Rapper KB, a Christian artist who scored major crossover success with “100,” his latest E.P., believes music plays a monumental role in helping expose and shape culture — and he has a pointed message for fans and fellow artists alike: take responsibility for what you create and consume.
“I think music is sort of the spokesperson,” the 25-year-old told TheBlaze recently. “It sort of serves as the spokesperson of a culture and it serves as sort of a reporter.”
In addition to offering a lens into societal values, KB, whose real name is Kevin Elijah Burgess, believes music also holds the power to have an ideological impact by bending peoples’ “worldview one way or another.”
The rapper specifically addressed negative and explicit content in music today. On the consumer side, he said that people should pay close attention to what they’re taking in.
And he said that artists — especially rappers — whom KB described as “leaders of the culture,” need to be completely honest about the negative themes they sometimes tout.
“Rappers that talk about selling cocaine, they talk a lot about the heaven side of it,” he said. “Everyone wants to have nice cars, huge houses, move our families out the hood and be protected.”
But all too often, he noted, artists don’t fully convey the dangers of living these lifestyles — realities he believes fans need to hear.
“It’s all contingent on a lie, that there’s this free, fast life that you can live dangerous above the law … when really there’s another side of it … that it’s a very hard hell-like life to sort of live for the moment,” he explained. “These rappers [and] artists in general need to be honest about the full picture.”
While it seems these individuals are living lavish and carefree lifestyles, KB said many of them are actually wrestling with some major struggles.
“If [fans] could see the other side of the story when these rappers are a lot more human than they seem to be … a lot of times they are wrestling a lot more than we are,” he said. “[The] rich and famous struggle with suicide more than folks living in the backwoods. The riches are a lot more dangerous than people can imagine.”
KB told TheBlaze that he thinks that the current culture is “religiously exhausted” and that many people are soul-searching. But rather than a negative outlook on Christianity’s future, he believes that the faith may actually be poised to gain new ground.
“We’re thirsty for something greater than we’ve been feeding ourselves for [the past] 50 to 60 years,” he said. “I think that the light of the gospel is bursting forth as a legitimate alternative.”
This is the message that KB is also intent on bringing to the masses. Passionate about spreading Christianity, he also explained what drives him to create faith-inspired music.
As a teenager, he said he struggled to figure out who he was, feeling hopeless and answerless at times. Before becoming an evangelical household name, he attended community college, then moved on to Florida’s Trinity College, where he studied theology.
Little did he know that his path would take him directly into the music industry.
As a lover of hip-hop, KB met other rappers at Trinity and he eventually formed the hip-hop group His Glory Alone. From there, success followed and he became a solo artist.
“I didn’t know it was a career until actually it was a career,” he said. “Christian hip hop is not like these dozens of dozens of rappers feeding their family and establishing their legacies. I wasn’t necessarily trying to pursue that.”
KB eventually met up with Lecrae, a popular Christian rapper and the co-founder of Reach Records, who showed him that it’s entirely possible to make music and travel the world as a professional artist; he’s now a Reach Records artist.
KB recently captured mainstream attention after “100,” his most recent E.P., made the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, the No. 4 spot on the Rap Albums chart and the No. 22 slot on the Billboard 200.