Kur

Meet Kur, Philadelphia’s Beacon of Possibility In Hip-Hop

There are few rappers that exert the same level of persistence as Kur. Born and raised in Philadelphia, the rising rap phenomenon has spent a bit over a decade honing his craft as a musician and prestigious lyricist. Now, Kur’s rapid ascension into stardom in recent years has proved his uphill battle and years of preparation worth it.

In 2016, Kur appeared on BET Hip Hop Awards cypher alongside the likes of Young M.A. and Dave East among others. That same year, he collaborated with East on their joint project Born Broke, Die Rich followed by a string of singles that helped put the artist on the map. Fast forward to 2019, Kur unveiled his critically-acclaimed mixtape Shakur which helmed standout cuts like “Crack” and “Soul” featuring Mozzy, the latter of which amassed roughly a quarter-million YouTube views to date while the project garnered over a million global streams.

This past month, Kur unveiled his eagerly-awaited EP, The Hold Over, the rapper’s first full-length since inking a deal with Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers imprint. It serves as a proper follow-up to 2020’s Young 79 and a string of singles that the Philly-native recently unloaded like “Road To The Riches” and “Sheist” among others that appear on the new project. Never-heard-before tracks like “For My Fam” and “A Lot” also appear don’t the 6-song offering with the former being accompanied by captivating visuals that showcase his lyrical prowess and energetic bars.

This past month, Kur unveiled his eagerly-awaited EP, The Hold Over, the rapper’s first full-length since inking a deal with Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers imprint. It serves as a proper follow-up to 2020’s Young 79 and a string of singles that the Philly-native recently unloaded like “Road To The Riches” and “Sheist” among others that appear on the new project. Never-heard-before tracks like “For My Fam” and “A Lot” also appear don’t the 6-song offering with the former being accompanied by captivating visuals that showcase his lyrical prowess and energetic bars.

With his latest project, Kur positions himself as one of the city’s most promising music stars to grace the mic. We spoke with the rapper in regard to releasing the new project, self-awareness within his music, and creating a legacy for himself among other topics. Read on for our conversation.

How has 2022 been treating you thus far? What are you forward to the most this year?

It’s been pretty good, especially when I don’t second guess it. I have this thing where I try to outdo myself all of the time so as long as I don’t get in that space then I’m doing good.

You’ve actually been making music for quite a few years now, although a lot of people really only see the highs. Can you briefly talk about some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome as a musician?

One of the biggest things I went through just in the beginning stages and coming up is having people around me being a little wild, which I thought was cool rapping about the things I was rapping about but it ended up slowing my money up. This was around 2012, I was looking at like if it’s not per se me being wild, I didn’t know. I was 18, I’m 28 now, that was ten years ago. I didn’t know coming up you had to watch the company you keep, but I was young. In 2015, I had to rebuild and reinvent so I would go to shows by myself to change the narrative of how people looked at me.

That was the transition from me being with 20 people to just being with a plus one or even by myself so people could see me in a different light. I think that was the biggest thing so that people could know the real me because if you were going off of perception, then people would be like “I’m not dealing with buddy off the aura of his energy or the people around him.” I think that was one of the biggest things, for real.

I can imagine, especially at this point in your career, that some of the things that you value have changed as well.

For sure! I’m still learning, but even at the age I’m at, I had to get out of that. When you’re young coming up and you’re popular, you be wanting to go back to where you’re from. Whether it’s new clothes, new cars, or whatever it might be, I think that’s one of the biggest things. I know other people in the city can vouch, but for me, I’m learning that’s not important. The whole objective is to make it out and not go back.

Even after I got signed, I was catching myself going back to the hood. I had no reason; I live in Jersey but I’m from Philly so I was making an hour drive just so people could see me and be like “I saw bro, he’s really in the hood.” I thought that meant something. Now, I’m in the process of learning that it’s not as cranked up to be.

Tell me about The Hold Over—what direction have you moved in sonically since your 2020 mixtape It Shouldn’t Be Like This?

I haven’t dropped a tape in two years so on this tape, it’s a reflection of how I’m feeling. When shit be going good for you and you be wanting it go good for twelve other people. You really want it for people just as much as you want for yourself. I never understood that until I actually got into the position where people are like, “you made it bro, can you help me?” Genuinely, if you rock with somebody, you probably want to help them make it or do what you can. It probably took me a year to make it. If I listen to it too much, I’ll feel like it’s something missing so that’s where I’m at.

Elsewhere, on the opening track “For My Fam,” you speak glowingly of your family and close friends. Out of curiosity, how do you approach that feeling of having to carry them on your back?

Going back to what we were saying, this is what I asked for. Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure that comes with it but it’s like if I can’t handle it on this level, then I can’t handle it on the next. I try not to overwhelm myself because I’m an overthinker. I say all that to say that I get in my head a lot and sometimes I feel like it’s raining when it’s not if you catch what I’m saying. Sometimes I feel like life is going bad when it’s really not, and it all comes from the pressure of family and wanting to carry people on your back.

Your ability to ability to weave in self-deprecation and self-awareness throughout your music is phenomenal. Where do you find the energy to get personal in your raps?

To be honest, when I first came out, I had nothing to lose but be personal in my raps. I think I kind of shifted away from that. Once more eyes got on me, it was like I don’t want people to know X, Y, and Z. When I first came out and I wanted eyes on me, I was just saying all of my pain and it was no sugarcoating. I had to step back from getting personal and I feel like on this tape, I got personal for the level that I’m at now.

Shifting the conversation slightly, let’s talk about this new chapter in your career. When did the idea of being on Dream Chasers’ roster first come into the picture?

I think it’s super dope because I’m a studio junkie. Just to go back a bit, I signed a deal a few years back so I made sure when I got out of that deal, which was 2019, I made sure that the deal really made sense. Me and Meek Mill already had a relationship so just for it to work was super great for me to be all the way honest. We talked about it a couple of years back so to see everything happy was like God is on my side type vibe.

Philadelphia has birthed a lot of talented rappers from the younger generation like Lil Muk and YXNG K.A to name a few. What advice would give to all the younger cats trying to make it out of your city?

People ask me that a lot and I never know what really to say. I always tell people, you have to go or be with who’s hot. That’s what I did; when I came out, I went to whoever was hot in my area like “can I get a feature?” I was cool with paying for it, I didn’t even have any pride to trip about, it was more so that me and you need to be next to each other so I can so my talents off on your level even if I have to pay for it. That’s what I would say.

It can be kind of hard too because everyone doesn’t have money. I’d say even studios, booking a session at a popular studio that people come in and out of. I’ve run into so many people and formed so many relationships out of that. Most of my relationships, outside of that one feature I paid for, came from me going to a studio where someone was finishing a session or I was finishing a session and we walked passed each other.

As you continue to build this legacy, what do you want the name Kur to stand for?

I want my name to stand for possibility and opportunity. When I first came out, I showed people where I came from so when you go back, you’ll see that I had nothing figured out. So I want to show people where I was at and letting people grow with me even if I don’t have it figured out. I want people to know anything is possible and I know that sounds cliche, but when it comes to me, it’s more like the proof is in the pudding. I’ve been rapping for ten years so if I figured it out, then I know you can too.

Elsewhere in music, Pooh Shiesty recently released his sophomore mixtape Shiesty Season: Certified.

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