For young Virginia artists Captain Ki and Kwad, the concept behind their mixtape Dark Days, Lit Nights all started from one session in the studio together.
“One day when we were in the dungeon, we just had this tough beat which ended up becoming “Usain”, the first track on the tape. That shit was just dark, and we knew the vibe we wanted after that song,” Kwad said.
At it’s darkest moments, DDLN comes complete with debaucherous screams, menacing drum patterns, and aggressive vocals from both Ki and Kwad. The two seem to thrive with this sound for the first half of the tape. The track “Dark Days” showcases them at their most belligerent; there’s a moment of silence following an anxious instrumental intro. When the beat finally drops, the duo incites unfiltered chaos over the bass-heavy beat.
While Ki and Kwad decided to hone in on their dark side, their initial studio sessions also sparked the desire to contrast it with a more laid back, lighthearted vibe. Thus came the true concept behind this project.
“At that point, the whole vibe changed. Music is just a small percentage of this, it’s more about the lifestyle,” Kwad continued.
Ki laughed and said, “you can’t drink too much water, you need to have some food too.”
Once “Deja’s Interlude” comes in with it’s swelling guitar riffs, it’s clear that the mood of the mixtape has shifted. The second half of DDLN is often driven by these guitar riffs, as Ki and Kwad trade in their screams for more melodic vocals. The tempo picks up on the dance track “Rsvp,” complete with a hook that invites you to sing along.
The merging of styles present on DDLN emphasizes a particular strength that Ki and Kwad share: versatility. While they can brainstorm some catchy one-liners and flows, they’re still capable of spitting bars with substance. With that said, though, it should be made clear that neither of them views themselves as rappers.
“The tape shows our versatility. We can make anything,” explained Ki.
Kwad added, “I don’t really consider myself a rapper, I consider myself a rockstar. Rap is dead, I could rap circles around any of these rappers rapping. That’s easy. I’m trying to create a new wave.”
Despite not categorizing themselves as rappers, Ki, age 18, and Kwad, age 17, originally united over a common talent for rapping.
“We met at a football game for our school, and we’d rap battle all the time. From there, we just started working together,” said Ki.
As collaborators, Ki and Kwad profess that they work together organically, recording DDLN over a mere 2 weeks. Working at this pace, they explained that they don’t always plan out what they will do next. They simply go into the studio and see what happens.
On what the future holds, Ki explained, “we’re gonna work on separate projects, then probably come back together again. We just like working, we don’t really plan stuff. It’s just vibes.
With DDLN under their belt as a collaborative mixtape, Ki and Kwad continue to add to the repertoire of their artist collective, called The Guild. MIC Que, who released his debut mixtape 18 & Dead earlier this year, is also a part of this team. As the group continues to grow, so do the ambitions of its members.
Kwad concluded, “We’re about to move out the trenches, start hitting the mainstream. We already got the wave. Some people still asleep, but we’re next up. That’s facts.”