Houston Rap is Here to Stay: An Interview with Jarvis Kinney
Written by Leydi Gonzalez on January 19, 2023
On December 7, Coog Radio sat down with Jarvis Kinney, a local Houston rap artist and a fellow Coog. We got a chance to speak about his early musical memories, the Houston rap scene, and his future as an artist. Jarvis recently dropped two projects that are filled with songs for a good time so make sure to give them a listen!
Coog Radio (CR): For the people who don’t know, please introduce yourself.
Jarvis (J): My name is Jarvis Kinney I’m a student here at the University of Houston and I’m an underground rap artist.
CR: A question I always ask to get to know people a little more is, what have you been listening to lately?
J: Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of DJ Screw and classic Houston records, that’s the vibe.
CR: Any albums or projects in particular?
J: A lot of the songs off his project 3 N The Mornin’ Part Two, there is a lot of classic records on there that I really like.
CR: How did you get started in music? Do you have a musical family or are you the first to go towards this path?
J: As far as the industry– no, I don’t have anybody in the industry. As far as musical talent, my mother was a really amazing singer in church, she just loved God. I don’t have a voice like that, but I remember going to a lot of choir practices and vacation bible school so that’s where a lot of my early musical memories are. As far as my old man he’s not a musician at all he’s just a guy who wanted to make money, but in his time he was the OG for a lot of the artists I look up to. For example, he was DJ Screw’s OG, he knew Lil Keke, and he knew Big Moe personally. So later on in life when I learned that my old man knew these men personally, it was kind of a mind fuck.
CR: Talk to me about your creative process when making music, is it the beat first or the lyrics first?
J: Usually when I make songs and if I’m feeling a particular way I start from scratch, it will just be an idea first. If I’m inspired by a beat then I’ll just listen to the beat, meditate on it and come up with something. If I’m just trying to make a song to make money it doesn’t matter as much. So usually, it starts with an idea first and then it will manifest later to an actual song
CR: Around how long does it take you to make a song?
J: I can write 2 verses in ten minutes, but with one of my masterpieces of a song I spent almost a year writing it, took me weeks to record it, and even longer to mix and produce it. The song is called Sneakers which I actually recorded here at UH.
CR: Who is your dream collab? You can choose one producer and one feature artist.
J: Whew, Jesus Christ, if I had to pick any producer it would be Dr.Dre. Um actually I take that back not Dr.Dre, it’s the producer of ‘’Wanna Be a Baller’’ [Bruce ‘’Grim’’ Rhodes]. To me he actually encapsulates that Houston sound better than anybody who is alive right now. The feature artist would be Lil Flip.
J: Both of those were based on friendships. With ”Every Night It’s Different” I did that with a purpose of promoting my friends record label. I made it a mission to give him 18 tracks of just music I felt like can still stay true to me but, I did want to make it modern so you can play it right now. The other album ”Lost Freestyles” was with my other friend from high school, me and him made mixtapes back in the day. So, I told him that I wanted to make one today just for the record books, so that when we die we can say we made something more recently. That was a lofi hip hop album, and the other one is more modern trap, but my style added to it
CR: How do you feel like being from Houston has an impacted your sound in your music?
J: I was just on somebody’s radio show and I was saying that Houston music is a specific energy in the city, and I think energy doesn’t die. So, growing up and seeing things for myself and understanding the culture here on a personal level, I do think that a lot of the 90s era and DJ Screw era rap music was very closely tied to the community it was in. The way that it has affected me is that I’ve lived it, I have literally lived what people fantasize about, only watch on tv, and have only heard over the radio. For me I try to carry as much authentic energy as I can into what I’m doing because I’m one the few people who actually got to experience that specific energy
CR: What do you see for yourself in the long term as an artist?
J: My ultimate goal is to earn multiple Grammy’s. I did have an opportunity when I was in high school to go to the Grammy foundation and get taken under the wing to see the process. So that’s been a goal for a long time. I also want to see Houston take over rap again, and I want to be able to participate in that. I want to see the city produce a lot of talent and support other artists that are in that realm. I just don’t want to see it; I want to see it be done right.
CR: Any Houston artists you want to shout out locally and big scale
J: On a local scale my friend TAME his father Big Mello. Also Fat Tony, I don’t know him personally but I’ve seen his work and I think he’s really good. On a bigger scale I love Lil Flip, Trae Tha Truth, and Travis Scott
CR: Thank you for your time Jarvis, is there anything that you’re working on that we should be keeping an eye and ear for?
J: Yeah, I’m going to continue to make mixtapes until I die. I’m beginning to perform again as it’s the next step for me. Stage fright is something I deal with sometimes and I do think with enough practice you can be good at anything and I’m willing to put in the time. I also love collaborating with people and I want to continue to make original art, be a symbol for the city, and a University of Houston legend. I don’t want my creativity and imagination to go to waste.