Hip-hop has a long history with artists who’ve gone solo after starting their careers in a rap group. Pusha T, 2 Chainz, and Juicy J are just some of those MCs who’ve found major success on their own following their departure from their respective crews. But for some artists, going solo isn't an easy task once they're no longer sharing the spotlight with someone else. For artists like TK Kravitz, however, the transition into a solo career was nothing out of the ordinary as he makes it clear on “Natural,” the opening track of his new EP, TK Kravitz 2.0.
TK Kravitz was first introduced to the scene as a package deal alongside CashOnly, under the stage name TK-N-Cash. In their early years, the duo signed a deal with Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace label in 2008. After spending some time with the label, the duo a found new home with Columbia Records in 2014 and built a considerable buzz with their singles “3 Times In A Row” and “Mind Right.” During this time, the duo was also noted for penning songs for a number of people including Flo Rida, Kevin Gates, and Juicy J. But in 2016, the two young men would amicably go their separate ways to embark on their solo careers.
In the same year the duo split, TK wasted no time releasing his self-titled solo mixtape, TK Kravitz, under the 300 Entertainment/Reckless Republic umbrella. The mixtape was well-received by fans, generating over one million streams and featuring guest appearances by Ty Dolla $ign, Rich The Kid, Famous Dex, and more. The mixtape showed that TK’s future as a solo artist was bright and he wasn’t going to slow down anytime soon. As TK’s buzz as a solo act continued to grow throughout 2016 and well into 2017, so did the range of his music. With one mixtape under his belt and a work ethic that rivals many of his peers, TK was ready for the next installment in his solo story.
In June 2018, that next installment came in the form of an EP entitled TK Kravitz 2.0. “On TK Kravitz 2.0, everything is better from the beat selections to content. I went into more detail and really got my points across,” TK tells Billboard. “I feel like I was almost there on the previous tape. I would have a line where I would listen to it again and think I should've said more.” Much like the previous project, TK Kravitz 2.0 features the Augusta, Georgia, artist continuing to blur the lines between rap and R&B.
The EP is TK’s most personal project to date as he discusses in detail who he is as a person. The project features 2 Chainz, Youngboy NBA, KeKe Palmer, and Jacquees, with whom TK partnered with on the hit single “Ocean,” which charted at No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart last week. TK continues to fortify his status as a rising solo star and he has now found a sense of comfort with the direction his career is going. Billboard caught up with TK as he further explored the new EP, why he went solo, his plan for the next installments, how “Ocean” came about and his formula behind making a hit record. Check out our conversation below.
Early on in your career you found success with TK-N-Cash. What made you want to put a hold on that and go solo?
Well, in that time of my life, I was just preparing for the birth of my son and I just felt like I wanted to be in control, you know? If anything happens, I want to be responsible. I don't want anybody to be responsible for anything I messed up. I want it to all be on me because I'm not only feeding myself anymore, I’m also feeding my son. Just as a man, it was time to move on.
Are we going to get anything TK-N-Cash related in terms of a song or even project? Or are you fully locked into your solo career?
Yeah, I'm locked in on TK Kravitz, man. I'm focused on that right now and not just from Cash but in general, you know? I'm in my own zone now. The first project did well and the new project, TK Kravitz 2.0, is doing amazing. Numbers are looking as planned and looking good. Everything is looking real good right now by the grace of God. I’m blessed.
What are the things you like and dislike about being a solo artist?
I love everything about it period. Like I said, it's all on me. When I mess up, it's all on me. When I do something great, it's all on me. On top of all that, I've always moved as my own individual. I've always had my own mind. Whether it's on stage, in the studio, who I'm recording with or who I'm on stage with, I've always followed my own footsteps.
What’s the concept behind TK Kravitz 2.0?
The concept is just all me. If you look at the cover you see my big ass head — it’s just me. I wanted it to represent me, that's why it's titled TK Kravitz 2.0. I feel like this is a better version of me. Musically and sonically it's bigger. The features are crazy, production is crazy, and I'm going more in detail about me as a person. I'm having more fun with this. I'm giving you all of me but the 2.0 version, a bigger me.
With this project, you’re continuing to combine rap and R&B. What were some of the albums by rappers who’ve done the same that you looked to for inspiration on this EP?
I wasn’t necessarily listening to albums. It was more so in terms of listening to artists in general, like Lauryn Hill, who's a big inspiration to me. Her flow is so crazy. She'll go from singing to rapping all in one bar which is phenomenal to me. I wanted to embody that and hopefully perfect it like she does.
What was your mindset going into this EP compared to the mixtape?
The first tape I was trying to figure out who TK Kravitz was because it was so new to me. I was trying to figure out me as an artist and as a man. This project I feel like I found all of that. I found myself especially musically. That's the difference; I'm just more comfortable in my artistry now. TK Kravitz 2.0 is definitely, I feel like, my best work to date.
Let’s talk about the “Oceans" record. A lot of people are loving it on social media. How did you link up with Jacquees for that?
Jacquees is one of my closest friends. We've been friends for years. So 9 times out of 10 when we're in the studio, we end up making great music only because it's so genuine. It's like we're just hanging out. I already had the hook written and I was just stuck on it for two days. He pulled up to the studio one day and we had the Hennessy and vibes flowing. We got in the booth and went back and forth. By the grace of God "Ocean" came out of that.
You guys really did go back and forth. It sounded like you guys were competing against each other on those notes. Was it a bit of competition between you two?
Nah, we always try to make each other better. Maybe it was I don't know laughs]. We were just going back and forth trying to do our best you know. I hope it showed.
What’s it like having southern heavyweights like Boosie dancing to “Ocean” or 2 Chainz collaborating with you on the album?
I'm from Augusta, Georgia, so Boosie was everything down there growing up. That's all we listened to down there. For him to recognize my work now is definitely dope. Definitely a blessing. I’ve been rocking with 2 Chainz for a long time, he's taught me so much. He's a real big brother in the game for me.
BIG MOOD ----! SALUTE @BOOSIEOFFICIAL #kravitzgang-- 2.0outNow https://t.co/89G4GXP36B pic.twitter.com/DNT2wD8qQV— Tk Kravitz (@TkKravitz) July 15, 2018
With 10 years in the game, how does it feel to still see people showing you love now as a solo artist?
See what people don't realize is, it's not about the sprint — it's about the wait. It's a marathon, you feel me? I've done seen artists come and go and I'm just blessed to still be relevant. I’m blessed to still be talked about and the crazy thing is, it's new, which is crazy. I've had so many opportunities that come my way on the daily that it's just a blessing to see the fans still come after this. I've been in the game like 10-plus years and a lot of people don't know that. They're still coming and it's fresh which is nuts to me. It's like I'm a brand new artist but I've actually been here. It's crazy.
Can we expect a series out of this now that you’re on your second entry?
Yeah, on the next entry I'm going to leave the numbers out and coming up with a new name. I'm going to drop the name around October and that's how we're going to rock with that. It's going to be crazy. This one I'm going to have way more fun with. 2.0 is my real debut; I really wanted to perfect it. I wanted to make it all about me but at the same time I'm going to experiment with this next project. It's going to be fun and the next one after that we'll speak on it when that time comes.
You’re also a noted songwriter. Now that you’re a solo artist, is there any regret letting some verses go to other artists in the past?
Yeah every song writer goes through that. I won’t tell you which ones, but the thing is, now I have an opportunity and platform to display my own verses. I'm over giving the sauce away for right now laughs].
With so many chapters in your career I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of wins and losses. How do you continue moving forward now that you’re on your own?
Just remembering not to be discouraged when something doesn’t go my way. I’m understanding who I am as an artist and that's what TK Kravitz 2.0 is, just understanding where I'm at in my career and knowing where I'm at as a man. So that's how I continue to move forward. I know where I'm at now and I’m being honest in my intentions.