There’s a moment early in Karma’s striking new music video when the young rapper — standing alone in a snowy clearing — rolls up his sleeves.
It’s a turning point. From there, one version of Karma runs away, escaping harm but making no big moves and risking nothing.
The other version — well, you’ll have to watch. But here’s one spoiler: at the end, that Karma is still making music.
“It’s a metaphor for fame, for working for success. I feel like you can’t be truly successful and happy in life if someone just hands it to you. You have to fight for it and work for it,” Karma said.
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The 22-year-old from Richland is doing both — and he’s earning fans and a growing reputation as a result.
On Thursday, he was among the local acts opening for rap superstar Lil Wayne at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. A friend and fellow rapper, Nobi, was taking the stage with him.
And that new video, for the song Sunny Nights, is blowing up online, with thousands of views in just a few days.
(It’s embedded here; warning, it has some bad language).
The video was directed by Richland native Justin Frick, a rising young filmmaker.
Frick said Karma is headed for big things, describing him as a gifted musician and strong collaborator who hasn’t let talent and acclaim get to his head.
“The dude is super talented,” but also humble, Frick said. “You don’t feel like he is trying to take over the room when you’re with him. When you’re with him, everyone is on the same level.
Karma’s given name is Kyle Schmoetzer. He moved to Richland from Montana when he was a sophomore in high school.
On Thursday, the 22-year-old Richland artist was among the local acts opening for rap superstar Lil Wayne at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
His parents, Bruce and Jane Schmoetzer, raised him on a musical diet of classic rock and The Beatles. But in about middle school, he found hip-hop, and he was never the same.
From Tech N9ne, to Biggie, Eminem, Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, NWA, Snoop Dogg and so many more — “I got really addicted,” he said.
He studied them — listening to their albums, watching their interviews and researching their labels, marketing and production.
He also started writing his own stuff. “I told myself, I’m going to practice so much that I’m going to be the best person in town, the best person in the world,” Karma said.
He still is on that path, he said, working hard and striving to be the best he can be.
He loves performing, loves writing. “Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace melody. I’ve been trying to be more melodic, with a really full sound. If you listen to a Raz Simone hook — he has these hooks that are really full, that move your soul. I’ve been trying to do that,” he said
He definitely has chops. Sunny Nights is an evocative track, with lines like, “daylight in the nighttime, pitch dark and I still shine.”
Karma is proud of it. And more is to come. He’s working on an EP, called Insecure, which should come out in the spring.
And watch for more video collaborations with Frick.
Music is something special, Karma said. He loves that he gets to make it.
“There’s nothing like it. Without music, the world would be different. It would be a lot darker. It really keeps me alive. When it comes to performing in front of a crowd —oh, I love that so much,” Karma said. “When the crowd is dancing with you, that’s my dream.”