Skip to main content

I'm Calling It, KR is TDE's Other "John Doe" New Artist

Someday we're going to find out that KR is the latest TDE signee and I'll be there to say I told you so.

I hate not knowing. Hate it. As soon as I see that someone's hiding a truth from me, I get obsessed. It's an addiction and I don't know how to stop. 

For months now we've known that TDE, currently hip-hop's best label, had signed two new artists but they taunted us truth seekers, only referring to them as "John Doe," which of course set off waves of speculation online and inside the DJBooth offices. Could it be Kembe X? He seemed like a smart bet. Terrace Martin? Ash Riser? JaVonté? All solid guesses, but nothing more than guesses. I was hooked, but the days passed, then more days passed, then more and I found other truth-telling obsessions

And then yesterday we learned that one of those mystery artists is Lance Skiiiwalker and I felt the fire again. I was going to figure out who the last John Doe was or die get kind of tired trying. I dug into Google, Twitter and Instagram searching for clues, but I also hit up my various music contacts hoping that someone, somewhere, would know, and one name that came up a couple times was KR. 

While no one was willing to go on record, understandably not wanting to jeopardize any relationships, and even anonymously no one could say for certain, I heard a couple studio session stories involving KR and TDE. It certainly seemed plausible. There was the L.A. connection, and we know that TDE has been "courting him" since at least January of 2015. The music seemed to loosely align with the TDE mission as well, lighter and more up-tempo than usually associated with the house of Kendrick but you could hear it fitting in alongside the label's new generation of artists: Isaiah Rashad, SZA and now Lance Skiiwalker. 



5 New Albums You Need to Hear This Week

Press play on new releases from EST Gee, Chucky73, Tierra Whack, Masicka, and Mike Akox.


DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace & Joony: Best of the Week

DJ Neptune, Yungeen Ace, and Joony, among others, have the best new songs on Audiomack this week.


10 Rappers You Should Know Right Now

Luh Soldier, Snowsa, SGaWD, and K.Charles are four of the 10 new rappers you need to know right now on Audiomack.

KR was an enigma from the time he first tentatively stepped onto the scene in 2014, rarely granting interviews and keeping his social media channels cryptic. Certainly not the kind to broadcast high-profile relationships regardless of if they involved the usually tight-lipped TDE or not. Searching through his old tweets don't do us much good besides the occasional aspirational connection. 

But interestingly, about two months ago KR went through an almost complete revamp of his image around the release of his latest EP, And It Begins. His sound was now far more R&B-tinged, and he erased much of his old internet presence; his IG currently only has four photos, all posted within the last few months and all showcasing a more refined, cleanly branded image. It's the kind of move that on the surface looks merely like a young artist attempting to find his place in music, but to the more conspiracy theory minded (like yours truly) it suggests the hidden hand of TDE guiding him towards a career relaunch.

I have absolutely no firm proof beyond some whispers, rumors and the stray tweet linking KR to MixedByAli, really nothing more than a gut instinct. We reached out to both TDE and KR's management, but haven't heard back yet. Even if they did reply and denied it, I think I'd be too far gone to believe them. Still though, I've become too obsessed with figuring out the identity of the other John Doe to just walk away without going on record with a prediction, so I'm shooting my shot. Mark my words, KR is TDE's. 

I recognize this is the kind of consequence free "journalism" I hate. If it turns out I'm right I'll look like a genius, if I'm wrong I'll just hope everyone forgets I ever wrote this, or do some sort of one sentence "update" to this original post. So let's introduce some consequences. If it turns out KR isn't TDE's other new mystery signee, I'll make a donation to the Compton non-profit PeaceForKids and gladly endure all the deserved criticism that gets thrown my way. And if it turns out I'm right, I'll make the exact same donation to PeaceForKids, except I'll also do some "told you so" bragging on Twitter. Deal? It's a deal.

And it begins...

By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter. Image via Instagram.



TDE is Rap's Best Label, But SZA's the One I'm Listening To

TDE's most overlooked artist might just be the future of the label.


TDE’s “John Doe 2” Dropped an Album In 2016, But Who Is It?

Top Dawg isn't announcing "John Doe 2" until next year, but we've got a pretty good idea who it might be.


Are You Excited for Ab-Soul's New Album? We Debate

Is Ab-Soul about to take the TDE crown with his new album or is he a talented but over-rated emcee? Our writers go head to head.


Called It: Artists I Always Knew Were Going to Blow Up

I knew that Anderson .Paak was going to blow years ago - it feels so good to be right.


Opening Up Kendrick & TDE's Forgotten Video Vault

Want to see video of a very young Kendrick Lamar drunk in Vegas? We found TDE's buried video vault.


Ranking Our Top 5 TDE Albums of All-Time

'good kid, m.A.A.d city' or 'To Pimp a Butterfly'? 'Cilvia Demo' or 'Oxymoron'? We break down our favorite TDE releases ever, who you got?