August 18, 2016
The hip-hop and rap world may be concentrated in a few large cities, but Fort Wayne can claim its own hip hop scene, with a number of acts that don’t necessarily attract a lot of attention in mainstream media. Epidimic is one such act. A one-man rap crew consisting of local emcee Crac Kajak, Epidimic originally formed as a duo in 1999 with fellow MC Droopy Jeezus (who is still a member in spirit, according to Crac Kajak). The pair honed their technique and their music for years before releasing any material or playing more than the occasional show.
Once their initial albums, Epidimic (2004) and Wicked Realms (2007), dropped, however, Epidimic started making a name for themselves through the albums, playing shows, and touring out of state.
While the pair met with some initial success, Crac Kajak eventually ceased performing as Epidimic around the time of the birth of his daughter in 2006. He moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, and even though he continued to write and record in his spare time, he took a break from performing until 2010. Once he returned to the stage, however, he met again with success, landing opening spots for the likes of Hed(PE), Mushroomhead and Twiztid, among others. He started once again playing the occasional show here in Fort Wayne, and eventually moved back in 2013.
Since then he’s been busy, performing shows and entering into collaborations like Cracodyne, a joint project with fellow rapper Anodyne. A prolific writer and recorder, Crac Kajak plans to release a new, as-yet-untitled album this year. He’s currently trying to whittle down the plethora of material he’s generated (roughly 120 songs and over seven hours of music) into a single album.
Epidimic’s style can range widely, but what pulls it all together is that it’s all a product of Crac Kajak’s sometimes manic mind, meaning there’s still a consistent quality to it. When describing his music, he says, “It’s got a dark root to it. It’s knowledge-based ... it’s always based in real-world knowledge, kind of like knowledge of society around you, how things are... a lot of government, religion, science, that type of thing. I don’t like to label myself or pigeonhole myself because I could do anything/ It can be nonfiction, fiction. It can be a story; it doesn’t matter. But overall, even if I’m goofing off or just being cool, I like to say real music, real thoughts.”
As far as the new album goes, Crac Kajak says it will have a wide range of content, which continues with one of Epidimic’s defining characteristics, a sense of unpredictability.
“This album that’s gonna come out, it’s a lot of dissonant type stuff. It’s some stuff I like to label ‘coffee shop tapes,’ which is like you’re going to a coffee shop and it’d fit in and everybody would love it. It’s real mellow real calm, and [includes] some things you might laugh [at] a little bit,” he says. “It’s all real rhythmic, so it doesn’t seem out of place, but it’s real different from itself. It stays in the rap family and it fits with all the work that I do because it’s very different. I don’t like to bore myself. I just do what the music says most of the time, so if I can get a crazy beat, I can get a crazy song and just go from there.”
To be able to produce that amount of material, Crac Kajak maintains a disciplined work ethic, writing and recording every day.
“Generally I’ll just write down a line so I don’t forget it, and I’ll just keep going, half-hour or an hour. It can be 10 minutes or three hours,” he says. “When I just started out we used to sit down and have writing sessions, and I just don’t really operate that way anymore. But I’m always writing and recording. I love to be in a studio. I love all that.”
The Epidimic experience can differ significantly whether you’re listening to a recording or seeing a live show. On record, the songs can tackle a range of topics and styles, amounting to something like a free-range experimentalism not unlike the Anticon crew. Live, however, Crac Kajak performs to simpler beats, with fewer bells and whistles, and he’ll often change things up or ad lib in order to keep things interesting.
While Crac Kajak’s discipline with a pen and paper and in the studio is apparent, and while he’s also a veteran performer, just as important at shows is the opportunity to meet and interact with new people.
“I love live shows. It’s my favorite. I do it all the time. It’s almost like politicking. I like to go out [and] kiss babies and shake hands and meet people, interact. Let ’em have a good night; let them know what you’re about,” he says.
“I’m always on some type of show high. It’s a natural high, it’s an energy, but number one, just meeting people, man, just being out, doing it live, let people hear it live and meeting people, that’s my favorite. I would be happy just doing that.”
Crac Kajak can hold his own as Epidimic or with collaborations like Cracodyne. But just as important to him is that he’s part of that larger music scene that often flies under the radar as far as mainstream attention goes.
“There’s a huge scene out here and. people need to be interested in what’s going on,” he says. “Once there’s new faces, I’ll do the rest. I’ll keep ’em there.”