” I love social media, but actually it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great for the independent artists, to promote themselves. It’s great for getting your message out there without having the major channels. ” – @TheRealKWOE
Episode #278 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax
GETTING TO KNOW K.W.O.E.
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
K.W.O.E. stands for Kareem Wells of Excellence.
I love social media, but actually it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great for the independent artists, to promote themselves. It’s great for getting your message out there without having the major channels. You can do everything independently. The downfall of social network is how they promote so much negativity to the kids. They promote a lot of violence, sex, and all those different things with easy access. So it doesn’t leave anything else for the imagination. It breaks down education and communication. We used to sit down at the table talk and eat dinner, but now we sit at the table and we’re on our phones. It’s cutting down the interactions between people. It has it’s pros and cons.
Singles vs an album…
I love releasing singles, because if you don’t have a full body of work yet, you can release a single at will, especially with today’s technology, ya know with sound cloud and all that stuff. I’ve been dropping music video singles of the song all at once. We did an EP. I’m working on my album right now, which should be out by the summer of 2016. I’m looking forward to dropping the album, but it doesn’t make me a difference, as long as I can keep putting out material. I do enjoy the idea of releasing songs one at a time, and hopefully one catches on.
Well, I’m actually a beat maker. I’m also a writer. I don’t just write rhymes and I don’t just do hip hop. I do R&B, pop, whatever. I’m a part of DPMG, which is Dupeé Productions Music Group, which is a production company that does music for radio and television, film, and produces records. Ivan Dupeé formed this umbrella company, and I’m a part of that production team.
As an artist, seeing what’s going on in my city, all the violence and the youth killing one another, it makes me want to put out even more positive music. It makes me want to go totally against the grain even harder. I want to put out music that can inspire and help the youth and help people in general see things differently.
I’m doing exactly what I feel as an artist. For instance, songs like “Talking to God,” featuring my label mate, Taylor Mallory, which addresses many emotions that I had as a child, teenager, and as a man. This song helps me heal and reminds me of why I need to continue to do the music that I do. My job as an artist is to say exactly what I feel, and to inspire. I’m not being an artist for other artists. I’m being an artist for me. I don’t feel pressure, especially because I have the support of my Level Next Music family. I don’t have any desire to put out negative music, period.
My older brother was a DJ and a dancer…
and he was in a crew called the Wild Boyz, which was an extension of my uncle’s crew from the Hornets. One day I heard the beat that my brother did with a guy by the name of Sammie Lee, and he did house music. They were dancing to this beat and I just started writing. It was one of my first songs, and it was called “It’s goin’ on.” That was one of my inspirations. Another inspiration was my mother, who was in a singing group called “Coffee,” and they did disco music and R&B soul. Watching her rehearse, as a kid it really truly did inspire me. Later on, I realized how much that really did inspire me, and that’s what got me started.
is about what my day-to-day was like. I was driving to a lot of meetings and it was really just about how I was feeling. I started writing it a couple years ago, and I just wanted to bring some light into the city. There’s a lot of violence here in Chicago, and I wanted to bring in all walks of life together, from the West Side, South Side, North Side, East Side, people from all over…to encourage “No More Violence.” It’s a fun song, and it was also to show people that we are truly the same and we can come together, and everything will be all right. Idea is to put some water on that fire of violence and all the killings and shootings that’s happening in Chicago.
The foundation for my inspiration stems from Level Next Music’s positive influence, both artistically and musically. What inspired me came from when I was in the studio one day. I read the paper and on the front page it said “104 deaths in just 3 months.” I saw a young girl who got shot by another teenage girl, over a boy. I saw a kid got shot over his jacket, and he was an athlete. I just saw all these different things in the paper, and I started thinking this has got to stop and I’m not feeling this anymore. I gotta let everybody know that there’s more to life then this violence thing that the media is pushing down our throats. I was thinking about a song I had, it was called “Alright.” I actually have a video to that song. That was the first single off of the EP. I started building around that. I know these killings are happening, and I know all these bad things are happening, but I wanted the youth to know that everything was gonna be alright, and that we cared about them. So I started working with the Level Next Music team on the project and focusing on making the EP solid, with other different songs that could inspire people.
We shot the second half of the “Alright” music video at my house, and inside I have an elevator that lets me out on the rooftop. We had to do an elevator scene in the video. We had to bring the elevator down and then come up, but we could never hit the cue. So, we had to do it over and over and over to hit the spot for where and when the elevator was supposed to open, which was very funny. If you look at the video, it’s on the scene when we step off the elevator.
What you can expect from Level Next Music recording…
Level Next Music release, and my “Alright” EP is something positive from me. I’m always trying to give you the truth. I’m always trying to give you something from my heart, and something that can help people elevate. Something that can motivate and inspire people to be better and to do better. One of the main focuses in my music is to spread a message of hope. Everything has a cycle and the future of music will come back to being positive and inspiring. I believe that my music will help change the lives of our youth and the future, and that’s from being honest versus getting on record and lying about stuff that I never did, or had, or been through.
As far as marketing, I have a promo team that puts up posters and flyers on the video singles and the EP that I’ve released. We’ve been promoting heavy throughout the hood, just doing that ma’ and pa’ marketing and promotions. We also put out the KWOE drive, that’s a 2GB flash drive, actually we started that in 2014 when we went to SXSW. I had a KWOE flash drive dog tag that had all my music and material on it, and that’s how I gave my music away. I don’t even sell it…I just give it away. I’ve been putting that out for the last two years. At the same time, promoting via all the different social networks, facebook, instagram, twitter, soundcloud, and on levelnextmusic.com.
The music that’s getting the most notoriety is drill music right now. Even though we have people like Kanye, Common, Lupe, it seems to be about drill music and music that is promoting a negative image. Places to go? We have a lot of places where you can go and perform and different open mic places throughout the city. Refuge Live is one of my favorite places to go and watch live entertainment, because it’s about music and entertainment that’s inspiring. You see some of the rawest talent: singers, musicians, rappers, and poets. It’s just unbelievable. Tell me about one fun thing you like to do that can be music or non-music related.
I love helping kids, and showing them a better way. That’s something that I really do love. I also love doing the whole “Netflix and Chill” thing. I love going to the movies. I love traveling and spending time with my family. I love going to eat at restaurants and going to the clubs. I love everything. I really love traveling though, and shopping!
I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
Aw man there’s a couple people, that’s hard to pick. I woulda loved to have done a “Dahh, Sh’mon” on Michael Jackson’s anything. Jay Z…I would love to just be in the studio with him. I would love to work with Big Sean and Andre 3000. Those are people that I really listen to, you know what I mean, and I listen to their music heavy. I can’t just pick one or two. It’s probably like three, or four…or five!
The past, different artists I would listen to, from Outkast to Kanye, to even some old school stuff from 2Pac and Biggie, just the things they talked about influenced me. All the things that I did in my old neighborhood influenced me. When I was out there in the streets selling drugs, and out there with guys that I believed in, that I loved, it influenced me. It influenced me to do better and be better, and be original. It made me strong. Being an artist, sometimes you just write what you feel, but then you have people on the outside who tell you what they think and their opinions. So from my past, my aspirations taught me to be strong and not to listen to what other people are saying, just follow my heart. Believe in myself no matter what.
I think with a lot of celebrities that have already made it, that they are influencing the youth that if you poke your lips out, put your breasts on the internet, then you’re gonna be famous just like me. If you go out and shoot a gun or get shot, you’re gonna be famous and known. People are concerned about being trendy and the next big “it” thing on social network in general. For me, I don’t have to battle with it, because the truth is I don’t have to be something that I’m not. The truth is, I do things outside of music that brings in wealth and create wealth. I’m being true to who I am as an artist and as a man.
I am most afraid of…
The future for the kids when it comes to music and the school systems. I’m afraid of what the future is going to be like if we don’t start putting out more positive music to influence the next generation.
My personal definition of success is..
Taking care of your family, getting an education, following your heart, being honest and truthful, and most importantly, believing in yourself and doing for others.
A personal success story…when I was younger, I got kicked out of high school and I never went back. I became a successful businessman. I wanted to go back and get my GED, so I just enrolled at Malcolm X College, a 16-week program. It was one of the most exciting things, so I can’t wait until I get my actual GED and take a couple college courses, just to do it. It’s a void I am fulfilling in my heart. I’m excited and that’s one of my biggest accomplishments, of all the things I’ve ever done and all the money I have ever made. That is one of the most things I’m proud about.
My over all goal for my life & career is…
With all my businesses in music and all the things that I do, I want people to remember that I was a good man who cared about people. A man who cared about the future of the people. I want people to say that I was a good guy first, and then talk about my talents.
3 Ways that I challenge myself…
1) I try to pray more.
2) I try to listen more.
3) I execute everything that I set my mind out to do. Whether if it’s to go back to school, to be a better artist, be a better producer, or be better beatmaker, I just act. Actions speak louder than words.
K.W.O.E. is a Level Next Music recording artist from Chicago’s West Side. Using his music, K.W.O.E. rejects the status quo and challenges the limits of creativity by pushing the boundaries of hip-hop to the next level. K.W.O.E. is also a member of hip-hop trio ENDISKIZE . ENDISKIZE’s hit song, “We Don’t Back Down,” is featured on ESPN Network/LA, ESPN.com, and Fox Sports. Other K.W.O.E. credits include: WGN-TV, WindyCity Underground, FakeShoreDrive, Miller Park, Akon’s DJ Benny D, Twista, and Jay Sean.
As a songwriter and producer for Chicago’s Dupée Productions Music Group (dpmg), K.W.O.E. crafts music for radio and television. He composes to inspire others to make the right decisions and overcome any challenges that the world may offer.
In addition, K.W.O.E. used his entrepreneurial skills and creativity to become the top player in the Mitzvah scene, by combining his experiences producing, songwriting, and performing with Level Next Music. K.W.O.E. is the founder and owner of Flow Entertainment, one of the Midwest’s most prestigious interactive entertainment companies, specializing in bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, corporate and private events.
K.W.O.E. performed at SXSW, and has appeared in many other prominent music festivals, such as the Taste of Chicago (Bud Light Stage), R.A.G.E. (Resident Association of Greater Englewood)–So Fresh Saturdays Tour and the Music 4 Peace Concert. He has also been involved in a myriad of projects promoting peace and unity throughout local communities, including Safe Cities, Umbrellas for Peace, C.O.S.I.’s Camp One Step, KISS FM’s Stuff-A-Bus and Latin School of Chicago’s LatinPalooza. K.W.O.E. has also hosted Emerge Next Chicago and other community programs.
K.W.O.E. is currently touring Chicago for his KWOE Hope Foundation, which utilizes music, motivational speakers and a groundbreaking virtual community house
to instill hope and provide crucial life information to young people. The KWOE Hope Virtual Community House (www.kwoehopefoundation.org) curates resources, teaches life skills and generates opportunities to help young people make productive life choices and succeed. The centerpiece of the H.O.P.E. Tour is his new EP “Alright”. The video single is available at levelnextmusic.com and on YouTube. The EP is available on iTunes.