Monthly Artist Feature (April 2021) – Immanuel “Ras-I” Kerr

Artist’s Name: Immanuel Kerr

Name of Brand: Ras-I

Artist’s Age: 30

Artform: Music

Why do you do what you do?

I do music because it’s self expression, it is a way of just freeing up myself. I put a lot of what I feel into my music, it’s like an escape.

When did you realize you had a passion for what you do?

I’ve always had a passion for music, I’ve always been around it. But that moment for me was when I was around the age of 15/16 when I started making rhythms for the first time. Just the whole process was wonderful to me. [It was] more hands on than ever, that’s what took it to the next level for me. 

What is your educational background?

I attended Wolmer’s Prep and then Wolmer’s High school for boys, excelsior for sixth form, pre-uwi for unit 2 of cape and did a brief  stay at UTECH. 

What are some of the challenges you faced  while trying to pursue your passion?

Challenges in finding my footing, finding my lane and also getting airplay and bookings. I didn’t have a lot of structure in place at first so I would always fall short of certain things.

Have you ever encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams and how did you deal with it?

Always! I mean, if the journey was just “yes, yes, yes”, I’d question it. In anything great, you’ll always have doubters and so for me I dealt with it by using it as fuel. Putting it in the tank and letting it motivate me.

How do you react to those individuals now?

I just laugh *laughs*. Simple, I can’t do anything else.

What are some of the fears you face within your journey today?

For me, I’ve seen many great singers not make it. That will always worry you. Because these are people you look upto and you think they are so amazing at what they do. Why is it that they haven’t gotten through the “gate” like others? 

How do you deal with those fears?

You have to just let go and trust it, trust yourself, trust the process.

How do you work, what is the method to your “madness” and how do you filter your creativity?

For me it just depends, sometimes I’m chilling with friends, Reasoning and a man says something like a mad line and I build a vibe around it. I chill with musicians; Just jamming. But if I’m at home writing by myself. I am locked in my room, the rhythm playing loud and anytime I find a Bad(good) line its like the world to me.

What role do you believe the artist has in society?/how do you feel your artform has the power to benefit society/how do wish it would impact society?

Well for me, Artists are there to paint mental images of the reality of what is taking place. You are the messenger and the voice of the voiceless. You have to know that whatever you put out there. It will be transferred from one area to another. You don’t want to send out the wrong vibes, you want to teach reality and show the right way and that is how your art form will benefit. When you put out good music, positive music, good quality music. You help to change the mindset of a lot, not all, you can’t change the mindset of all. One set of ears at a time, one mind at a time.

Out of all your bodies of work which piece resonates with you most?

The first song on my debut album (Tsojourna), “I am”. It was a poem that I wrote, that became a song eventually. I was just in a very bothered state of mind and was doing some self reflection and that came about.

Where do you see yourself going?

This is always a very weird question. On tour, spreading the music right across the globe. I’m really looking forward to performing in Africa. It’s one of my biggest goals. 

By what terms do you measure success or perfection? When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be experienced by others?

For me, it just feels like the song is ready. Of course, there are a few ears that I pass the song through and their stamp of approval is very vital. But it’s really just the feeling. The feeling like this song has taken us on the journey. Its complete.

What elements of your career bring you the most stress and how do you deal with it?

Right now, its really just the marketing. Especially in COVID-19 time, you have to learn new strategies. Creating the music is good. But the marketing aspect and getting funding to do stuff, finding capital especially in COVID-19 times. 

The word “ubuntu” means “I Am because we are”; how have you seen that reflected in your own life?

We live by that subconsciously, because my music speaks a lot about strength in each other. It’s the only way we can move forward with togetherness, love and unity. The message is always there. 

What is some advice that you would give to anyone who is trying to walk the same path as you?

Please learn the music as well as the business aspect. If you want to have longevity you can’t hustle music. You have hustlers and you have people who build careers.

What is something(quote or reminder) that you live by?

Don’t shirk the work any at all, work hard and work smart. 

“When you put out good music, positive music, good quality music. You help to change the mindset of a lot, not all, you can’t change the mindset of all. One set of ears at a time, one mind at a time.”

~ Immanuel “Ras-I” Kerr