“But I found love.” So says Kevin Federline. And as he spits fire at the paparazzi and shouts out big ol’ butts, he’s about to launch a rap career.
Outfitted in full camouflage gear, Kevin Federline hunkers down in a pristine recording studio in his heavily secured Malibu home. His wife of a year and a half, Britney Spears, is upstairs caring for their eight-month-old son, Sean Preston Federline. Despite tabloid reports that his relentless Vegas partying has threatened to break up the couple’s relationship, the man known as “K-Fed” — a media tag he loathes — is in low-key domestic mode at the moment. Of the rumors that he’s stepping out on Britney: “False,” he says, taking a drag on a Newport. “Completely. Ass backwards. People, unless you go through it every day, really don’t know what all these celebrities go through.”
Yet, as he complains of harassment by the media, Federline, 28, has taken a curious approach to maintaining his privacy. With his baile-funk-influenced single, “PopoZao” (his website received more than one million hits after the song, and its video, were posted online), and a self-titled debut album due this summer on his own yet-to-be-named label, the former backup dancer is attempting to launch a rap career, despite scant experience on the mic. And why exactly is he doing this?
“I don’t have a choice,” says Federline. “It’s not like I can go and do construction, start building houses in Malibu. [Laughs] [The media] are forcing me to do this, and I’m glad they are. I’m more than happy to do it.”
Federline contends that he has deep hip-hop roots. Before he met Spears, he paid his dues on the mean streets of Fresno, California. There, a young Federline discovered the power of B-boy culture and testifies that it saved his life. Now, with an MC style that falls somewhere between 2Pac and Lil’ Kim, with joints like “Fuckaratti” (aimed at the paparazzi) and the bouncy “Pit Roastin'” (“I’m loving every single one of your races,” he declares), the much-derided all-around player — dance moves, rhymes, good looks — is ready for his moment.
When asked if he’s at a disadvantage because he’s a white rapper, Federline, sitting next to a hundred-thousand-dollar mixing console, responds bluntly: “Music is music. Back in the day, did they hate Jerry Lee Lewis for coming out with the stuff he was coming out with?”
In other words, prepare to be scorched by K-Fed’s great balls of fire.
What was your childhood like? I grew up in Fresno listening to the Kool Moe Dees and Big Daddy Kanes. I was right there with [hip-hop], you know? Every bit of it, I liked. I moved to Carson City, Nevada, for a while with my parents. They split, so I wound up staying there with my mom and getting into a little trouble when I was, like, eight or nine years old.
Trouble? Ah, you know — girls. She caught me at home with some girls one time. It wasn’t like I was getting down or anything. It’s just that I was going behind her back and doing shit that she couldn’t handle. Then I moved back to Fresno and the gangster stuff started coming along.
What do you mean by “gangster stuff”? Whenever it started out here [in Los Angeles], those [gang members] moved to Fresno. It was crazy for a while. Crazy like shooting at people, people getting robbed.
Were you rollin’ with a posse? I had my people. A lot of my boys are okay, but a lot of my people got locked up; a lot of my people are dead. I’m not gonna sit here and get into details about what I did, you know? I’m not gonna sit here and say that I’m this grimy, gutter gangster. But I have been on the hustle, y’knowwhatI’msayin’?
Was dancing a way for you to stay out of the stuff that was going down in the streets? Yeah. I met these guys when I was 13 — I saw them in a dance studio, and they were doing hip-hop shit. I went in there and learned poppin’ and shit like that. When I was 15, I started working for this nonprofit organization, which took kids off the streets and taught them better things to do. It was called Dance Empowerment. I started there and I met my boy Jimmy — who I wound up moving to L.A. with when I was 20. I found out that I could come out here and make money as a dancer. I went on tour with LFO [’90s Florida boy band Lyte Funky Ones]. I was happy as shit.
When did you realize that you wanted to rap? It was always there in my head. Like tryin’ to put melodies together. Just doing it for fun. Not even doing it thinking that I’ma go in and try to do it big. I didn’t think that until maybe two years after I’d been in L.A. When I was with [ex-girlfriend/mother of his first two children] Shar [Jackson], we put a little studio in the house. But I never actually put together a demo and went and shopped it. I had too much going on. I was dancing my ass off. I did the You Got Served movie and all that.
Who would you say influenced your rap flow? I’m influenced by so many different kinds of music. I might throw a track out there that’s got me singin’ a little bit. I guess I categorize myself as an artist — a true artist. I’m not out here to battle people, I’m not out here to be the best rapper; I’m out here to be the best artist. Where I’m lookin’ at it, it’s like your whole performance is your package. Your music is fire, and people can tell that you put your heart into it. Anytime you put emotion into what you’re doing, man, and people see that? You can’t lose.
So what topics do you get into on your record? Some of it is talking about my past, before I got to L.A. and all that. I got some West Coast heat ’cause that’s where I’m from. Then I got the “PopoZao” for Brazil. Popo zao means “big ass.”
One of the images of you in the media is that of a pimp [Federline wore a tracksuit with the words pimp daddy on the back to his wedding celebration]. Well, I guess if I’m gonna be a rapper, that image can’t really hurt. [Laughs]
What’s your definition of a pimp? A real pimp is a dude who’s making money off bitches who sling that ass on the street. Nowadays, people will say they’re a pimp just because they’re suave. I’m not no pimp. I’m just Kevin. Happy husband. Happy father. I didn’t pimp Britney. I found love.
What do you think about your man Nick Lachey — because of his split with Jessica Simpson, he might be getting a multimillion-dollar alimony payment. Shiiit! That’s crazy. But they did their whole thing together. They came up together, y’knowwhatI’msayin’? They really blew up together on that [reality] show. They deserve whatever they get. That’s how I see it. My situation is different. I ain’t gettin’ no divorce. Fuck that! I don’t believe in that shit. Once you get married, you’re in it for the fight.
Credit: Spin Magazine