Kenna: From Rapper to Catalyst

Kenna is constantly challenging and recreating himself with each project he pursues. And with each project proving more impressive than the last, he’s growing quite a reputation.

The Tampa/Brandon native’s origins are heavily rooted in music. “I stick with music because it’s most literally home. My mom is an art teacher and played a lot of instruments,” Kenna said. “I picked up a guitar when I was 10 because I was a huge [Carlos] Santana fan and went to an arts middle and high school—Blake Blake Blaaaaake!”

Coming onto the scene as a rapper, young Kenna was eager to soak up knowledge. Prince Golden got him started while Mike Mass taught him how to really rap. This earned the attention of Freddie Villa at the Market on 7th who ended up giving Kenna his first shot as a promoter, a taste of a life he hadn’t considered before.

With a handful of experience and a relentless drive, Kenna met another influential guru, Wilson. He started out as Kenna’s manager, helping book performances and offering guidance. As the performances and events got more serious, Wilson began helping Kenna with his craft. Testing the sign of a truly good mentor, Kenna hopes to be in competition with his coach within a few years.

“Anytime I get frustrated or bored, I try something new outside my respective art forms.”

Kenna has drastically expanded his horizons since his debut in music. He has worked as an event curator and promoter for countless creative experiences. He is one of the founders, along with partner HMTWN, of Tampa Beat Weekend, Tampa’s elite producer and music-maker weekend held each year. Basically, if Kenna wants something done, he becomes the catalyst to make it happen.

“I have this talk [about labels] with my partner HMTWN a lot. I started off calling myself a promoter, then an event curator, then blah blah blah… I don’t want to invent a title and look like Subway calling a line person a sandwich artist,” he laughed. “I just connect dots; I know people who know people and take commission on whatever I put together.”

Inspiration finds its way into Kenna’s life in many different ways. And if it doesn’t explicitly show itself, Kenna generates his own. “Anytime I get frustrated or bored, I try something new outside my respective art forms. I try drawing, a new instrument, new food, a new kind of book, and take it all back to my craft.” He said.

The same thing applies to business and his mindset for Tampa Beat Weekend. Keeping his staff inspired falls on his shoulders, too: “I use my staff for a lot of different projects and use findings from a study Harvard did at General Electric (as described in the book Organization Man) to keep them inspired.”

The greatest reward for his efforts is competition born out of it. Usually coming from his friends, this competition isn’t always hostile. Instead, it motivates, inspires, and pushes him to a higher level. “I just like to compete,” he shared. “Steel sharpens steel. The unity shit is cool, but that’s not how it works in the industry. You constantly at war up there.”

Kenna will certainly be war-ready within just a couple of years. With goals that find themselves among the stars, this artist has barely gotten his feet wet.

“I want to be Tampa’s Yams. Florida Steven Victor. [I want to host] Tampa Beat Weekend at the convention center. A platinum record under my belt. That’s it,” he said.   

With projects under wraps right now, it might not be too long until we see Kenna achieve these dreams. Both a tour and a private session with a high-profile producer have been confirmed, as well as hints that Connect the Dots, a color-coded networking event, might be returning.

There’s a lot in store for the Florida creative, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.


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