“Say hello to the best rapper under 18,” he spits above MGMT’s slowed down and chopped up single “Kids.” He stops and the electric pulse streams out, screwed and mixed with a steady drum beat and a sporadic tick that sounds like a skip. He says it again, this time with a little addition. “Say hello to the best rapper under 18, b***h,” and the single “KRD” on his mixtape album Kardiology fades.
Seventeen year old Moe Ceesay, known to the rap game and the prep school circuit as Kardi, is not your average rapper. While a kid from the Bronx who started rapping at seven or eight because it was “all around him,” as he says, Kardi is also a four year senior at Middlesex Academy. In his time at the boarding school, located in, as he calls it, “East Bumf**k Massachusetts,” Kardi has experienced the late nights and “too much studying” known to prep school kids throughout New England, inspiring that anti-homework and anti-establishment hit playing during study hours across campus “I Hate Prep School.”
A parody of Asher Roth’s I Love College, Kardi wrote I Hate Prep School “in pretty much five minutes in the studio” as he was recording Kardiology. “Which is pretty sad and shows you how much I hate it,” he said. “I mean, that I can write a song about it in five minutes is pretty telling.”
Inspired by “winters” which are “miserable,” the song has found its niche in the overworked and has created a following. “When I did this song at the Wale Concert at Milton, the night before, it had like 150 views on my Facebook music page. The next day, it had jumped to 600. I got a message from my friend who told me that this kid at Worcester had emailed it to their entire school and had gotten in trouble; I kept getting messages from kids from all around, kids from Brimmer and May, the Gunnery, Nobles, Exeter, Andover about the song, and I just kept hearing stories of it being passed around. When I’d go to other schools it’d be playing. It was surreal.”
While playing across prep schools, the song is also pretty well played at his own, and its popularity has given him quite the reputation there. “The first day of my senior year,” he recounts, “I was in the dining hall when a teacher came up to me and went, ‘I hate teeaccchers.’ That pretty much sums up how the faculty feels about it. I’ve gotten some dirty looks from teachers in class, but for the most part they’re pretty chill, even though they’re not too fond of me right now.” He stops, then says, “But, at the same time, I’m a senior so I don’t really care.”
He’s cocky, and to him, I Hate Prep School is just the beginning. A student of the self-aggrandizing “swagger rap” sub-genre, which he prefers to call instead “braggadicio rap,” Kardi says straight out, “I’m cocky because I really feel that I am the best lyricist in my age group, and to be honest, I think I’m better than some adult rappers. I’m the best rapper born in the nineties.” His swag overflows in his Lark on My Go-Kart Freestyle— “So my name is Kardi and I’m pretty much the s***” it begins humbly and continues along that train, and with his fast and hypnotic flow on the Mr. Me Too Remix he goes in on others—“Bust it, check it, watch how I wreck it, always up early you whack n***** is breakfast.” Coupled with the beats, the songs are nice.
But Kardi’s not all talk and rhymes though, the numbers prove that he’s getting up there. Kardiology has 2,750 downloads. He has about 200 loyal followers on Twitter, over 800 fans on Facebook, and the I Hate Prep School video has over 7,000 views on YouTube. This summer, he has in the works an Asia tour, where he’ll be performing in China and Hong Kong, and this spring, he’ll be making the rounds with a Prep School Tour, where yes, he, along with Chiddy Bang and XV, will be here at Exeter on May 29th for the ERA Concert organized by Exeter Rap Association. He’s working on his next project, a concept album, The Valedictorian, which will contain 12 tracks replicating a school year, with 4 for the fall, winter, and spring. That’s set to come out in June.
So where does Kardi want to take this? How far does he want to go? He says, “You don’t start rapping and not want to make it big, and I really haven’t made it big—yet. As long as I can still do the things I plan on doing–like still go to school—I’ll keep it up. After a point, if I don’t make it, I don’t make it, but I’m going to go as far as I possibly can.”
DOWNLOAD: Kardi – Kardiology