Page Kennedy is here to make sure real hip-hop is alive and well. A lyricist in his own right, the Detroit native arrives with undeniable bars and storytelling in his lyrics, touching on topics that are relevant to the issues we all face as a society today. In addition to music, Page is an actor, comedian, and social media personality boasting 974K followers on Instagram alone.
Most recently, Page returned with his newest project, the self-titled Page. Clocking in at 10 tracks, the album sees the recording artist filtering through the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality, systemic racism, and everything in between. The project’s cover art embodies a portrait of Page via a collage of pictures of those who have died at the hands of police brutality, as he uses his voice and platform to push for change. Equipped with standout features from Method Man and Xzibit, Page proves over and over why he’s a beast at the microphone.
On the acting tip, Kennedy rides the momentum of 2018’s The Meg in which he co-starred, reeling in over $530.2 million with the action film. Now, he celebrates his newest venture in the Netflix original series The Upshaws, co-starring alongside the legendary Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps.
Flaunt caught up with Page via Instagram Live, who was posted in his Los Angeles crib. Read below as we discuss the inspo behind his new album Page, the creative process, the beautiful cover art, how Method Man got on the project and their long-time friendship, working with Xzibit, shooting the new Netflix show The Upshaws, why he’s a GOAT, goals, and more!
Your new album Page is out now! How are you feeling?
Shit, I’m feeling good. I have a cacophony of so many different feelings and emotions that have been happening, it’s a roller coaster of things. I talked to a chief editor at a big hip-hop firm today for an hour. He called me talking to me about the state of hip-hop, where I am in the position of it, where they are. How and why certain platforms would be interested in dealing with you or not. Why you don’t get millions of views versus fucking Lil Pump or Lil Asshole? Listening to him, it sounded confounding to me because he’s like “you have to assimilate regardless. No matter what age you are, no matter what type of rap you do, you gotta turn into what’s happening now.”
I wanted to fight back with him, “well what about the actual art of creating something that’s here forever? The type of content like Biggie’s album, you can listen to now and it’s still amazing.” Then he makes the argument, “yeah of course Biggie’s album is amazing to me, because I grew up during the time when it was that type of thing. It’s a nostalgic feel for me but if you take your son, your son’s not about to listen to Biggie Smalls’ album.” I’m like, shit.
How was it working with Aftermath producer Focus and Mike West? Especially during a time like COVID.
Mike West is my in-house producer, he’s who I put all of my music through. On all my albums, he’s the main producer that’s ubiquitous in my projects. This was the first time I worked with Focus, I found Focus through Xzibit. I knew I wanted to do this project with Xzibit, Xzibit wanted us to do it his way. He didn’t want me to do the same way I always do. He wanted to come in the studio, at the same time do it right then. We picked the beats like that too. The first beat he played was the “Setup” beat, then he played 25 beats after that. I didn’t give a damn about how good any of those beats was, I said “go back to that first one!”
The Page album cover is so meaningful, a collage of pictures who have died at the hands of police brutality. What moved you to do this?
Because of the theme of this album, because of the place of the world we’re in and me wanting to use my voice to spark change and bring awareness, to have people emboldened to go and vote, this is the first time I’ve had a whole collection of songs to a cohesive process and project being consciously responsible. In that, the album cover is brilliant. My brother Lanfia put together an amalgamation to show how vast this calamity has been of this attack against us. I wanted to showcase that. As soon as you see that photo, it’s visceral for you. It’s palpable. You can hold it, grab it, you see it. It’s emblematic of what you’re listening to.
You collabed with Method Man and Elzhi from Slum Village on “Pain.” You and Meth have been friends since 19, what were you guys like then?
That’s the first time I did a show with Meth, he came to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Him, Wu-Tang, Shyheim, Redman, all those cats came to my college to do a show there ,and I opened that show. That’s where I first met him backstage, chillin’ and kicking it with them. Throughout the years, we’ve kept in contact doing other shows. They’ve brought me on stage before. I did a TV show with Method Man and Michael B. Jordan, CSI. This was a perfect opportunity. I needed to have one song at least where I’m rapping on there, ‘cause people know me for the bars.
This project wasn’t really predicated on my bars more so, I wasn’t trying to get in your head. Usually I’m trying to get in your head so you can see how witty and smart I am, how I can do all of these double entendres and triple entendres that you don’t think about. But I saw the Roughriders documentary on BET talking about DMX and how he wasn’t the greatest rapper ever lyrically, but you loved him because he got in your heart. Damn you know what, I want to make music to get into your heart. They already know I could do the bars, but let me get into your heart. When I started doing that, okay this is where the project’s gonna go. But I needed at least one song where we’re spitting on there. That’s why I called on Elzhi, one of the greatest rappers in history. His dexterity is incomparable. I had to get him, then I had to get Meth as well.
How easy is it for you to call up Meth like “yo, we need this”?
I’ma tell you, because I got a lot of rappers’ numbers in my phone that I text, call, tweet all the time. Sometimes, they don’t get back to me. They claim they’re gonna get back to me, or they say they got me and they don’t got me. Meth, I call him and out of all the features that I asked for, Meth sent it back the fastest.
Well he sent me a message. He said “look man, ya’ll going in on this. You gotta give me a second because I want to make sure the bars is right.” He kept checking in with me. The next week, he sent me another video message. He said “yo I got half of them down bro, you’ll be getting the next one in about a week or so.” He sent it pretty quick man, I was so hyped because he’s so legendary. Meth came with it.
Is there a video coming?
Right now, I’m trying to figure out what are people’s favorite songs because I put a lot of care, energy, and money into my videos. I don’t want to make a video for a song that people aren’t checking for. I know “Pain” is definitely one of the highlights on the project, so we might have to have some type of visual for it.
Speaking of, “Setup” with Xzibit video out now.
Listen, the video’s very poignant. That’s a very important song for me, because I’d talked about a lot of black cops killing unarmed black men. I talked about that a lot and I was very specific. That was the salient point for me at that time. I also needed to talk and speak on the elephant in the room, which was us killing each other, where this is coming from and how to stop it. This “Setup” song is so important. With the back and forth, you can get thrown off by sonically how it sounds. We have a very deep and poignant message in that song that needs to be adhered to. You’d be admonished to pay attention to what we’re saying.
What was your creative vision with that music video? You guys are straight spitting, which is dope.
It was to have the video be concomitant with the song so that you can understand what we’re talking about more. Because if you just listen to the song, the fact that this is black on black crime and this woman that set us up isn’t actually a woman, she’s represented by the system, the government that pits black people against each other. If you’re not really paying attention, that shit can go over your head. You’re thinking it’s some white girl that set them up. That’s why we needed the visual to come in to be a bastion of the point we’re trying to hit home.
Best part of shooting the visual?
The timing of it, I wasn’t able to have Xzibit in the video with me. I had to be creative with how I wanted to tell this story. The best part was finding the actors to play us, watching them work through it and say the lyrics we wrote and made. That was dope.
How ‘s your relationship with Xzibit?
Dope. Xzibit’s incredible, he’s an astute businessman. Some rappers just rap, that’s what they do. That’s what they have done, they live and die by that. They eat that or they don’t. Xzibit had the fortitude to be able to take his status, then move over into the business space and be lucrative—way more lucrative in the business space than he was even as a rapper. I revere that, I’m inspired by him.
Let’s get into your acting. How’s it feel to have The Meg do $530 million?
To be a part of a film, to be a major part of a film that makes over a half a billion dollars and is a top 10 film of the entire year, that feels great. Especially when you don’t die. [laughs] That means now, you’re a staple in a franchise. Ya’ll can see back there. [shows The Meg poster behind him] There will be a second one coming. To be a part of a summer blockbuster franchise, that’s all you can dream of. I’m excited to go and do the next one.
Talk about starring in the new Netflix series, The Upshaws, alongside Mike Epps and Wanda Sykes.
The Upshaws stars Mike Epps, Wanda Sykes, the legendary Kim Fields, and myself. It’s about a blue collar industrial family living in Indianapolis. It’s hilarious, it’s heartfelt, it’s irreverent. It’s not like anything on network television. I play Duck, Mike Epps’ best friend who did 7 to 10 years for him in prison. When I get out, I start working at the shop with him. I’m an ex-convict who to avoid recidivism, he has turned his life over to God.
How much does this relate to you personally, if at all?
What?! Oh so I look like a n*gga that been in prison? I look like a prisoner? [laughs] This doesn’t really relate to me and in real life, I’m nothing like this character at all. Actually, this is a fun character because I get to play something different. I get to have a different energy to me. My energy is usually big and explosive, this is different.
Highlight from shooting that? How was it with COVID?
Being around Mike Epps, Wanda Sykes, Kim, they’re so funny in real life.
I bet! That sounds like a ball.
Yeah, definitely a ball. The whole cast and crew was fantastic. We had to take an eight month break because of COVID. And then I had gained a COVID-20, so I had to try and lose all that within a month to get back to fit in my wardrobe. When we went back, it was weird because you have a mask on and shield. Rehearsing throughout the week, you can’t even see what people’s facial expressions are until taping day. That was a little challenging at first, but when you do these shows, a lot of times you become family with these people. It’s fun. I tell kids all the time, pick an occupation that you want to wake up at 6am and go do. To me it’s not going to work, it’s going to have fun.
What do you feel when you act, compared to when you rap?
For me, it all goes together. It’s exercising a part of my body to entertain. Whatever the part of my body is that makes me want to rap and spit bars, is the same thing that makes me want to go and do Shakespeare. I love words. I love the way beautiful words come out of my mouth, particularly doing Shakespeare. Since I don’t constantly walk around doing Shakespeare, I decided in my regular life learn how to say beautiful words. Because I love doing it, it’s the same muscle in my brain to do both.
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Yes, I do. I want to be great. I crave, I desire, I yearn for greatness and diversity. I’m constantly struggling. I want to be the greatest actor/rapper ever made in the world.
What’s it going to take to get there?
Hard work and to be fortuitous.
Do you read? Where do you get your vocabulary?
I watched a lot of First Take and Undisputed, a lot of movies. I’m not someone who hears a word I never heard before — or hear a word I have heard before, but don’t know the actual meaning of it — then let that shit go. If there’s a word I’ve never heard before or a word that I have heard before and I don’t know what it means, I literally immediately go look it up. I write it down and put it in my notes, apply it in my everyday speech so it stays there.
What is a GOAT to you?
A GOAT is somebody who does something that other people can’t. Their acuity at doing things is higher than everyone else’s and they do it.
So why are you the GOAT?
Because I’ve been doing this a very long time, longer than people know. They know me from the internet, a lot of them were in elementary school, middle school, high school, when they happened upon me. But I’ve been here for 35 years, entertaining. I was out on my first stage rapping at 10 years old. I’ve been doing this for so long, through all my elementary school, middle school, high school, these are people’s lives I affected with my talent because I was so precocious. The fact that I’m still capable and able of doing it at a high level makes me have to be one of the GOATS.
Anything else you want to let the people know?
The “Setup” video is out right now on YouTube. I really need your support, go watch it. Making music that has a point and meaning be relevant still. It’s a great time to have dancing and fun with music, but it’s also good to have music that can make you feel some kind of way. That’s the type of music that I make. It’s a dying art that needs to be revived and you guys are the power to make that happen.