2nd Floor Samurai’s are Bay Area HipHoppas Kensho Kuma & MC Orukusaki
By Aaris A. Schroeder
Kensho Kuma and MC Orukusaki make up the multi-talented duo, 2nd Floor Samurai’s whose new album, “Shogun Stories” is set to be released spring ’16.
Kensho and Oruk have known each other for over 16 years, running in different music circles but performing at the same shows, more recently, they worked on music together on the song, “Paid Dues” off Kensho’s, “The Program E.P.” album. Now they have come together to take over the world as 2nd Floor Samurai’s.
Even though I have not personally heard the album, “Sho Gun Stories,” I have a feeling that this album is going to be a fresh-start for this dynamic HipHop duo. Fresh, crisp and real. Listening to this album may allow the music lover to ascend to the second floor and get their martial art skills on all the while “partying with ‘debaucherously’ beautiful women,” the guys say. 2nd Floor Samurai’s are planning on a West Coast Tour as well as Japan and Asia.
I had the chance to ask Kensho and Oruk some questions about their new album, plans on touring and about how Cali Diamond owner/director, Makaela Susnow was featured in one of their new music videos, “Whatcha Name is?”
UBO Interviews 2nd Floor Samurai’s
UBO MAG: How did you get the Cali Diamond girls in the vid, “Whatcha Name is?” How was that working with them? Are they both Cali Diamond?
KENSHO: Makaela Susnow is the owner/ director of Cali Diamond. The other woman is not, she is an independent artist/singer by the name of Shanna Laina. It was awesome working with both of these lovely ladies.
UBO MAG: In the video, “Rules” where were you shooting at? What walls are you guys by w/ all the graf?
ORUK: This part of the shoot was in West Oakland, it was a coincidence that day that another Cypher was being filmed around the block from where we were shooting. In the final shot of the music video where the camera pans out above the city, if you look hard enough you can see the other block where the M.C.’s are cyphering.
UBO MAG: Who directed each of your videos?
KENSHO: “Rules” was directed by Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez (Dec ’15) whom Oruk has worked with on his own videos. “Whatcha Name Is” was directed by Zen Seville for TeamDoneSon (May ’15); we have both known Zen for over a decade. He also raps under the name XienHow and use to in a group with Oruk called Forensic Science. They were both released on 02/22/16.
UBO MAG: Do you have plans for other videos to be released (Kensho and Oruk have some great music videos)?
KENSHO: Yes, we will do more videos. Some are in the pipeline for planning as well as youtube segments and interviews that will be produced periodically and released. Be sure to check 2ndFloorSamurais.com for updates and new material.
UBO MAG: Why is it so important for artists like yourselves to put out music about substance to the people? Do you feel that is really makes a difference and why?
KENSHO: Before we are MC’s, we are grown men in society with responsibilities; our music reflect our real lives, so it’s only natural that our music contains real life issues. And I believe that everyone has real life situations and issues in their lives; they’re just not mentioned in the accessible Hip Hop songs played by corporate outlets. I do believe it makes a difference because I go to everywhere but the corporate media outlets for my music. If the voice of the people goes unheard then so will the true needs of the backbone of society, this ultimately leads to the lack of morals and breakdown of the common good that binds all of us together as one. Conscious Hip-hop music can be the thread that ties us all back together.
UBO MAG: MC Orukusaki, tell me your history with battle rap? What leagues were you involved with, how many wins? Did you ever battle any worth-mentioning names?
ORUK: Well, honestly I stopped doing the battle circuit almost 10 years ago now. When I was battling there was no well-known leagues, maybe just one or two on the east coast, but it was mainly just large scale battles and small scale battles. My wins; too many to count, definitely over 100, the losses hmm maybe 15 or so. Some of the battles made it to youtube, posted by battle fans but the very best battles seem to be lost in the archives forever. Rhymefest, Jin, Thesauras, Franco, illmaculate are all some of the emcees I crossed paths with in the battle circuit as well as the many forgotten victims. Emcee battling is definitely part of my history and helped to push me to some of the heights I’ve reached with music and HipHop. As for now my focus is on creating music that will last a century and have positive effects on the lives of those that come across it. I give big respects to those that currently carry the torch to new realms of battling, the new emcees and the OG’s.
UBO MAG: Kensho Kuma, you have traveled the world, mainly Japan and China becoming somewhat of a hip-hop superstar, how is that going for you? How often do you go out there?
KENSHO: I do not consider myself a superstar at all. I’m an independent Hip Hop MC that travels the world. I have done summer tours in Asia for the last three years; these tours included venues in Tokyo, Osaka, Shimane, Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Chengdu. I try to go to not only Japan, but Asia at least once a year.
UBO MAG: Explain the 2nd Floor, what it takes to get there and to share the growth that occurs to realize this new awareness?
KENSHO: The 2nd Floor perspective is a heightened sense of awareness. The only way to ascend to the 2nd Floor is education, experience, and action.
The 2nd floor samurai way is that of, using ones perspectives to view the world around them from a 2nd floor stance, is that you just don’t see something from ground level, you observe it from a higher standpoint, see all angles coming at you in advance and make decisions based upon a higher point of view. This is how we move forward in music, HipHop and life.
UBO MAG: NGO Hip Hop for Change is a group dedicated to fighting social injustice and racism through grassroots activism, educational outreach and HipHop showcases. Tell me more about (NGO) Hip Hop For Change and what you guys are doing on a daily basis to work with youth.
KENSHO: 2FS serves on the board of directors for HH4C (Non-Profit). We make administrative decisions to support our grass roots canvassers, educational outreach programs, and showcases. The real credit goes to the grass roots officers that are out there every day spreading the message. We also host and perform at showcases that feature local artists with similar views and ideals of HH4C.
UBO MAG: How are the two of you involved with ROTC (Return of The Cypher)? I have been once before and loved it!
KENSHO: 2FS serves as the directors for Return of the Cypher. We are responsible for booking the featured performers, managing the stage, setting up theme nights, merchandising, financial book-keeping, curating charity events and so on. We started at this even when there was four to five emcee’s rapping the whole night. Before the band and before Kevvy Kev it was Orukusaki, MC Mars, MC Infinite, Slice9 and Kensho Kuma. Now on some nights the line of MC’s is over 20 deep. Its grown into an event of considerable proportions, with live bands, DJ’s, b-boys/b-girls and HipHoppas from around the world literally. (Europe, Japan, Switzerland, Mongolia!)
UBO MAG: Do you two have anything else up your sleeves for now besides this release and focusing on shows?
KENSHO: We have many katanas. Some new tactics of promotion not seen in the bay area for decades and sure to cause a surprise for the people. Be on the lookout for the 2FS Radio Tour where we go across the state hitting a variety of radio shows, podcasts and stations while promoting the new album.
UBO MAG: Thanks for letting me interview you, ya’ll are special to me so I want to make sure I get this story out!!
KENSHO & ORUK: Please give a few thanks to some of our fam that helped. (D-WiZ, NOAH, Cloud9ine, DECAP, Charlie from China, Marcus Murray, DJ Kevvy Kev, Aisha Fukushima, Stickky Ricardo, La Gente, Tao Xienhow, Mooncricket, Cali Diamond.)
Here are Some Tasty Music Videos For Your Eye and Ear Holes
“Rules” By 2nd Floor Samurai’s
Video Directed By Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez, 12/15
“Whatcha Name Is?”By 2nd Floor Samuri’s
Video Directed By Zen Seville (ZienHow) of#TeamDoneSon, 5/15