It was a lyrics-versus-gimmicks discussion on a recent episode of #UK Hip HopTalkLive, which made it the perfect week for MC/actor Page Kennedy to come through and add some insight and passion to the debate.
Many people will know Kennedy from his infamous role as U-Turn on the hit Showtime series Weeds, but when he’s not on screen or stage the Detroit native is in the booth and on his latest Straight Bars 2 project he offers up exactly what the title promises. As for the social media antics, face tattoos and Skittles-colored hair, Kennedy has no shade to throw but says it’s not conducive to his ultimate objective: longevity.
“I’m a rapper from the golden era. I’ve been doing this pretty much all my life so that’s what I know. I know real talent and real art,” Kennedy told the UK Hip HopTalkLive crew. “I’m an actor too so if there were a bunch of actors and they were all Paris Hilton and Snookie types, you still got the Jennifer Lawrences. That’s what’s gonna last. All the hair and face tattoos and Instagram antics] that’s for right now. That’s gonna disappear. I wanna create art that 20 years from now you can still listen to like ‘Torn Pages’ because it’s stories, it’s concepts. That’s why Shakespeare is still relevant to this day because you still relate to his stories. I don’t want to do something that’s a fad for right now. I wanna have longevity.”
The Unsolved star went back to the essence of the mixtape with the Straight Bars series, noting the importance of balancing the storytelling arcs of his albums with some unfiltered lyrical fire.
“I wanted it to be different than my album cause my albums always have concepts and stories and things like that that are in my heart but the Straight Bars stuff is just rapping,” said Kennedy. “I just wanted to take it back to when mixtapes first came out and you just jumped on classic beats. Everybody loves when you go and do the freestyles on shows like those always take off so I was like, ‘You know what, what if I just gave them a series of that where it’s all your favorite beats and it’s just straight bars?’ No gimmicks, no hooks, just rappin’ and dope MC stuff and everybody loves that,” he added.
Everyone who comes to Los Angeles to make it in show business has their own story but Kennedy’s is the kind they make movies about. It also embodies the hustler’s spirit that is in any real artist’s DNA.
“It was] 2000, as soon as I left college I got hired to go to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival to understudy Othello, to be in Othello and to be in ‘The Three Musketeers’ and the complete works of William Shakespeare,” Kennedy remembered. “My first actual gig in Hollywood was like a month after I got here. A guy that I worked in the Shakespeare festival with told me about an audition. I had no agent I was sleeping on somebody’s couch I just got here and I snuck into an audition at Sony Studios. I posed as a courier making a delivery and I was delivering myself. I had a headshot and a resume with like 25 plays on it. All this theatre training with nothing else. They kicked me out and then a week later they called me back. It was a show called The Kennedys and I ended up booking the part and that set me up. I got an agent, I got a CBS pilot with Randy Quaid. It didn’t get picked up but it set me up to really be in Hollywood.”
Peep the full interview around the 42-minute mark above and check out #UK Hip HopTalkLive every Thursday at 10 a.m. PST.