As one of the most influential figures to ever hit the rap game, Kid Capri is considered a living legend in hip-hop. Born David Anthony Love Jr., the Bronx, New York native pioneered DJ culture, paving the way for every disc jockey who came after him.
Deemed “The Guru of Mixtapes,” Capri discovered his passion for deejaying as a kid before going on to make his mark with fire mixtapes and action-packed performances. A 10-year-old Capri would scratch records on his dad’s old Zenith stereo system, later becoming the first disc jockey to perform on major television networks like BET and VH1 — a true innovator in every sense of the word.
Success didn’t come easy for the hip hop icon, however, which made him a firm believer in hard work and dedication to your craft. Today, he has his own show called “Kid Capri’s Block Party” on SiriusXM Fly. On his birthday (Feb. 7), he also dropped The Love, his first album in 24 years. Capri’s single “Uptown” is just one of many standout moments on the long-awaited project, as the track features his daughter Vina Love.
In celebration of Black History Month, REVOLT spoke with the icon about his legacy, new album, hip-hop’s place in Black history, the importance of the mixtape era, assisting some of the greatest artists of all time, the making of “It’s Like That” with JAY-Z and more! Check out our conversation below.
In your recent single “Slap Key,” you said you do it all “for a reason.” Can you elaborate?
The love of it. The love of what I do. I do it because it’s been my life for all my life. I don’t see myself — besides all the businesses or whatever I might be doing, it all falls under the umbrella of what I did with this DJ game. I brought the DJ game to an incredible level. I opened doors. I made it a business where you can really get money deejaying now — you’re not getting paid no bullshit money in the background. You’re getting paid like a businessman. I’m proud I was able to do that. People followed that path from what I did — now it’s constant elevation. You could have a history and be proud of your history, but what are you doing next? What’s the next thing?
For those who may not know, can you talk about your legacy in hip hop and contributions to the culture?
That’s an old story (laughs). I did it all, did everything there is to do in this game. I got on, and how I got on was from the mixtapes. The mixtapes got me popular. From there, I got my first album deal, my first radio deal, my first TV show. The rest is history. I was able to do everything — a lot of things people don’t know about.
When they see this movie that we’re putting out, a lot of people will know things they don’t know currently. It’s a lot, and it’ll tell the story for itself. The one thing about your legacy, it’s best to tell your own story. Don’t let nobody tell your story because they’re going to put what they want to put in it and say what they want to say, make it the narrative they want. When it comes from the horse’s mouth and it’s the truth — there’s documents or timelines to support it — then that’s when you know you’re getting authenticity. So, I’m doing it myself.
Tell us about the importance of the mixtape era…
[It was] extremely important. First, it got me known. It also got people known that would never get their music heard on radio or who didn’t have a video. They were getting known and getting shows off of their music being on my mixtapes. It created opportunities for a lot of people. At first, record companies didn’t want their records on mixtapes — until they saw we were the number one promotional item. Mixtapes were a promotional [strategy] for the labels. A lot of those records weren’t getting played on radio, so they’d get promotion from us playing them.
It was a massive amount of people buying the tapes — so that music is being heard and creating stars. [Mixtapes] were definitely important.
It got overdone when everybody became a part of it, just like anything else. When something catches on, it becomes a big, big deal then fades out after a while. It’s not special anymore, and we on to the next thing. That’s why I try to stay elevated and stay ahead of the game, be creative and innovative. Always try to think ahead and think about the next thing to do.
What are your thoughts on the origins of hip hop vs. where it is today? We’ve come a long way!
Yeah, you’re talking about 45 years of change (laughs). Things gon’ change, but the beginning of it wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about fame. Well, it was a little bit about fame, but it wasn’t about money. It was more of a hobby because it was the new voice of the street. A lot of kids didn’t have nothing to do and this was keeping them out of trouble. It turned into a global phenomenon because of the greatness that it was from the beginning.
All the people that started it from the beginning that don’t get recognized, don’t get the accolades or the money — the ones that came after that, they might not get the recognition but they’re the ones that did the groundwork. They’re the ones that were there when there was no money at all, doing it for the love of it. That evolved into the world being able to take care of themselves with it and it being as big as it is. All these millionaires and billionaires, all that’s coming from what happened in the Bronx where I come from. Sometimes, I feel like some of these millionaires and billionaires should go back and get these dudes and put them in a situation. Help these dudes, the ones that need it. Who am I to count anybody’s money?
Can you tell us about some of the artists you’ve helped along the way?
I mean, if I go into that it would take up the whole conversation. I’ve helped a lot of people. Some people that you look at as heroes that became really big people, I was instrumental in their careers. A lot of sports people, a lot of comedians. “Def Comedy Jam” of course. “Master of the Mix,” which is the DJ show I had. We brought DJs on there and let them shine. So many people I helped – but I don’t sit around saying ‘I helped this person, I helped that person.’
Certain things I might talk about, like, giving JAY-Z the “Hard Knock Life” record that 45 King gave me. Then [JAY] gave me “It’s Like That,” which I produced. That was definitely a monumental time for me. Madonna calling me to produce for her, that was monumental. “Nuttin’ but Love” for Heavy D — his last big record before he passed away, that was monumental. Going on the road with Aaliyah before she passed away. Narrating Kendrick Lamar’s album — you know, the DAMN. album. DAMN. was the only hip hop album to win the Pulitzer award… there’s so many things.
How did you link with Kendrick Lamar to narrate the DAMN. album?
Calling me, just reaching out. He wanted me to be a part of the album. We got together when he came to New York. We sat there and figured it out. He wanted me to do some things and the finished product came out. He put me in countries I ain’t never even been to before. That’s my voice in countries I ain’t never been to. Salute Kendrick Lamar.
Take us back to the session for “It’s Like That” with JAY-Z. What was the energy like?
It was dope. I was giving him a different record, I wasn’t giving him that. I had that beat looped on a tape. He walked past the studio and said, ‘Yo, what’s that?’ It was something I had looped up, and we ended up doing it. He said ‘We need to do that,’ so I put it together, chopped it up and “It’s Like That” came out. Definitely one of his biggest street bangers. It wasn’t a crossover record because it didn’t get radio play like that, but it was an incredible street record.
What was your reaction when you heard the final cut?
I was impressed. Listen, let me tell you, nothing really impressed me with JAY more than seeing him do it. I seen him. He didn’t write nothing, he had it all in his head. He sat there and thought about it — thought about it, played it a couple of times, thought about it, went in the booth and did it. That impressed me more than hearing it finished. Seeing the creative part of how he did it because it wasn’t even supposed to have been a record, he wasn’t even supposed to do it. He wrote it right there in his head that instant. That’s how “It’s Like That” came about. Dope record, though.
How do you define Black excellence?
Knowing how to treat people, knowing how to create opportunities for other people. Not taking what you have and throwing it in other people’s faces because you have an opportunity that other people didn’t have. You’re no better than anybody because you’re living better. Some people have bad breaks. Some people make bad investments at bad times. It doesn’t mean that they’re not good people. Their cards didn’t fall on their table the way it might have fallen for somebody else, but that doesn’t mean that the person doing great or living in a big mansion is better than anybody else. You shouldn’t look down on other people.
Success doesn’t mean that you’re better than anybody else, it just means you did your job. Everybody has a job to do, whether you’re a garbage man or a symphony conductor. Everybody has a job to do and within that job, there’s creative opportunities for some. With that, you have to respect what everybody does. That’s why the person that lives in the hills and the person that lives in the garbage can or in a cardboard box gets the same respect from me. I judge by character. I don’t judge by what you have.
What would you say is hip hop’s place in Black history?
Let’s keep in mind, hip hop is not new. Our way of doing it is new, but rap’s been around since the 40s — since the 30s and 40s, with the Jubilees rhyming on their songs. Just in our form it’s new, but it’s been here. Hip hop is the voice of Black people. It’s the voice of the street, it’s the voice of the ones that couldn’t be heard. The voiceless… the ones that didn’t have the power, the technology, the money, the means or the ability to even go into places. You couldn’t even go into a bathroom to pee at one time if you were a Black man. You didn’t have the resources, but no one could stop your freedom of speech. Nobody could tell you how to talk, what to say, what your opinion is and how to feel. Out of that came rap music and communication. It means everything.
You’ve been humble since day one.
Because I don’t wake up as Kid Capri everyday. My name is David Love. I say it in my record. I ain’t a rapper that’s gonna rap all day and walk around as a rapper all day. It’s him all day long, and he believes it so much that he becomes this person — nah. I know what it is to not have. I know what it is to work. I know what it is to see other people not have. I used to take care of underprivileged children. I used to take in women that were raped. I used to do things before I was Kid Capri. I always was Kid as a little kid, but I always had jobs before I got known. I always stayed grounded because I had family that was in music. I seen people’s heads get big. I seen people lose their soul, sell their soul and be different. My family’s been in music so I was around it my whole life.
And, I always kept myself around good people… I dedicate that to my moms, moms was cool like that. Everybody I’ve been around was always cool like that. That’s a part of being grounded and being humble.
What is one thing you want fans to get from your album, The Love?
I want people to take it very seriously because I’m not known for rhyming. I produced everything, wrote everything, sung everything and rapped everything. It’s something I felt like doing, but I want people to take it very seriously. Go listen to it, go stream it. It’s real.
Any goals for the new year?
Yeah, just be better than I was last year.