Holy hip-hop: Kansas City artists keep the faith

Kharissa Forte

Before I started living for the Lord, I worked in the secular entertainment industry.

With two other ladies, I started a company called Belle Feme Entertainment. The purpose of Belle Feme was to put underground artists on the map.

We quickly received a lot of love and started to advance in Kansas City just as fast. Six months later, however, it all came to crashing halt when I felt a conflict with my faith.

What I didn’t know is that I lived in the nation’s Mecca of holy hip hop. Kansas City is home to some of the most talented and anointed rappers in the world. There’s Undergrad, who UMKC has come to know very well through his performances at Soul Sundays: Open Mic Night. Undergrad has a sound and style similar to Kanye West, which is why he titled his first mixtape “My Name is Not Kanye.” On his label, School Boy Music Group, are two more artists: Geek and Kenyah Nikol. If you like feel-good-fun music, then you will love Geek. He is working on his first project with the label right now. Kenyah Nikol is so unique and different; think India Arie meets Lauren Hill. A new artist, Kenyah Nikol will be releasing her first mixtape later this year.

One group destined to succeed is H.E.R.O.E.S. Danny McDonald, Brian Harris, Brandon Harris, Gene Boyd and Angel Newton are the five members of the group.

H.E.R.O.E.S. is unlike anything Kansas City has ever seen or heard.

Their debut album, “Dark Alleys and Rooftops,” is comprised of everything from heart-tugging ballads to hard-knocking hitters. I expect this group to go far.

Another favorite of mine is a young guy by the name of Tre Cop. I like Tre Cop because he has a heart for people outside of the church. Only 20 years old, Tre Cop is already mentoring young kids, doing missionary work and tries to get sponsors to feed needy children in third world  countries. Listeners can hear his spirit in his music.

P-Air of Lifeline Records, defines Kansas City sound. P-Air is theological, conscious, and lyrical yet he’s simple enough to where anyone can understand his message.

My last you’ve-got-to-hear is iWitness Music’s Blacksheep. If you’re into something a little bit more hardcore, then Blacksheep is your guy. He is featured on iWitness Music’s compilation album, “The Empire: Now or Nothing.”

You see, there is an alternative to secular music. Not that all secular music is bad (I enjoy artists like Jill Scott, Kem, and Musiq Soulchild), but let’s be honest – if it’s not talking about sex, drugs, or how to make a fast buck, what is it about?

Cars and cribs?

There is too much good music out there with positive messages to succumb to the negativity. To be honest it’s not even about saying “Jesus!” on every line and in every song. It’s about what we feed our inner-selves. While music is an art that imitates life, it’s only a matter of time before life imitates art. The question is: what type of art is your life imitating?

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