The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

Expression through art and music

August 17, 2020

As a Black man with more than a few negative experiences with the police, Kenan often felt he didn’t have a voice; police officers would only believe him when a white friend or adult supported his claims. So he turned to other forms of expression, like music and photography, to convey his story to the world.

“When cops were questioning me, they often didn’t believe me or didn’t seem to listen until some white mom or dad also came in seconding what I said,” Kenan said. “But with music, it was my way of having a voice. It was my way of saying, ‘You can’t not hear me because I recorded this, I got to write and tell my own story how I wanted to.’”

“It Matters,” Kenan’s song about his experiences as a Black man in America, is slated to drop soon. He has also released several songs that he wrote, edited and produced by himself on topics ranging from Mother’s Day to marijuana, all available on Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Music.

As a supporter of his musical journey, Toni has watched her son grow and find a space where he truly feels himself.

“I do not like to listen to explicit music, but that’s the way he expresses himself, and I think he processes a lot of his feelings through his music in that way,” Toni said. “It’s his way of expressing his emotion, his anger, his hurt.”

In addition to his music, as a photographer and videographer, Kenan captures moments at BLM events and posts them on his photography website, Pics by the K. Beyond just taking pictures, Kenan uses art to tell stories that resonate with others.

“I can express exactly how I feel and talk about the pain I’ve been through with music or with images, and it hits harder,” Kenan said. “That’s how you teach people — it’s having the story and feelings play to their emotional side and then backing that emotion up with statistics and facts. If you hit them with a story first, it’s a lot harder for them to be like, ‘You’re wrong. You didn’t get treated like that.’”

Kenan also intends to release a “King K” clothing line in the future. He wants people to “live like kings and queens” and stop doubting their talents and abilities. This idea inspired the design of his brand symbol: a four-pointed crown.

“I’m a quirky-*ss dude; I embrace that,” Kenan said. “It takes a while to embrace that, but once you can, things are so much more fun. That’s where my clothing line inspiration comes from.”

Kenan has discovered his voice in activism and art, and he refuses to let others silence it. He’s independent, and hopes others can be too.

“I do everything because I want to be my own person,” Kenan said. “I don’t want to work for other people. I’ve been working on starting my own company for years. I want to put out my own photography line and have photographers within my brand. I want to have different nonprofits in our communities. I want to strive for a better living, where we’re supporting people of color and minorities. When I see Black and brown kids doing some dope-*ss things, I want to help elevate them in that, so if I have the platform, trust me, I’m going to do that.”

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