I wish someone would’ve told me that not all of your friends and family will support you. Sometimes you think they will and most would at times but never expect it 100%.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ken the Messenger.
Ken the Messenger has performed over 75 shows (Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Las Vegas, and Indiana) and has opened for Tasha Page-Lockhart, The Walls Group, Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, and Nia Allen. Ken was also nominated for a Chicago Music Award in 2021 for Best New Entertainer, and was formerly on the Chicago-based management team of Grammy Award-winner, Jonathan McReynolds. You can find high praises about Ken’s work in Broadway World, The Urban Twist, The Hype Magazine and many more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up with my mom and brother in a community called “Englewood” in Chicago. My grandfather is a bishop and my grandmother is a pastor; my aunts and mother served in ministry as well. My grandfather was definitely a father-figure and the only father I really knew. I knew of my biological father and would see him every now and then but didn’t and still don’t know him. That resulted in me not really knowing myself. I looked for an outlet. I tried gangs, drugs, and sex. Once I came out of that phase and discovered God’s purpose and presence in my life, I started to feel like I could help others who were dealing with the same thing.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I actually hated being in front of people but loved music so I wrote a song for my brother Christian McLaurin and a close friend India Brazzleton called” Dear God” with a producer I met in college that goes by “HitGod”. He released a beat tape, which is an album full of instrumental beats and I remember walking around my church after prayer on a Wednesday night writing my first real hip hop song “My God is Dope” and the rest is history.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was so shocked and excited to hear that people in Africa listened to my music!! I logged into Instagram one day and some folks in the motherland DM’d me to say that they were jamming out to my tunes.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I remember I used to go to all of my friends and I asked them to manage me. My buddy Joseph Williams helped out, however, I really didn’t need a manager that early in my career. It just felt like the right thing to do, at least that’s how it appears on TV.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My debut album, “Ghetto Gospel” and many features on some dope projects.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is super important because you want to reach people from all walks of life and that can be hard when you remain stuck inside of a box. Different cultures, ages and genders deserve representation. The more the better because that is a true representation of the world we live in.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone would’ve told me that not all of your friends and family will support you. Sometimes you think they will and most would at times but never expect it 100%.
- I wish someone would’ve told me not to expect my music to take off overnight. It seems like that’s the case for a lot of artists, but I learned that it wasn’t.
- I wish someone would’ve told me to keep business and personal separate when working, it can be hard sometimes especially if you get along well with your colleagues, however it’s important to do that separately.
- I wish someone would’ve told me never settle, as far as content or preferences when it comes to what you want as a musician. Lastly, I wish someone would’ve told me to always seek God for wisdom on how to move as a man and as an artist.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Remember why you’re doing this. That’s what’s going to keep you going when you feel like giving up.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I’d like to inspire is what I already do to inspire, motivate and encourage people not to stay where they are in life but continue to strive for greatness.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My manager Patrice K. Cokley helps me develop as an artist and also continues to motivate and encourage me as a man.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Why can’t I” — A lot of people seem to put their beliefs on you and/or don’t see the vision you have for yourself. However, if God gave you a vision for your life they aren’t supposed to.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Mali Music. I would love to pick his brain on his journey to becoming a grammy-award winning artist. Ironically, I just met him this past weekend, so I’m getting closer. Lol.
How can our readers follow you online?
KenTheMessenger on all platforms and www.kenthemessenger.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!