Los Angeles-based artist-producer, Voli Contra, and legendary mixing engineer-producer, Young Guru, form the production group, Kudeta. Debuting with Voli’s single of the same name, the two hit the ground running with an aggressive, rebellious sound that fuses old school hip-hop, prog-rock, and a little something extra that the pairing refers to as a signature “Kudeta” sound. Ranging from this heavy-hitter to the more funky vibes heard in Voli’s other releases “Uptown” and “Candy,” the duo’s productions create the sonic canvas for subject matter filled with relatable experiences and emotions.
I go by the name of Voli Contra. I’m an artist and producer who has been making hip-hop and alternative music for what seems like forever. Most recently, I’ve had the honor to create some incredible new music with my brother and co-producer, the legendary Young Guru. We started releasing this music bit by bit, beginning with the song “The Kudeta.”
To understand me is to know that I have a problem with authority. Not in any specific organized revolt type of way. It’s more a, “Don’t tell me how to live” approach. “You do you; I do me.” But as much as I like to do my own thing, I live by the notion that empathy is king. I take into consideration the experiences of every man, woman, and child, no matter their background. As a songwriter and artist, every song I craft is an attempt to express and dig into the stories and emotions all of us go through. Kudeta became the vessel to share these with the world, and it all started with a song.
Years ago, I moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast to try writing and producing for other artists. Although there was a learning curve, I grew musically. Young Guru and I had been working together on our material over the years, and the knowledge I gained on the West Coast allowed me to improve our material. “The Kudeta” was one of the backburner songs I immediately revisited. Initially just a scratch, the song turned into a prog-rock, hip-hop anthem representing one central idea: Rebellion.
Being an artist is outside the norm in a society offering nine-to-fives as the standard. Even within the music industry, my approach has been against the grain. When people told me not to be an artist, I chose to be an artist. When they told me to pitch songs for pop artists, I decided to produce on the alternative side. When they told me to keep the lyrics general, I spoke explicitly on the problematic topics people avoid discussing, from depression to dealing with generational differences in a family unit.
My co-producer Guru is not only a music legend; he’s a forward thinker, an innovator. He and I are in-sync on making music, which speaks to real issues in the most musical way possible. We made “The Kudeta” without any inhibitions or expectations, and this approach has made us successful collaborators.
We knew we needed a proper visual for the record, one that was an extension of our open-minded views. We tapped the incredible Jacob Rosenberg to direct. The video shoot ended up being more aggressive than the song itself—filming put me in the hospital, literally. I had to check-in to an urgent care center due to intense, nauseating stomach pain. Initially, I wanted to make sure there was no internal bleeding. As it turned out, severe stress from the shoot was the root of my pain. It was worth it.
I worked with Jacob [Rosenberg] in the past, and I highly respect not only his expertise but also his overall aesthetic and vision. I knew once we had completed “The Kudeta,” we wanted him on board. When we played him the track, he was all in with an intense concept, putting Voli through actual physical and emotional stress. Being the consummate professional that Jacob is, he made sure there was a medical staff at the shoot just in case.
Voli’s commitment to bringing Jacob’s genius vision to life landed him in the hospital, and that intensity speaks to the spirit of “The Kudeta” as a whole. The video is an introduction to us as a group, but also to the ideals we represent—frustration with the status quo, anger towards the establishment, and the perseverance we require to overcome it all.
Kudeta (coup d’etat) is the overthrowing of something (usually the government) by a small group of people versus a large one. We represent a minority attempting to overthrow the blind acceptance of prevailing ideas. Let’s question those ideas, why they exist, and from there, let’s continue the conversation on how to improve as a society.
The goal is to share more of this music and to create movement and conversation. Voli’s ability to tap into these experiences, both musically and lyrically, is incredible. I was first introduced to his music years ago through a song of his called “Midnight,” produced by J. Cole. The cleverness of the concept and wordplay had me hooked. I reached out, and we’ve been working together ever since.
What draws me to Voli as an artist is his ability to flesh out ideas and add so much color to them. I call him the “Finisher.” I send him a track, and he sends back a fully arranged song with a powerful message. He’s so talented; I’ve brought him on as my production partner for the film work I’ve done with Time Warner as well as the music for The Marketing Arm, where I serve as music strategist. It was important to include Voli in these projects because I wanted to show him there are so many avenues to gain exposure as an artist, and that we could utilize them both strategically and financially.
The next step from here is to release the bank of music we have on deck that addresses the realities and adversities we’re all dealing with. The music is something you’ve never heard before, unapologetically honest and anything but the status quo. That’s how we like it.