"Let the decibels shake your existence, play it louder than you can handle," Kenna says. "This is not a record to take lightly, it was written to change your perspective for good."
Well, lives changed and futures got redirected when a copy of U2â€™s Joshua Tree found its way into the hands of Kenna, the eldest son of an immigrant Ethiopian family relocated to Virginia Beach. Kenna took inspiration from the melodies and messages of the Irish rock quartet and knew it was his lot in life to make his own music that was as equally powerful and poetic, to become an artist whose work would resonate through the decades.
The outcome of this event seems even more unlikely considering that young Kenna hadnâ€™t expressed much interest in music before it happened and that he had been scalping tickets for the bandâ€™s sold out show to his friends at a profit just months earlier. But then again, this is how musical shifts happen: strange cross-culture re-combinations that create something entirely new and lasting.
Kenna kept that Joshua Tree cassette in his stereo, almost destroying the tape with repeated plays. More albums followed: The Cars, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Beatles. All of them powerful pop music that proves that the format is not inherently shallow, but instead can carry as much emotional power as any piece of art.
KennaFrom the influences of this music, along with a unique cultural, environmental, and generational perspective, comes Kennaâ€™s debut New Sacred Cow. It is an album whose resonance and depth only grow with time. As Kenna says, â€œIâ€™m the protector of this music. Iâ€™m not here to come and go, and Iâ€™m not leaving anytime soon.â€?
The combination of Kennaâ€™s songwriting and his work with producer/friend-since-high-school Chad Hugo, one half of THE NEPTUNES, creates something entirely new while simultaneously reminding you why you started to care about music in the first place. The songs of New Sacred Cow cover the full spectrum of a personal metamorphosis yet continues to communicate Kenna's fear of the rise of individualism, search for control and power hungry ego-mania.
â€œSunday After Youâ€? and â€œHell Bentâ€? explore the complicated, and often dark, emotional reality that exists inside and how they can control us. The albumâ€™s first single â€œFreetimeâ€? is an anthem that is simultaneously joyous in its tribute to escape, yet melancholy about the loss of something great because we thought the grass was greener. And â€œRedmanâ€? is a meditation on redemption and discovery.
If you listen to New Sacred Cow and you have trouble categorizing Kenna, then donâ€™t. But donâ€™t dismiss him either. Kenna knows the power of music isnâ€™t in difference, but finding the common ground of emotional resonance. â€œPeople say think outside the box, but thatâ€™s wrong,â€? Kenna says. â€œThink inside the box. Just make the box bigger.â€? Kenna will make you realize that the box is much bigger than you ever imagined.