Raps, facts, and acts, the duo Killin H8, comprised of individuals Hila tha Killa and Sir Kn8 aims to educate the population about environmental issues through their performances. Zealous about sparking discourse around environmentalism, their show Eco Trippin is an extravaganza of which Bill Nye would be proud. Although Hila and Kn8 rap throughout the entire performance, the show also includes dancing, aerialists, a miniature talk show, an over-sized toilet, and a plethora of wacky costumes (including a human sized globe). Their lyrics are packed with both educational information and catchy choruses; one of the most memorable being a song entitled “Bring Your Own Cup”. I had the opportunity to sit down interview the duo after their sold-out performance at Anya Sapozhnikova and Kae Burke’s
House of Yes.
“I first entered a forest when I was fourteen” said Hila, when asked about how she became
interested in the organic world around her. Kn8 on the other hand had a forest in his
backyard. Although the two could not have grown up in more opposite environments, Kn8
in the Pacific Northwest and Hila in Manhattan, they both became passionate about the planet through experiencing nature. Having grown up so close to plantlife, Kn8 had
appreciated the environment since he was young. For Hila, her first forest experience at a
summer camp laid the foundation of interest and psychedelic drugs deepened her
understanding. As many of the intricate pieces, like the plant headdresses featured above and created by one of the costume designers Joy Fully, have both natural and trippy components. The awareness that resulted from the psychedelics most likely has an impact on the name of their show as well.
Kn8 describes the desire to create the show as
“the culmination so far of ecological considerations that began two years ago.”
Back then, both were approaching the topics of environmentalism from different angles. Hila was spurred on by the presidential election saying
“I felt really sad and powerless and so I felt I should start making changes in my own
life that would reflect better on what I cared about in the world.”
For her that meant making physical changes to her lifestyle. She began bringing her own cup everywhere and requesting that it be filled instead of the typical disposable containers. She also learned a lot from her job as a barista. There she learned to compost and how to reduce waste, she even got a grant to further the environmental practices of her company. Educating herself on permaculture has also been hugely influential in both her life and her lyrics. Many of the songs featured in Eco Trippin discuss permaculture practices and ideology.
While Hila was putting her beliefs into practice, Kn8 was finishing his dissertation on Plato and Alfred North Whitehead. The themes of
“Viewing the universe, even material things like rocks and nonliving things, as being animate like a living universe model”
really stuck with him. He says that this knowledge
“Started to feel like it was related to these ecological behaviors we would participate in and then it started to snowball into the larger conceptual architecture we were making”.
These thoughts are some of the basis for his portion of the creation of Eco Trippin.
Although the environmental topics are integral to the shows message, the performance is
the conduit through which the viewers can absorb the information. Kn8 began rapping in
high school, but began to do it more seriously in college. He loves the art form and calls hip
hop “the return of the muse”. Hila used to preform existing raps for her friends when she
was young but got more serious when she was in film school and had to make music videos.
They both had their own individual performances and actually met one another as separate acts for the same show. Some of their favorite artists are their contemporaries in new wave hip hop like Sammus and Baxter Wordsworth, however, their inspiration comes from rappers like Queen Latifah, MF Doom, Public Enemy and Dead Prez. Killin H8 performs Eco Trippin and other environmentally based shows all throughout New York City. Their latest show is in honor of Earth Day at the venue in which they first
presented, Caveat. Although the creators of the show, Killin H8 is very involved with everyone else who made the show possible including their performers: Pain Au Chocolat (comprised of members Pixel Witch, Juan-Pablo Alba Dennis, and Thomas Ciccone), Seth Timothy Larson, and Abigail Entisminger, Doctor Brick, Melissa Aguerre, Lulu Rouge, Juanita Cardenas, and Ellis Dodi. Their incredible costume designers include Joy Fully, Katie Drackert, and Ryan Patrick Martin.
Photos and Music Review: By Grace Klaus