Korey Krueger, head baseball coach at Lawrence University, will be releasing his hip-hop album entitled “The Natural” this Saturday at the Underground Coffeehouse in the Union. I sat down with Coach Krueger, a.k.a. Rex, for a special Artist/Athlete Spotlight.Where are you from and what do you do here at Lawrence?
I am from Appleton, WI. Born and raised right here. If you are wondering why I fell in love with hip-hop, check out the track entitled “To Brooklyn” on the album! Currently, I am the head baseball coach and equipment manager in the athletic department.
When and how did you start writing and performing?
When I was 12 I went to a rock concert, a group called Autograph. They played five songs! I paid $10 for the ticket! On top of that, they were all in makeup with bad hair and ridiculous clothes.
I went home and listened to a mix tape my sister brought home from college. It was “Jam On It” by the group Nucleus. I never looked back. I started doing my own stuff that night . and unfortunately for everyone in my neighborhood and at school, I did it often.
Are there any artists or performers who you consider to be particularly inspirational?
The emcees Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Busta Rhymes, and the groups EPMD, Tribe, De La Soul, and Gangstarr from the past. Today, I love Mos Def, Talib, and still Busta Rhymes – he never gets old. Also Tim Spurgin and Mark Dintenfass.
What is your most memorable performance?
At the 1997 Celebrate!, I performed with Dane Richeson and the Sambistas. I will never forget the look on former president Rik Warch’s face when he saw his admissions officer on the mike!
How does coaching at Lawrence, or baseball as a sport itself, compliment your music?
Well, with this album . we called it “The Natural;” we were trying to capture the idea that the character from Bernard Malamud’s book was away from the game for one reason or another. He came back because he was meant to play ball.
I am not saying I was meant to rap, but I did take a while away from the game of hip-hop. I last recorded in 1998. This album took us two years to finish, mostly because of work and family, but I have loved every minute of working on the project. I had a lot of help from the Lawrence community and that meant a lot to me.
What should people expect to hear on your upcoming album?
It is a diverse album. There is a little bit of everything on it. I don’t like to say I’m old school, but it does have a lot of flavor from the way hip-hop used to be. The focus is on the lyrics and not on cars, women or bling. My 1996 Saab does seem like it has spinning rims though . or maybe it is just ’cause the breaks don’t work and it seems like they are still going.
What makes up the primary subject matter of your lyrics? Does baseball permeate that level of your music too?
There is a lot of baseball, but there is a lot of life too. I try to be funny and witty. What else can a kid from Appleton write about!? I have yet to participate in a drive by. But there are fundamental things I like to talk about, like the town of Menasha, for example.
What do you hope to accomplish through your music? Future plans?
I feel like I accomplished a lot finishing this album. I have wanted to do this since I was a young b-boy break dancing at Erb Park. I hope no one has film of those days. Not sure if there really is a big next. I do know I would like to perform as time permits and we’ll see where that goes. My next major goal is to win the MWC with the baseball team this year!
If you could have a freestyle battle with anyone, who would it be?
Probably senior Ken Alvord. If you are gonna do hip-hop at LU, you gotta be able to compete with him. If not, you might as well quit. I would also like to freestyle against Rakim, but I would get caught listening to him and lose badly. He is one of the best in the world.