“I Make My Own Music So I Make My Own Life” (from The Man Who Sold the World)
At the ripe age of three, Kevin Delgado, aka Frigid Giant, was walking up and down the street rapping along to LL Cool J’s sexy and tender “Around the Way Girl” when other kids his age were still learning how to pronounce the names of colors. Needless to say, growing up an ‘80s baby, the young Delgado couldn’t escape the influence of his older sisters’ musical palates. That’s usually how the story begins for most emcees and musicians; they get swept away by the musical zeitgeist of the times and let it take them where it may. The spirit and love he had for the game as a 3-year-old followed Delgado throughout middle school, and high school, where he started making demos in his basement. He eventually grew into his own sound, a genre he likes to call soul rap. “My music’s not gangster. You wouldn’t call it emo. You wouldn’t call it club. You wouldn’t call it trap. It’s emotional but it’s not cry baby. It’s relatable,” he said confidently. If you take a listen to his 2012 release, The Man Who Sold the World, you’ll hear an introspective album filled with conscious lyrics and a concise flow. There’s a mellow quality in his voice that breaks through some of the aggression and makes him a compelling storyteller. He uses emotion like brush strokes and thinly coats his sound with a layer of vulnerability that neither weakens nor wears down his words, but gives them dimension.
Many of the uncensored emcee’s tracks have political undertones. Take “The Means,” which is included on his November release, The River Tam EP. It’s a song he wrote while reflecting on a trip back from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin last year in which he plans to return to this year. It’s a deeply insightful track that addresses societal problems that often go ignored in mainstream hip hop, such as famine, greed and war. Delgado uses music as a vehicle for change. In “The Means,” he became a hip hop delegate for those in the trenches of adversity. “When you see the country from different perspectives, you see good and bad. I was in this awesome city, and then I was coming back to the plight of buffalo,” he said. “I’m at this city where everything is top-notch and people are nice, and it’s really cool, and then I come back home and it’s cold and dismal. There was a fire in me. If you’re going to be a voice for someone, you got to teach. I had to teach in that song.”
“We Lack the Unity We Once Had”
Upon returning back to Buffalo, Delgado also observed that the same problems remained within the city’s underground hip hop scene. It was clearly divided, and emcees were becoming more selective when it came to who they worked and performed with. “When I started, it (the Buffalo hip hop scene) was very unified between all acts. There was no animosity really, and then certain people started cliquing with each other, and you kind of had like a group here, a group there…and before we all use to do shows together,” he said. Delgado spoke fondly of the memories he had while performing with his former group Narrow-Minded Youth on Thursday nights at the now closed Merlin’s on Elmwood. He shared the stage with fellow artists such as Type Relevant and Mad Dukez and reveled in the camaraderie. “Everyone that rapped in the city came through and rapped,” he said with a glint of nostalgia in his eyes. “Everyone just kind of seemed to split apart.” By continuing to team up with his label Bird Caged Records in creating gallery showcases and open mic nights accessible to all, Delgado, who also paints and draws in his free time, hopes to promote a more peaceful, cultural renaissance within the city.
“How Many Times You Gonna Wake Up and Say, This the Day That I Do Something Great?” (from The Man Who Sold the World)
When the amiable emcee and freelance graphic designer quit his job at a local car dealership to focus purely on his music, he knew he was wading in perilous waters, but had to take the leap of faith anyway. What compels an individual to risk it all in pursuit of a dream? “Look, I’m 26, I’m unemployed…you have to be dumb, crazy, smart, everything…you have to be prepared to drive four hours away to some town or city you’ve never even heard of, playing in front of people that don’t know your music, and walking out with a hamburger and twenty bucks for gas,” he said.
But if you’re born to do something, it will happen.
That’s the attitude that keeps Delgado afloat in life; plant a few seeds and watch them grow. He’s a strategist, a chess player if you will, and his plan for the next year is already in motion. On Valentine’s Day he will premiere the latest music video for his track titled “Orion’s Belt.” In tribute to loved ones he’s lost over the years, his mixtape, Not Dead Yet, is set to be released in early March on Bird Cage Records and will feature local emcee Mic Mechanic. He’s also scheduled to go on a cross-country tour with New Jersey rapper Dinz in April. “You just got to keep that stream constant,” he said regarding his upcoming projects. “This is the most exciting time of my life right now. I have a management deal, I have a variety of artists that I’m established with, I’m going on tour and after that I’m going on tour again.” As for the next few years, he’s not looking that far ahead; he’s just enjoying where he is now and counting his blessings. “I don’t want to limit myself. I’m kind of living in the moment, but I’m always thinking ten steps ahead,” he said with a shrewd smile.