We were first introduced to Ken Rebel through his overwhelming social media presence and following. With the attention and support he’s garnered, the Brooklyn rapper has been able to use his platform and jump start his career. And while this is only the beginning, Ken is proving that he has a promising future in the industry.
On May 21st he headlined his first show at Webster Hall. After his highly energetic performance, I got to catch up with the now 21-year-old artist to discuss where he came from, where he is now, where he wants to go, and more.
Interview by Tatiana Vickerie (@tatianadeborah)
GFM: What does being a rebel mean to you?
KR: You don’t have to be wild to be considered a Rebel. You have to do it for you and just have to follow your dreams regardless of what others may say or your parents. My mom wanted me to go to the military, and I love my momma, but I had to do what I had to do, and be happy with the path I chose. Being a rebel is about doing for you and living for you. You have to do what makes you happy. If you’re in a relationship you don’t fucking want to be in, or at that job you hate, rebel against that shit. Do what you want to do in life.
The last time we caught up with you, you were gearing for the release your debut mixtape R.E.B.E.L. So explain to me your growth from your, R.E.B.E.L to RebelLife?
Honestly, its crazy. Like I never thought that… I just came back from London and performed at a sold out show. I never really thought it could happen. I knew there was a possibility if I worked hard. But for it to actually happen, it’s crazy to me. When opportunities present themselves to me in my life it’s still a shock. Like, damn, I’m going to this country this weekend, and this country this week. It’s amazing to go to all these places I’ve never been and see people that have unconditional love for you. It’s just amazing. People who don’t even know English know every lyric. It’s like I’m schooling them and teaching them my language.
We were introduced to you through tumblr, so what role has social media played for you as an artist?
Social media is amazing. Social media is like the new label. You may think if you started out on social media like Tumblr or Twitter, people will look at you funny but everyone started in that. The Internet is our label, you know what I’m saying? And we just have to take advantage of that.
As an overall creative that writes and directs his own visuals, what’s your approach when producing new content?
Before I can even write a song, I think of the video because the video will help me write the song. So, I come up with this visual of how the song is supposed to look, then that helps me with the actual lyrics for the song. It’s a crazy process. Visually, every song I’ve written, I already had the video for it in my head. That’s how I come up with the lyrics for the song.
What comes to mind when you bump to your own music?
When I listen to my own music I just picture myself performing that shit at Madison Square Garden—performing that shit in a big venue. I see 10,000 people just going crazy to my songs. That’s what keeps me really motivated, seeing the potential in my own self. I visualize, so I can actually achieve it.
As an independent artist, what is your stance on signing to a label?
Honestly—I’m going to tell you—for all those artist out there, I’m out here doing everything on my own. I don’t have a manager, no label. My first oversees show, I booked that myself. So, you need to understand that you don’t need a manager, you don’t need a label to actually do something. All you need is the idea, and business mentality. I take all my checks. Every dollar I make, comes back to me. Of course, when the opportunity to presents itself on a big scope—great, it’ll happen. But for now, I’m good. I just run everything like a one man business. How many people can say that at the age of 20 they took themselves to London, to Paris. Actually, I just turned 21—Aries gang, you already know!
So who are some other artist, in general, that you’d want to collaborate with in the future?
I would want to work with Justin Timberlake. That’s who I really want to work with. I know all these other rappers out there that would be good too, but I want to work with Justin Timberlake because he’s my favorite pop star. He’s like another Michael Jackson.
So what’s next for you as an artist and what can we expect from your upcoming projects?
So me and my homie Keith Ape shot this crazy video. Shut it down in Soho with 300 kids out there. It was crazy. I have this third EP coming out. It’s my third project, I’m not going to put too much out. But it’s going to be crazy, it’s going to be an experience. Always have to take that next step.
Finish the sentence: Ken Rebel is…