The Micro-Chop Daily X #30–14KT Edition
A Micro-Chop playlist featuring 10 hand-picked instrumentals — every single day for an entire year.
An evergreen piece of advice for running a website — your assumptions about what people will care about and like are often wrong. In the two-plus years that I’ve been running Micro-Chop, I have found this to be true again and again.
Take the Micro-Chop Daily X playlists for example. For some reason, I had it in my head that most people would want the majority of the daily 10-beat playlists to feature 10 different beats from 10 different producers — with a few exceptions as-needed. But as the experiment carried on through its first month, a few people reached out to me publicly and privately about single-producer playlists. So I decided to poll my readers and the results were clear — 94% of the 50 people who responded wanted single-producer playlists.
I wanted the first single-producer playlist to be a personal favorite of mine and someone I’ve interviewed for the site. I immediately thought of 14KT, a multi-talented artist who I’ve been listening to religiously ever since Dibia$e and Nick Tha 1da introduced me to his work in 2012–2013.
14KT’s musical evolution is full of the kind of stories I love writing for Micro-Chop. He started making his first pause-tape beats in high school and recorded his earliest verses through a beat up pair of headphones. This sort of creativity is an enduring theme throughout his work —he creates beautiful and meaningful music, not matter the limitations of the resources at hand.
Hailing from Ypsilanti, Michigan, 14KT started his music career in the mid-90s with the Athletic Mic League crew. He…medium.com
From his pause-tape/busted headphone origins KT mastered Cool Edit Pro, later providing his rap group Athletic Mic League with a slew of head-nodding instrumentals for their four albums released between 1998 and 2004. He has since documented these different early phases of his career with his remarkable Beats series, which you can find on his SoundCloud page. They essentially capture a batch of instrumentals from each stage of growth (pause-tapes, Cool Edit Pro, etc.), with 14KT providing some interesting and insightful narrative commentary at the beginning.
After moving on to solo endeavors following the release of AML’s final album
Jungle Gym Jungle in 2004, KT released a his conceptual record The Golden Hour in 2008 and followed it up with his Dilla tribute Nowalataz in 2009. Both of these albums have great backstories, so I interviewed KT about Nowalataz extensively to try to document the amount of heart and soul that went into the project.
The Nowalataz story starts in 2006, right after the passing of the late, great J Dilla. Like many fans, musicians, and producers, KT was devastated in the wake of Dilla’s untimely death. He later explained how he used music to deal with the loss of one of his heroes in the Nowalataz liner notes, writing “To cope with the death of my favorite producer, who I liked to call my unofficial ‘musical mentor,’ I started making ‘donuts’ …uncontrollably.”
Using only Cool Edit Pro to make every track on the album, the beats started out as a form of musical therapy — with KT often burning them to CD, deleting the stems off of his computer, and keeping the bounced-down versions of the beats to listen to during car rides. “I wasn’t even thinking about putting a project together and putting them out,” he told me in a July of 2017 interview. “I was just walking around the house, playing records, hearing something, and then making something out of it.”
That all changed when KT was on our tour with fellow Atletic Mic League members Buff 1 and Mayer Hawthorne around 2008/2009. After discovering a CD binder with his Dilla tributes on them inside their van, KT played the beats for his friends without much expectation of a response. They surprised him by urging him to turn the beats into an official release, which he eventually did after originally putting the album out as a free download.
On February 10th, 2006, J Dilla died after a prolonged battle with lupus. In the days, weeks, and months that followed…medium.com
Though Nowalataz might still be my favorite overall project from KT, the album merely scrapes the surface of 14KT’s story and his impressive arsenal of beats. I’ve collected some of my favorites of his here, trying to blend his well-known tracks with some lesser-known gems like the instrumental version of “Love & War” by Jamall Bufford (Buff 1).
The thirtieth playlist in The Micro-Chop Daily X series features 10 hand-picked instrumentals from 14KT. I hope the ten tracks included here motivate you to dig deeper into his catalog. You can support his work by visiting his Bandcamp page.
Be on the lookout for The Micro-Chop Daily X #31 dropping tomorrow.