As the promise of his 100th and final Bandcamp album looms in the foreground, we can only wonder what the future of Knxwledge entails. Even though this collection of quick in-and-out mixtapes is essentially just his beat folder, it’s a pretty damn good beat folder, and somewhat of a rarity in the world of hip-hop producers. Knxwledge’s output is frequent and ever-growing with a list of odd-titled series such as Wrap Taypes and Hexual Sealings, and he’s maintained this same attitude from his outset until now, even after his success.
For the past 10 years, Boothe has been making mixtape after mixtape, unrelenting in the sense of quantity. His particular style encapsulates the ambiance of the hood, hanging around, spitting bars on the corner, taking even the most prolific and notable MCs and reducing their style back to the streets that raised them. He takes iconic voices and puts them in a mixtape cipher context, surrounded by these soulful, almost shoegazey beats. His tapes and track titles are cryptically categorized and very stream-of-consciousness, usually followed by a Japanese translation of the title, further cementing the crossover between American hip-hop and Japanese culture.
Knxwledge is inspired by the slightly underground school of beatmaking, following artists like J Dilla, Madlib, Kareem Riggins, and Pete Rock. Like many others, Boothe cut his teeth in the church, making beats on his first rudimentary pieces of gear that the church was done with. Coming from a devout family, he made beats when and where he could, experimenting inadvertently with the gear that he had, eventually perfecting his formula while in university.
Knxwledge can’t be talked about without mentioning his partner in crime and the main man he grew up making beats with, MNDSGN. The two made beats together while living in New Jersey, working together at the same convenience store. Eventually, the pair began to gain recognition via the internet, and Boothe soon got put on a lineup with an early incarnation of the Low End Theory collective, eventually moving to Los Angeles and securing a deal with Stones Throw.
This led to a tumble of career moves for the artist, with his beats being used by Quelle Chris, Joey Bada$$ and eventually, Kendrick Lamar. In 2015, Knxwledge dropped a collaborative album with multi-instrumentalist and charismatic frontman Anderson .Paak to release an EP that would blossom into a full-length collaborative album that takes soul, funk, and hip-hop into a fragmented, experimental direction.
The producer lives by a code of ethics that have been passed down from beatmaker to beatmaker, and will occasionally outline pieces of his mantra through his Instagram stories. His old-school producer aesthetic combined with his unique flair succeeds in maintaining the legacy of his predecessors as well as taking hip-hop to strange, introspective new places. Even though the dude has tons of tracks, most are only available for true fans that subscribe to his output. Listen to five tracks that sum up his style below.