During this past summer, I have been given the opportunity to witness the performance of rapper Tsis K twice. Both times I was greatly impressed his showmanship and his passion for what he does. Tsis K is local Minnesota rapper who not only raps, but uses rap to tell life stories. When it comes to being real, you can definitely put that label on Tsis K.
Our second visit with Tsis K was at CHAT’s Ice Open Mic Night. It was there that he was having a presale for his album “Nco Kuv Niam. We scooped a copy, all in thanks to Tsis K himself, who wanted us to have a copy to review. Hmoodle writer Jerry Thao gave that album a positive review, which you can read here
I could tell then and there that this was a guy that was truly excited to have his album reach the masses. He is a great performer and more importantly, a really nice guy. I have said this before about Tsis K and his performances, as a non Hmong speaking person, I thoroughly enjoy his performances because you can tell he’s giving it his all and that his songs mean something to him. I’ve talked to many people about Tsis K, and they all say that they are fans of his because he is one of the few rappers that rap about real life experiences.
For me, it was a no contest for who would be our August “All Access” artist of the month. Tsis K was our guy. I was able to chat with Tsis K about the new album and his rap career.
Hmoodle: First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview with us.
Tsis K: No, thank you for having me and thank you for taking the time to do so.
Hmoodle: You just recently released an album during July 4th weekend, how is it doing?
Tsis K: I did alright. Not what I expected, but this is my first album so I can’t expect too much. I sold over five-hundred copies, so that’s good enough for me.
Hmoodle: How have your fans reacted to the album?
Tsis K: Mostly positive reviews, but everyone said they liked my lyrics, especially the song about my mom.
Hmoodle: How long did it take to come up with the material and get the album produced?
Tsis K: Eight out of ten songs I already had the lyrics written and just had to find the music to go with it. The music and recording took my almost two years to complete. I wanted to take my time and make sure things were done right.
Hmoodle: Which song or songs off the album are you most proud of?
Tsis K: I’m proud of all of them, but the one I’m song I am most of proud of is the song I wrote for my mom because it comes from my heart and I mean every bit of it. Lots of people told me they liked it because they too have experienced what I have experienced in losing a parent. So if it can help them deal with their loss, then that’s great.
Hmoodle: I know some of your songs are personal; does it help you to deal with those things by expressing them through rap?
, Tsis K: Yes it did. These things are related what has happened in my life and it felt great to express them through song. I think it has helped me become a better person.
Hmoodle: What other factors go into creating your songs?
Tsis K: I carry around a notebook everywhere I go. Things that impact our community or world events, they can all influence what I write about.
Hmoodle: Let’s go back to the beginning of your rap career. How did you know that this was something you wanted pursue?
Tsis K: When I was young I always wanted to learn how to play the guitar and become a singer, but than I discovered that I wasn’t very good. I realized that I might not be able to sing or play an instrument, but that I can rap, so that’s why I stuck with rap.
Hmoodle: Who inspired you to become a rapper?
Tsis K: Tupac Shakur is the only rapper that inspires me. I have his collection at home and I listen to it everyday. I don’t want to be like him, but he inspires me because he rapped about real life and that’s what I do.
Hmoodle: I’ve seen you perform live twice and you are a really passionate performer. You also really seem to enjoy it. How do you prepare to take the stage and perform in front of people?
Tsis K: When I first started performing a couple years ago at the ICE Open Mic, I was very nervous. After that, I got used to performing in front of crowds. Before every performance, on my way there, I play the beats in my car and make sure I remember all the words. What has prepared me the most is the ability to perform anywhere and in front of anyone.
Hmoodle: Are there any of your performances that standout or that might be your favorite?
Tsis K: Yes, two years ago I performed at the Hmong New Year in Downtown St. Paul. Before that, my friends and family didn’t know that I rapped, so they were very surprised to see me there. I caught the attention of a lot of older women when I sang the song about my mom. After that, I received so much support from my friends and family.
Hmoodle: When & where will you be performing again?
Tsis K: Sometimes I go to the Hmong Clubs and request a chance to perform. Besides that I will be performing at the Hmong Arts Festival this August 16th in St. Paul and head out to Fresno, California this December for the Hmong New Year down there.
Hmoodle: So, now that you’ve completed your first album, are you already working on the next one?
Tsis K: I’m working on that too, but I still need to promote my first album so I’m going to take my time and keep things balanced.
Hmoodle: What can your fans and our readers expect from you in the future?
Tsis K: I have to tell everybody that if you liked my first album then you will like my second one even better. You haven’t seen anything yet. The best has yet to come.
Hmoodle: Thanks again for allowing me to interview you and letting our readers get to know you. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Tsis K: Well, first of all thank you Hmoodle for taking the time for this interview. I also want to tell everybody to stay to true themselves and God Bless!
If you haven’t heard some of Tsis K’s songs, then you are missing out on a real talent. The track about his mom is entitled “Nco Kuv Niam” (also the name of the album) and it seems that they remixed the beat from Master P’s song “I Miss My Homies”. Everyone who hears this song seems to be touched by it. The album itself is gem and a must buy for your rap enthusiasts out there.
Tsis K’s life experiences and talent have enabled him to create this album. I can tell you from first hand experience that he’s one of the hardest workers I have come across. He is willing to do the grunt work involved that is necessary to promote his album. That, I can appreciate.
I wish Tsis K the best of luck as he continues to promote this album. Look for him to perform at CHAT’s Hmong Art Festival (www.aboutchat.org) on August 16th. To get further acquainted with Tsis K and his music, you can find him on myspace at www. myspace. com/tsiskhes. Take this opportunity to check out his music and support him buy purchasing the album.
If you are an artist/band that wants to be featured in Hmoodle’s “All Access” feature then feel free to contact me at [email protected]