Something You Can Feel: Kevin McCall
story by: iman n. milner
“Kevin McCall as an artist? You know it’s funny—a lot of artists have a character that they play, you know? Like they’re in a movie. But me, I’m just K Mac or Kevin, that’s what I want to come through in my music. It’s not just enough to say you’re real, people have to feel it or they won’t relate. You’ll never have a hit if you’re pretending”. With a couple No.1 singles under his belt, a Grammy nomination under his list of growing accolades and a new album that is slated to put him on the lips of all R&B fans, it is safe to say that Kevin McCall knows a thing or two about how to make people feel who he is through the music he creates. When everyone seems to be concerned with crossing over, he’s simply committed to bringing back the music we all loved, music that spoke not just to the party but to the heart and his timing couldn’t be any better.
Hailing from East LA’s beloved Watts neighborhood, Kevin McCall was the middle child of 4 and the self proclaimed favorite of his relatives but the extra attention wasn’t the only perk he received from his childhood. “There’s about 30 musicians in my family, everyone sings or raps”, he says with a husky chuckle, “my mother was in a group called The Belles after her maiden name and my uncle is part of a group called Bloodstone, they had a song called ‘Natural High’, they all sung that real shit, I guess that’s where I get it from”. That influence is heavy in Kevin’s contemporary spin on classic soul music, the result being hits like 2010’s Deuces off of Chris Brown’s “Fan of a Fan” mixtape, the which McCall produced and appeared on as a rapper. The song received praise for its production that featured house and pop elements but grooved like the down tempo R&B cuts of the past. The song appeared at No.1 on the Billboard Hip Hop/R&B charts and introduced Kevin as an artist. But few music fans knew that though he appeared as a rapper, his smooth vocals and pen skills had accompanied much of the rest of the tape as well as tracks for artists like Tank, Keri Hilson and pop sensation Justin Bieber. The truth of the matter is that it had never been Kevin’s plan to first emerge as a rapper, it sort of just happened. “I mean, we were kind of just getting stuff off our chests and it ended up being a hit, I didn’t intend for it…we were being honest, people could relate…same is true of “Strip” (his current hit with Brown), it picked up steam and took off, everyone thinks they have a hit in the studio but you never really know what to expect”.
Thankfully Kevin didn’t allow his newfound fame as a lyricist to derail his singing aspirations. He went hard to work on his first studio album that is still untitled but will feature his new single “Naked” that features G.O.O.D Music breakout star, Big Sean. With “Strip”, and “Naked”, there seems to be a pattern as far as the things that Kevin likes to discuss, namely women and sex. So we had to know, just who is Kevin McCall as a lover? “You see this tattoo on my arm”; he says pointing to the brand for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, “I am a nasty, nasty Que dog. I know people may think, ‘he talks about it all the time he can’t be good at it’, don’t believe that, that couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to me”. But Kevin insists he’s not just interested in the physical. Having witnessed his parents be happily married for 18 years, he has a clear view of the kind of love he hopes to have for the woman he chooses to settle down with.
“Agape love. Unconditional. It’s a love we are almost incapable of, we don’t have the capacity to love fully in that way, human beings are conditional, we just are, but the closest I feel to that is the love I have for my daughter”. It was fatherhood that served as a turning point for Kevin’s artistry and personal life. It gave him “something to live for”, once carefree and a bit reckless, McCall has come to terms with living a life not only for himself but for the people who believe in and depend on him. This awakening served as all the fire he needed to go about creating an album that he says will show the complexities of who he is. Growth, it seems, is his focus. Growth spiritually and artistically, a keen sense of the reality that in a blink of an eye all these things could change.
“I believe in karma. Everything is temporary. I’ve seen how quickly people turn their backs on others. One minute everyone is your friend because you’re hot and the next minute you’re completely alone. This can’t be your everything but at the same time when you’ve got your shot, you’ve got to take it. There are no friends…everyone is competition. At the end of the day, you want my spot and I want yours, you get me?” he asks with a sweet smile. It’s crystal clear in that moment why Kevin McCall is in line to be the next superstar. Never mind his sickening good looks and his body handcrafted by Michelangelo himself. And never mind what his infectious beats make us feel. His appeal is his silent strength. No braggadocio no put on pretense, no new school feeling of entitlement. Kevin McCall is here to do the work it takes to be around for years to come. And if you don’t hear him coming, wait a little while, you’ll feel the realness in his music soon enough.