It wouldn’t be completely fair to simply say that KAMAU is a rapper. The Maryland native turned Brooklyn transplant does more than that. His 2016 EP A Gorgeous Fortune and single, “Mint,” are evidence that his talents go beyond rap.

ESSENCE spoke to the up-and-coming artist about growth, his unique education, and where music is headed.

A graduate of Pratt, KAMAU grew up in Maryland, attending Ujamaa Shule, which is billed as the “oldest completely independent Afrikan-centered school in the United States,” learning history that’s often not taught in US schools.

“It’s like a corrector for our children. Education can be dangerous, it’s very powerful, but it can be dangerous because it assumes the place of truth,” he says, “Sometimes the agenda isn’t the pursuit of truth in valid information to support a strong mind or worthy perspective, but an agenda to control and create a tunnel or pipeline to certain things.”

There he learned the rich history of Black nobles, kings and queens, and people often left out of history books who paved the way. KAMAU says the school also taught him a strong sense of self, so when he transferred to public school, where he admits he was made fun of quite a lot, it didn’t really faze him. 

KAMAU is carving out a niche of his own, striving to conquer goals but acknowledging that “life proves that goals are just a set of predictions.” 

“I just want to always be in the process of getting better,” he says. “You know how a snake sheds it’s skin? Kind of like that but even cooler. I want to grow as much as I can.”

It will be exciting to see what’s to come for the rapper, who’s music has set the bar for anyone who might follow. Just listen to “The Sun King,” “The Icarus,”  or “Gaims,” and it’s evident that whatever direction he takes, KAMAU is bound to give fans something fresh and unique to listen to.

And, while the future is subject to change, KAMAU has plans to create a live-in space for artists, where they can collaborate and share resources. And, he’s not too worried about where music is headed next.”Music is a living thing and it’s smarter than any person, it existed long before we did and it will continue to.”