Kevin Burgess, now better known by his stage name KB, is a rapper. His EP 100 debuted at #1 on Billboard's Christian Album Chart, #4 on Billboard's Rap Chart and respectfully at #22 on Billboard's coveted Top 200 Album Chart. He's won a Dove Award (Nominated twice), been a Recording Academy featured artist on Grammy.com and has received critical acclaim from his peers and media such as Billboard Magazine and The Blaze. He's toured nationally with Tenth Avenue North and is scheduled to join Trip Lee for the upcoming "Rise Tour." He has just releaased his brand new album "Tomorrow We Live."
Hallels: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. You have got quite a testimony of how your possessions were once stripped away and you had to live in the hood. What happened there? And I believe as a result, you were involved in gambling and drugs, so what turned you to Christ and a changed life?
I was raised primarily on air force base in South Illinois. On the base, I was very protected; there were guards on each end of the base with M16 and AK47, so needless to say we never saw people commit crime. The worst thing I saw was a teenager smoking cigarettes. The first time I saw that was, "What a scandal!"
But then my parents divorced. My mother and I moved to St. Petersburg. I felt myself in a completely different situation, plenty of crime, plenty of drug activity, and plenty of the effects of under-resourced environment all around me. That was the reality; these things were present. I felt very much afraid; exposed. I was a young 13 to 14 year-old boy. Not sure what my place was. I find myself trying to grasp a form of identity. It started a spiral of darkness leading to gambling, drugs, and things like that which is sort of manifestations of this reality. The fruits of darkness. I was lost I didn't know where I was going. I needed some serious rescuing.
It was in this dark space where I found my greatest need; it became very clear to me. It was in this backdrop of darkness that the light of Jesus was so bright for me. I felt like I was grateful for this sense of lostness. I was grateful I realized I was lost because if you realized you are lost, then someone coming to find you wouldn't make sense.
I got a chance to start college early. I was from a select group of students from around the city that went to this program. In the program, there was this guy there that said he was a Christian. I remember being very struck by him just saying that without qualifying it. He just said I am a Christian. It's the sense of being unashamed that struck me. I saw the same gentleman a few weeks later and he had a CD on the table. And down on the front cover of the CD he look a lot like Lil' Wayne. He said, "No, this is Christian music." So he gave me the CD; I took it home and they had 8 songs on it and I loved every song. The 8 songs were a Gospel presentation and I literally have been walking with God ever since that day.
Hallels: What advice do you have to give to our readers, some of whom, may also be struggling with life and its burdens?
I would encourage you to deviate to become counter-cultural in your understanding of what it means to be strong. In our culture, to be strong is to be by yourself; able to walk in a bar and fight everybody just like what we see in the movie. No backup, no team, no army, just you the James Bond the man walking off in the distance and getting the girl, winning the prize, that's the message of our culture. Strength in being yourself, unfazed, having a heart that doesn't feel much. I want to encourage you to reject it. All of us are burdened, struggling; we can walk with a mask on trying to impress each other or we can come to a place and say, 'I'm broken and so are you. Let's walk together. If I fall down by myself who is going to lift me up? But if you are together, one falls, the others can bring him up. And if there are three together, it's not as easily broken as the Bible says so. I encourage you to be vulnerable. We are made to be in community.
Hallels: Tell us more about your new album, I believe this album came out of your own struggles. What is the message you want your listeners to grasp after listening to this record?
I'm a firm believer that the most important cross that we'll bare in this life often is someone else's. I've gone through things. I've had my struggles and pains. And setbacks. But I've more outward focused. In the past years, I've really try to take on the concerns and pains of those around me. I've noticed from going to Liberia and spending time in the mission field and learning and dealing with people back home who are living out the drama of systemic injustice. And then going on the road meeting everywhere who are comfortable to share their battles with me. I've become very burdened for helping people. That's what I've been put on earth to do. Even if it's a small way. I want in some way big or small to help people. I want to lift burdens. I want you to smile when you see me because I represent a sense of peace and calm. And this is where this album came from. Things I describe for you can be described as hope and this is what this album is about.
Hallels: I believe you recently became a dad, how being a father has affected your music?
I did recently became a father. It was absolutely positive to my entire existence. I knew I was capable of taking care of my wife but my baby came. But there's a greater sense of responsibility I've when this baby I made is here. I'm holding him in my hands. It brings out this pre-programmed sense of provision in me. I'm made a provider. It's frugged out of me when my son's in the picture. It is something you can't help it. I want to make sure he's physically provided for but I also want to make sure he's spiritually provided for. The way I treat his mother (my wife) has everything to do with how he'll understand women and how women should be treated. That's a real spiritual thing for me how we treat women. I wanna be careful to love, respect and encourage his grandmother, his mom and all women in the community. I can't be cheating on his mother and expect him to have a good image of how he should be faithful.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your new album or/and find out more about you, where can they go?
I would encourage you to follow me on twitter where there's continuous updates on my life and on the music. It's @KB_HGA and the same thing for Instagram. My facebook is kb116 and if that's too much for you just put a dot.com on who is kb (www.whoiskb.com); all things are found there, from booking, touring, my music and free stuff for you. So check me out.