I met Kumasi Sadiki a few years back at his store The Good Company. He opened the shop along with his business partner Quinn Arneson in 2012, and it immediately became a meeting spot for artists of all types; a community staple, which is something I’ve always admired. We’ve collaborated in the past, and they’ve been very supportive of the scene. I was interested in talking to Kumasi about how music influenced him as a creative outside of that field. I think it’s important to hear the perspective of music listeners, not just musicians.

– Patrick Morales

 

PATRICK MORALES: What’s good, man, how you doing?
KUMASI SADIKI:
What’s up bro.
PM:
To start, maybe you can talk about, back when you lived in Portland with your family, not necessarily specifically to that city, but growing up with your family, what was your first experience with music? And how did it influence you and shit. But really, what was the musical background in your family? You mentioned your father was really into music, and your mom as well, and you used to go to shows. They would take you to events.
KS:
My dad definitely liked music for sure. He had a big record collection. He always had a lot of jazz, reggae. I guess my introduction would definitely be jazz. That’s what I would talk to him about. But he was into reggae, like Maxi Priest, you know. There’s this weird band, Sweet Honey In the Rock. I don’t even know if people are gonna know what the fuck that is. We would go to these concerts and it would be like the blackest concert ever, in terms of the type of music, and we would be the only black people there, and I’d just be like, this shit’s crazy.
PM:
That’s crazy.
KS:
I don’t know if it was like that in other cities, because I’m sure they have appreciation, like in New York, when you went to the Blue Note, or something, it’s not gonna be like that, you know?
PM:
I feel you.
KS:
But, in Portland that was always a thing.
PM:
Portland is a very white city?
KS:
It definitely is. For sure. I feel like that had a big part to play in me growing up. My dad is super pro-black.
PM:
So then at home it was a totally different thing, because at home it’s like, you got that influence. That’s interesting.
KS: So musically, most of the music kind of spoke to that. Had that tone.
PM: Had a pro-black vibe to it, and everything.
KS:
Exactly. Gil Scott, you know, shit like that. That was just his vibe.

 

 

PM: I was gonna say, too, with connecting it to what you do now, being around an ill record collection, you’re going to look at the design. You see the art, you see the way they incorporate the artist’s name… you know what I’m saying? Do you think seeing those at an early age influenced you? 
KS:
I think subconsciously, for sure, 100%. Because today I definitely go to the record store and look through records all the time. Being older, I’ve gone back and dug through his shit, for sure. I’ll find a song on Youtube and would go home and be like, yo, you know about this song? Thinking I’m putting him on. And he’d be like, I got that record. And I’ll go downstairs, pull out the record. I know I owe you some records, pops, if you read this. I also lost a couple records, for sure. Cover art is big. That era of art, before computers. Motherfuckers was drawing that shit. You know what I mean?
PM:
And I was saying to Arvid [Logan], because it was a record, I feel like people went mad hard, the design of it was so ill. You want people to see that in the store and shit and be like, whoa.
KS: I feel like everything about it was a big deal from the art to the recording. Nowadays you can just put some shit out, you know? But back then it had to be perfect. Everything. Or at least you would hope, because if not that shit would be a waste of your money.
PM:
Cuz it was mad expensive, too. I think it’s interesting too to talk to you because you’re someone that’s just a music listener, like anyone. Someone that’s always listening to music, but you’re not necessarily a musician. I think that’s an interesting perspective. 
KS:
I don’t make music.
PM:
That’s exactly what I’m saying. To me, that’s why this is tight. When did music outside of your family come into play? Like anyone, you hear the music in your house, and then you get into other shit.
KS:
There was rap… well, I had older cousins.
PM:
Exactly. Older siblings, that’s a classic…
KS:
So one of my cousins is kind of a nerd, and then one of my cousins was hella hood, rest in peace. Not from no crazy shit, but she had some health problems. She was hood, and she would just go with the hood bangers. And my cousin he was more… so in Portland, if you were black, it was weird. In the 90s, too, it was a weird time. If you were black, you had to be black, you know? You were banging or something. There was no middle. So my cousin was kind of seen as an outcast. I don’t know, I never saw myself as either. I was just alive. I don’t gotta be on this side, I don’t gotta be on that side. He put me on to Rage, and shit. Sonic Youth, you know what I mean? Shit like that. He was into that, but back then, this is early, no one was doing that, you know what I mean? He was into Japanese culture. He put me on a whole other mind state… you know, video games, manga, toys. And I thought, this shit’s sick, but what people thought was cool or sick, it wasn’t him. So that’s kind of the shit he was about, but then my other cousin was putting me onto Biggie.
PM:
The classics.

 

KS: Yeah. Pac. It was early times, back then. She had the box, so she would just watch shit like that. I remember the Snoop album coming out, Doggystyle, and my dad was like, you cannot listen to this shit. And I was like, I have to listen to this shit! Like, what the fuck! And I didn’t get it, you know, it didn’t translate to me. I would think, what the fuck is doggystyle, anyway? I was too young to comprehend that. Your parents are probably like, what the fuck! And then on the cover just this little cartoon dog, which I always thought was sick. That dude is a beast ass artist. 
PM:
That cover, to me, is so influential.
KS:
So legendary.
PM:
Classic.
ARVID LOGAN:
You can’t really think about the album without seeing the cover. The sound and the visual style are tied together. 
PM:
But that’s the thing. Your dad obviously was mad into, what you said, more conscious, more aware music, in that sense. Then they see that, they’re probably like, what the fuck, but you’re like, yo, this is hip hop, this is what’s good right now, you know, like, I’m a young black man right now, I’m tryna hear this shit, you feel me?
KS:
For sure.
PM:
Or a kid at the time.
KS:
A kid for sure. [laughter] 
PM:
A child of the times. They’re like, yo, Doggystyle, the fuck? Nah you can wait on that. 
KS:
I might’ve been like seven or eight.
PM:
So you were young as fuck. That’s the thing, how could you see that cover and not want to hear that shit? And obviously it was poppin’ at the time. Facts.
KS:
And musically, that sound, and in my area, too, that gang shit was early 90s, you know what I mean? They took over. You know, your parents raise you, and I feel like that’s what makes parents sick, they raise you, and you’re always going to come back to that. But there’s a point when you just… grow up mostly with your peers.
PM:
I feel that, dude. 
KS:
It’s not the streets, or nothing like that.
PM:
Yeah, not like that. It’s just literally you’re raised with your homies. Your friends. That’s totally part of it.
KS:
You spend hella time with them.
AL:
You start having more of your significant life experiences with your friends, as opposed to your family.
PM:
Totally. You get to that age. But that’s important  because that’s your family, too, in a way. I think people are always like, that’s your family. And I love my family, no doubt, but they annoy the shit out of me sometimes, but you get to also pick your friends, and that’s a community and a group of people, too. 
KS:
And that says a lot, too, because you get to pick it.
PM:
Exactly.
KS:
You chose to chill with those people.
PM:
I have a great family. Some people got fucked up families, you know? I think that’s important to not downgrade the friends and how that can be a family, too.
KS:
100%. Shout out to all those friends that are family! And, how we were just saying, you live these significant moments with your friends, and music becomes the soundtrack to all those moments. There are so many songs you’ll hear, and through that… you’re like,

 

what the fuck! You can’t even help it.
PM:
Whenever I hear Boot Camp Clik I think of 348. I remember being there. It immediately takes me back. It’s crazy.
KS:
Same with that Bone and Biggie song. I remember the first time I heard that song thinking, yo this shit is fucking crazy.
PM:
When was it?
KS:
It was with my cousin, and we were all on a vacation. This is a different cousin, actually. She’s from Baltimore, she’s on some whole other shit. And we’re in the car, and she just has this song on repeat, and she just won’t stop playing it, bro. And I was just like, yo, this song is fucking sick! I just had never really heard nothing like that, you know?
PM:
That’s so fire, man. That’s tight, too, because I feel like I didn’t… for me, that was the era right there to be young and taking shit in. For me it was like Nelly and shit. [laughter] 
KS:
Was Biggie alive? It was Life After Death… 
PM:
It was right when he died. But still then…
KS:
March 9, 1993? When did he die, ‘97?
PM:
He died ‘97, right? Yeah. I was alive, I just didn’t know what the fuck was good.
KS:
When were you [Arvid] born?
AL:
I was born in 1994.
PM:
I was born in ‘93, so I was young as fuck at the time, and I didn’t know. But that’s crazy, that’s fire. Just to hear that for the first time in that context, without knowing… now you hear it, you’re like, this is classic, listen to this. But then you’re hearing it for the first time when it’s coming out. You’re getting that real effect. 
KS:
That was a sick moment. But there’s corny songs, too, that I remember have the same effect. Like that LL Cool J, this is for my number one. That just reminds me of school dances forever. Forever, if I hear that, I’m like, damn, I remember being young and trying to grind on a chick, trying to hide from the teacher.
AL:
It’s funny because for us that’s Nelly. Somebody younger than us might hear it and be like, this is just not good, or maybe they would fuck with it on another weird level, but to us it’s only really good because it has this place in our memory.
PM:
I was talking to Ugly about that. Ugly Mane was talking about, I was young as hell in Virginia somewhere… the only shit I could get was MC Hammer… and he was like, dang, shit is fucking next! That’s what would maybe make it down there. But that idea, especially then. What you think is cool at the time, just because that’s all you have access to.
KS:
The person that used to have the ill music collections used to be sick. I mean, you’re still sick today, but I don’t know, it was more of a thing. The homie that puts you on to songs, you’re always mad grateful! 
PM:
Exactly. It’s way more work going into that.

     


KS:
I just remember buying CDs and being bummed, you know? Like, fuck I just spent $12 on this, and there’s one song. Fuck, bro! I should’ve just bought the single.
PM:
So when you guys got something good…
KS:
I was hyped.
AL:
I feel like now people don’t really have the experience of just seeing the art and not being able to hear anything. 
PM:
Snippets.
PM:
The art has to sell it. You [Kumasi] were saying your other cousin put you onto more obscure stuff, like Rage Against the Machine, but you were more into hip hop?

 

KS: I definitely didn’t get it as a kid. You know, when you’re young you have a mad local mindset. Your neighborhood. Maybe your school, too. Maybe the city… maybe. But usually smaller. You’re like, we’re over here doing this. Which is a sick mentality. It’s pretty ignorant but… hopefully you’re doing something chill. It’s unique energy built from just being gung ho about something. Almost blind and stupid about some shit, and then see where it takes you. Most people, obviously, get out. Hopefully you’re not doing something crazy and dangerous. A lot of things coincidentally… I’ve gotten into like, fuck it, just go for it. I didn’t know shit about clothes when I first made some clothes. I remember people being like, what the fuck, you’re gonna make clothes? I always liked it, to get fresh, I got the idea of it, but no one… 
PM:
No one was like, yo, you should do this!
KS:
Nothing like that. And then I started doing it. And back then… okay, so now the t-shirt game is crazy. You can just make a t-shirt. Back then, you couldn’t just make… I mean you could, but it was where you would go to get your family reunion, or high school graduation. It wasn’t this idea of, kids are people starting brands. So it was just dumb expensive. So you only want to make a few shirts, charging like three to four hundred dollars. And to a kid it was like, hold up, let me go buy some clothes, video games, go with a girl, buy some music, or pay for these shirts. I did it once and people were like, yo, that shit’s tight. And I remember I ended up using the money to do some other shit, and it never really caught on until later. 
PM:
That’s important though. So what happened from there. So you made some shit, but what brought it to the level where you’re at now? Obviously that’s a whole fucking long process.

KS: I would say luck. And what I mean by luck is, everyone has luck. You’re gonna get lucky multiple times in your life. But the ones who aren’t prepared… I’m not even necessarily the most prepared, either, but I feel like when preparation meets luck is when you succeed. We all get those moments where you’re like, damn, that was sick, I could’ve capitalized on that! But you just weren’t ready, you know what I mean? I was just in the right place at the right time, you know, and I had something. And it just bubbled from there. I’m not even gonna say it, but I do think… I don’t want to pretend like I had it all figured out. Nothing like that. I just never quit. That’s it. I do think anyone could do any of this shit.
PM:
Same with music. It’s all about just doing it.
AL:
I feel like, now, more kids see making clothing as a viable way to live off of their creative expression. It’s way more accessible now. You have hundreds of websites that will print your tees, and make stickers. Alibaba… Get keychains and backpacks and sweatpants. Anything.
KS:
You can make the shit hella easy. You can put it on a website hella easy. And you can make an instagram to market your shit hella easy. It’s like the new crack! Every kid has a block now, and you just set up shop.
AL:
I think it helps to have the perspective of experiencing a time before that, so you don’t take the shit for granted, you know what I mean? 
PM:
That’s definitely true.
AL:
You still need that motivation behind it to push it, take it to that next level.
PM:
You gotta figure this shit out. 
KS:
And that’s what I would say to a lot of these kids. Take your time. Be patient. I know that we see everyone blowing up, in what looks like seconds. You don’t know. And there’s no rush. That nigga Karl Lagerfeld was like 70, 80? Nigga was old as shit, bro. So I’m just saying, there’s mad time. I feel like finding your voice is more important. Do your research. There’s way more than what’s on the internet. Get off the fucking internet. Go outside. Go to the library. Get out there, man. You archive this shit, you put it on the internet. That shit is way sicker. Or don’t.
PM:
I fuck with that you said that, because that’s what everyone always says. Everything’s on the internet, you have the internet, that’s everything. But it’s like, bro, don’t forget that that’s not everything. There’s so much more inspiration and content, too, that’s not even there b.
KS:
I know everybody interacts through a screen today, but I got into this whole shit by just human interaction. I feel like that was the best part. You go to a record shop in Florida and talk to the dude, interact with some people. Someone has to put you up on something. Show you this. Or you go to a bookstore. You got to talk and ask someone. Not even to be weird, but it’s like one of those fucking games where someone puts you on a quest. They give you a little… here, take this, go this way, make a right. You’re like, oh, sick! I feel like that was the sick part. Everyone just wants to be in their own little bubble now.
AL:
I feel like media consumption has gotten more individualized over time. I feel like music, you listen to it on headphones on your iPhone, as opposed to putting a record on. Obviously there were people who listened to records with headphones back then, but it doesn’t make as much sense. A lot of times you listened to it with a homie. 


 

KS: Someone said that the other day, they were like, yo let’s go to my house and just listen to tunes. I was like, damn. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say that in a minute! 
PM:
And that’s like back in the day, OD. You just sit there and listen to music and smoke loud and shit.
AL:
That’s the nice thing about records. Listening to a record. You can’t just put it on and expect the youtube autoplay to put something else on after that’s in the same vein. You gotta wait for the record to end and flip it over. You actually have to give it attention. It’s not just this passive sound playing in the background. I always have music playing in the background, so when I listen to vinyl it feels really good because I’m participating more in the experience. I’m more aware, and paying actual attention to it. And you are holding the record, looking at the art. It’s this visual audio connection.
PM:
That’s why it’s good what you guys do [at The Good Company]. It’s very community based. It’s not just something that’s on a website, and it’s like, this is some cool shit. There’s a reason why it’s cool. It has authenticity because of the community that supports it, and the people that get involved with it, and that connects with every type of artist or musician. They’ll be album listenings, a show at the shop. All that shit is important to keep that connection, too. 
KS:
That’s the best part. That’s the whole reason…
PM:
Like what you were saying, the way to connect with people. 
AL:
You have a physical store that really seems like it’s an actual spot… I feel like sometimes you see streetwear stores open up for a little bit, people might come in, but it doesn’t feel like it goes past just being a physical place where you can buy the clothing in person. You have shows and shit at the shop, art shows, different events. 
PM:
It’s way more authentic. It’s real, it’s tangible. Like what you [Arvid] said, I feel you. When you see a shop and it doesn’t have any real… foundation.
KS: Appreciate that. We did that. Quinn [Arneson, co-owner of The Good Company], shout out to Quinn.
PM:
Shout out Quinn. 
KS:
We’re happy that it was received in that way. It was definitely a response to everybody thinking that they’re too cool. We don’t even think that we’re cool, we think you guys are sick, you know? We’re happy… we know a lot of sick people, and we just wanted to provide something where that kind of stuff could get the limelight it deserves, because a lot of wack shit was getting attention. We were like, yo, what the fuck. There’s some cool stuff going on over here!
PM:
Totally, and it’s sick because it gives it an identity, That’s what I always feel with Good Co. It’s something you feel you could rep and shit, too. It’s like, oh this is a thing. I still have that kind of young mentality of, oh I want to get behind something. 
KS:
I do, too.




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