Photo by: Floyd Gonzales

More than just a hip-hop artist, KTheChosen also lends his voice to spoken word poetry, gender equity advocacy and public speaking. The Calgary-based Zimbabwe-born multi-faceted musician just dropped his latest album +Vice

As a musician and activist, KTheChosen believes in the power of storytelling and uses his voice to share the experiences of those around him. Inspired by artists such as King Los and Kendrick Lamar, KTheChosen writes music that is both entertaining and enlightening.

For the album’s debut single “LONO” – a song acknowledging Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the ever-conscious KTheChosen worked with indigenous artists Dwight (Blackfoot) and Chantal (Cree, Ojibwe, Métis) to create a powerful track with a purpose. Proceeds from the single’s sales on Bandcamp were (and will continue to be) donated to Colouring It Forward – an organization that brings awareness to Indigenous issues through discussion with elders and arts and crafts such as journals and calendars.

From +Vice’s first single release to its most recent, the album is centered around themes of feminism, grief, loss, colonialism, relationships and allyship.

KTheChosen continues to create conscious and catchy content with his latest single and video release for “Her Anthem” – an exploration into the experiences of women in the music industry:

“I wanted to flip the common trend of hip-hop videos being focused on women and cars by having the same elements involved but in a narrative that focused on female empowerment. Our heist story draws inspiration from popular movies such as Kill Bill and Charlie's Angels as our three main performers use their cunning and fighting skills to obtain two mysterious boxes and a set of keys. The contents of these boxes are never revealed and will be explained in a future music video. This video was also an opportunity to give back to our community by filming in local businesses and promoting their locations at the end of the video.” 

The single and video features Calgary artists Bvitae, Dorsa Lena, ZHE The FREE. It was directed and filmed in downtown Calgary in some of the city’s best local spots including 10th Street Boxing Kensington, The Urban Shave and Kaffeeklatsch with local artist Tyler Lemermeyer's pieces displayed inside.

Along with his valiant efforts within the music industry, KTheChosen shares his wisdom through his roles as an Ambassador for Science Genius – a program co-founded by GZA of the WuTang Clan, teaching youth how to rap and create songs using content learned in their science classes – as well as the teacher of a three-part workshop for Antyx Arts, mentoring teenagers on freestyle rap and the importance of storytelling in music and marketing.

With a brand-new album out and more accompanying visuals on the horizon, KTheChosen looks forward to releasing new music and immersing himself in more social activism opportunities in the coming year.

Q: Your brand-new album +Vice just dropped, can you talk about some of the prominent themes and inspirations behind its content?

The album focuses on ideas of grief and mental well-being as I had time to think about these two topics over the pandemic. I found a lot of the conversations I was having with friends and family were about lost ones and the uncertainty of the world we're currently living in. I felt it was important to look at how we can address the root causes of poor mental health and how to cope with grief.

Q: Your latest music video for “Her Anthem” flips the script on a typically male-dominant culture. What is the story behind the visuals?

The album revolves around a female character and so I thought it was important to have one song that was purely from the perspective of female identifying artists. When it came to putting the music video together, we knew it had to be empowering but also fun and entertaining. My director, Rome, and I figured that it would be really cool to have pop culture references in the video and decided to follow inspiration from movies like Kill Bill and Charlie’s Angels. With the album also revolving around the community and checking in on those around us, it was important that we reached out to local businesses to be included in the video. Rome and I spent a day going to businesses and pitching the idea of this video. In the end we ended up having a box gym, a barber shop and coffee shop which gave us a lot to work with story-wise. Fadi, the owner of The Urban Shave Kensington, was also kind enough to lend us his classic, Monte Carlo which was a beautiful touch to the aesthetic of the video.

Q: Lyrically +Vice dives into topics including feminism, grief, loss, colonialism, relationships, allyship and more. As an advocate, how important is it for you to create conversation surrounding these issues?

I feel a lot of these topics are interconnected as quite often when we look at things like mental health they are tied to how we navigate our day-to-day lives. One might be experiencing sadness or stress from the fact that their social life is not be well-balanced or they may be having a hard time financially due to systematic barriers. I felt discussing these root causes would inspire conversations for change within my different audiences and help those most affected feel heard.

Q: How did your collaboration with Bvitae, Dorsa Lena and ZHE The FREE come about?

I've known all three for a fairly long time, as we’re often at the same shows or events together. I pitched the idea to ZHE The FREE first as I’m closest to her. I got her input on the best way to approach the song and then reached out to Dorsa and Bvitae. I appreciated that they each brought a different style and perspective to the song which makes it such a powerful collaboration. We discussed different ideas over Zoom then met in person to record once lockdown restrictions allowed us to.

Q: Thinking back to +Vice’s first single “LONO.” Can you tell us about the track’s Indigenous themes and accompanying fundraising efforts?

I feel Canada still has a lot to correct in terms of its relationship with the original owners of this land and the land itself. However, for many, the curiosity may not exist until they experience it in a more accessible form such as music, visual art, or any other creative format. I made “LONO” to nudge people to do their own work to learn about and support Indigenous folk. The metaphor of the children’s playground simplifies the story of colonialism but also illustrates how the process affected generations of people because of the greed of “the big kids”. Dwight and I often rap together at cypher club (a weekly freestyle community event hosted by ZHE the FREE) but we had never worked on a song together. I pitched him the idea and he gave me great feedback on how to approach the topic respectfully and wrote an amazing verse on the financial impact of the treaties. Chantal then came to the studio and improvised some drumming and singing for use on the bridge and to end the song on a powerful note. Having both artists was important to me because I admire their talents and their impact in the community. They also bring a range of perspectives with Dwight being male and Blackfoot and Chantal being female, Cree, Ojibwe and Métis.

We created a BANDCAMP CAMPAIGN in support of COLOURING IT FORWARD, an Indigenous organization that brings awareness to Indigenous issues through discussion with elders and arts and crafts such as journals and calendars. Every purchase of the song on Bandcamp was (and will be) donated to Colouring It Forward.

Q: You use your music to advocate and teach – can you talk about your involvement with the Science Genius and Anytx Arts programs?

Teaching has been one of the most rewarding parts of this year as it is interesting to learn about your own craft when trying to educate others about it. With Science Genius, I got to teach kids how to write songs about the topics that they were learning in class (grades 7 and 9) which was a fun experience. You immediately realize that some kids are just as academically smart as they are creative and how important it is to provide opportunities for them to explore all their talents. With Antyx Arts, I held three weekly workshops on branding and marketing in between freestyle sessions on Zoom. These online workshops were with an older age group (youth aged 15-18), so it was interesting to hear the vulnerable lyrics that came out in our freestyles but also the interest in how to build themselves as artists. With both experiences I felt honoured to impart my knowledge on future artists.

Q: Sticking with the name of your latest album, what is the best piece of +Vice you’ve been given – personally and/or professionally?

You can't please everybody.” This can be a hard lesson to learn as an artist because you want your music to be for everyone when it's more important to focus on the core message of the music and the group that you're trying to reach with said message. Trying to appeal to everyone dilutes the art and the intention gets lost.

Q: What’s next for KTheChosen?

+Vice is doing really well so far so I plan to continue working on building the world around the project and create more visuals (both music videos and short films). I also have new songs that I'm working on for the new year and more educational and social activism initiatives that I’ll be a part of in 2022.