The Popper On 'I'm KC' And His Hip-Hop Tour Of Kansas City

Sep 22, 2015

"The Story of a Song" is monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

Artist: The Popper aka Walter Lee Edwin

The Song: I'm KC

Music Career: The Popper’s been rapping in Kansas City since 1996, straddling some of Kansas City’s different hip-hop scenes.

The Story: After a few days in jail early this summer, Edwin was on house arrest and wrote and recorded a whole album, Write (Right) Thru The Pain, about that experience. With that out of the way, he wrote, recorded and released the summer anthem "I’m KC" in a matter of days. 

The song catalogs people and places of the Kansas City area (he’s repping 816 and 913), mentioning everyone from Paul Rudd to Janelle Monae, the ’68 riots to the day Michael Jordan had a dunk contest in Kansas City.

The Music: The song was originally inspired by beats, created by J. Slim). A friend in Topeka heard them and sent a text to Edwin, “This is a Popper beat right here.”

The Lyrics: “This song right here is like a song that only few, like maybe only two or three people could actually do, because I’ve seen it, and I was around when hip-hop started. There aren’t too many people that could give you a visual tour of Kansas City from the past to the present.”

The Reaction:  Almost immediately after the Popper recorded it, the song made its way to KPRS, or Hot 103 Jamz, and was heard floating out of car windows around town – and sending people to Google to figure out all of his references.

The Deepest Line: “Fairyland Park one day on a carousel.” -- Edwin says the most significant line in the song refers to an amusement park that used to be on Kansas City's East Side. African Americans were only allowed to visit the park one day each year.

The Song:

Sylvia Maria Gross is a reporter and editor at KCUR, and senior producer of the show Central Standard. You can reach her at sylvia@kcur.org and @pubradiosly.