What Can’t I Kill?
That’s both the question and the title of a hip-hop album made by a duo of the same name released on Tuesday, April 22.
The pair is made up of Western junior Christian Cavanaugh, rap name “Master Stian,” and his close friend, producer Steven Mollett, also known as “Stounson.” The two grew up in Yakima, where they met in 2007.
Cavanaugh and Mollett would sit in a local Burger King parking lot on weekends and freestyle rap over old Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. beats, Mollett said over a telephone interview. These meet-ups eventually led to them writing and putting together their own music, Mollet said. The pair began rapping together in 2011.
“I’m happy to share it, but at the same time I don’t want to be like, ‘Hey, listen to my music first before you get to know me.’”
Producer Steven Mollett
The two friends thought of the name while writing music together. Both members thought it sounded good, but they didn’t have the intention of it sounding violent, like it may, Cavanaugh said.
“It’s really supposed to be a statement of confidence and just saying ‘what can’t we do?’” said Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh said he doesn’t like having their music be the first thing people know about the two.
“In our music, I think you’ll find a lot of emotions we don’t typically convey, like a lot of anger,” Cavanaugh said. “When you’re creating music and you just feel some type of way about a beat, and you feel maybe pent up frustrations over certain things in your life, it shows through in the music.”
Mollett thinks of himself as a producer first and a rapper second. As a producer, Mollett takes samples of instrumentals from other records and manipulates them into something unrecognizable.
The music is a creative outlet, and Cavanaugh doesn’t want listeners to develop false ideas about him and Mollett, he said.
Mollett has made connections with rappers besides Cavanaugh by using Twitter. Mollett began speaking with producer and director Chris Black on the website after seeing a music video by famous rap artist Earl Sweatshirt. Mollett has recently began sharing his music with Black, who was one of the producers on the video.
Black, located in Los Angeles, bonded with Mollett over their love of music, Black said in a phone interview. Mollett sent What Can’t I Kill? to Black, who said it was the style he personally likes.
“This is really angry music and not in a negative way,” Black said. “I think when you look at what’s going on socially, politically—especially politically with some of the candidates we have,” Black said. “People are upset, and I know that it may not be a direct correlation between them, but there’s certainly an influence.”
Through Black, Mollett and Cavanaugh were introduced to a San Antonio rapper named Milli Mars. Black produced a music video for Mars called “The Alarm,” Mollett said.
Mollett shared his music with Mars over the internet.
“This is really angry music and not in a negative way.”
Director Chris Black
“He emailed me a beat, and once he emailed me a beat, he was my fucking boy,” Mars said in a telephone interview. “He’s not normal; he’s going to be somebody that definitely people know about in the future. It’s a pleasure to know the dude.”
Since they’ve been introduced, Mollett has worked with Mars on a few songs and is planning on producing a whole album with him, Mollett said.
For the time being, Mollett lives in Spokane, but he hopes to move to Bellingham in the fall.
The album was supposed to be Cavanaugh’s solo project, he said.
“Steven is one of my favorite rappers, so when he makes a beat and I’m rapping to it I can hear him on it,” Cavanaugh said. “I want him on it, and he was like, ‘This is your project, this is supposed to be you,’ but I just kept wanting him on every song.”
Cavanaugh didn’t want to take credit for something that was an equal effort, which is how it became a group project, Cavanaugh said about the album.
Mollett and Cavanaugh are soft spoken about their music and don’t like to shove it down people’s throats, Cavanaugh said.
“It’s very much a personal process of creating music, and so it feels very personal when we make it, too,” Mollett said. “I’m happy to share it, but at the same time I don’t want to be like, ‘Hey, listen to my music first before you get to know me.’”