An unconventional author birthed by Hip-Hop, Kewalnam, is a breath of fresh air in the literary world. Hailing from Toronto his influences include Jay Z, Kanye, Rakim, Wu-Tang, Lil’ Wayne, Sista Soulja, Nas, Maya Angelou and MF Doom, to name a few. He crafts raw, palpable narratives, infused with whimsical lyricism, fortitude, and undeniable work ethic to create a product that isn’t rap but refined by its blueprint. The words cut through the page and connect fourth dimensionally with the reader, instantaneously you’re in the flesh and blood of the pages. “Thank God For Drugs” and “Woman In Black” will cause a paradigm shift in redefining the literary cannon for the next generation. Creating a new voice called Trap-lit for the kids. This is only the beginning.
Respect king. 🙂 This is actually our third attempt ag an interview. The charm. ✨ How is everything? Where are you currently?
Yeah, it’s crazy. We finally found a way of capturing the vibe of our conversations. It’s perfect. [Everything is] great.
Just released my books and back in New York. I’ll be in LA this summer, and we are planning a book tour. We want to get the third book out first.
Were all 3 books created and released chronologically?
Not really. The first and second were created with the same mindset just on two different spectrums. But this third one is much deeper, I started working on in late summer. And then 4:44 dropped and confirmed thoughts for me so now it’s just going where its going.
4:44 was so prophetic. What was it like for you the night it dropped?
It was. My friends and I gathered around my phone, and almost cried together. Everything we were saying was being spoken back to us with clarity and education and raw passion.
It was a moment of internal release.
Yes. I cried! I felt so inspired. The way he combines candid storytelling and film brought me to tears of joy. What does fine art mean to you today as a Black man? What role do you feel it plays in society?
What does fine art mean ????. Well, for me, I take fine art extremely serious. I believe in detail. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everyone else. I’d like to see more fine artists and not just people with pens, but it’s all about expression right now in this generation.
So for me, it’s about existing in a medium.
Your book has gone through variations since we first met. What has evolved? How has that been a reflection of your own evolution?
Man, the evolution was just about centering on an idea and finding the best way to communicate it. Being okay with my voice and stripping away unnecessary prose, life things. I finished [the first book] and started working on a second story — just to push my mind forward and express my fear of time. That lead me to what I’m working on now, which in my opinion, will top both when it comes out this year.
I stopped trying to write books and focused on designing spaces. Spaces for a reader to exist in. And with each book I’m perfecting that method.
I’m sure many writers can relate, especially when it comes to stripping away and surrendering. How do you know when it’s time: When a book is ready to be published and shared with the world?
Now I spend so much time building the story, characters, and plot, that by the time I start writing it’s just coming out like water. Plus I spend a lot of time on a sentence — like, days.
Do you handle everything yourself creatively, or work with a team?
I do everything myself, but I am apart of a group of other creatives. And I guess, I stopped caring for certain things once I saw the reaction from people in the streets.The title, imagery, and message hit. People were getting it. I think the consumer has gotten smarter.
Facts. You’ve been in the streets talking to the people about your books. What’s that like and how has the response been?
I just talk to people. It’s simple; just asking people questions and giving them something to read. They enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be specific, just go outside and talk with people.
It’s not as difficult as it seems, people like talking about books. Just introduce yourself and start talking.
[Overall], rollout has been amazing. We still have so much planned, and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Nice. Definitely looking forward to that. What do you feel is the greatest responsibility that a writer has to an audience?
Authenticity. I feel as though our biggest responsibility is to the craft and second to the audience. We aren’t here to placate or to be passive. But to create something raw and vulnerable, almost three dimensional for the reader to escape into and learn something about themselves.
We draw a lot of parallels between the music and literature industries, and now film, and we connected over the fine art style you were using to promote your book. How do these industries blend together and inspire your work?
My literature is inspired by those parallels. Film and music are key components to my blueprints when crafting and writing a story.
Everything from the energy of a project to the marketing of it, I study it all. Don’t want to give away my secrets tho lol
Protect the sauce at all costs lol. Has Social media helped you build a platform for your book? How have you been engaging your audience?
Social media has definitely helped me reach new people, but I find my best success has come with personal interaction and the transference of energy back and forth.
Who are 3 people that you would love to read your book?
HOV, YE, BLACK THOUGHT.
Oh, and Andre 3000. Leo Decaprio. Darren Aronofsky, and Chris Nolan.
Oh, its lit. You’ve put it in the universe, so let’s see what happens. If you could form your own label of writers, who would you include?
If I could form my own label of writers…
Okay one — it would be a huge label, like Universal records. I’d have other labels under it for specific writers.
So for the label that’s more new age and metamodern, I’d go with @erynamelism @daeizm @dearyoufromwe @mustafathepoet @joelakamag @chelseasummers and @sohamizm.
I’d have a Motown side of the label for authors like Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Zane, James Baldwin, Gil Scott Heron, Richard Wright, Octavia Butler, Sista Souljah, Richard Price, Johnathan Lethem, Ian McEwan, Faulkner, Tolkien, Franzen, Don Delilo, David Foster Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, Toni Morrison, Samuel Delaney, Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks and Du Bois.
Then, I’d have another subsidiary for where I’d sign J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Gillian Flynn, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Zadie Smith — so many great writers. I know I’m missing a ton of the new guys as well, like Ta Nehisi Coates, but yeah.
What’s the most creative thing you’ve seen recently?
The most creative thing I’ve seen recently ???????????? my marketing strategy for my books and the plot of my third one.
I’ve been watching some old Fellini films that are showing me I still have work to do.
I loved Virgil’s last Off-White collection, and the direction miu miu is going in. I’m always fanboying over architecture on http://nowness.com. So I’ve seen some really amazing spaces that have inspired me. And I’m watching a list of 50 films, front to back lol. Can’t give too much away, gotta keep the real magic secret. ????????
You and these secrets. You called “Women in Black” your version of The Coldest Winter Ever, and likened the evolution from your writing in “Thank God for Drugs” to that of Kanye’s 808s to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange to Blonde. What influenced this growth and direction in your writing?
My writing is sleeker and a lot more layered than it originally was. I was at a place where I wanted to evolve my storytelling and craftsmanship and Blonde helped do that. It reshaped my whole framework.
My third book will be better than these two.
Beautiful. For those wondering. What does Kewalnam Christ mean?
My name Kewalnam literally means ‘the search for God’s truth’ and Christ is a mantel, like King.
Growth. Speaking of which, we once clashed briefly on spirituality and symbolism. Then found new ways to relate to each other through art. You bear the moniker Christ, and touching on divinity a lot. What is your relationship like with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit?
I studied religion in high school and continued studies afterward, it was through those studies and many more that I came to the understanding I have in my personal relationship with the divine. I don’t follow those old belief systems and haven’t been inside of a church in 7 years or more.
My relationship with God (Life) is my relationship with all things: growing, evolving, intimate, and personal. I pray, I meditate, I fast, my life as well as my beliefs are tailor-made for me 🙂
Namaste. Okay, one last question: how can we read your books?
Everyone head to Amazon, type in my name or the titles of the both books and grab yourself a copy of thought provoking, mind bending, emotionally potent literature.
You can follow Kewalnam on IG: @kewalnamchrist or Twitter at @iamkewalnam. Both books are available now on paperback.
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Eccleston's work has been exhibited at the United Nations HQ, Trinidad & Tobago, Greece, Art Basel-Miami, Switzerland and Jamaica.