We’re giving you a glimpse into KenTheMan’s cover story in the January/February: Living in Color issue. 

KenTheMan never thought the name she selected on SoundCloud would become her whole identity for her rap career, but her alter ego quickly became a game-changer. “It’s just like a demand, when a man walks into the room, everybody knows who that person is, and everybody gravitates to him, so it’s a very dominant alter ego,” says the 29-year-old Houston rapper. In this same energy, Ken ensures to give herself credit for what it means to put your art first.

Starting out as an artist using lyricist instrumentals as inspiration to imprint her penmanship in a carefree, self-made way while paying homage to her city in three projects made headway for the world to show exactly who she is as an artist. Her pen contin- ues to speak for itself during a sold-out tour and by signing with Roc Nation. Showing that the well-needed rest will be worth the wait for what’s in store within the coming months. Ken had a humble spirit when I gave her well-de- served flowers. It made me recognize she is an artist
deserving of everything in the most positive way!

Dive into her story!

How did your music career start? Take me back to the beginning.

Originally, I didn’t know much about the music business or industry, I’m the first rapper in my family, so I didn’t have a blueprint. I learned about SoundCloud from my peers and I would do freestyles, because once again I learned about purchasing beats, and I didn’t know about all of this stuff. I was like. ‘okay, well, I like to record this stuff, and I really like to freestyle to these other people’s instrumentals. Lil’ Wayne is one of my favorite rappers, so I’ve always loved his mixtapes. I never knew that I was gonna be a rapper. I just was freestyling and stuff with my friends in the car. We get drunk and just be on the way to the club, put on instrumentals. We don’t even listen to music sometimes, we just freestyle.

When people listen to your body of work, how would you describe it?

My music gives off confidence, arrogance, fuck nigga free, ratchet, just free. I just feel like it’s everything that a girl would want to say. Even the ones that are shy to say it.

How has it been since you signed with ROC Nation? What would you say differs from being an independent artist versus being signed?

I had a lot of time being independent and a lot of time being signed. I love my label particularly, because I feel like they let me be me. They’ll never press me for stuff that’s not me, or try to make me a person I’m not. So, it feels very free to have the music you like and people that support it, versus trying to tell you, ‘oh, you can’t, or ‘I don’t think you should drop that, and I love that. That’s what I loved about being indepen- dent. So, it just feels the same. I feel like it’s cool both ways. I feel like it depends on your situation, you have to make sure you get yourself in this situation.

What was your mindset when creating your project, Back to 304’n?

I’m kind of aggressive in my music. (Laughs) I feel like I’m always rowdy and all of that stuff. So with this one, I just wanted it to be a little calm and cute, like some- thing for the girls to get dressed to. Something for the girls to, you know, feel good to any time of the day. You don t have to listen to it at night or after you wake up. You can listen to it morning, noon, and night.

Did you feel it was necessary to bring a certain side of yourself that was present during your other project 4 da 304’s?

Yeah, I just always try to switch it up. Because I feel like “What’s My Name” was a little calmer, it was some- thing that I felt like men could listen to as well. It wasn’t super deep and super conscious or anything, but I feel like it was super dark, and super aggressive. It was just like; I’m rapping and I’m just talking shit. With “4 da 304’s,” I feel it was more fun. It was more Boppy, it was bubblier. I was still shit talking but it was cutesy. The I felt like “Back To 304’n” was a little sexier, it was more grown, just like kind of a calmer tone. I just always try to deliver a different vibe, just because I’d be wanting to see what people like. I just never want to do too much of the same stuff. Because
you never know what’ll go.

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Images by Cameron Perry 

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