Eight years ago, when LNS Crew leader Kydd Jones was 17 and just beginning to rap, he and a few friends stepped inside Mohawk to find a venue full of white people.
"Culture shock," he remembers, but the white-out allowed him to change course. "That night I was like, 'No more all-black shows.' I want to be performing to this crowd, to the white people in Austin. Those are the people who are going to shed light."
Jones, a smooth, blunt-happy rapper blessed with a slightly nasal delivery and penchant for producing his own beats, explains this revelation while seated at a picnic table inside Sam's Barbecue. The "need no-teef" smokehouse on East 12th – which white Austin has barred from its eternal conversation about the city's best barbecue – just hosted ace brisket for the MC, his mother – who "knows everybody in here" – and his grandmother. He's a product of black Austin, raised in the 04 until his mom found a place on the Eastside, but he's eyeing the whole city – and a whole lot more.
In December 2012, after a year that saw the release of streetwise The Sounds in My Head, Pt. 2 and The Righteous LP, which featured contributions from Dallas duo A.Dd+, G.O.O.D. Music signee GLC, and more than a few hooks from Atlantic Records' local do-it-all Max Frost, Jones packed his things in Austin and boarded a plane bound for New York City, a not-so-veiled effort to hustle, network, and broaden his horizons.
"It showed me that your grind has to be 24/7/365. Really 25/8/367." Jones asserts. "Everybody has two or three hustles, because you have to have that to maintain a regular lifestyle. It's crazy. You have to be really on top of your shit, and it has to be quality. If you're sleeping two days in New York, you missed out on something major."
Jones returned from his six-month stint having secured feature spots on his next full-length, Gr33d, from Jim Jones, Sean Price, MF Doom, and Chuck D, who didn't rap but contributed a few words of wisdom. The Public Enemy frontman first caught wind of Jones late in 2012 and invited him and his LNS Crew – fellow locals Cory Kendrix, DJ Charlie, and Tank Washington, Jones' brother – out to Los Angeles to open for the legendary rap crew. More recently, in December at a Mohawk show, Chuck took a moment from Public Enemy's set to demand Austin get familiar.
"He told me personally that he loved my music, that he loved my voice," says Jones. "Like, 'I didn't just listen to one track. I listened to your whole project.' He spent time on me. That's crazy."
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