State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Erik

An interview with Chenjerai

 

 An interview with Chenjerai about the Real Food For Thought single and the SHIFT movement.

Former Spook member Chenjerai Kumanyika is a Penn State University graduate and current grad student using his experience in the music industry to promote a positive message through collaborations with up in coming rappers.

State in the Real: Good to see you Chenj we’ve been trying to get you here for a while to talk about your projects.

Chenjerai: Great to be here. I love what ya’ll have been doing with the site. I’m working on so many projects right now but I had to stop through real quick to do talk about this one because its getting so much attention now.

 

State In the Real: So Real Food For Thought is a blazing hot song with a positive message and positive movement behind it? First things first. How can people help support the movement?

Chenjerai:Thanks for asking. People can do three easy things. First of all you can keep up with craziness in my zone @catchatweetdown but for SHIFT

1.Go visit the youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOrwAFa_o9U. Make sure you like the Youtube page if you like the song.

2. Go visit the SHIFTDemand Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SHIFTDemand

3. Encourage other folks to take those same steps especially young people in your life.

 

State in the Real: What inspired you to produce and co-write it?

Chenjerai: We’ve been getting an amazing reaction from the song in a very short amount of time and its a really inspiring story. I was approached by some African American teens from Philly who had something to say about the food marketing targeted at them. and the food environments in their neighborhoods. Since they know that I know a lot about the music game, they asked me if I could help them make song and promote it.

 

State in the Real: What did you think about that?

Chenjerai: I respected their energy and I really liked the fact that they were informed and active. But at first  I was skeptical if a song with a topic like that could get widespread attention. It’s seems like there’s kind of a law these days that music can’t really about anything that’s good for you. That’s why all the positive reaction to the song is

 

State in the Real: So how did they convince you?

Chenjerai: Well they were persistent and I liked that. You know how it is. If you grow up in certain neighborhoods its a lot easier to get something unhealthy than it is to get something good for you. You might be hiking for a minute to get like some fresh fruit or something. Meanwhile more and more black teens are getting diabetes. So I felt like If I can’t use my skills for something positive, then what am I really doing this for?

 

State in the Real: so how did Zieme get involved?

Chenjerai : So once I agreed to do it I knew I had to make it extra hot to make people feel it. Zieme was like the hottest young singer out here. He’s actually starting to blow right now in NY and I knew that I needed to get him on board now. We got together brainstormed and came up with a hot concept.

 

State in the Real: What is the concept?

Chenjerai: Well its the whole idea of everything being taken away from what they should have been. Almost all the food we eat is an imitation of real food and certain people are making money off it. Its’ not just black people but also brown people and poor people are facing the worse effects.

 

State in the Real: It’s cool that you are getting mainstream artists involved. Is it hard to convince them?

Chenjerai: Not really. What I see is that artists want to do something different. Of course some artists don’t have the range. They are like one trick ponies. But Zieme has a lot of range. And of course with my group Spooks we had to appeal to Europe and Africa and our whole international fan base. Basically artists who have the range welcome the opportunity to use it for something good.

State in the Real: So what’s else is coming up?

Chenjerai: Well were looking at getting the videos together and I’m real amped right now because we got Jasiri X to do the next SHIFT song.  He’s exploding on the national stage right now because of the way that he flipped the No Church in The Wild joint to talk  the Trayvon Martin situation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKaJoEyYXyI.

 Other than that I’m looking forward to talking to State in the Real soon when I finish this epic mixtape project.

 

State in the Real: Thanks for coming by and keep up the good work!

Chenjerai: No doubt. Right back at you. One.

 

The SHIFT campaign is a youth-led campaign.

An interview with Malik LRB

 

 

SITR: Tell us about yourself and how you got started making music?

 

I’m a 19-year-old freshman rapping out of Stone Hall in East Housing on campus. I’m a business major currently in Smeal. I hail from King of Prussia, PA right outside of Philadelphia where I live with my brother, sister, and parents.

 

I’ve been making music for years but didn’t take a serious leap into it until I arrived here in the summer. Before, I always did tracks here and there just for my immediate group of friends and once I arrived here, I tried doing things that connected more to the PSU community (ex. Thon Rap 2012); pretty much things that everyone around me could relate to. After getting a lot of positive feedback from my first few official songs, I did some open mics, a few competitions (ex. PSU Idol and Macadelic Freestyle Competition), interviewed with some radio stations, and have been putting out a brand new video every Wednesday remixed to a song per request of my listeners.

 

SITR: How would you describe your style and your music to people?

 

One word: Fun. I just like to have a good time when I rap which is clearly evident in all of my videos. People have gotten to know me as a punch line rapper, which is a good thing for its entertainment value, but bad when people think it’s the only thing I’m capable of.

 

The paradoxes are my more laid back tracks, which are emotionally filled and slightly more depressing (these are the kind that come out of me when I’m just mentally drained at the end of the day going through a tough time). A lot of people have not even heard some of these tracks because they’re still hidden in the vault but they’ll all be able to be heard once the mixtape, “Baggage” drops soon. The best rapper to compare them to would probably be Eminem. The rhyme scheme is very similar to his while being emotionally filled rather than joking and upbeat.

 

SITR: What projects have you put out and what are you currently working on?

 

In terms of PSU, I’ve become known for 3 songs. One being “Thon Rap 2012,” one being my tribute to Joe Paterno entitled “Legends Never Die,” and my third one cleverly called “Penn State Rap.” Also as mentioned, I do a new song every week per request of my viewers and will continue to do that for a while, at least that’s the plan.

 

Finally, I’m working on my mixtape, “Baggage,” which does not have a set release date. I actually had a long conversation with Reef of Fortune Family a while ago and he gave me some of the best advice I’d ever received: “It’s better to put out a GREAT first mixtape than 5 terrible ones. Just because you have a lot of songs out does not mean it is what people will want to listen to. You want people to remember you, not overlook you right away.” And that message has held true to me since the beginning of this year. I was originally planning on dropping a mixtape in January but decided against it after acknowledging that I would not be putting out the best product possible. With that in mind, I have really held off on an official release date and will not drop the mixtape until it has reached the status of perfection in my mind. All the songs are written; it’s just a matter of finding the right producer and giving each track justice.

 

SITR: With the summer approaching what are your plans over the break and for the future?

 

I’ll be here all summer alone in my apartment taking classes. I’m pretty excited about this though because my life will be 2 classes everyday and then music for a solid 3 months straight. By that time, hopefully I’ll have 12 more weekly videos out on Youtube and a better stance on the date of “Baggage.” I also plan on doing a lot of collabs this summer whether that means with artists who will be around here in the summer, or having different artists come up to State for the weekend and work on some different things. Either way, I can guarantee work will be put in.

 

In terms of future, I’m hoping to do a lot more shows next year whether it be frats, competitions, or open mics in the State College Area. Hopefully all the hard work will eventually pay off. Regardless of if I ever make it big or not, I know I’ll be making music forever because I’m passionate about it. I don’t do it for the fame or money, but rather because I love it and love sharing my passion with other people.

 

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