For German rapper Kelvyn Colt, his rhymes present a unique balance of unwavering vulnerability and gritty braggadocio. "My sounds reflect me as a person," the 25-year-old MC told me.
Born in Wiesbaden, a small town in SouthWest Germany, Colt's access to American rap music was limited growing up. According to him, his sound was curated by what he was exposed to online. "My fellow millennials will understand what I mean, going online and discovering new music. It was almost like an online hustle." Surfing the web is what led to Colt's exposure to artists like Kid Cudi and Tupac; Colt told Highsnobiety that Tupac "saved me from my mistakes." I chatted with Colt about his gradual ascension, his decision to drop out of law school, and what we can expect next from the underdog rapper.
In "Bury Me Alive" you say, "I've seen a couple of things happen here and I ain't sure about them, this type of great escape might end in greater loss." Do you feel your decision to pursue rap has led to more hardships? How have you overcome them as your career has gone on?
Wanting to pursue a career in music was not the easiest thing. I have had my struggles. But that's part of life, the ups, and downs. I went to pursue my dreams because it's what I wanted from my life. It was not the easy way in life, but a path I felt I had to follow. In the end, it's worked out, but I do believe it led to more hardships. Some of them I am still overcoming; it's an ongoing process. I have to keep in mind that there is no growth without pain.
So would you say your family was supportive of you pursuing rap?
My parents were supportive of my music until I dropped out of law school. I was the first in the family to attend university and had enrolled in a prestigious German law school on a scholarship. My mom has been my number one supporter and holds it down, and once the deals started to come in and I started to sell out shows, my family started to come around.
How do you feel you're sound is different than the Hip-Hop that's currently in circulation?
I rap about situations from my life or certain things I had to deal with. From struggling with suicidal thoughts on "Love & Hate" to wanting to prove myself [and] prove everyone wrong on "Just Watch Me." I even have a song where I discuss my love for anime. So it's really me, but I'm influenced by so many others. Kid Cudi and Tupac especially, they've all influenced my sound and formed to who I am to a certain extent.
So then how do you feel you've creatively changed since your career started?
I'm learning so many new things every day, and I challenge myself every single day. It's part of my development as an artist – I can even say that it's part of development in general. You get influenced by your surroundings and daily encounters. This inspires you, gives you new perspectives, and, of course, leads to creative growth. Even with my work, [from] every song I work on and release to every video I shoot, I demonstrate growth. I have seen more of the world [and] have had a lot of amazing experiences. I can say I have expanded on that creative level.
It sounds like you learned a lot this past year.
I believe that every situation is a lesson, whether it's a positive or negative experience. They help us grow and shape us and contribute to our lives, so we learn from it. I am grateful for all I've learned the last year, from putting trust in certain people to learning about my capabilities as an artist. There is nothing I wouldn't want to re-experience because I believe every experience has some importance in getting me to where I am today.
What can we expect from you in 2019?
A lot. I have multiple shows in the U.S. coming up and a few soon at SXSW. I have a European tour coming up that I'm excited about and a lot of festivals around the globe. Of course, I'm also working on new music, with some big, unexpected features.
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.
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