INTERVIEW: Ian Kamau w/

rez | Interviews | Saturday, November 22nd, 2014


OkayPlayer chops it up with Ian Kamau as part of their “First Look” series. Never too late to get the official intro. Happy Kamau Day!

Today so many young people with upward mobility have labeled themselves a “creative” that the word–and the notion of what it means to create something–is in danger of being lost in a shuffle of commerce, social media and trends. But to truly be creative, to find fulfillment, challenge and peace in self-expression will never lose its power, and although it’s easier now than ever to get caught up in the style of the moment, some young artists are still tapping into the timeless captivation that creativity begets.What do you think?

One such artist is Canadian Ian Kamau, a Toronto-based MC and musician whose talent is erasure. Kamau’s output defies easy classification and obliterates the boundaries between what it is to make music, write poetry, craft images and foster change. In a new interview with Okayplayer, Kamau spoke passionately about his need to both make things and overcome limitations; the resulting conversation became a kind of meditation on artistry in our digital age, more concerned with broad concepts than the fine details of how to rhyme. Inspired by painters, filmmakers, visits to Africa and life in Toronto, Kamau’s long explanations are warmly encouraging for anyone sick of the never-ending chatter. Donning his MC cap, Kamau also just dropped “Heading Home,” a brand new track composed of jazz-tinged piano, tribal African-style drumming and a gritty hip-hop backbeat. It’s a sprawling piece, one that Okayplayer is very pleased to premiere in this First Look. Read on to learn about Ian Kamau in his own words and hear what concentrated creativity sounds like. Bonus: also in store is a video that tells the tale of Kamau’s beginnings.

OKP: Please introduce yourself to the people–who is this Ian Kamau?What do you think?

IK: I’m an artist, a creative; I make things. I was born and raised in Toronto. My parents are both documentary filmmakers, the first in Canada, so I was born into a community of artists.What do you think?

OKP: As an artist with fingers in multiple media (music /poetry/ visual arts etc) how do you balance the different modes of expression? Do you ever develop ideas from one and end up with another?What do you think?

IK: I’ve always been a creator. The process of making things is probably my only true joy outside of my connections with people. I don’t see forms of art as different, they are a continuum, connected and related to each other. The same process inherent in design is the process inherent in music and writing. Most of my art is essentially collage, with production you pull sounds together, with writing you blend words, film is the same, with design it is visual elements like photography, illustration and text. It’s just like making a meal for someone, you have ingredients and you fuse them together, the way that you combine them is your creativity, your expression. It’s all essentially the same process, it’s just a question of what your favorite ingredients are. My cousin Roger is a well-known chef, he’s a good example of that. My ideas are always wandering between different media, and right now I’m interested in self actualization and place-making, how to make ourselves whole through creative processes; I have a long way to go.



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