Today I have the honor of premiering an incredible piece of work by Houston artist Kiev who is, at the very core, a creative. For years now he’s put out playlist after playlist, project after project, and a ton of diverse content such as freestyles and free form pieces of work.
Ambrosia is easily his most ambitious, and best work, yet. The album has gone through a number of changes, but all for the better. You can expect the cream of the crop of what Kiev has to offer the music world. Also, learn more about the man behind the music via our extensive interview below.
Thanks for speaking with me today! To start off, give us a rundown on who you are.
My name is Kievan Boudreaux-Bostic (emphasis on the two last names). I am 21 years old and I have been rapping for 12 years now. I am a student at Trinity University pursuing a degree in History and African American studies. I was born in Kansas City, MO but I have been based in Houston for the last ten years. I make rap music but I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am a rapper per se. I like to keep my options open and I abhor being locked into a specific category.
When I first met you and looked at your SoundCloud I instantly noticed that you’ve put out a plethora of projects throughout the years. How do you approach them – how often you decide to drop them, etc.
I like to drop them pretty consistently. In total, I think I’ve dropped 11 projects if you include Ambrosia. All of those have dropped in the last three years. The reason I’ve released so much is that I don’t really like to sit on music, I’d rather just put it out and let the world see it. With my solo projects, I like to put an emphasis on album structure. To me it’s very important to be able to put together a cohesive piece of work, and it makes me a little sad to see that isn’t really the direction that music is going right now.
You have a full 16 track playlist dedicated to freestyles. Have you always been able to go off the top? Why put one together?
I think the term “freestyle” is a pretty vague term. In the context of a mixtape I use freestyle to denote that a song is made to somebody else’s beat. So I wouldn’t say many of the ones online are technically “off the top”. However, I have spent a large majority of my life making songs off the dome. When I was younger me and my cousin ChoppaOTG used to make entire mixtapes where we’d freestyle every song. That’s actually how I got into recording music for the first time.
Going back to your songs in general…what do you look for in production? How do you get your beats?
In production, I think I’m a little bit unorthodox. I get a lot of pressure from people to rap over more popular trap style beats. I think my style is a little bit jazzier and funk-inspired, but I do like to have elements of trap-infused into it. When I first started making music my beats were all downloaded from youtube. These days, I get most of my music from my frequent collaborators Rich YR or Danny Styles of Echo Park. Sometimes I’ll sit down with Rich and we’ll craft a beat from scratch, (ie: Intro to Ambrosia) and sometimes I’ll see what he has already produced. With Danny, I usually give him certain parameters and he just uploads it to our dropbox (ex: Misty, 10 PM in Athens).
Technically I’m from Houston, but my music has really blossomed in San Antonio. I’ve only performed in Houston once, and I had a pretty good experience there. Other than that, I can’t really speak on the indie music scene there. In San Antonio, there is a thriving indie music scene though. There are some REALLY talented artists coming out of San Antonio. Some of my favorites are Rich YR, Aliza1K, Yupthatsdan, Maxgotthetracks and honestly many more. I love the music scene in San Antonio because it’s a little less busy than some of the other cities close to us.
Have you performed in the city? What has that experience (s) been like?
I have performed in San Antonio at least 30 times this year. It has been such an amazing experience. The crowds here can be hit or miss due to the fact that it isn’t a huge rap place. If you can get the crowd though, people are always super receptive, especially if your music is good. It really depends on the day though, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s not.
Taking it back to your early years, what music did you listen to growing up?
The first album that I ever bought was The Carter III when I was 9 years old. When I was younger I was a huge Lil Wayne fan. I also was a big fan of Kanye, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, basically anybody that was able to tell a story with their music. Later on that grew to include J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar, who I would say are my two biggest influences.
Has that held an influence on your music?
Because I started rapping so young, I always listened to music as a student. I noticed really early that I paid a lot more attention to the lyrics that people used in their songs and the stories that they told. I was always very receptive to the storytelling aspect of rap and that has had an influence on the music that I have always made. If you listen to any of the music that I’ve ever made I was always able to weave in a layer of storytelling.
When did you start rapping?
I started rapping when I was nine years old. I still remember my first rap too, it was to the beat of “over” by Drake. Who knew that one moment would go on to define the rest of my life. When I was young it was just something I liked to do to impress my parents, but as I got older I was able to use rap as an outlet for my emotions.
How do you view your music back then?
My music back then was actually pretty terrible. But how much can you really expect from a 12 year old dropping songs on soundcloud recorded on his android phone. What I didn’t know is that it put the seeds in place for me to follow my dreams once I became an adult. To be honest, I was basically just as lyrical as I am now when I first started rapping, now I just have more life experience to pull from.
When and why did you decide to pursue your music career seriously?
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment. I have taken my music seriously from the moment I first started rapping, but I would say things changed once I got my first microphone. I borrowed a microphone from my school library to record for a school project, and I kept it for a couple weeks after that to make a mixtape with my cousin ChoppaOTG. Back then we were already serious about our music we just didn’t have the resources to get it out on a widespread level. Anybody that knew us back then will tell you we were super proud of our music and showed it to everybody that we possibly could. After that, my younger sister bought me a microphone for Christmas and the rest was history. That next year I put out something like 6 or 7 different projects, I really just loved writing music. The next big jump in my music career came after Rich Y R gave me a deal to do a collaborative project and helped me put my music onto streaming services without having to get signed. Rich was a huge influence in my decision to take music even more seriously. He helped me get shows, meet new contacts, and really just treated me like a friend. I am forever appreciative of Rich YR, when I had nothing he told me all he wanted to do was see me win.
Tell us about the visuals you’ve put out. Do you feel it’s an important piece of your entire movement?
Yes and no. I feel like my visuals are the biggest point of improvement for me at the moment. I’ve never had a problem with making music, but I have the worst time when I have to get in front of the camera. Right now I don’t really have a lot of visuals, but that also stems from the fact that I really didn’t know how to make that step of my career happen. That is definitely my goal moving forward, making my visuals fall in line with the rest of my artistry.
Are there collaborators you work with regularly?
I have a few. I’ve already mentioned most of them already. Shoutout to Rich and Danny. Shoutout to Maxgotthetracks. A huge shoutout has to go to my little sisters Kobe and Serenity. They’re younger but they are incredibly talented and up next. This also seems like the perfect time to mention my band, Echo Park. Echo Park is actually an internet collective, none of us have ever met each other in person. We do a lot of work together through dropbox though, and we put out an album called “Expressions” earlier this year.
What is your day to day life look like?
My day to day life is incredibly busy. Right now I am in 18 hours of classes, I’m the president of the Black Student Union at my school. I hold an internship doing data analytics for a company in San Antonio. Last year I did all of this while also playing football and being an RA at my school. When I threw music into the mix it led me to be super stressed and burnt out. Since I don’t play football anymore, it’s become a little bit easier to manage. I have to be meticulous about my time and very careful with how I manage my energy. I spend a lot of time stretching and meditating, watching movies in french, and obviously making music. There’s no way I could do all of this without a great support system. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the tremendous help of my mom, dad, girlfriend, friends and family.
What are your goals as an artist?
My goals as an artist are to grow something for myself. I have done extensive research into the music industry and I’m planning on going to law school to learn the ins and outs of the music business. I have a record label in its infancy and I plan on totally revamping the way that artists are able to distribute their music and have more agency within their careers. In the short term, I project at least 100,000 streams on Ambrosia. In the long term, I see myself making enough of a living outside of being an artist that I can focus on making the music that I want without worrying about what other people think.
Who do you listen to now?
I listen to a lot of my own music to be honest. I listen to a lot of Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Outkast, things like that. I also listen to a lot of Tyler the Creator, I guess I forgot to mention him as one of my influences too. I go outside of rap too. I love Tame Impala, Frank Ocean, and Steve Lacy. Anything where I feel like the artist is able to project whatever emotions that they want onto the listener.
Infinite Positivity, Half Man Half Amazing, and your recent project Ambrosia stand as my favorite work from you. Which body of work are you most proud of?
I am so proud of all of them. I am definitely most proud of Ambrosia though. Ambrosia is literally my brainchild. I set out with a goal to make music that would be timeless and hold up not only to good music of today, but the best albums to ever be released. To me, Ambrosia stands up to that test. I don’t know if I have been more proud in my life of something that I did.
Ambrosia has an interesting story. Tell us about it.
How much time do you have? (laughs). Ambrosia is the story of my life, but specifically my life in the past year. The story actually begins at the start of 2019 in Athens, Greece. Technically a little bit before that. I spent the back half of 2018 hating myself and my situation. I was disenfranchised with the university that I had chosen to spend my four years of college. I felt that the school didn’t do enough to provide a safe space for the minority students who attended the school. I had fallen into a state where it was really a chore getting up every day and pretending to be something that I wasn’t. The feeling got even worse once I realized that things wouldn’t change once I got out of college. In the words of Childish Gambino, This is America. Things got so bad that I decided I needed a change of scenery.
In December I bought a plane ticket to Greece where I planned on spending 12 days alone finding my way in a foreign country. Needless to say, my mother was terrified. I really had no plan at all, and I didn’t even have a coat. Luckily my mom bought me one for christmas, and it actually came in handy. While I was in Greece they got the worst snow in 117 years! At one point I actually lost my phone and wallet in the snow (I later found it at the local police station). Anyways, while I was in Greece and later Italy I was able to spend some time really figuring out who exactly I was. This was tough because I had been told who I was my whole life, but this was my first time deciding this for myself. While I was there I became fixated on Greek Mythology and in specific, Ambrosia. In mythology, Ambrosia is the food for the Gods. It’s what makes them immortal. For me, I want my music to make me immortal in a sense. I wanted to make something that would outlast my life. Thus, Ambrosia was born.
When I got back to the U.S. I just happened to be approached by my longtime collaborator Rich YR, who told me we needed to get to work on another album. I was like “Bet”. I already had the thematic principles ready to make it happen. We initially thought the album would be quick, maybe 5 or 6 sessions and we’d be done. We ended up being VERY wrong. The music took a long time to edit, re-edit, and edit again. While all of that happened, life kept going. I lost multiple family members, I broke up with a long time girlfriend, I got arrested, and I found my calling. Ambrosia as an album is a hodgepodge of all these things that went on in my life. I just took these things and put them all into the music, and I don’t know if I would have been able to get through all of it without it. For that reason, I’m immensely proud of this album whether it sells a million copies or if it sells one. I really did my thing on it.
Do you have anything else in music that you’d like to pursue?
The next step in music for me is dropping this album and then focusing on developing other artists. I feel like it’s pointless for me to enjoy all of this success and not put others in the same position to succeed. It took a lot of time and money to make an album of this scale, and I won’t really have the time to do it once I begin law school. This was all of my dreams culminated into one album, so I’ll be happy even if I never pick up a microphone again.
What can we expect from you moving forward into 2020?
Moving forward you can expect more Echo Park music and less Kiev. For a little bit at least. I want to make sure I get off to a good start once I get into law school. I think to do that I’ll probably have to take some time off from music at the scope that I do it right now. Once I get my footing I’m sure I’ll be back again. Music has been such a huge part of my life, I doubt that I’ll ever get too far away from it. I would like to use this section to also shoutout some of my favorite people. Shoutout to the whole Boudreaux clan, all of my Bostic Family, my mom, my dad, my girlfriend Adia, all of NASA, Kezia and Kirsten who were instrumental in making the HUE movement possible. I want to shoutout DC4L, TK, all of my aunties, Alexis, Khori, Rich YR, Dj Dawn, all of Kansas City, all of Houston, all of San Antonio. I want to thank my cousin Maurice, my cousin Austin, Anthony, Dejah, Iman, and Cole. I want to thank Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller. Most importantly I would like to thank my Aunt Colleen, who is no longer with us in a physical sense, but will always be with us in spirit. If I forgot anybody blames my mind and not my heart. I love all of yall.
Thanks for your time.