“KAMO, what exactly is it? Who is it?”
Both men share a chuckle. “It’s ‘Knowledge And More O’s.'” says Ramz. “It’s way more than you realize….”
Walking out of the seedy watering hole, located at one of New York City’s hottest corners, we run into a few issues that one would never expect to arise post-interview. “Why can’t we just have someone take the picture for us? Why is this selfie happening like this?!” said Frank Ramz, the charming, funny, yet somewhat serious half of the pair, in a tone that reeked of dry humor. Noah Vinson, the zealous spirit, who had already been posing for the picture for about 5 minutes, chimes in with an excited tone and takes the flick when none of us were actually ready. “Aww man, look at this! We’re not doing it again! This is it I’m over it!” we all exclaim while laughter broke out among us. As the picture taking debacle ensued, I observed the two talented rappers next to me. The chemistry between the two is undeniable for sure – with serious yet silly overtones at play, which lead me to realize just how well the two work together despite their differences in personality; and how that transcended so effortlessly through their music.
Noah Vinson and Frank Ramz, the Bronx born and raised artists, have brought creativity to levels unmatched by most of their peers. The witty duo, who boasts an incredible resume of lyrical talent and tongue twisting rhymes, are not the traditional pairing that you are used to from the likes of legendary duos in the past. And with major comparisons to timeless artists such as Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, and Common, I wanted to take a closer look at the anything but traditional pair and how they operate. A rare musical gem, the two offer lyricism, creativity, and incredible technique to boot – making for music that the hip hop community hasn’t heard in decades.
The two working together was a matter of taking chances rather than through recommendations. “We met through mutual friends and exchanged information,” says Vinson. “From there I would just keep sending [Ramz] beats and we’d keep working together.” The 20-something budding lyricists share a knack for wordplay that can only be attributed to sheer musicality. The two attribute their style of rap to their own individual growth and journey throughout the years. Vinson, who went the more traditional route post high school and attended college, says that while school helped him learn a lot, it wasn’t for him. “I learned a lot when I attended school.” says Vinson. “I’m certified in a lot of technical things that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else. But I’m about creativity. I couldn’t get that there.” Ramz however, went a different route post secondary education. “I saw that bill for college and I said NOPE!” laughs Ramz. “I just decided that everything I needed to know could be done without college.”
Throughout the trials and tribulations that any young artist endures while trying to make it in this music realm, Ramz and Vinson have seemingly found their voice. With their latest singles, “Citadel” and “Drunk,” making quite the ruckus in the underground scene, it may leave one wondering what the duo has up their sleeve in the next few weeks. “Funny, Citadel was supposed to be my big return to the music scene,” says Vinson with a slight smile. “That was supposed to be a solo track. But I realized that it needed something. So I sent it to [Ramz].” After struggling to find themselves as soloists, with Vinson releasing a few projects that experimented with different styles and Ramz taking a major hiatus and the releasing of his mixtape Quite Frankly, both needed to find inspiration to make the right kind of music again. “That’s how [And The Phone Was On Silent] came about,” says Vinson. “We work well together.” says Ramz. “So we just decided it was time to make an EP together.” And with the highly anticipated late Fall 2014 release of their debut collaborative EP And the Phone Was On Silent, these talented rappers are sure to rattle more than a few seats of those on scene. “We can’t wait to get it out,” says Vinson. “It’s one of the best projects I’ve been apart of.”
Though the pairing seem to be working quietly, they manage to keep the competition on their toes by simply making the most genuine music possible. Amidst the comparisons to Outkast’s Andre 3000 for Ramz and Common for Vinson, the two insists that they are nothing like them. “I’m not a conscious rapper,” says Ramz, with Vinson nodding in agreement. “I just rap about my life.” They both add that while it is quite the honor to be compared to those that are considered legendary artists, they’d rather be great within their own space.
What’s next for the duo? Well, don’t expect an industry deal anytime soon from either one of the them. “Even with 100% creative control, I don’t want one,” says Vinson, with Ramz nodding in agreement. “I want to have [the music] be for the people.” Vinson also states that instead of paying a label to make music, he’d rather keep the money made and have it circulating within the community, to give others a fighting chance to grow.
As for their connection beyond music, the two look to Shortman Score, the leader of the KAMO movement and who plays the part of an older brother figure for them. “He started KAMO a while back,” says Ramz. “The idea is amazing because it’s ‘Knowledge And More O’s’. Think about it. That’s what you’re in school for – to learn. And I get that with them.” He adds that KAMO is more like a fraternity lifestyle and jokes about the obligation you make to it once you join. Above all, the two agree that while KAMO is comprised of many different outlets and personalities, they are a family that looks out for each other. “All of these people, I’ve known for years. I grew up with them,” says Ramz. “These aren’t random folk. I trust them.” Vinson adds that what he loves about it is that it’s not about just one rapper in the spotlight. “It’s about all of us. Everybody is supposed to be the best.”
“In this business, you need allies,” says Ramz. “Without allies, you have nothing. You won’t survive.” Vinson takes a bite of his food and shakes his head in agreement. “I owe it all to these guys.”
Be on the look out for And The Phone Was On Silent in early November. And in case you missed it, check out the incredible video Noah Vinson and Frank Ramz’s latest single, #DRUNK, featured below! Make sure you check below for their other single “Citadel” available for streaming now!