Rising Rapper Kipp Stone Talks 'Cult Classic' and Repping Cleveland

Jon Holman
Kipp Stone

Rapper Kipp Stone has been floating on SoundCloud, building a steady buzz off his rambunctious flows and knack for storytelling. After scribing fictional stories in high school, Stone resorted to rap to illustrate his surroundings. On ear-grabbers like "30FTALL," "Seen It All" and his recent release "Cult Classic," he gives the middle finger to commercial fame while painting unpretty pictures of his native East Cleveland.

Beyond putting on for his city like LeBron, the 24-year-old Ohio upstart and Closed Sessions signee is confident in his skills sans Kanye-sized ego.

"I'm really comfortable with myself. I have a lot of humility toward what I do," he says over the phone. "I can write something and be like 'this is wack. I'm not doing it' or 'this is super dope and I'm doing it.' I'm comfortable enough with myself. One of my favorite quotes is 'I'm not humble by no means.' I'm a nice guy but I'm not humble 'cause I'm good at what I do."

Stone is currently sharpening his pen for his forthcoming project The Grand Design. Let Kipp Stone expand on his come-up below. 

Billboard: How did growing up in Ohio influence your rap career? 

Kipp Stone: It started in high school, when I was really big into storytelling. Just sitting at home, coming up with characters, backgrounds, like actual fictional stories. It broke out of that and when I realized I was actually from a really bad neighborhood, I just started focusing moreso on my surroundings.

What's one story you've penned that stays with you to this day?

A real good one was "The Cleverland Hero and Nowheresville." It was basically this really talented dude. He was a rapper but he was disturbed mentally but he felt he had what it took to save this fictional place Cleverland. Nowheresville was where he was heading. As far as everyone else was concerned, he wasn't doing anything. He was kind of a loser. 

The 10 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All Time

Take me through the process of creating a song and deciding which flow works best.

It's really spent mostly jumping around and vibing. I really just mumble words and put words to it as I go. For a while -- and I recently came back to it -- I used to not write. I would get it over in my head and keep expanding on it until I had a full verse or a full song.  

Name a recent song that really inspired you to pick up the pen and hop in the studio.

These Kanye releases have been amazing. That's been huge. He's always been a big inspiration to me. I'm really big into Kendrick [Lamar]. I like Bryson Tiller a lot. He's like a dude around the same age as me who's kinda coming up. A lot of inspiration comes from dudes moreso my age.  

What inspired the song "Cult Classic"? 

A laid back guy but it was more that commercial success isn't really that big for me. Obviously it's a goal but that's not my primary focus. My primary focus is making the best music I can. It's really just all about that for me.  

What do you consider a cult classic?

I referenced it before but [the Quentin Tarantino film] Pulp Fiction is a good example of that. A lot of Wes Anderson movies. Stuff that everybody knows it, everybody respects it but it's not huge.  

What was your frame of mind when you recorded "30FTALL"? 

It was moreso me just wanting the best for my city as far as competition and trying to steer people away from a losing mentality. Just stuff that is really crippling to artists that are trying to come up out of this city like the politics, the [criticism of] biting other cities. Really trying to preach friendly competition amongst each other. I'm not super competitive, I'm just really good at what I do and I want people to know that. I have no problem telling people that. I want the same for the artists around me.  

Artists to Watch in 2016

Fans expected two projects from you: The Grand Design and Dead Politicians. Are those still on the way?

Still in the works. The project could take another form and become something else but as of now I'm working on the Grand Design. 

So no Dead Politicians?

Nah, Maybe in the future but not right now.

Why call it The Grand Design

The Grand Design started as a cool name but once the L.I.F.E. Art and Content and Closed Sessions deal, the support system and the lyrics came together, The Grand Design became the blueprint, the recipe for success.  

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.