Education: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Vocation: CEO of Natural Recordings Entertainment; President of Artists & Repertoire UIYB Records; CEO/head producer of Streetburnerz Productions.
Movie: “Beat Street.”
Book: “The Autobiography of Frederick Douglas.”
Performer: Mos Def, Common, De La Soul, Pharoah Monche, Bahamadia, Jean Grae.
Saying or expression: “Blessings.”
When it comes to tools, the amount of equipment that local musician Kunstruct needs to make music is fairly small. He has a laptop, an MPC 2000XL, which stores samples and creates beats, a microphone and a sound system. He can fit most of it in a travel case.
With his office in a bag, he has relatively quickly built a large-scale musical enterprise that includes production, distribution, recording and talent development.
Along with his fellow artists in the group Natural Habitz — Meda, Doughboi, Dice Roll ’Em — Kunstruct is currently head of or working with several enterprises that touch nearly all parts of the music business.
“Let’s Go,” a single from the group’s newest CD, “Our World,” was chosen for the new “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” soundtrack and three other originals are slated to be part of new film projects as well.
Kunstruct writes, records and produces the group’s music on his laptop in his own studio and does the same for other acts, as well. While pitching his own group to the president of UIYB Records in Canada, Kunstruct impressed the man enough to be offered a job looking for new talent.
“He asked me if I wanted a job,” Kunstruct said. “He said, ‘I love your grind and your hussle. We also got a deal with Digicrates out of Japan and Meda got a situation with a producer out of France. She will have an album out there in 2012.”
The group will also be heading out on a tour of the Southeast as part of the America’s Lip Sync Star National Search produced by Umoja Entertainment Productions, a management company.
Q: Where did this drive and hussle in you come from?
A: We are all firm believers in God and we know his hand is really on the group. We know it is all because of him. He helped us get the movie deal and that has opened the floodgates. He led us to Umuja Entertainment Productions. Umoja is a Kwanzaa term for the spirit of togetherness. [Founder] Victor Calhoun has taken us under his wing. [Other Umoja clients include Carrie Underwood, Justin Beiber and Justin Timberlake.]
Q: A lot has been happening lately, but I’m betting this “overnight success” has been years in the making.
A: There has been a lot of work preceding it. Natural Habitz is a group. Me and Meda started back in 2005 and we’ve been through several members. Finally, as of 2009, we got Doughboi — he was one of my artists — and he brough Dice Roll ‘Em. We’ve been making moves ever since and staying on the grind.
Q: How many albums have you recorded?
A: We did the “Alpha Project” in 2007. “Had To Happen” came out in 2010 and “Our World” will have a digital drop Nov. 26. The CD distribution deal is still be worked out.
Q: Tell me about Natural Habitz.
A: Our whole vibe is basically to represent the four main principles of hip-hop — peace, love, unity and having fun. The braggadocios stuff is part of it, but the other part of it is turning the negative into a positive. I wrote “Reason To Smile” out of grief for a homeboy that died. I wrote it out of grief but I wanted people to have an anthem. No matter what your struffles, who you lose or whatever, God is always giving you a reason to smile. We try to touch on a lot of things a lot of people can relate to.
Our sound is heavily influenced by ’60s, ’70s and ’80s soul and R&B. I’m also a rock head, so I love the Velvet Underground, The Beatles, The Doors and I like ’70s jazz fusion. Oh, I like punk rock too. We try to go beyond the normal stuff you’ve been hearing. Hip hop is a free form of expression.
All of us are part of two B-Boy groups too. The Kids of the Cypher and The Battleholex Crew. The last one encompasses all four B-Boy elements — emcee, graffiti, DJ and breakin’.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...