Q&A With Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

By Michael Berick

fun ideas for kids

Grammy-nominated performer Secret Agent 23 Skidoo delivers his new CD July 15. PHOTO BY MIKE BELLEME

True to his name, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a man of mystery with fun ideas for kids. But while his true identity remains rather elusive, he is well-known in the family music scene. Since his 2009 debut “Easy,” Skidoo has enchanted audiences with his signature “kid-hop” music, which melds smartly crafted raps with funk-happy grooves.

His music is very much a family effort, with his wife Brooke (aka Bootysattva) and their daughter Saki (aka MC Fireworks) as his constant collaborators. His music has even grown along with his daughter, who is now 14. While some musicians focus on songs for the preschool set, Skidoo touches on topics that kids, teens and parents can relate to.

On July 15, Skidoo will release his latest CD, “Infinity Plus One,” the follow-up to his Grammy-nominated “The Perfect Quirk.” Partially inspired by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyen’s “Gold Album,” which was sent into space in 1977, “Infinity Plus One” is thick with rapid rhymes, thought-provoking ideas and a rich blending of many musical styles.

Skidoo, who now calls California home, talked to L.A. Parent about his new album, creating music and his inspirations.

Can you talk a little how the new album came into being?

“Infinity Plus One” is all about the infinite freedom and potential of curiosity and wonder. After being nominated for a Grammy and headlining India’s first live music family festival last year, I feel like I can expand my creativity fully by building on that with the album I’ve always wanted to make. This is me spreading my artistic wings.

What do you find are the most rewarding aspects about making family music?

My daughter growing up onstage next to me! Saki aka MC Fireworks is the origin, inspiration and best part of this trip! And now that she’s 14, I look into the faces in the crowd and can see every chapter reflected in their young smiles. Being around kids makes you one, for a while. And that’s the best.

Listening to your albums over the years, it feels like many of the subjects you address in songs parallel the stage of life your daughter is at. 

I don’t think I could ever stay static. I don’t want to do impressions of my earlier stuff. Since Saki has always been my inspiration for fun ideas for kids, I try to make the bubble expand so that she will be interested in my art, while also making something that a 5-year-old and their 35-year-old hardcore hip-hop fanatic dad will all dig. It becomes more of a layer cake of meaning and style, like a Pixar flick or a Shel Silverstein poem. Different things to different people.

Besides relating to science and the solar system, the CD’s title seems to refer to how different styles of music can fit together.  

Absolutely. Part of the “Infinity” of this album is the infinite combinations of sounds and styles. If done right and with respect, New Orleans brass can coexist with gypsy jazz, rap lyrics can flow over harp solos, cellos and violins – just like the expanses of space. It’s all possible and mostly still unexplored. The adventure is trying out new things and seeing how many disparate elements love hanging out.

Who are some of your musical inspirations? Are any specific for this album?

The lyrical density of the most recent Kendrick Lamar album was real inspiring, and some of the sonic qualities of the first Charles Bradley album. I love all things Daptone! And I finally got to rap over some second-line brass, which I’ve wanted to do ever since I heard Dirty Dozen a million years ago.

You can find out more about Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and his music at www.secretagent23skidoo.com

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