In a world ruled by filters and the perfect selfie, Ka5sh is using his talents to make art that celebrates individuality and raises awareness towards mental health. His new music video for “I’m Depressed” is a perfect example of his innovative, socially conscious approach—and lucky for us, we have the exclusive premiere.
The Interview: Get to Know Ka5sh
BY: ARIELA KOZIN
You may be one of Ka5sh’s 30,000-plus Instagram followers who can’t get enough of his memes. His feed touches on everything viral—like fidget spinners and the Kardashians, but it also points at more serious subjects like cultural appropriation and Donald Trump. Life is hard, so you can either get angry or poke fun at the ridiculousness of it all—this creative chooses the latter. And while he is making sure to keep his memes and music separate, after we spoke with him, it’s easy to see how both mediums work together so seamlessly because they are so wholly, truly Ka5sh.
I would love to know in your own words–who is Ka5sh?
I’m a rapper, a content creator, and an artist. That’s what I would say.
You’re known most for your memes. What made you want to make the transition to music?
I was always making music before I started making memes, I just wasn’t getting any attention for my music, so then I started making micro-content. That way in between me dropping songs I would have something else to garner awareness. I got really good at memes and all of my stuff started getting really popular, and it kind of overshadowed the music thing. Now I think I’ve found a way to bring it back and incorporate it into the new music that I was making, so it’s all working out.
Your music is definitely different from conventional rap.
Someone once called my music “post-millenial pop,” and that makes the most amount of sense to me. It’s music for the kids of the future.
Exactly. As opposedto obvious themes like drugs and money, you have a social message. What’s that inspired by?
It comes from my real life, because I don’t do drugs or really talk about money a lot because I don’t really care about money that much. The regular rap tropes don’t really appeal to me, so I would rather put out the most authentic version of myself, which is just me talking about things I go through, like pining over girls over the internet, being depressed—stuff like that. All of the music I’ve been making is real, like real stuff that has happened to me.
When you read the news, it feelslike everyday you can read about growing depression among the Y2K generation—because talking about it seems less taboo—but also because we’re all constantly comparing our lives to people on social media.
Mhm. I was also doing that—staring at my newsfeed and comparing. Then I realized they were only taking moments of a situation, and then making that moment look like the best thing in the world, and obviously you can’t compare your regular life to someone who’s only showing you the highlights, because that’s ridiculous. On Instagram, everyone’s life is amazing all the time, because they are staging it for likes. Your life isn’t only highlights, there are ups and downs and it was necessary for me to learn that because it was causing me so much turmoil.
I’m at Vidcon right now, and there’s a whole new generation of children that only know life with social media–they grew up with the internet. These kids are all on YouTube, trying to chase the dragon of content and being all internet famous and stuff. I commend them, but also it’s horrible because everyone can’t do it and it’s going to make a lot of kids feel defeated. I worry about them.
The regular rap tropes don’t really appeal to me, so I would rather put out the most authentic version of myself, which is just me talking about things I go through, like pining over girls over the internet, being depressed—stuff like that.
How did the video correlate with the song’s meaning?
It was very strange how it worked out. A lot of the concept came from the directors–Pasqual Gutierrez and Arman Singh and it fit perfectly with the song. We all sat together and pitched ideas for different scenes that would showcase physical depictions of what depression would look like, and a lot of the things are really kind of artsy and stuff but it still came out really nice.
What do you want people to get from this particular song and music video?
Just that you’re not alone with being depressed and there are a lot of people out there who are experiencing depression and that it’s okay to talk about. It’s okay to have feelings. For the longest time I’ve been experiencing depression and just didn’t tell anyone and the meme page has really given me an outlet to express all those feelings. No one even knew that I had anything going on with me, and I recently with the meme page was able to express all these feelings, and I was like, “Oh shit, other people are going through this. I should talk about it.” In no way am I suggesting memes will solve your problem. Therapy is key.
Since you’re so good at making viral content, do you think you have a better grasp of what makes an eye-catching music video? Do you have any secrets of the meme-trade that you kept in mind while making the video?
What I tried not to do is make content that I knew as viral because it becomes dated so quickly. It would mean that I’m following a specific trend of a thing that’s on everyone’s mind, but then that thing will be over in a week. It’s cool in the moment, but has no longevity. I tried to do the opposite of that and make something that is timeless, that you can look back at this three weeks later, a month later, a year later and say, “Well this still holds up.”
I definitely tried to avoid using things like fidget spinners. Of course, that will go viral for two days, but then no one will care about that, no one will look at that, no one will remember it. You’re just a hot flip of the moment, and that’s what I don’t want to be. I could totally market myself as a viral meme rapper and just do meme stuff all day long, and that’s the easiest way and the fastest way, but also the shortest way.
So you’re kind of using your experience in virals to do the opposite with your music? But you’d like to continue doing viral content and music at the same time?
Yes, I want my viral content to be separate from my music situation, but still make sense with each other.
Can we swing back to your viral content again? I see the fads and I also see a lot of commentary on appropriation and images that are more socially conscious and politically driven. Why do you choose to do that instead of what’s faster and easier?
I feel like I should speak on these subjects I’m passionate about and it would be irresponsible of me to not use my platform to talk about them. And it’s hard because whenever I do speak about things like that, I get weird backlash, like death threats and awful stuff, but it’s worth it. Whenever I was really heavy into activism memes and stuff like that, in 2015-2016, the hate got really bad so I had to tone it down, but I still make sure to scatter them in.
I feel like I should speak on these subjects I'm passionate about and it would be irresponsible of me to not use my platform to talk about them.
In terms of business, what is your ultimate goal? What does your dream situation look like?
I have a lot of dreams. I’m not satisfied with being just a popular rapper. I want to make movies, I want multiple businesses. Like Chamillionaire, I just met him yesterday, and I was talking to him because he took his rap money and started investing it into apps and such, and that is something I would like to do. Branch out and never stop branching out.
How do you decide where to invest time and creativity?
If I see something that’s weird and doesn’t make sense, I wonder why people are still doing it this way and why we haven’t circumvented it and made it into a more streamlined, smooth process. And I’m always coming up with ideas to fix people’s problems that they may not even know are broken. I like weird ideas and I want to make those ideas real.
Can you give me an example of one of the weird ideas?
No. Because every time I have an idea I see it get made and it makes me so angry! I’ve got to start doing it instead of just thinking about it and then seeing someone else do it a year later.
Hope for the Day is a global non profit organization that achieves proactive suicide prevention by offering outreach and mental health education through self-expression platforms. IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK. For info and resources, please visit www.hftd.org
For a full list of international mental health and suicide prevention resources: www.hftd.org/find-help