Before Khary was a rapper, he was Khary the human… well actually he is still Khary the human, just now he’s Khary the human who raps and makes music.
Born and bred in Providence Rhode Island, Khary Dugans started rapping after hearing his brother rap. At the age of 16 his brother snuck him into clubs and he started to become his hypeman, before he started to record himself. Moving to New York about four years ago, he then decided to really put the time into the music game. Having released two major projects to date “well two that people will be able to find out about” Khary interjects, his 2014 project, ‘Swim Team‘ EP and ‘Intern Aquarium‘ were released this year. Khary’s sound, style and content has come along way since being his brothers hypeman.
Softly spoken, but packed with words of wisdom, one thing about Khary is certain; he knows where and what he wants to be as an artist: “My sound matured when I moved to New York… I used to be anti-smoke and anti-drink, that’s not to say those things are bad or mature in music, but I just had to get older and figure out the things I wanted to be“. Experience has taught Khary a whole lot of lessons. After deciding to leave Rhode Island, Khary made the big move to NYC, travelling on counterfeit Mega-bus tickets he landed in the city ready to take music seriously, but the journey was still beginning.
Having secured an internship at a well known music publication, it eventually not only gave Khary content for his project ‘Intern Aquarium’, but also a whole lotta life lessons on the music biz: “That’s the tough part of how I came up… Being from Rhode Island we don’t have much of an industry, we had a scene. But when I started making music, I had to learn how the industry worked… And it’s really hard not to get jaded and caught up, I’ve met bloggers, writers and musicians in different circumstances, and they’ve treated me in a certain type of way because I was an intern… But someone else comes in and they’re seen as an artist and they’re treated in a different way… It [the internship] taught me not to get caught up, you can’t be mad at it… It is what it is, just gave me a lot of perspective“.
That’s the whole point! I’d love to see like a CEO of a company wear one of these.. It’s like breaking the ice.
Taking the whole intern concept a step further Khary has also released some intern merch, and even as he sits in front of me with the yellow ‘intern’ tee on there’s something sort of weird, and unsettling about seeing that written on a top, it’s in your face and it works: “That’s the whole point! I’d love to see like a CEO of a company wear one of these.. It’s like breaking the ice“. What makes ‘Intern Aquarium’ so good is how relateable it is. The interlude begins with a mellow beat, then Khary enters nonchalantly saying: “I swear…I will, I will never intern again in my fucking life”. And that encapsulates the project in a nutshell; finding balance in all the madness. We’re in an era where everyone needs to be multi-skilled, everyone has got their own side hustle, keeping them going while their trying to reach their dreams. It’s all about just trying to find your place in the world, yet packed with wordplay and these cheeky one liners, like on ‘2AM Thirst Ballad’, where he raps: “I hit her up, like, “What you doing in? She said, “Chilling. Binge-watching shows.” I knew she was lonely from her Twitter post. I was kinda thirsty, I admit it. But I had to find a way to get it.”
But it wasn’t only the project where Khary put to paper his life lessons and experiences, it was also just the stuff going on around him that’s made him a lil wiser, with that extra layer of charisma: “The biggest lesson I learned came about 18 months ago, I stopped going to parties and industry stuff. I stopped looking at others to be the plug. If I had a motivational speech, it would be called you’re the plug. Realistically, you need to look at yourself to be the plug. We’re soo quick to look at others to help get us on or things, but fuck that, look at yourself to get your things. You can make it happen on your own. If I’m not getting covered on blogs or radio, I’ll go and fuck with fans. I’ll put on my own tour… You can’t wait for others to validate you, you need to validate yourself. That’s the hardest thing I had to come to terms with… You’re the plug – people need me – start thinking that way, start believing you have value… Maybe I should become a motivational speaker and charge 50K for a speech, I’m gonna put actual plugs in peoples hands”.
We’re soo quick to look at others to help get us on or things, but fuck that, look at yourself to get your things.
In a way, Khary’s experience within music, both in front and behind the scenes have given him a different outlook than most other artists, he’s able to understand and get both sides of the industry. But, regardless he doesn’t regret or want to change anything: “When you’re rapper you’re always thinking this next project is going to get me on… But when I think about it, if I did get on when I was 18, realistically, I wasn’t ready for it… I’m happy that it has taken me this long, because I’ve gotten to see how I’m going to do it so I’m not falling to pitfalls, making sure I’m mentally ready, some people aren’t ready when they make it too soon“.
Motivational talks aside, Khary just wants to continue to work, make quality music and get better. For now, he’s working on a collaborative EP with producer Lege Kale, which is expected to drop next year, and another full length themed project, with a title Khary is yet to reveal: “I already know the name for the next three projects. My biggest challenge would be to create a non-themed project – I can’t wait to try that. I naturally lean towards themes, it feels more like a book that way, than opposed to a collage. I’m working faster than I was before, but I still like to wait and make sure I’m releasing quality music”.
What’s the most refreshing about Khary is how un-gassed he is, he’s incredibly humble and for rap, that’s undoubtedly refreshing. For now though, Khary leaves us with a few words of wisdom and most importantly, one thing to remember, “be your own plug”.
Check out the full audio interview with Khary below: