In May 2016, when the hip-hop world was still waiting with baited breathe for Top Dawg Entertainment to reveal the identity of their second "John Doe," DJBooth published an editorial, written by former managing editor Nathan Slavik, suggesting the most likely candidate: Los Angeles rapper 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." —Nathan Slavik, "I’m Calling It, KR is TDE’s Other “John Doe” New Artist"
Seven months later, TDE announced that John Doe No. 2 was actually singer-songwriter and producer SiR, whose sultry vocals first popped up on Jay Rock's 90059 album cut "The Ways," and who has since released two EPs (Her, Her Too) and a full-length debut (November).
Still, despite the announcement, there were unanswered questions surrounding KR and his relationship with the label. For instance, why would multiple sources, none of whom were willing to go on record, all provide the same artist's name?
When we spoke with KR this past fall during his press run for The Intermission, the elusive MC was mum on all the TDE signing rumors. Since then, however, he must have had a change of heart.
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On the newly-released "It's On," KR not only claims that TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith tried to sign him but also intimates that several major record labels have tried to hide his work as a ghostwriter.
"Thinkin' back to when labels tried to hide me, I'm just faded never mind me / Then Top Dawg he tried to sign me just to show you boys what I'm about"
When contacted by phone, KR confirmed to DJBooth what he rapped on the Dinuzzo-produced "It's On": TDE is and has been interested in signing him. KR refused to discuss the parameters of a potential deal, as well as his work as a ghostwriter for the industry at large, but he says his moment in the spotlight is coming and he's excited about what's ahead.
"I'm tired of playing the background," he says. "I want people to get to know KR."
As for who KR is, the answer is the question.