DJ K.i.D is the linchpin of a new soundscape coming out of the Carolinas, and he’s also the CEO of a water empire, K2O.
K.i.D’s affinity for the spotlight and ear for production has enabled the 21-year-old California native to transcend sound in terms of the digitally astute. Initially, K.i.D was introduced to DaBaby’s epoch-making career by way of divine timing and a “stay ready” mentality. “Being ready is something that I live by,” states K.i.D. “…we all on go. If you don’t go and get it, somebody else will,” he continues.
Outside of being the man behind the boards for the Grammy-nominated superstar, DJ K.i.D is also making his own mark in the music industry, doing what he loves most, being a jack of all trades. The multi-hyphenate creative is a former artist/athlete turned super-producer, DJ, engineer and newfound CEO. In such a fast paced business where consistency is key, K.i.D chooses to divvy up his time by focusing on money moves and perfecting his craft. “I went from being an artist, to a DJ, to a producer, to a CEO, to a n—a that got his own water company – this s–t crazy,” he admits.
In retrospect, K.i.D’s pairing with DaBaby was either fate or mere coincidence. “Bruh name is DaBaby and my name is K.i.D, so it’s like damn – we both kids,” he shares. Candidly speaking, I’m inclined to lean more towards the notion of a fate-based meeting of the minds, especially when you factor in how “Intro” serves as DJ K.i.D’s production debut. Shortly after charting with DaBaby’s introspective strain, the buzzing beatmaker would later become a vital part of Blame It on Baby, DaBaby’s third studio album, producing and co-producing several of the LP’s 13 songs, while concurrently engineering seven tracks from the project.
Sonically, DJ K.i.D has managed to amplify his influence with bouncy hi hats, menacing drum kits and his signature 808. Citing production credits with artists ranging from the likes of DaBaby, Lil Durk, NBA Youngboy and more, the self-described hottest young DJ in the world is cementing his position amongst some of the industry’s most sought after purveyors of sound.
DJ K.i.D continues to test the boundaries of rap’s acoustic range, one electronically-produced chord at a time. With a brisk come up story, a narrative imbued with significant sacrifice and strategic alignment, the Waterboy is slated to be around for quite some time, so get familiar.
In an effort to unpack K.i.D’s unmatched success story, Dirty Glove Bastard had an opportunity to share a conversation with the young mogul to talk about his backstory in music, his relationship with DaBaby, K2O water and more.
Our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and context, follows below.
Musically, where did your journey begin? Talk to me about the origin of DJ K.i.D
Bruh, the crazy part is, I thought I was going to be an artist at first.
My godfather MC Hammer and shit, I was always looking up to him, thinking like “damn, I wanna be just like this nigga.”
I started recording, engineering and shit, engineering the people around me, it just took off from there – I wasn’t even really producing at all. Even when I hit high school, I started engineering and recording people that were famous and I ain’t even know who they was until they walked out.
What was the decision making process behind pursuing a career in music full-time?
I’ve been doing music my whole life. I got to the point where it was either go to college or stay in the streets and do whatever.
I love playing football and running track and shit, but music is my everything, so I’d rather chase this paper and become a business major in college – which didn’t really work out how it was supposed to after UNCG kicked me out, because I brought too many black people to the school.
Eventually, I’ll go back and start fucking around with the school shit, because it’s nothing like having that piece of paper that might get you into a couple more doors.
In terms of work ethic, how would you best describe working with DaBaby?
He’s always been big bruh to me. The way we ran into each other was pretty unique, cause he was fucking with how quick I was and where I was, looking at my social media like ,”damn, this nigga can get creative too,” and be on the same type of time that he on.
When we on the road and shit, it’s like damn, this my brother, we feeding off each other. Just like how it is when we’re on stage, I’m feeding off his energy and know what song to go to next. He’ll look at me and be like okay, let’s get it.
We get in that mode and be thinking the same shit.
Far as work ethic, we all on go. If you don’t go and get it, somebody else will.
What was the transition like with going from being DaBaby’s tour DJ to handling things on the production side?
It was all something new to us. When it comes to learning everything that’s going on, that’s what I like to do, learn everything and become a jack of all trades.
I started studying the production of the stage and how I can make beats and take over with the production side.
I mean, I’m DJing for the hottest artist in the world. Why not put out records with the hardest artist in the world when that’s big bruh and that’s what we tryna do together, take over the world.
I jumped into that, feet first.
I went from an artist, to a DJ, to a producer, to a CEO, to a nigga that got his own water company – this shit crazy.
With you having constant contact with DaBaby, from touring to in-studio sessions, outside of the musical insight, what has been the most valuable lesson learned from your time spent together?
Shit, it’s many of em. Being that muhfucka that’s a night owl and seeing bruh working through the night, or when we on the tour bus – it’s 5am and he still up coming to get me saying, “let’s record.”
This shit don’t stop, you gotta motivate yourself. You don’t need nobody else to motivate you. It’s about what’s inside of you and what you wanna go do.
One of the biggest lessons I done learned from bruh is being a CEO in yourself. Believing in yourself and being ready to go get it. Be a hustler. Being locked in and ready to do whatever, taking it to the next level at all times.
With Baby, the way his career moving, we on like year 2-3 and he so far ahead. It’s like damn, you don’t really see artists do shit like that, it takes time.
We done been on Jimmy Fallon in the first year, and bruh, the BET Awards – I grew up watching that shit, and now we on stage, running through the crowd showing our ass, some shit that ain’t never been done on BET before.
During your deconstructed piece with Genius where you broke down the making of “Intro”, you made reference to implementing the K.i.D 808 – is that your signature sound?
That bouncy 808 and bouncy hi hat, that’s that K.i.D. You can listen to some shit and be like oh my god, that 808 hittin’ – it make yo head bob.
If you heard a record that I put out, like the ones that are about to come out and shit – if I didn’t have no tag on there and you heard the 808, you’d know K.i.D made that beat.
What do you feel like was your defining moment as a producer?
Shit, working with the hottest artist in the world. It’s like niggas done came from the bottom and made who we are.
I was in the crib making “Intro” and my mom was like, “change the 808”, so I sat on it for like two days and put a different 808 on that muhfucka. Come to find out, the first beat that I was really taking seriously ended up being “Intro”.
Shit, thinking back on it, it’s like damn – I’m really in that mode. I did that shit, we went gold.
It’s evident your mom has played an integral role in your life. Even dating back to your interview with Complex, you briefly touched on the creative process behind “Intro”, and she initially stated, “The 808 ain’t kicking enough.” With this in mind, how much influence has she had on your career?
Bruh my mama a superwoman. It’s like she put the grind in me.
When we in a terrible situation, she make it look great for me and my siblings.
It’s like damn, we got iPhones and shit but at the same time my mom struggling to make ends meet, but she makes ends meet.
Even when you think shit bad, never let a nigga know what’s going on, because you really good when it come to yourself.
To be a 21-year-old nigga bruh, I done been through a lot, you can damn near say I’m 30-years-old. When it comes to me giving insight and seeing people grow, seeing what’s inside of them, I was in the same space – mad in the crib thinking, “damn, why I ain’t blow up yet.”
Finally, when it became my time, it’s like shit, you that nigga – you done been through the mud and felt what it feel like to watch everybody else go up.
Congratulations on signing your publishing deal with Sony/ATV. All things considered, what exactly does this partnership mean for DJ K.i.D and the future trajectory of your brand?
I could not sign to Sony ATV and still be the nigga that I am, but the way that we got it setup, it’s a co-publishing deal.
When it comes to getting beats to artists, A&R’s, taking my music and getting it in movies. Me playing a role as the DJ Mustard of my age, putting on for the young niggas with my own album, I can do that with the snap of my fingers.
I got the connections that I might’ve not had before, so it’s a blessing ya feel me.
The music business is such a fast paced industry – how do you allocate time in your daily schedule to tackle curating a water empire?
Pretty much, I’m using my music to promote my water at the same time, so it ain’t even a reason for me to split shit up.
I can drop a song, as far as marketing, I can have water bottles in my video on some shit like, “Drink your mf water and you can make a beat like this that’s gone get you a platinum plaque.”
It all comes together.
Out of all things, why water?
Just the fact that I’ve always been a Waterboy. When I was an artist, I put out a project called Beach Boy.
I’ve always been close to water.
There was a period of time where I was drinking nothing but soda. The shawty I was fucking with, she was like, “nigga you need to drink water, like what you doing – why you not drinking water.” It’s crazy, because it all connected with what I was doing.
Water is never going away too, so even after I’m gone, this will be a business that helps my family.
It’s important too. Niggas my age, the statistic is everybody drinking (alcohol) and they think muhfuckas not worried about taking care of their body.
So, it’s like shit nigga, drink you mf water.
Like the “MF”, that means microfilter, not just muhfucka, so it has a double meaning, it plays both sides.
It’s like nigga, I ain’t cussing, it means what the water is.
How have you managed to create your own path to success as a black entrepreneur?
Being in the right room, connecting with the right people and being ready – that’s a big thing in the industry.
People be feeling like it’s they time, but it might not be yo time yet, but you need to be ready regardless.
If you are in a room where you feel like everybody is better than you, that might be your time – just need to be ready to step up to the plate and do what you do.
Being ready is something that I live by.
What do you feel like has been the most challenging part behind building your brand?
Everything is hard, because it’s something new that I’m stepping into.
I like things that are hard, things that are challenging, because it helps me think and I wanna learn more.
When it comes to marketing and figuring out the people that drink juices and why should I be tryna get them to drink water.
Just figuring out everybody and tryna get “Drink yo mf water” across the world in a way that everybody can relate to.