It's been said that nice boys don't play rock 'n' roll. The members of KB Posse are not nice boys, which may have something to do with why they're holding court at Bada Bing, a Lawrence "gentleman's club" that's not for the faint of heart.
Befittingly, KBP's music is not for the meek either, a hard-hitting concoction that mixes equal parts funk, ska, dancehall, hip-hop and punk while extolling the virtues of barbecuing, drinking, smoking and munching on king-sized buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is precisely this on-edge lifestyle that fuels the group's sound, resulting in an electrifying mixture of bratty beats and chip-on-shoulder bravado.
In person, the members of the Kansas City's, Kan.-based KBP are a lot like their music: energetic, surprisingly soulful and ever-threatening to collapse in utter chaos.
"It ain't about money, man, it's about good times," shouts JR, whose dexterous freestyles inject a crunky dose of street knowledge into the group's ocean-sized grooves. "We really don't care; we push it to the limit. We can only be who we are. Look at us! We're in a strip club doing interviews, that's who we are."
"We do everything in style," adds DJ Prozac, who mans the turntables for KBP. "We do it with what we call KB Posse style, and that means all we do is kick it in strip clubs, and drink and play good music. I've grown up workin' in strip clubs, and they're the coolest places in the world to have an interview. (Breasts) and alcohol equals a good time. Anyone who says they're not in music to meet women, they're lying. We're not lying, we love it."
JR began rapping alongside singer/guitarist Arron and drummer Roach in 1998, working with various Kansas City musicians under the name Evil N. Eventually, the group drifted apart, with the trio forming KBP soon after with bassist P*Dub and saxophonist Lock.
"We all went away to school, then we all flunked out and came back," Roach laughs. "We're big-ass drunks, so we decided we may as well be big-ass drunks together."
KBP's lineup was solidified last summer upon hooking up with former headbanger DJ Prozac, who added a blast of turntable madness to the group's heady grooves. Though the DJ was never officially made a member of the group, he hasn't missed a gig since.
"They booked me for a single show and we tore it the (expletive) up," Prozac smiles. "We blew the show up and they just kept calling me. After a while, I just kind of figured I was in the band. Now they won't leave me alone, so I guess we're together."
In the ensuing months, the group begun gigging on a fairly regular basis in KC, with a handful of raucous Lawrence dates as well. Mostly, though, KBP was holed up in its practice space, playing and partying with equal force. While this strategy produced scads of great music, it hasn't exactly made the act a household name.
"We put the boy in La-Z-Boy," Arron D says wryly. "When you spend as much money on your bar tab as you made that night, if not more, you're paying to play."
"Our band is about friendship," JR says. "We do 100 percent of the (expletive) we sing about. It's not the lead singer doing everything."
"I ain't the leader," Arron D declares. "I'll put that straight right now. I'm the lead singer and I play guitar, but I ain't the leader."
"It's like fingers," says JR, downing what appears to be his hundredth cocktail. "You can't have a hand unless you got fingers, that's what we all represent. We come from the center of the hand and reach out and touch everything we can."
"He's gettin' deep now," Roach interjects.
"Who's the thumb?" JR asks.
"I'm the middle finger," Arron D intones.
"We're all friends," JR says. "We love each other to death. We don't really care if we make five dollars a night, as long as we can get to the bar. All we want is gas money and liquor, and the opportunity to holler at any female we can. It don't matter what we look like, because it's all about the mouthpiece. I come to a club wearing pajamas and flip-flops and still pull the baddest female you've ever seen."
"Yeah, the baddest looking," Prozac says, cracking up his increasingly boisterous bandmates.
KBP's recently released debut CD, "I Said Weed, Bitch," was produced under the hazy cloud of booze, bongwater and happy-go-lucky confusion that seems to follow the band everywhere. Recorded at the band's home studio, Yo Mama's House, the effort was created during a week-long session that found the group working and playing into the wee hours.
"It was a lotta love, a lotta beer and a lotta weed," Roach remembers. "A whole lotta weed."
Prozac only had played a few dates with the group before being summoned to lay down tracks for the disc.
"These guys called me up and were like, 'Look, we got a day to do this. You got a day to record these tracks. You've gotta be perfect on the beat,'" he recalls. "Arron D was on my ass. Finally when it came out, he smiled."
"Weed" provides an ample dose of what KBP does best: lock vise-like into a groove before stopping on a dime and morphing into something completely different. At the center of this sonic hurricane is Arron D's majestically soulful vocals. In a music scene crowded with nasally screechers and slump-shouldered droners, Arron D is a cut above a singer's singer with a magnetic presence and a voice that can easily fill a venue of any size. D's crooning also has proved a target for critics, who assert that the group's musical references to Sublime are a bit too overt.
"Sublime was a definite influence," Prozac says of the defunct California act. "Along with Bob Marley, Toots & the Maytals, Operation Ivy, Rancid, NoFx. You might as well call us the mutt of music, because we took a little bit from everybody and incorporated it into something we liked."
"Nobody understands us," JR adds. "It's a hard thing to comprehend. Our music comes from one of the moons off Saturn, off the hook. And you know how many moons Saturn's got. We're one single moon, but we got gravitational pull, and if people come into our vortex, we're gonna pull 'em."
Several area groups have already been hypnotized by KBP, including local funksters Phat Albert, Topeka hip-hop crew DVS Mindz and KC rap lords The Zou. Musicians from all four groups collaborated on "Devious," a track that appeared on Phat Albert's self-titled debut last summer, and both DVS and Phat Albert crop up on "Weed." A recent KBP/Phat Albert show at The Jazzhaus turned into a showcase for off-the-cuff freestyles set to head-rattling back beats, culminating in a jaw-dropping rendition of the don't-go-there frat hit "Shout" that all but tore the roof off.
The gig's spontaneous nature and unforced camaraderie is often discussed but rarely practiced in Lawrence's tightly knit musical circles.
"All it's about is just playing good," Roach says. "You got all these bands fighting over rank and venues. Everybody's fighting each other. I don't understand. Every band we've played with, damn near every single one of 'em, we've been real chill with. I don't see what the problem is. Why can't it just be bands chillin', having a good time, enjoying each other's music? Why's it got to be a competition? And in Lawrence it seems to be the worst."
"There is a market for hip-hop, though," Prozac adds. "Lawrence has got mad love for local music, and they always have. It does give local bands the chance to come up."
Whether KBP will ever come up remains to be seen. ("I didn't plan to make it to 21, so I'm just happy to be here today," Arron D deadpans.) Future objectives include more recording, increased gigging and, with any luck, a fan base that "gets it." Of course, there will always be room in the band's life for numerous barbecues, gallons of alcohol, pounds of weed and endless buckets of KFC.
"We're gonna keep on making music," says Roach. "If y'all dig it, that's how it works. If you don't dig it, at least you gave it a shot. We play, we do what we can, we have fun doin' it, and that's what we're about."
"I'll still be in the back yard, barbecuing, blazing blunts, drinking liquor and playin' your house parties," JR adds. "I can't tell the future, but the future right now is looking really bright. It's so bright, I gotta wear my sunglasses day and night. As long as we keep meeting females, mad love to all the strip clubs and the dancers. Everyone is talking about it's all Jesus, it's all gravy, but KBP is talking about it's all puddin'."