Meet the Artist: Cactus of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Meet the Artist: Cactus, Continued

Was it strange going from performing hip-hop for grown-ups to rapping for kids?
At first I was nervous because I thought I might feel like a clown, but after ten years performing for college kids in bars at two o'clock in the morning, well.... First, sometimes the kids are paying way more attention than the average twenty-one-year-old crowd; and second, the kids do most of the things you want your grown-up crowd to do: they're ready to dance, they're ready to come right up to the stage, they're ready to yell back-and-forth with you.

I was worried at the beginning that they'd just stop paying attention. There's a general assumption that kids have a short attention span. But I've learned that it's not that they have a short attention span; it's that they have no couth. If they're bored they're going to act bored. So you've got to make sure to keep changing things up and keep doing interesting things to keep them focused on you.

Where do you find inspiration?
Shel Silverstein most of all, a little bit of Dr. Seuss, and Bill Watterson, who wrote the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. All of those people have one foot in the kids' world and one foot in the adult world, and that's what I'm trying to do.

When I started I wasn't aware of kids music at all. I'm a lot more aware of it now because it's pretty much my main thing at this point. But at first I purposely didn't listen to any kids' music while I recorded the first album, because I didn't want to know what other people were doing or what the supposed limitations were.

What can families expect at a Secret Agent 23 Skidoo show?
My shows are patterned after traditional hip-hop show and I try to keep it as close to that as possible. It's loud -- but not loud enough to hurt anybody's ears -- and has big booming beats. There's singing and dancing and storytelling and the crowd is very involved. Maybe they're dancing like animals in the song or they're doing the hook with me and we're yelling stuff back and forth. And you can hear the words, because I've always made an effort to keep my words clear when I rap.

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