Orlando Kennedy
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Orlando Kennedy

Houston, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Houston, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Alternative Alternative

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"Orlando Kennedy At Fitzgeralds"

Well, I wasn’t at the last Fitzgerald’s show before the venue changed hands from Pegstar to Transmission. I was however at the second to last show before the shakeup, and it was a special night that most of you did not witness.

But it’s hard to blame anyone who didn’t show, because the artist that was the real draw wasn’t even on the tickets or the box office website. I was there to watch 17-year-old Houston rapper Orlando Kennedy do a short opening set for an up-and-coming Atlanta artist named OG Maco.

I figured that I’d be out of Fitz by 10 at the latest, but Orlando’s “opening” set started at 10:30. This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just the crazy world of live music. No one ever goes on “on time.” But if Mr. Kennedy were a lesser artist, I might not have waited around, given that I wasn’t excited about the headliner. I was right to stay though.

The crowd was very young. Like I’m talking 16-17 years of age, on average. Def Perception’s DJ Baby Roo was cracking wise the whole night about this fact, suggesting that they remember to tip their bartender for their juice. But it appeared that pretty much all of them were there to see the same guy I was. I was impressed.

After what seemed like an endless parade of openers and emcee chit-chat, Kennedy set up his sticker-plastered Macbook and mini mixer in front of Roo’s gear. He opened with a track that I talked about extensively on the review I did of his debut full length “Argentina.” It’s called “Tale of the Stationary Nomad.”

The song is all about how Kennedy is not your average rapper and that anyone can do and like what they want without the approval of society. I literally got goosebumps when he delivered the money shot of the whole album, “Because I like jazz..and heavy metal. And I like playing guitar. And I’m reading books by Kurt Vonnegut, and I’ve read books by Ayn Rand. And I like taking photos of nature. I have a lot different interests. And if you believe in the concept of acting black: FUCK you.”


He’s a good enough rapper that he simplified and transposed a few of those words in the live version for simplicity and power, but they were all roughly the same.

The wiry high schooler was bouncing all over the stage as he rapped. He wasn’t worried about appearing to be not hard enough or too expressive. He easily had the best stage presence of anyone in the whole room, put together. It’s definitely just the beginning of Orlando Kennedy’s story. - Ready For The Houston


"Orlando Kennedy - Argentina EP review"

Orlando Kennedy is a 17 year old rapper who hails form Houston, Texas. You may remember we covered his first EP Otaku 2006 a while back. Since then he's gone on to release a slew of singles as well as the four track Forest EP. He's also had several performances since then. Today we're going to take a look at his most recent project The Argentina EP. It's a quick 8 track EP available on both Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Recently Kennedy has taken on the title of Art-Rapper as well as Folk-Rapper attempting to set himself apart from the rest of the herd, as well as demonstrate that he's much more than your average rapper.

The first EP was called Otaku 2006, but this time almost all traces of otaku are gone. There's no attempt to fit into a genre with this. Simply put, this is Orlando Kennedy. The EP opens with a monologue of Orlando stating things he hates and fears. Since Drake became a household name there have been a ton of rappers attempting to prove that they can also show emotions. This isn't a track like those others. This is simply one guy pouring out his fears about the future, the way he's perceived others, things he hates about himself. It's not someone mimicking Drake falling in love with random strippers. It's the kind of thing we've all said to ourselves at some point or another, the only difference is he's saying them out loud for others to hear.

The album continues with this theme. It's not full of braggadocio or lyrical gymnastics. It's a demonstration of self-reflection filled with quotables like "always been straight edge, never tried drugs I just lie and try to fit in but I don't know why," or "If you're ignorant enough to believe in the concept of acting black, fuck you." That's practically our motto. My favorite is most likely "It's filled with as many references to video games as it is to classic literature. In addition to the self reflection he also questions the hyper masculinity of society especially rap music. In the sense of if you're not gang banging, selling drugs, sleeping with an astronomical amount of women or killing people, there's always going to be a large number of people who question your sexuality.

The production for the EP is all done by AWAL The 1$t. It's well put together and avoids the common traps a lot of producers seem to be falling into these days. There's no use of the same generic trap music drum kit that everyone seems to have access to. Having one producer also helps maintain the flow of the album creating a dark and arid vibe throughout.

Lyrically Kennedy has stepped up his game. Perhaps switching subject matter to something that really matters, himself, really helped to bring him out. He seems to have found talent he didn't even know he had, considering he states several times he's afraid he's bad at rapping and doesn't think he's very good. The flow could still use some work but lyrically he seems to have found his niche. He just has to build a nice house there now.

The joy in the flaws seems to be that this wasn't an album about proving himself to be a lyrical mastermind or the father of the flawless flow. It seemed to be a crossroads, deciding on if he wants to continue or not. As well as attempting to discover who he is as a person, not just an artist. Coming to term with the fact that Orlando Kennedy can never be anything more than Orlando Kennedy. He can't be the current fashion, the trending topic, the popular kid or anything else, but himself. Which is a place a lot of us never reach. We see it every day, people doing whatever twitter or facebook says is cool all the while sacrificing who they really are as individuals.
Lyricism-7
Flow-7
Production- 9
Theme- 10
Replayability- 7
Individuality- 10
Overall the score is an 8.3/10 which is a nice score for such a condensed project. Are the flaws? Of course. However, all the ground work for becoming a great artist has been laid with this project. If Kennedy takes what he's built here and uses it as the foundation, there's no limit. He's already shown that he's self aware which a lot of artist don't seem to be. Being aware of yourself is the first step to noticing problems and noticing problems is the first step to solving them. If Kennedy can do that and build the confidence to deliver with no fear or hesitation, but boldness and determination then he's on the right path to success. - Blerds Online


"Orlando Kennedy - Argentina EP review"

I won’t go into another lengthy soliloquy about how awesome it is that Houston is full of rappers that aren’t afraid to wear their true feelings on their sleeves, but it bears repeating. This artist is just another stellar example.

Rapper Orland Kennedy is not a smooth criminal, but he wants you to know that. He knows that he doesn’t have the reckless abandon of a gangster rapper, but is honest with himself and listeners about that. Kennedy even admits in one song on “Argentina” that he’s straight edge, which is definitely not what we are conditioned by the media and the music industry to expect in a rap song.



And that refusing to fall into conventional hip-hop norms is a big part of what makes Kennedy’s music so relatable. You want to like to him because he’s a normal guy with a talent for rapping. He admits in dozens of ways that he is happy with who is, even if he doesn’t always “fit in” with most artists in his genre.

At the end of “tale of the stationary nomad,” Kennedy reminds listeners that “I like jazz and heavy metal, and I like playing guitar. I’m reading books by Kurt Vonnegut, and I’ve read books by Ayn Rand. I like taking photos of nature. I have many interests. And if you believe in the concept of ‘acting black,’ fuck you!” The lyrics are rarely something you could describe as angry though. Instead, they demand respect from listeners and critical thinking.

His rapping is well articulated, even when he’s going fast (and I mean articulation as in distinct and not slurred-together expressions of notes and phrases, rather than used in such banal expressions as “an articulate black man“). And he’s able to go very fast when he wants, but it’s not a pissing contest. Normally he cruises at a comfortable andante pace and mixes in spurts of acceleration for accent.

The beats are lush and synth-filled. Most of it conjures images of ’80s pop, but with higher production values.

Rating: ++*

*Normally, the rating is + or x, but ++ is like an A+ instead of just an A. Both are amazing grades. - Ready For The Houston


"Orlando Kennedy Interview"

On our first episode in months, I interview a local 18-year-old rapping wunderkind about his debut full length album. "Argentina" is available on BandCamp for your listening pleasure: https://orlandoxkennedy.bandcamp.com/album/argentina - Ready For The Houston


Discography

The Forest 
https://orlandoxkennedy.bandcamp.com/album/the-forest-ep

Argentina
https://orlandoxkennedy.bandcamp.com/album/argentina

Destruction, Oppression, Passion, Hope EP
coming September 29, 2015

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Bio

Orlando Kennedy is an 18-year-old art rapper/producer born in Houston TX who spent a large portion of his early childhood in Los Angeles, CA. He is now back in Houston with a complete unique rap style influenced by his lonely upbringing, love of video games, abstract art, philosophy and his love for obscure independent music. 

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