Last summer, LA artist Kumah whose deportation out of the US following a stint of being locked down in a prison in new Mexico under federal conditions (one hour of daylight a day, lights on at 4am) - caused worldwide interweb uproar and support with the Free Kutmah campaign. Producer, DJ and painter Kutmah aka 34-year-old Justin McNulty was an integral player in setting up the foundations for the forward thinking, tripped-out electronic hip hop scene in LA that has now seen the likes of Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer and Nosaj Thing and events like Low End Theory gain global repute as leaders of cutting edge electronic music.
Kutmah is thankfully now free and living in London (he can’t return to the US for at least a decade) and seeking solace in art, whilst incarcerated created 39 drawings inspired by frustration and looking towards an optimistic future. All the pieces were drawn with a prison standard pencil and an ID card and take the form of weird, Aztec cosmic creatures and monoliths.
Kutmah will be unveiling the full collection of these powerful prison drawings under the title of “Two Soups & A Honeybun” on Wednesday 19th January at the new launched 18 Hewett Street gallery space in east London. The collection will then go on tour hitting Los Angeles, Tokyo and Egypt and there’s an exclusive Kutmah mixtape featuring unreleased beats from DOOM, Madlib and Flying Lotus being released - “The New Error Vol 1” (on Hit+Run) - to celebrate.
Kutmah have given us the exclusive premiere of the full mix, available to stream here until it drops physically and digitally on Wednesday 19th January. Get down to the afterparty too - that features Kutmah and friends including Dorian Concept, Teebs, Jams F. Kennedy and Patchwork Pirates.
Dazed Digital: Did you know how long you were going to be inside for?
Kutmah: Nobody knew when they would be released. The guys from Mexico came in and out everyday. But the guys like me that were being flown had no idea. My deportation officer seemed to fuck with me saying that it could be any day now. He said this every week. I wish they would have said that I was going to be in there for two weeks and I would have been cool. Anytime the phone rang or someone came to the door everyone would look up with the hope that they were being released. This happening everyday didn't help the already grim mood in my cell block of 50 men. If I was fighting my case I would still be in there.
DD: You were living with Jeff Jank at the Stones Throw house when they detained you, when did you hook up with Jeff?
Kutmah: Four-years-ago my house burned down and for the next year I was sleeping on couches. One day Willy Gaslamp had a house party and Jeff and I talked art, film and punk music for hours. The next day he calls me up asking if I wanted to move into the Stones Throw house where Madlib used to live and record. Of course I took it. I used to chill in the Bomb Shelter, think about all the history in the room and then try and make some music myself feeding of that energy. It was quite inspiring. Madvillian, Quasimoto and Jaylib are some of my favourite records ever!
One day I was awoken at 9am to the sound of a voice that sounded really familiar. I go out to the living room and MF Doom is listening to beats... loud! Motherfucking DOOM, man! That was crazy, I chilled with him for weeks, he drops knowledge all day.
DD: Can you explain the style of the drawings?
Kutmah: My usual style is very erotic, I just like drawing naked women. But that was the last thing on my mind in there, so I just messed around with the prison i.d and made these shapes. It was really hard to keep the symmetry without a ruler, I had to measure by sight. I think I did pretty damn well. Some of the pieces have some mistakes but that doesn’t bother me that much.
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1. DOOM poem*
2. The Aggrovators / Brainticket / Seiji / Lazer Sword / Letherette* / Mr. Oizo
3. Lord Finesse / Jon Wayniac* / Dibiase* / Goodie Mob / Flying Lotus* / Washed Out / Jon Wayniac* / Letherette*
4. Crimekillz* / James Pants / Tash (Kutmah edit)* / Mainframe* / Dibiase / Roy Ayres
5. G.O.T. / The Magical Mystery Chambers / Madlib* / Kutmah Featuring Jon Wayne* / Madlib*
6. A Band Called Smith / Danny Drive Thru* / Mobb Deep / Gang Starr / Om Unit* / Mr. Oizo (Kutmah edit)* / Actress (Kutmah edit)* / Clause Four
7. Andre 3000 / Lazer Sword / J-Dilla / Ruckazoid*
8. Crimekillz* / Esgar* / Hovatron (Esgar edit)* / Portishead / Bochum Welt
9. The Gaslamp Killer* / Aphex Twin / Tadd Mullinix / The Caretaker
Kutmah plays with Dorian Concept, Teebs, Jams F. Kennedy and Patchwork Pirates on Wednesday the 19th January 2011