August 29, 2010

Artist of the Day: Kero One

Considered by some as a mogul in the jazzy hiphop genre, Kero One, a San Francisco rapper/producer/DJ, stands as a true testament to the do-it-yourself success story.

Using only his homemade studio and personal credit card, Kero One pressed and released his first 12” single Check the Blueprints in 2003 on his own imprint, Plug Label. Without any experience as to how he should distribute his new record, Kero One spent endless hours researching, cold calling, and seeking help from friends. Of the 50 copies that were eventually distributed around the world, one landed in a tiny record store in Tokyo, Japan. A few weeks later, it was found by a Japanese DJ who played it at a club that night and received dozens of inquires, including a Japanese label executive who immediately contacted Kero One and asked for 3,000 copies of the record.
 The record became an underground hiphop classic in Japan almost overnight, and Kero One was invited to tour the country just a few months after. He performed in cities throughout Japan where he was greeted by hundreds of fans waiting to take photographs and autographs, much to his surprise. It was at this point that making a career out of music became a reality.

Kero One went on to finish his first album, Windmills of the Soul, in 2005, handling everything from playing instruments, rapping, and sound engineering. Without a strong label backing or a street team, Kero One handled almost all the business himself. From promotions and marketing, manufacturing, finances, graphic layouts and web design, Kero One personally handed out promos to tastemakers anywhere he could find them. Eventually the hard work paid off, and Kero One quit his job as a web designer in 2006 to pursue music full time.

Since 2006, Kero One has been awarded the title of Best HipHop Album of 2006 from Remix magazine, topped iTunes hiphop charts, received praise from the likes of Emmy award winning producer, and toured all over Asia, Europe, Australia, and the USA. Kero One has shared the stage with artists like KRS 1, Blu + Exile , DJ Cash Money, Dj Kentaro and Epik High (where Kero One participated in arguably the first successful Asian-American hiphop tour). Additionally, Kero One has kept busy collaborating with the likes of renowned acts such as Talib Kweli, Mark Farina, Epik High, and Dynamic Duo. In 2007, Kero One opened his first office and recording studio in downtown San Francisco to house his fledging hiphop/dance/funk imprint, Plug Label, releasing over a dozen records and CDs.

In 2009, Kero One independently released his official sophomore album Early Believers showcasing the talents of some of his favorite vocalists such as UK singer Ben Westbeech, Finland's answer to modern soul," Tuomo, and Portland's Ohmega Watts. Bouncing between soulful jazz tinged tracks to upbeat synth-driven party bangers, Early Believers showcases Kero One’s growth and maturity as a writer, composer, vocalist and arranger.

In 2010, Kero One released his third solo album entitled Kinetic World which again features some of his favorites, including Fashawn, Tablo of Epik High, Dumbfoundead and Othello. In addition, Kero One's interest in the youtube generation has inspired features from young talents such as Esna and Sam Ock (Plug Label, 2010).

You can listen to Kero One's music at:

Released Albums:
Kero One - Windmills of the Soul
Kero One - Windmills of the Soul Instrumentals
Kero One - Early Believers

(2010). Kero One. Plug Label. Retrieved from

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