Meet-N-Greet: Da Kennel

Coming from Akron, Ohio, rap group Da Kennel is determined to put their “big little” city on the hip-hop map. Preparing for the release of their debut disc Certified Hood, the crew that includes members Unknown, Mage, Citi, Skillz, Kuntry, Rawkus and Dat Boi Pizz are bringing the heat on with their scorching lyrics and tracks.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time and for us it’s all about the music,” says Skillz. “Our songs have developed so much in the last few years, from doing shows to making mix-tapes, and that growth can be heard on our record. We called our album Certified Hood because everything we bring to the hood is official.”

Indeed, Certified Hood brings the heat in way no crew has done in years; and while some might compare them to the Wu or Cash Money, this group is bringing their own flavor.

On the group’s first single “PoP 1,” which rocks a hypnotic hook and head-nodding beat, Da Kennel proves that they have what it takes to compete on the radio or the dance floor.

Although the guys have known each for years, Da Kennel didn’t become official until four years ago. “We basically started out as a bunch of friends just freestyling,” says Unknown. “But, soon we started buying equipment, making our own beats and the songs just started coming.”

Living in a house together, along with their pet pitbulls, could get grimy at times, but all their feelings and emotions were translated into hard-hitting songs. “We were rapping on a daily basis,” says Citi. “We had our little beat machine and played them on a little stereo until our styles were perfected.”

Although Da Kennel has an obvious wild side, they also have no problem showing their more relaxed vibe. On the slow bounce of “Return The Favor,” featuring the smooth soul vocals of J. Mcnasty, they sound cooler than a chocolate bubble bath.

While the laidback track might be a something different for Da Kennel, it goes far in showing the lyrical diversity of the crew. “Most rap groups in Akron rap on one subject and that’s street life,” explains Unknown. “But Da Kennel, we can talk about anything. ‘Return The Favor’ is just an example of where we can take things.”

While Certified Hood proves that Da Kennel can make tight jams in the studio, these cats can also bring it to the stage. Having opened shows for Fat Joe, Eminem and Young Dro, Skillz says, “A Kennel show is a whole other world with a whole other energy. Unlike some cats who just be standing in one spot, we take control of the stage and bring a very strong presence.”

Other notables on Certified Hood includes “Go Ham,” “My Life” and “Betta Believe It.,” which features rapper TECH N9NE. “Da Kennel is always striving to do more,” says Mage. “Sometimes people don’t want to believe that we’re making moves, but Da Kennel are always ready to prove themselves as the hottest.” Indeed, Da proof is in Da music.

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