Meet the Artist: Cactus, Continued
Creating that book lead to your doing kids' hip-hop?
It didn't happen immediately, but when my band ended up taking a break, I started working on some other things I had ideas for; one of them was making some kids songs. The first song I did was "Gotta Be Me." I made the beat to that, and then I made about three more.
Then, I was doing a solo show as a grown-up rapper and a guy came up to me and said, "I really love your stuff; if you ever want to do any recording, let me know." At the time all I had ready to go was the kids' stuff. And so I recorded that. From the beginning it really caught fire. It became obvious pretty quick that it had a power and momentum of its own.
Your daughter Saki aka "MC Fireworks" -- is a star! How did she become involved in Secret Agent 23 Skidoo?
"Gotta Be Me" was the first song I wrote; the idea was to use a traditional hip-hop formula, whether it was storytelling or the back-and-forth call-and-response thing, and bring that to the kids. After I wrote the song but before I recorded it, Saki's kindergarten had a "Bring your parent's to school day."
My wife Brooke (aka Bootysattva) showed the kids some yoga. Since I'm a rapper, I brought in a drum and decided to do "Gotta Be Me" with them. I explained it and said, "So when the hook comes around you're going to this." And they did it so well that I brought an engineer into the same class and had them do it again -- and that's the recording on the CD. I mean, they did it phenomenally well. Saki, who was five at the time, has one or two other lines in there.
Then, we were asked to do four songs at a roller-skating rink as part of a bill. Before the show Saki said, "You're going to tell me when the song is coming up, right? Because I'm on that song." She was taking it very seriously.
So we start playing, and I guess her mom had been deep in conversation with somebody and somehow getting Saki up there got spaced. We started the song, and suddenly, here comes five-year-old Saki in roller skates -- and at this point she can't skate well at all -- barreling across the skating rink, against traffic, trying to get to the microphone with everything she's got.
She finally got there, but I was in the middle of the rap and couldn't prepare her like I'd usually do. The first hook came up and I crouched and looked in her eyes, trying to let her know telepathically when to go, and she looked like she wasn't even paying attention. She was holding the mic but was watching the skaters.
But then, as casually as you can imagine, she grabbed the mic and did it absolutely perfectly.
After that experience, and from her wanting to be a part of it, I decided to write a song with her and that was "Family Tree." She's got her first sixteen-bar rhyme on the next album, Underground Playground, coming out in August.