Bringing together the ghetto and gospel Ken the Messenger has a clear message. No genre will bind this cultural resetter. Forming his own style of gospel rap this songwriter and hiphop artist bridges the churches of Chicago to the streets. His club worthy beats would get anyone popping with love and realism.
Where/when did your individual creative journey begin?
My creative journey started pretty early. I started playing drums at 7 years old, which led to me playing for local churches in Chicago.
Tell us the story of how you became a musician/artist?
While playing drums wasn't my calling, it did allow me to start being creative when it came to rhythm and other things. Then in grammar school I started writing songs, and in college I started performing.
Tell us about your artistry? What would you say is your mission with your art? And who are your influences (message/music style)?
My message is simple: We aren’t perfect, but the one who loves us is. So it's important that we help those struggling with whatever they are struggling with and be a resource, a shoulder, support, just a light to those in need. I want to be the light and be that example rather than just talk about it. My music style comes from a very personal and internal space, so it’s basically whatever I’m feeling at the moment. It’s mostly hip hop and trap, but sometimes it could R&B. This is why I don’t like being confined to a box/genre. Music is fluid.
My modern influences are Mali Music, J. Cole, Todd Dulaney, Jonathan McReynolds, Jay Z and so many more.
Can you speak on your process when creating projects? When do you feel most inspired?
My creative process isn’t really planned. I always feel inspired to give my all and most times I give my best at the most awkward times. For example, I recall writing a feature at 11pm one night. The words just came to me and then continued at 1am. Both times I was involved with other things, and the inspiration and moment just happened.
Tell us about your latest release “Ghetto Gospel.” What was your artistic process for creating this piece?
Ghetto Gospel is a project that was put together to connect my street-side to my church-boy side. I also wanted to form a piece of art that communicates to the world that you don't have to be perfect to seek God. He, actually, rather you come as you are to give him something to work with. Most Christians tend to push people away who are not living according to their own beliefs. I don’t believe in that. God loves all and has already sent his son to die for the world’s sin. There’s so much going on in the city of Chicago, and other major cities; killings, car jackings, abductions, etc. People are hurting. Why push them away? Where I’m from is where the gospel needs to be right now.
Is there anything about the industry you’d want to change as you progress in your career? Tell us about some experiences you overcame.
I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. One that stands out the most is encountering people who dangled success in my face, wanting me to sell myself for success. That is so far from my character. As I progress in my career, I want to discover new talent and help the less fortunate. Not to try and change them or become something they’re not for my gain. But to genuinely give others opportunities and hope.
Have you ever experienced limitations in your career (as a musician) due to your identity?
Absolutely! When I first started, there was a limit on what people wanted from me because they only saw me as a “Christian Rapper”. Especially with a manager who’s a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m MUCH more than that (my manager too), and I knew this even back then.
Are there any insufficiencies or injustices in the music industry that you’d like to see rectified?
Oh yes. It’s pretty common for people who make it in the door, then later not open it for others. Whether it changes or not, my team and I are breaking it down and will be the change. I want the door to remain open for those who come after me so they don’t have to break it down like we did.
What are some upcoming projects you are working on? When can we expect them? Where can we stream them?
I’m working on multiple projects with other artists in my network. I’ve completed 8 features last year, then there’s the Ghetto Gospel album, and I have a lot of videos on the way. So while filming the rest, I’ll be knocking out more features just to keep the brand out there. You can stream everything on all major platforms or at www.kenthemessenger.com. Definitely visit my website and sign up for updates to stay in the loop.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives looking to break into the music industry?
Discover your purpose, and never forget it.
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