What do you get when you combine wicked rhymes with “Beats & Bourbon”? Everyone, let’s meet the DMV indie hip hop artist who has already made his own path onto the national scene, Kenton Dunson!
Photo Credit: Mark Petinga
Kenton is a graduate of Hammond High School, and McDaniel College. When he left McDaniel and became a financial advisor for T. Rowe Price, he had aspirations to obtain his MBA from Loyola College of Maryland. However, as fate would have it, Kenton made the decision to have his childhood passions and developed gifts for music to take the forefront in his professional career. Thus, Dunson was born!
Photo Credit: Andrew Mangum
Since emerging as a hip hop artist, Dunson has used is gifts as a multi-talented musician to make a pathway that has gotten him not just local, but national, recognition and collaboration along the way. His ability to play multiple instruments, coupled with skills as a lyricist, has separated Dunson from your average artist and solidified him as a sought out producer also. He even won the national lyrical contest sponsored by XXL Magazine in 2012, called Ready or Not Rap Battle: Singles Challenge, for his “production, concept, wordplay and originality” (jaeki, XXLMag.com). As a result, he had his first featured article in the magazine also.
Dunson has, thus far, released a successful mixtape, Creative Destruction, and his 2012 release, The Investment, which was an appropriately titled play on words, considering his previous career in the banking industry. The Investment album was a collection of songs that explored the traditional hip hop foundation of using, and embellishing, samples. However, samples and influences pulled from all over the musical map, including Ginuwine, The System, Gotye, Madeon and Sesame Street! Dunson’s powerful and meaningful (yet slick and smooth) wordplay content, coupled with his production pairing with the team, Phatboiz, has taken this album to the next level in the hip hop game. He even has an original collaboration with R&B superstar, John Legend, on his latest single from the project, “Cross Town Lovers”.
Hear what Dunson has to say about his experiences thus far:
Q: What part of the DMV are you reppin’?
A: As a child I moved around. From North East D.C. to Capitol Heights to Rockville and Silver Spring. My Mother and I moved around a bunch, I also spent summers in D.C. with my Father. I ultimately ended up going to High School in Columbia, MD. So I know a good range of the DMV.
Q: What influenced you to engage in your talents/gifts?
A: I was one of those kids who found an instrument at a very young age and was immediately fascinated. Music in itself became some sort of infinite world I wanted to explore. Fortunately I had family that willingly supplied me with instruments and recording gear in my early years. After building my skill, it became a way of life. So a combination of the fascination of sound along with my story and the support I’ve always been surrounded by was a great recipe for takeoff.
Q: How has your community influenced you, and vice versa?
A: I’ve been a part of multiple communities and experienced a number of cultural atmospheres. From living on section 8 housing to attending a top notch college to working in the investments world. It all influences me and I’m fortunate to have seen the polar differences, it makes for a more well-rounded view of the world which translates directly through my artistic existence. What I say and how I say it.
I’ve been able to use those experiences to do everything from going to speak to children about the importance of literacy regardless of profession…to even having fans tell me a certain song has changed their life. I plan on continuously soaking in the world and giving back. It’s a very reciprocal relationship, ha!
Q: If there’s anything that you would want your peers & supporters to know about you (assuming that they don’t already), what would it be?
A: I lay everything out in my lyrics..I really do but if someone is not familiar with my work or may only listen to a song or two. Know that I represent progression. Know that I represent knocking down creative and social barriers that still stand. I make music for people who know themselves.
Q: What’s next?!
A: I’m rounding out my new project, Outlier…which is based on being a standout or exceptional in whatever you do. I’m releasing the video to the 1st song from this project, “Circles” on March 11th. I also have production work for some major artists releasing soon as well as some international tour dates this Spring/Summer.
Artwork by: Adahn Westart
Continue to follow Dunson along his journey to the top of the hip hop game through his website (www.dunsonmusic.com), and you can also find him on the following social media outlets: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. You can also check out his “Beats & Bourbon” episodes on YouTube, and his first contribution to the Grammy nominated album, Better, by Chrisette Michele, on the track “Can the Cool Be Loved?”, also featuring Bilal. Our answer, if Dunson is the “cool”, yes it can!