By Liz Hitchcock
Waco’s hip-hop culture may be hard to find but Kick Up Kids are bringing it to the forefront of Waco’s music scene.
With beats and flows designed to get the party started, Kick Up Kids are fronted by Justin Horrell and Charlie Traywick, with Chris Schiekner as Deejay Versatile.
Horrell and Traywick started the group during the fall of 2008, and Schiekner has been a recent addition to it.
Having little to no experience in rapping or mixing beats, the old friends, Horrell and Traywick, decided to start a hip-hop group with a sole purpose to start the party.
“I told Charlie that I had this batch of beats. ‘I want to do this hip hop thing. What do you think?’ And that’s really how it all started,” Horrell said. “Sometimes we sit down and bang out a song and other times we will compile lyrics from experience of daily life that we have written down.”
As their popularity and style developed, the guys began to see more of a need for a DJ.
Horrell had been doubling as an emcee and a DJ since the beginning of the group.
“Every show we played, before we had a DJ, Justin would have his laptop and he would run back and play tracks then come back to the front of the stage,” Traywick said.
About six months ago, Schiekner became the newest member of Kick Up Kids, after having known Horrell and Traywick for a long period of time.
“As long as we’ve been doing this I’ve always said, I wish we had a real DJ,” Horrell said. “When you have a live DJ with you, it brings a whole new flavor to it.”
Schiekner was relatively new to hip-hop, but gave the shows a whole new feel, Horrell said.
Having a DJ mixing live music was easier than having one person do everything.
“I’ve been doing music for a long time,” Schiekner said. “But where I picked it up from was actually when Justin gave me some old turn tables and a mixer.
“I started out by playing with bands as a regular musician, then I picked up DJing and I went from there.”
Most of their influences came not only from big-name rappers and hip-hop groups like the Beastie Boys, but mainly their close friends and the music they have produced, Traywick and Horrell both said.
“The kind of hip-hop we’re doing has been heavily influenced by our friends, who have kind of done the same thing,” Horrell said.
“It’s just been something we’ve kind of messed around with. Sparrow Love and Reeve Hunter. Jared Himstedt. Of course Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest, original Black Eyed Peas.”
Horrell spoke about how their group is not focused on making money or starting careers in hip-hop.
They are more focused on getting together good friends and playing good music for fun.
“I could definitely see this going outside of Waco, but that’s not what we’re aiming for or pushing towards. … It’s just a way for us to hang out and mess around with each other. We don’t get caught up trying to meet certain standards or anything,” Horrell said.
The group has no future plans for recording but intend to stay in the area and book more shows. They plan to on release a music video, in which they will have clips from shows and parties, that they are hoping to release in August.
Their most recent show was the 100cameras benefit concert at Common Grounds on March 26.
“Instead of doing a normal mix tape, we decided to do a video mix tape that can be posted online,” Horrell said. “It’s going to be a documentary thing and a music video. We’re directing part of it and it will be laced together with live footage.
“We want people to be able to see who the guys are behind all this. We want people to see it’s all fun. We’re not rappers and we want people to see what goes on.”