We are able to create and be whatever we say we are [...].
[...] there is a deep capacity for human beings to transform.
Any human is capable of being anything [...].
Kellee Maize is a singer/songwriter, hip hop artist, entrepreneur and activist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She writes inspirational lyrics strongly focusing on positivity. Her music is available for free and her songs have been downloaded millions of times from amazon.com.
She has an active web presence. For instance, if you google "female rapper", her name pops up in the top ranks.
An interview with Kellee:
JBG: You currently offer your songs free of charge, with the disclaimer that this won't always be the case. How important do you think it is nowadays for new artists to initially offer free songs in order to build up a reputation and start to be successful in the business?
KM: I think it is extremely important that new artists offer their music for free. It is always more effective to allow someone to sample something before they buy. People often don't like something new right away, they need to get related. Who I am, and what I stand for in the world is that everyone has access to the kinds of things that have helped me as a person get thru a lot of B.S. and that they have access to information and art. So, my music will always be free for those who can't afford it and my hope is that I can build a strong network of support so that art like mine has a place in the world and can be sustainable. It also creates structure to find out what works, and what does not work; what resonates and what doesn't. If I could find a way, it would always be free!
Your music videos and the production of your songs look very professional and costly. How do you manage to do this?
For my music videos and production we work with a low budget and find amazing resources and people to make it all happen. I get a lot of support from my friends too, for which I am sooo greatful. Many of the videographer's are either still in school or recent graduates of school. Some are professionals from around Pittsburgh but align with my vision. As for the music, I have a team of producers who create unimaginable works of art for me to flow to. They all are very inspiring and ambitious individuals who also see the vision and work with me to make things happen on very low budgets. The same goes for make-up artists and stylists. They all basically want what I do, to be seen/heard and given a chance so our visions are congruent and complimentary... not to mention we have mad love for each other.
You incentivize people to share your songs using their social networks. For instance, by offering a gift in return for sharing one of your videos on Facebook or Twitter. Do you believe this is the future of marketing in the music business?
I believe that this is one way of doing things. Social media is very important in terms of promotion. By sharing a video one time that video can then be shared on, and on, and on. The free gifts are just an added feature that a lot of people are really interested in. I love to make my fan's happy, and offer them an added bonus when I can.
Lady Gaga has over 8 million followers on Twitter; Tila Tequila became famous for having the most friends on MySpace. What are your views on this high level of connectivity using social networks?
Social media is revolutionizing how we communicate. It really allows one to connect to another in a way that may not happen in "real life". People from all over the country and the world can talk to me, ask me questions, express their feelings about my music. When you provide that sort of relationship to the people who really understand my lyrics and really strive to be this world of unconditional love, it creates a space of fulfillment in my heart and in theirs. It's like when a fan meets his or her favorite music artist in the world. They go crazy, they get excited, it all becomes real. I think the artist in turn is inspired and enlivened by such an interaction and that is how I think we both feel when we communicate via social networking!
I believe there is currently a merging to be seen between hip hop and electronic music. What is your take on this and how do you view electronic music in general.
I think hip hop and electronic music have always been synced in many ways. I became aware of it during my first trip to the Winter Music Conference when I heard all the emcees spit over electronic music... and I myself have always done this. Electronic music provides an extra sense of aliveness, joy and creation. When I hear electronic music I become totally engaged with moving my body and creating a work of art in it's own, dance. It's like massaging the Earth when we dance... the native people have done it for thousands of years. I almost see electronic music as extra terrestrial too, like the higher bpm is communicating with other dimensions and other worldly life. So, it only makes sense to me that it would then merge with more direct language communication in hip hop... because such a big part of hip hop is the emcee and the lyrics!
You describe yourself as a female rapper. However, your lyrics are unconventional in the sense that they are inspirational and spiritual. Could you say something about this uncommon mixture?
I am a female rapper, singer, and dancer and I think hip hop has always been a medium for activism. I am an activist for my listeners to become inspired and more open to ideas and concepts that I think are very useful in our current times. I often also cover the state of the world, as a means to hopefully presence the listener to what is going on and then offer various things that have helped me recognize my own power to overcome and our power to create in the face of no agreement in the world. You could say that a lot of it is spiritual, but sometimes that word leads people down the wrong path. I am really just about understanding how humans (we) work at promoting, love, peace, compassion and creation. We are able to create and be whatever we say we are and for too long, we have been controlled by the negative voice inside that results from domestication. The one that says we can't do this or that. I believe we are entering a stage where that voice will be dealt with in a direct and powerful way, just in time to redirect the focus of this planet from fear and hate to love... .and just in time.
Could you say something more about what inspires you, what your spiritual message is and what role it plays in your life?
I am very inspired by all of my beautiful friends, family, teachers, creatures and plants. They all are a "team" in allowing this space of fulfillment, success, love, peace, and joy that I am creating moment to moment... .and then when I go to a negative space, which we all do, they that bring me back! I receive many letters from fans that just touch my heart in so many ways it's hard to describe. They all keep me going. It inspires me to consider a realm of true unconditional love, where war is not an option, where there is food for every person on the planet. I know this is possible, given the fact that there is enough wealth in this world, and that there is a deep capacity for human beings to transform. This is what inspires me. I spend as much time as I can focusing on this kind of world, envisioning what it would be like, imagining it is here, writing from the space of what it will take to be there.
The current zeitgeist has been described as being postmodern (stressing the plasticity, plurality and constant change of reality and knowledge) and afflicted by the data deluge (the petabyte age of information overload). What is your advice for young people to successfully navigate these uncertain, changing and challenging times?
Well, I think I answered a lot of this above. I know how hard it can be. As a young person I was confused, depressed and angry. I think the single most important thing I can think of is to focus on what you want. And I mean this on an individual and global level. We are not taught that what we spend our time concentrating on expands. From a personal perspective, that can be as simple as thinking that I am stuck with a certain trait. Any human is capable of being anything and we all have a unique role to play. So, for example... a kid that may want to be a painter, but someone told them they are a shitty painter. Then, moving forward, that is all they can hear. That is all they focus on, that one voice of another, becomes our own voice. This also makes me think about how important it is to be loving and compassionate to others, because you never know how one moment can alter a persons life particularly when they are young. So, I think its just important to know that what you focus on expands and that we need to keep an empowering, inspiring context in all that we do. I think that young people are really being brought into this world with new and different brain capacities and they will be the ones leading the way on all of this! If you google indigo children, that is specifically what I am talking about. We just need to make sure we aren't medicating our youth!
Are you vegetarian/vegan? If yes, why? If not, why?
I actually consider myself a pescitarian, which means that I occasionally eat eggs (free range) and wild fish (no farm raised). It is somewhat rare however that I eat them so I am currently in a space where I am considering becoming a a full vegetarian and eating only organic foods. I teeter back and forth on that decision so I have stopped calling myself a vegetarian for that reason. I learned entirely too much about the meatpacking industry years ago that I cut out meat for a long time and don't miss it. And, films like Food Inc have really restricted what I will eat these days. There are so many issues with pesticides and processing! And I just feel the animals are not killed responsibly and not raised responsibly. It hurts my heart when I see animals killed in the manner that we currently do... .like literally, I feel it when I see or think about it.
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well, I am going to phrase this as if it is already happening... cause that is how u create :). I will be doing shows internationally and speaking on a regular basis. I will be releasing an album a year... so that would mean I would have 10 more albums by then :). I will definitely start a family by then as well and hopefully become versed in the healing arts of reiki and cellular expansion. My business will also always be a big part of my life... check it out at www.nakturnal.net!
How do you see the US in 10 years?
Again, I will phrase this from what I want to see, as if it is real! The US will be an aid to all countries, we will offer reparations for slavery to African Americans, we will cancel all depts owed to us by third world countries. We will have universal health care. We will be leaders in the healing arts, technology, scientific discovery, and medicine. I know it sounds idealistic but, I am not gonna offer the other side of how I think it may be cause that just isn't worth my time. I cover it in my music to raise awareness but, in this format, I think it is better to answer how I WANT and feel it could be. :)
How do you see the world in 10 years?
All cultures are respected and maintained but also open minded to others and willing to learn from each other. I think a lot will go down between now and then that will help to create a balance so that we can be understood as individuals throughout the world community but also develop a oneness that creates compassion and love for each other. If you ever see the end of Zeitgeist where it talks about the Venus project, i am tryin' to see that as the future!
She just released her newest video, with fast vocals and a dubstep bassline. See the lyrics here