JUNE: Kiwi, thanks so much for chatting with me about your new album. It’s coming out just in time for Christmas! Tell us the name of the project and the exact release date.
KIWI: Hi! Thanks for having me! yes, the new CD is called “Surgery” and it will be out on December 18th.
June: And where can people buy it?
Kiwi: If you want an actual CD you can purchase it on www.kiwionline.net or amazon on demand. For digital downloads and streaming you can go to iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Spotify, Zune, Xbox Live, iHeart Radio.
J: So how long have you been doing music now, what got you started doing this, and what is this present album all about?
K: I’ve been MCing for 20 years and singing since I was 6… I started rhyming actually for fun around the age of 10 and God showed me that this was an area that He wanted to use me in. Around the age of 16, God opened my eyes that I could lead people into worship and in His presence through rhyme. That blew my mind because up until that point, I thought hip hop could only be used for outreach/evangelism, you know? But God, once again, got rid of the box and limits we put on Him…. “Surgery” picks up where “Handwritten” left off… “Handwritten” talked about my hurts, well “Surgery” talks about the healing process. It’s a diverse, musical journey spotlighting God’s ability to bring victory to victims.
I noticed you have some featured artists on this album, including one of my favorites Lisa McClendon. Tell me who all is featured and the types of song they collab with you on.
Dope! yeah, “Surgery” features grammy nominated Ayiesha Woods, as you mentioned, Lisa McClendon, Applejaxx, Ms. Ty Scott, Mahogany Jones, Mizz Reality, newcomer Jessica Clements and my “twin” from the UK, Karl Nova. All are the songs range from praise and worship to various forms of hip hop, including hip hop’s cousin, neo-soul… (laughing) the best thing I can say is that you would have to hear it for yourself!
How would you define your sound and style as an artist? Has it evolved over time or has it pretty much been the same?
I don’t really define myself as anything in particular. I do more than rap and I do more than poetry and sing…always say I do “thirsty music”… I musically and lyrically express my need for God, prayerfully revealing to the listener their need for God… my music is the EMS truck transporting people to the Surgeon, Jesus Christ. Yes, I feel my music has evolved… I used to do what I thought people wanted to hear, but now I’m more comfortable expressing what God gave me to share.
You have singing tracks as well as rapping tracks on this album. Do you ever thing you will do an all-singing album? Do you write all of your own songs? Tells us a little bit about the music, too. Do you work with producers or do you create your own beats too? Because I know you play the piano!
I’m not sure if I’ll ever do an all singing project…I feel like I’m limiting God if I do that…I guess never say “never”! (laughing) Yes, I write all of my songs…some of the hooks were written or co-written by others, but my verses, yes I write. I also produced a few songs on “Surgery” as well. The rest were produced by others (music wise).
I know that you use your talents and music to minister to young people all over, in churches and at other events. How do young people receive you usually? How long have you been ministering to young people, how is your music relevant to them, and do you plan to keep young people as your target or core ministry audience?
Honestly, my target audience is college age and up…alot of time, people assume my core audience is youth just because I rap. Ages 20 and up tend to relate to what I write about more than teens. That’s who I hear from the most saying the music blesses them. I’m not excluding the youth…I do a lot of youth events, but I know the neo-soul crowd has my heart right now.
Do you believe growing up as a PK (preacher’s kid) contributes to your interest in ministry. Or do you believe you would have responded to this calling irregardless?
I don’t believe…I KNOW I would have had to respond regardless. I told God I didn’t want to be in ministry and that we have way too many ministers in my family already! (laughing) He didn’t care… (laughing)
How can churches or other groups book you to come out and minister or do a mini-concert?
They can fill out a booking form on www.kiwionline.net. Definitely contact us, I would love to come out!
What can people expect if they book you?
They can expect a musical journey, transparency and definitely an experience from God… worship is a key element to my concerts.
Back to your album, what is your favorite song on the album and why?
Ha! well…that changes day to day depending on what I’m dealing with. Today it’s “Paint Me Beautiful”…
I noticed one of your interludes features your son, Your first born who is very talented. Tell us a little about that. How old is he and what was it like including him in the project and how does he respond to hearing the track?
Those who follow my ministry know that “Scribble” is featured on every CD. He’s on my first EP singing at the age of 1…he’s my heart! He released a CD single approximately 3 years ago, writes music, produces and plays drums. He’s very comfortable in the studio and he usually listens and critiques. When he heard the interlude on “Surgery” he asked me why I edited his vocals! (laughing)
I know that when he first came into your life, it was during a rough time. Tell us a little bit of what God showed you during that season of life and how God has turned what the devil meant for bad into a wonderful blessing?
God showed me that nothing is impossible with Him… I also learned that people who are hurting tend to hurt other people which is why alot of church hurts happen. We are all being perfected daily, but if we can’t be honest about the hidden hurts in our lives, how can we open ourselves up for God to do surgery? God definitely took me on a journey during my personal spiritual and emotional surgery. It began and ends with “forgiveness”.
So how’s married life? And congrats are in order for another reason. You recently had your second child. Did you imagine yourself married, with a second child and releasing your second full-length album this year?
Married life is good! Yes, our daughter is 4 months old now and we are coming up on our 2nd year of marriage. I never imagined myself married but God told me I was running from part of my calling which is to be a wife. I now see if I would have followed my own path, I would have missed out on an unknown necessity for me, family and ministry, which is my covering.
I know you have degree in the music industry and many years experience and expertise with radio servicing. Do you still offer this service to other artists or record companies? Or do you primarily focus on your ministry as KIWI the artist now?
I’m focusing on what God gave me at the moment. I spent years pouring into others and putting my calling on the back burner…I never stopped ministry, but I definitely didn’t give it the attention God required.
What is your ultimate message through your music and particularly this album, for anyone checking out this interview? What message of hope or encouragement or challenge can you offer?
That after all of the hurt and drama we go through, there is a God who is waiting to heal COMPLETELY if we are willing to allow Him to show us the real “us”. He loves us and He wants us free. I challenge everyone to let go…the past is over and until we realize that, we can’t live a victorious “present”.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or mention?
Please support the project! “Surgery” took 2 years of prayer and hard work because I wanted to make sure I released what God wanted everyone to hear, the way He wanted it heard… oh, and check out www.kiwionline.net (shameless plug).
Thank you very much for letting me highlight you on my blog. You are a friend and I like your new album. I think it has great ministry potential and want to help spread the word. God bless!
Thanks for taking time out for me JD! Love you momma!