IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
KENYON THE DAWN: I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas. I have seven sisters and three brothers. My mom was a caregiver and my step dad was a car salesman. My dad was a computer technician. Growing up I saw both sides of the spectrum of rich and poor. My mother’s side of the family had it rough. My mom was raising all of us pretty much by herself because my step dad was always at work. I would stay with my dad every two weeks on the weekend and for the whole summer.
I went to a good school across town but I was originally assigned to attend a high school called McClellan that was dead smack in the hood where I lived. Growing up in Little Rock I rolled with my cousin Marcus and some other cats from my neighborhood. We were all a part of the gang culture that surrounded the South end, the neighborhood I’m from. If you were wearing any color other than red walking the streets then you were going to get messed with. That environment made me the person who I am today. I watched friends die, family get thrown in jail or flee town on the run from the cops. All of the things I saw made me want to escape the city and get help. It made me want to bring better schools, after school programs, etc. back to Little Rock. My Dad felt the same way too. He wanted more for me and my little brother Michael. He wanted us to go to better schools in the city so he shipped us across town. I was sent to Little Rock’s Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School. There I was involved in all the musicals, plays, etc.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
KENYON THE DAWN: It was during junior high when I was in a poetry group called “Say it Loud” that my uncle got me in. We were doing poetry slams around the city and traveling, doing shows in neighboring states. Sometimes we were doing poems over live instruments. I was working on poems and because my dad was a DJ in the Air Force I was already heavily exposed to music, so I started writing music in addition to my poems. In high school I started doing musical plays and activities. My name started popping up in the newspaper and around school. I had a best friend named Anthony who I hung out with. We would always be singing in the hallway, flirting with the girls around the school. We called ourselves X2C. One day at lunch Anthony introduced me to Curtis Fields, recently featured on BET’s Music Matters, and we joined the group he was in called On Point. There were 5 of us: Anthony, Curtis, Dennis, Jesse, and myself. We were practicing after school and doing shows around town. After one show when we didn’t get paid and some inner problems occurred, we broke up. I started rapping at that point. After I moved to Fayetteville the following year I started making a name for myself. I put out a rap album on the U of A campus and from there I was doing shows every Friday on campus. In 2006 I started picking up a lot of buzz so I started my own indie label, K&K Unlimited Productions. Then in 2008 I dropped a song “I Ball” that got statewide radio play. The song was about the Arkansas Razorback football team and their battle against LSU for the boot. The song featured one of the football players, Reggie Fish. The song made it on ESPN and on almost every major sports radio station in Arkansas. The stage was set after opening up for Travis Porter, Prince Rick and Treal Lee. I went on tour for 2 years around the state of Arkansas and the DFW area building up my following. Then in 2012 I moved down to Dallas to try and take what I was doing in Arkansas to the next level.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
KENYON THE DAWN: I feel that being independent has been important towards the development of my sound. When I first started out I was not that good at rapping. I feel that being independent has allowed me to make the music that I think my fans want to hear. I have been able to tap into a level of honesty and trust with my fans. They know when they hear a track from me that I put every ounce of myself into it. I think it’s important to have creative control. To be able to record and release my own music allows me to be honest with my listeners. If I just got back in from the club or if I was arguing with my girl and I was inspired to drop a song I could drop it right then even if its 3 am in the morning.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
KENYON THE DAWN: My songs are about striving for something greater. About giving your all in the pursuit of your goals, in all aspects of life. If you are going to party, live it up. If you are in the hood and you ain’t got no money, get on your grind. If you are chasing a girl, put your all into trying to holla at her and get that chick. My music explores aspects of human behavior and the human experience of pain, love, loneliness, success, happiness, and fear; expanding on those topics from a unique perspective.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who is your fan base directed towards?
KENYON THE DAWN: My fan base is primarily people between the ages of 18-35 and anyone who have ever wanted more out of life. More fun in their life, more money, a change of scenery. People who don’t settle for what they are given but know that with persistence and hard work they can achieve what they want in life. That’s what I’m trying to do.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
KENYON THE DAWN: My dad was a DJ in the Air Force and he always had a set of turn tables and a bunch of records around the house: The Furious Five, Curtis Blow, Run DMC, KRS-One, LL Cool J, etc. I started out listening to my dad’s records but as I got older I was listening to Outkast, TRU and Master P, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and Biggie. I would have to sneak and listen to those songs while surfing the internet with my headphones on. At home I started listening to artists like Tech N9ne, Eminem, and MF DOOM. In college I was only listening to Jay Z, Nas, and Tupac.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
KENYON THE DAWN: I’d say my music is honest and has a simple complexity to it. There are songs that will make you enjoy the beauty of hanging out with your friend while enjoying a game of beer pong to talking about much darker and complex topics. On my current album Key to the City there are songs that talk about me having fun at a party and other songs that discuss my fears about my girl being unfaithful. I think that the music has to have layers to it that draws the listener in without overcrowding the song or distracting from the message in the song. So while my topic matter is complex, the way that I approach the writing is simple enough for the listener to get the message. It’s honest because I describe things as I have experienced them so my listener experiences it with me too.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
KENYON THE DAWN: I would say my live shows. I have been on stage since I was knee high, from performing for my peers in high school to being on stage performing for my peers now. I have done 2 tours and probably over 50 live performances. I have experience making good music. My YouTube has over 80,000 views, I have over 15,000 followers on twitter, (@kenyonthedawn) and I have 11 mixtapes out there. My personal catalog consists of almost 200 songs. I have honed my skills and I’m ready. I stand out because I’m one of the hardest working underground artists I know. I’ve invested in myself and I believe it’s my honesty, the fact that I’m giving my listeners a piece of me that’s not sugar coated or scripted, that sets me apart. Some of these artists talk about it, but I’ve lived it.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?
KENYON THE DAWN: Key to the City just recently dropped on iTunes. I’m planning a tour right now around the state of Texas for this fall and I plan on promoting my singles from Key to the City. I’m trying to get those songs on the radio for people to hear and by the end of the winter I would like to prepare to drop my next album that I’m currently recording.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KENYON THE DAWN: Well with 10 years being a long time away I want to take things on one year at a time. In my first year I want to grow my brand and build a name for myself by generating a great deal of buzz. By year two I’d really like to be, if not already in the first year, signed to a major label, go on tour and start doing more radio and live shows. By year three I’d like to start expanding, going overseas to England, Australia, China and Japan, letting my music grow as my fan base does. I would also like to break into doing merchandising full on. By year four I’d like to drop another album and do more TV commercials focusing on endorsements and making my stage show even more attractive. By year 5 I would have liked to sell out the garden in New York and look into doing my own clothing line. During the sixth year I would have like to have won a Grammy and start learning more about the business of the record company and prepare to launch a major label. By year seven I would like to drop another album and be featured on the soundtrack to a movie that I star in. By year eight I want to drop another album and be featured on the cover of GQ and by year 9 have my own line of artists on my label that I work with. By year 10 I’d like to start my own radio station and a foundation that will give underprivileged children the opportunity to get scholarships for college.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
KENYON THE DAWN:
My Album: Key to the City available on ITunes
Datpiff.com here is my mixtape Pens&Papers
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