TheBlackManCan is back in the Concrete Jungle and headed to Brooklyn. We are spotlighting a brother known as the Warrior Poet and The Fresh Prince of Brooklyn. We proudly present Kel Spencer. Kel Spencer is an emerging Indie Hip Hop Artist as well as an Award Winning Songwriter. Kel inspired youth through Hip Hop with is Pens of Power Program. Kel sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss why hip hop should be used more in the classroom, the song writing process, and working with artist such as Will Smith and Wyclef Jean.
TheBlackManCan: What is the meaning behind calling yourself The Fresh of Brooklyn?
KS: It’s all about No Boxes. Will’s character on the show didn’t fit on the box with everyone else which is why he stood out. In music, and in life, if you subject yourself to the titles and categories and boxes that other people give you, You Die.
TheBlackManCan: What has it been like working with artists such as MC Lyte, Wyclef Jean, Nick Cannon and Will Smith?
KS: The experience has been extremely valuable. Working with high profile, talented, entities gives you so much business, creative and lifestyle insight that it has been a great help with my indie/unsigned grind. The only draw back is that the climate of the “come up” was 180 degrees different then. So there are still some things with my “come up” that they may not be able to relate to but working with them and creating with them is something I’d never trade.
TheBlackManCan: You co-wrote the American Music Award Winning record “Switch.” Did you anticipate that the song would be such a hit after it was complete?
KS: I actually, did have an idea that it would. At the time, everyone was coming out with a dance to their song. Will wasn’t particularly known for that and 50 cent was the biggest name in Hip Hip and obviously Will and 50 are at opposite ends of the palate spectrum. I didn’t know that it would win that award but I knew that it would be big.
TheBlackManCan: Can you take us through the process of writing a song?
KS: Wow… There are so many ways that a song is birthed but I typically like to think of the video of the song first. I’m an extremely visual person. Once I can create a 4 minute movie of the way the song looks and feels then I can just color it in with the words. I look to write the hook/chorus first as a foundation and then the verses/lyrics from there. But on the flip side, I don’t always want to fall into the same formula either… When you do what I do, it’s easy to become a song assembly line, just cranking out songs on a formulaic manner. That stunts creativity and slights your listeners so I try to beware of that. I do have a preference, which is my strong suit but I mix up a lot.
TheBlackManCan: Tell us about your Keleidoscope brand.
KS: Well, it goes back to what I mentioned about No Boxes. Obviously what I do in music is paramount but I write in several different formats and arenas. I write content for a radio show in Virginia, I have my own blog, I’ve created a brand called Salon Stories which requires my writing to set the stage and platform for male/female conversations and interaction. I actually just came back from Bermuda last week co-writing their theme song for their National Soccer League. I also have Pens of Power which is a youth literacy program that fuses songwriting and classroom fundamentals. And with that, I’m preparing to publish my first book which will be a youth literacy book. With a kaleidoscope of things that I’m into, KELeidoscope is the Brand.
TheBlackManCan: You are preparing to launch a syndicated column titled Kelz Kitchen. Share with us what your focus will be.
KS: Well, for some reason, I’ve always been the guy who my peers come to vent or share ideas or ask my opinion on things. That’s actually part of the reason that I started Salon Stories. With that being said, I figured I’d just take something that is natural to my life and expand it on a more broad scale and larger platform. The subject matter will encompass anything that can fit under the “Kel, what would you do if…” umbrella.
TheBlackmanCan: Why have you often been referred to as The Warrior Poet?
KS: Balance… A man being both at once shows balance. A warrior is tactical, wise, brave, and physical. A poet is compassionate, cerebral, intuitive and creative. Balance is the key to life and that name just stuck for that reason. God created man and woman in His own image. If God created man and woman in His own image, then God must HAVE both man and woman in His image. And if He has both, and He made me in His own image, then I too have both. And when I say the woman side of me, I’m not talking sexually. I mean a certain form of nurturing, and sensitivity, and compassion that all men have but we’re scared to show because of what society calls manhood. I ain’t tryna hear all that. I’m 100% man and will live and be ALL 100%. The warrior side and the poet side. I really like that name lol!
TheBlackManCan: Tell us about your Pens of Power youth creative writing/literacy program.
KS: It’s not mystery that a lot of our youngsters enjoy writing songs and rapping along with their favorite rapper or what have you. I just figured that I’d take what I do as a songwriter and join it with what the students need to be learning. It’s almost like I take literacy and package it in Pop Culture stimuli and feed it to them. It’s like putting their medicine in the middle of an oatmeal cookie and telling them to eat up! LoL! Tastes great and they get healed all at the same time!
TheBlackManCan: Why should Hip Hop be used more in the classroom?
KS: Hip Hop is a sub-culture within our American culture that has permeated all parts of the American culture and beyond. Regardless of race, age, income or ethnicity, we all encounter Hip Hop. To omit Hip Hop, for the sake of “political correctness” is almost a disservice to our students at this point. You don’t have to wear a chain and a grill as a teacher to bring Hip Hop into your classroom but most educators would be surprised at how well the children will respond to it when it’s introduced to them in a classroom setting.
TheBlackManCan: Share with us your story of being a scholar-athlete and why it is important for youth to embrace this concept.
KS: Playing a team sport, especially football, is one of the greatest things that a man can do. It teaches you so much about individuality while learning group accountability. It teaches sacrifice, hard work, and a sense of community that has things like compassion built in. Learning this at a young age under proper coaching, in addition to have a decent household can be a great tool in shaping a young mind for the better. Furthermore, balancing sports with academia, opens a lot of doors, allows you to network with a great deal of people and makes you more attractive overall. Not in a physical sense but… Well, in a physical sense too lol!!! But you bring more to the table thus attracting more opportunities.
TheBlackManCan: Please tell us more about your novelty album Salon Stories.
KS: Well, as I mentioned earlier… I get a lot of friends who come to me asking my opinion on a bunch of things but mostly relationships. And 7 out of 10 times, these friends are women. I decided to record an album that deals with alot of the issues that men and women have. I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I just took the initiative to start a platform for the dialogue to happen. MC Lyte hosted it, Q-tip’s on it, a few Def Poets and other up and coming artists and producers. The skits in between the songs are women having Salon dialogue and then the songs address a lot of what’s being said. It’s a fun album and anyone over the age of about 18 will enjoy it. The album has grown into Salon Stories “Topic Talk” which is our version of speed dating, and our TV show is in the workings as well.
TheBlackManCan: You have worked many special projects, and most recently the Bermuda football league Anthem. Which has been your favorite?
KS: I would have to say the Pepsi commercial that my brother and I did last year. The commercial was done already. There were 2 penguins in the commercial by the pool, doing whatever they were doing. The music was also already in place. It was our job to look at what was going on and write the lyrics to the beat based on what it looked like the penguins were thinking or acting out. It only took about an hour but it was the first time I’ve ever had a task like that. Crazy fun though!
TheBlackManCan: What three words describe your style and why?
KS: Positive, Refreshing, Eclectic. I try to be the artist that responds when people cry out, “We need more XYZ in Hip Hop.” And those three words are almost never found.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for youth aspiring to be MC’s?
KS: READ! You’d be surprised what reading can do for your vocabulary, and your overall approach towards words. READ!
Check Out Kel’s New Single Aspirations. (Click the artwork)
Check out Pens of Power Youth Literacy Program Now!! http://pensofpower.org/
Visit Kel’s website Now!! http://kelspencer.com/
Check out Kel’s Song and Video EYE ON YOU
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