The Harbinger Online

Junior Writes and Produces His Own Raps

It’s another sunny summer day and Junior Nick Kraske, like lots of teenagers his age, is riding around with his friends, blasting music from artists like Machine Gun Kelly and Mac Miller, having a good time. But there’s a problem. Earlier, when the group stopped at McDonald’s for some chicken McNuggets, Kraske wasn’t hungry and decided not to get any. Now, a while later, his stomach is growling and he has just spotted a stray McNugget that one of his friends hasn’t gobbled up yet. So he makes his move, and inquires if he could have the mouth-watering morsel, but his friend won’t give it up that easily.

“How about I freestyle for it?” Kraske says. 

His friends perk up, intrigued by the new developments unfolding. Previously exhausted from the summer heat, they all quiet and listen as Kraske begins to rhyme about the many fast food places in the area: “Man, I’m so hungry…”

This may not have been the method most average high school students would have thought of, but most students don’t share his enthusiasm for hip-hop. Most high school students aren’t rappers.

Kraske has been approached by other rappers, such as SkiL, a rapper who is on a record label, who saw his many songs on the music sharing website soundcloud.com and was impressed enough to contact Kraske and tell ask if he might want to collaborate in the future. He was unable to go through with this, however because of the label’s financial problems. But it did show Kraske that someone listened to his music, and liked what they heard.

Kraske’s love of hip-hop has existed since he was a kid, listening to 50 Cent or Asher Roth, and even though he didn’t know what most of the vulgar lyrics even meant, he was inspired. He began to write raps in 6th grade, rehearsing them for his friends at the bus stop. The combination of his original gangster lyrics were far from what other pre-teens were writing in English class. This would become the roots of his deep passion for rap.

He is a talented writer, and being the son of two writers for the Kansas City Star, one could say writing is in his blood.

Kraske raps about a wide variety of subjects, from being a teenager, to lighter, funnier topics like the teen dance club Orlando’s.

“It can be serious, like something I’m dealing with, or my emotions, Kraske said, “But whatever I rap about, it’s just me, and that’s what I want people to see.”

He continued writing raps just for fun, with no other plans or motives, up until about a year ago, when he bought his first mic.

“I got one for $10 at radio shack and it’s funny to look back and see how naive I was because I thought I could record my raps on that and it would sound like it did on expensive, legitimate equipment.” Kraske said.

He realized that if he really wanted to advance his hobby, it would cost him some money. His second mic was $80, but it was meant for podcasting, not songs. It did, however, come with basic music producing software, and with that Kraske learned that he enjoyed making beats just as much as he did rapping to them.

Creating totally original instrumentals is very time consuming, so he uses beats from popular songs, and modifies them for his use. He performed on a version of Wiz Khalifa’s “On My Level”, that took him six hours total to produce. He has also experimented with dubstep, a techno as a challenge to himself that he could create an original track for the highly-complex genre of music. It took him four days, working two hours a day, but he did it.

Kraske is always trying to further himself as an artist. He practices his freestyling by listening to hip-hop beats in his ‘96 Civic and rapping about the things he sees, such as nearby buildings or cars He then weaving them together in spontaneous rhyme sequences as he delivers goods from place to place for his job.

He’s worked with other aspiring East rappers such as senior Ryan McNeil. McNeil claims he got into rap because he’s “zero percent artistic or musically talented,” and saw hip-hop as an opportunity to be involved in music without having to learn an instrument. Ryan describes Kraske as “Asher Roth meets Lil Wayne”.

Kraske recently bought $400 of new, legitimate equipment, including a professional–grade microphone, that he uses whenever he has free time, which isn’t very often now-a-days with school and homework.

Although it’s mainly for fun, Kraske’s knowledge of music has grown considerably.

“I’ve learned so much and it’s been really cool. And when I listen to a song now, I break it down in my head, like what vocal effects they’re using and what sort of rhyme scheme they’re using,” Kraske said. “So even if I don’t continue this stuff throughout my life, I’ll still look at music differently now.”

Kraske is humble about his music. Although he stays optimistic and would love to “make it big”, he is also realistic, and knows what a competitive market hip-hop is. He gives new wannabe artists a message:

“Don’t think you’re amazing and tell people you’re the man and you’re gonna make it. I’d encourage people to do it because it’s such a great way to express yourself but don’t go out there thinking “this is what I’m gonna do in life”.

Lately he has been focusing now on making his mix tape, that he is thinking of calling “Brand New.” The mix tape will feature about 10 songs that Kraske has made on his new equipment. Kraske is hoping to have it released by October.

“It’s gonna have a lot of different tracks on there that will show me as an artist,” Kraske said. “Like slow tracks and fast tracks, funny raps and serious raps.”

Kraske understands that many people think poorly of hip-hop because of its bad reputation, but is trying to change that.

“The reason hip-hop has such a negative connotation is because of the culture that’s surrounding it. When people think of rap, they think of drugs and street credit and disrespecting women, but not all rappers are like that. I’m certainly not.”

He is very passionate about his hobby and the opportunity it gives him to express himself.

“The main thing I want people to know is that I’m in it for the love of music ,” Kraske said. “I just started this stuff and I’m learning as I go.”

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Nick May

This is Nick's first semester writing for the Harbinger. He is a Junior. He enjoys playing lacrosse for East as well as snowboarding and supporting the Ohio State Buckeyes and the CIncinnati Bengals. Read Full »

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