Desto Dubb and pushing the movements of OTX Records, Drummer Gang, Stink Team Records. And leading my hand of assistance to Rucci and AZ Swaye.
How do you deal with having guys like Drakeo The Ruler and 03 Greedo in fierce fights with the legal system? A lot of managers wouldn’t do the same things you do for your artists.
P: Well we all come from the inner city. A lot of guys I looked up to all had major legal troubles and I see how they dealt with their cases. Coming from the hood its just a part of it especially if you popping. So the best advice I can give anyone reading this—put that money up for them lawyer fees, man.
TK: First of all free the Stinc Team!! All this weekend we are bringing awareness to their cases and their music. This Monday April 9th they appear in the Compton courthouse 830 am and we want all their fans and supporters to come out. This shit is surreal!! The entire rap group is behind bars. This has never happened in LA rap history where the most promising group and its leader have all been imprisoned at the same time. I have to fight with them. I have to show how important they are and I have to keep their names ringing. Greedo is facing some heavy things too, but thank Allah he is out and I am doing everything in my powers to assist in keeping it that way. Greedo singularly changed how modern LA rap is made and accepted. He opened the door for majors to sign artists out here and that type of power has to be protected.
The hip hop police is real, do you feel like they’re purposely cracking down on your guys because they see them succeeding?
P: I definitely feel like their are targeting the artists I work with. But it comes with it so it is what it is. Now its about navigating it and showing the people watching that our guys represent something positive. Drakeo has a son, Greedo has a daughter, Ralfy has a newborn that was born while he was in jail. My guys don’t hide who they are or where they come from. They could be doing a whole list of negative shit, but they are rapping and being artists.
TK: Hip hop police. Shit CRASH, all law enforcement are doing their job. Social media enhances and magnifies every aspect of the culture. What I think is that it’s hard to determine what’s entertainment and what’s real. And when they collide as you can see with our artists it is what it is.
A lot of times with artists who come from nothing, they have a chip on their shoulder, and may not be quick to trust people – how do you deal with artists that come from the streets?
P: Real recognize real. People feel me and TK are genuine people. We are not out here being in videos or looking to take all your money. We have great taste and because we come from these environments the artist trust our judgement. If someone like Greedo takes what I say into consideration, I can run for president because he don’t listen to shit [laughs].
TK: We play our position as Picaso just said. My main thing is lead by example—I’ve been poor, I’ve been left for dead and I show artists survival through those things just by being an example of how you can make it through. That creates the dialogue of trust. Picaso does that too, but adds the understanding of the music as well. Those combined are a powerful thing to reach rappers and build understanding.
Despite some of their legal issues, the label interest hasn’t seemed to fade at all with unsigned artists like Drakeo and The Stinc Team. What’s it like being in court with them one day, and potentially in a label meeting discussing a million dollar deal the next?
P: It’s surreal at moments, but realizing that you are actually being apart of history in the making it becomes exciting. Its a fuckin’ roller coaster at times too. But shit, it’s the ups and downs of the game. They will write about this for years long after I’m gone. A group of fuckin’ pirates and vigilantes from South Central, East Hollywood and Watts that took over Los Angeles music scene and introduced a whole new wave.
TK: It’s what rap culture is now. XXX, Kodak, shit even Lil Pump they have all been at odds with law enforcement but have managed to have number one songs. I just want my guys to have the same opportunity and freedom to do so. It’s important for the fans to know that.
Talk a little about what went into the making of Greedo’s Wolf Of Grape Street album, from making the music to fighting cases along the way.
P: He knows voodoo—he knows magic man. Ive never worked with someone like that guy. He is a true artist in every sense of the word. It depends on his mood how the session is gonna go. If his heart is heavy hes gonna make a song like “My Dawgs.” We were recording in The Eagles studio—yeah you read that right n*gga the Eagles with Al B Smoov—Al B plays the beat and Greedo gets a phone call. His homie just had got shot. He IMMEDIATELY went in the booth and did the record. He wanted to capture that moment and emotion for his music. When we did Paranoid Pt. 3 he was hot about his lawyer. Its about 80 n*ggas in the studio, he turn down the lights and freestyles the entire shit in one take. Everybody in the studio screaming and going crazy. When he laughs at the end of the song thats when he realized how hard his freestyle was and everyone was rooting em on. So many stories, man.
TK: Greedo is an anomaly. That project is pure will, determination and a testament to a true artist and his vision. The music will be remembered years to come and his media campaign and Tupac comments further added to the polarity of The Wolf. One of the best things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Greedo has been in the streets and in and out of incarceration for years so the legal woes ain’t new to him. He finds purpose and serenity in that booth. And his music is his testament to his survival and endurance.
What are some plans for the rest of your roster for 2018?
P: Take these buzzes to muthafuckin’ plaques man. Thats my goal.
TK: Putting music out with Shoreline Mafia on Atlantic and having our first 100 million streams with them and number one record. Continuing to sellout every show with them on our first nationwide tour and European tour. Launching Shoreline Mafia’s OTX Records with Mac P Dawg as first artist. Greedo releasing God level on Alamo and getting his first plaques. RonRon releasing his first record as an artist, curator and Producer and reaching the highest level of production success for him and Hit Mob. Reintroducing Man Man Savage to a national level and to greater success. And the freedom and release of Drakeo and the Stinc Team. More than any success or music progression is to see the Stincs free and resuming their lives.
Who are some upcoming artists you’re excited about? From LA or otherwise.
P: Stinc Team man. They are our Wu Tang / Dipset, Rucci hard too—I feel like he has the potential to add something we don’t have. Z Money & Valee are both hard as fuck, huge fans of their styles. Mac P Dawg is gonna have a great year too. This a kid who has written two verses in his life and has more hits and swag than n*ggas been doing it for years [laughs]. ManMan has an incredible album. D Flowers from Texas you might have heard on Maxo’s album is an absolute animal. Think a young Meek Mill from the South with the ability to do melody and you can hear the pain in his voice. I’m sure there’s more but that’s what I’m on now.
TK: I’m excited about all the artists that we work with. Outside of that ALLBLACK from East Oakland, Sada Baby in the D, Johnny Phrank from Cashville, The Outfit from Dallas, Samron from Illinois.
What advice would you give to artists trying to make it out the trenches and succeed in the industry?
P: Be original—it works.
TK: No advice. Young n*ggas rule the world. So rule this shit!
Any final words in closing?
P: Thank you Big Meech. Thank you Dame Dash. Thank You Birdman. Thank You Clipse. Thank You Beanie Sigel. Thank You Dipset. Thank You Animaniacs. Thank You Belly (the movie).
TK: Shout outs: Comrades, Josh, 2020, Jeff Weiss, Adam22, Myles, Justin, Tyler, Noisey, Cypress Moreno, Vic, Marcos, Rosecrans, DJ Atron, Hov, V, Shoreline Mafia/OTX, Runch, Gucc Money, Golden Grenade, Turn The Gun, Lucrative Management, Toby, Ezra, Stompdown, Poody, Fred, Matt, Cal, Erin, Paradigm, Chase, The Hyve, Truman, Dion, Sebastian, Caitlin, Julian, Adrian, Swish, Elena, Glenn, Sherwin, Doug, Dr. G, Atlantic, Ali, B, Austin, Orlando, Justin, Jordan, Brittany, Knowledge, OG Craig, Alamo, Zeke, Kolby, Shari, Matt, Albert, Estelle, Saige, Cliff, Fran, Breon, Dwight, OG Todd, Asylum, Dante, Universal, Jody, Naim, Ali, OG Avery, RCA, Dan, OG J Grand.