Kuttin Kandi – More Than A Woman

by Dove ~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

In 1995 deejay Kuttin Kandi and emcee Helixx C founded the all-female crew Anomolies. They had a vision to unite the talent and minds of women who shared common values in Hip Hop culture, and who could work together to bring truth to the table. The name of their crew comes from ‘anomaly’, a word used throughout the teachings of the Zulu Nation, which means ‘deviation from the common rule’. When they changed the spelling, the crew name took on a whole new life – within the name the words read: No-Mo-Lies. The women of the Anomolies crew represent their gifts in the various elements, and they refuse to allow females in Hip Hop to be seen as one-dimensional.

As talented as she is on the turntables, Kuttin Kandi has dedicated her life to more than just cutting it up. Her roots are deep in music, and her heart is deep in the community. The tenacious battle champion lives on a hectic schedule, and is looked upon by her peers with admiration for both her amiable personality and her hardcore work ethic. Her father was an avid music lover and deejay, and Kandi was surrounded by creativity. While many parents may scoff their child’s idea of being a club deejay, Kandi had nothing but love on her side.

“My whole family from my mother to my sister to my grandmother - to even my aunt who's a nun - have all been very, very supportive about me becoming a deejay - not only as a hobby but also as a full-time profession,” she explains. “My mom and my sister both put up with me the most. They have tolerated my many days of empty pockets, noisy practice sessions, and tantrum days of frustration. Ever since my father died, my mother and sister have been there for me, guiding me and rooting me on – helping me live my dreams.”

Living in the center of Hip Hop’s heartbeat, Kandi acknowledges that it took a while for the art of turntablism to click with her love of music. “I remember watching Grandmaster Flash on TV or video once when I was a kid, but it wasn't until I was sixteen years old and I went to this club... I saw Kid Capri and that’s when I saw how a deejay can really rock a party. After that I started chillin with a lot more local deejays in Queens so I could start learning, like DJ Sonny DLite and DJ D-Sehl of 3DS. Then I met Roli Rho, an inspiring party deejay who started competing in battles. His style [and] his perseverance drove me into wanting to become a battle turntablist myself. Of course, our crew 5th Platoon and other deejays that we practiced with - such as the X-ecutioners - played huge roles in my life.”

Known for her formidable battle skills, Kuttin Kandi earned her rep the right way. She went through many competitions, and her confidence grew as she began to take home the top prizes. “My most memorable deejay battle was when I competed in the DMC USA Finals. Being the first female deejay in the USA finals is definitely an accomplishment. However, there are other battles that are so memorable - like the Source magazine competition where I competed against my mentor and boyfriend at the time DJ Roli Rho. Winning that competition against phenomenal beat juggling champion Roli Rho was definitely an accomplishment. He slept on me on the last round, but I'm sure if he was given another round he would have came back harder,” she states with the diplomacy of a queen.

Kandi’s loyalty and sense of responsibility in her career sets an example for those deejays who claim they want to do more than just rock an occasional crowd. “I feel it is the deejay’s obligation to introduce artists to the masses - the deejay has the power to control the media and the world. The deejay has the power to make people move, make people dance, to make people listen. I love taking risks to see if the crowd will accept the music. If I didn't do that, it wouldn't be fair to the many artists that deserve to get heard.”

When it comes to the recurring wave of Hip Hop drama and overblown beefs, most headz who know the deal place a lot of blame on the media for making things larger than they need to be. “The media is glamorizing Hip Hop, period,” states Kandi. “When the media just ‘glamorizes’ everything, they're not showing the full truth. They're only showing the tainted picture. They didn't get to the very bottom of the story. Hip Hop is so much more than music videos, disses on albums and wake-up gossips on the morning news. What the media needs to do is to research and educate themselves of what Hip Hop truly is. They need to find it, then they need to tell that story, and then they need to document and preserve that story. And it's not just the "media", it's all of us that need to do this, cuz believe it or not, we all play a role in this game. The media is only half of the reason why Hip Hop's full story hasn't been told. If we - the entertainers, the labels, the radio shows, the writers, the artists, the emcees, the deejays, and even down to just the Hip Hop listener - continue to ‘glamorize’ Hip Hop, then not only Hip Hop but we as people, as human beings, as mankind will never progress.”

Kuttin Kandi doesn’t play when it comes to her views on responsibility within Hip Hop culture. “Artists have a very big responsibility to give back and set examples for the community. It's funny how many artists feel like they're not role models - and when you see 5-year-old kids reciting every verse in their song while doin the Harlem Shake, it is then that you know these artists are more than just role models. How can we think we don't play a role as mentors, as teachers, as the Superman or Wonderwoman for these children when these children follow us as though we're God? Are we in such denial that we can't accept the fact that we are icons? Is it because we don't want to have that guilt on our shoulders? You know that there's something going wrong in this world when you hear songs teaching us that it's okay to be cheated on, it's okay to be in love with someone else even though you already got a ‘boo’, it's okay to be treated like you're a piece of meat - and you're the sloppy seconds. Perhaps people my age can understand that this music is just ‘entertainment’, but little children who cannot separate the reality from the ‘acting’ grow up thinking that this is the way it has to be. And that’s when it won't be just acting or entertainment anymore. I'm so worried about our future.”

If Kandi’s convictions sound intense, it is because she has been very active in various ways to better the community – both in Hip Hop and in the world. Her current volunteer work is with the Gabriela Network (gabnet.org), which spearheads a campaign to stop the sex trafficking of women and children. “This cause is very personal to me because sex trafficking and mail order brides is such a big problem in my homeland, the Philippines,” she explains.

After traveling on the DMC competition tour this past summer, Kandi has been in the studio recording and creating. She is working her way into production, and will be launching a website before the year is out. Her goals include getting back into the mixtape circuit, hosting a radio show, and, without a doubt, beefing up her turntable skills. “I see myself finally being the independent woman I've been striving to be for so long,” she says. “Every day I am learning what independence truly means. I'm hoping that I get there.”

By Dove ~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~
Courtesy of RIME Magazine

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