Core Project

The evidence is all around us. Just check any stop sign, drive-thru, billboard, or telephone pole and you will be reminded of a time when Core Project was playing over 12 St. Louis gigs per month. The once-ubiquitous septet plays a blend of hip-hop, funk, acid-jazz, and rock, but now only quarterly in the Lou. Vocalists Wik and Kamma, keyboardist Fingaz, DJ Heist Bone, guitarist C-rock, bassist T-Mills, and drummer Ton’ Def have opened for an impressive list of national acts, Black Eyed Peas, Jurassic 5, the Urge, Crystal Method, Ja-Rule, and the St. Lunatics among them. Take Five caught up with Core Project at their rehearsal space as they geared up to open a Nappy Roots show in Springfield, Missouri.
Where you been?
Wik: All over the Midwest.
Ton’: Everywhere from Omaha, to Ohio, to Chicago, as far south as Memphis.
Fingaz: Four hundred miles in every direction.
If you had your choice, at this point would you be opening in arenas or headlining in clubs?
Wik: Right now arenas, just because we haven’t done it that much.
Ton’: It’s flash promotion. You go play in front of this crowd of 8,000 people.
When you open, all those people see your merch next to a million-dollar act’s. That’s really good for us. But I would rather headline in a club until we can headline in a stadium.
Thus far, what is your favorite Core Project moment?
Wik: The Nelly tour and recording the album. Being in the studio as long as we were was a really good experience.
C-rock: I would say the Nelly tour, too. Escaping the real world for a couple of weeks and playing those shows was surreal. It was culture shock for us to see how you’re treated on those sorts of gigs.
T-mills: The first time we played the Pageant as headliners, it wasn’t a showcase, it wasn’t opening: it was our show. We were about to go on and we heard people chanting, “Core Project.” I just thought people were fucking with us…that, and Champaign.
Ton’: I don’t want to talk about Champaign, my goddamn cymbals got stolen!
T-mills: But, overall, that show turned over a whole new level of energy.
C-rock: It was a fraternity party that went really well—
Kamma: —At first, people were standing there.
T-mills: By the end of the night, it was a block of jumping, screaming kids.
Kamma: At first they didn’t know who we were. Just being able to show up somewhere and just change minds, that’s it for me.
Heist: I would say all the traveling we’ve done…and that show with J5 and Black Eyed Peas. That was the shit.
In recent live shows, your sound has had a harder edge. Is there a conscious effort behind the change?
Ton’: It’s not necessarily intentional, like, “Hey, we’re gonna write a hard song now.” We just write what we feel.
Wik: I think we have been more aggressive lately. The feeling has gotten more intense and that has translated into a harder sound.
Fingaz: I think it is the quest to find our sound, to find our niche, what makes us different from the band down the street.
Wik: And it’s not always hip-hop.
Fingaz: Sometimes we get the best response playing with bands you might think we would be totally misbilled with.
Wik: At Schwagstock, people were break-dancing on the dirt.
Kamma: We went on at two in the morning and the crowd was just ready to go.
Where do you guys see yourselves in two years?
T-mills: My goal is to be looked at in St. Louis and elsewhere as a national act. Not regional, not local.
Ton’: I like the idea of what Atmosphere has done. Completely underground, but he sells out in every city. I don’t think any of us are shooting for mainstream, but we’d like to be hitting in every city and able to support ourselves. I just don’t want to have to wait goddamn tables anymore.
Fingaz: And I think starting to have all these partnerships with other bands we respect.
Ton’: Like Art Thugz.
Fingaz: Having more friends that are in the business.
Kamma: We’ve only been together for 15 months as the 7 of us. Check our resume and what we’ve done and what we’re gonna do…
Check out Core Project’s resume for yourself at

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