Hip Hop and Faith
What a pleasure to talk to Kevin Felder, and his alter-ego Big Redd. While he lays claim to an alter-ego, an ego appears nowhere to be found. A renaissance man to the core, Kevin has devoted and dispersed his talents as an artist and entrepreneur across radio, records, advertising, social media, and, perhaps most notably, as a mentor to those seeking his kind of success with the very same.
There’s the entrepreneur Kevin Felder, the founder of The Euniek Group, which helps small and medium-sized business navigate through radio, tv, and advertising. And, there’s the artist. And that artist is currently making big waves. Marrying hip hop and gospel, Big Redd is resonating across the charts with a song that is as honest as it is infectious. A collaboration with gospel giant Fred Hammond, “Running Back to You” is what Big Redd describes as an “introspective look into times in our lives when we possibly encounter God and provides hope that no matter how far we get from God we can always run back to Him.”
Big Redd was kind enough to take the time to speak to us about his remarkable path as an artist an entrepreneur, and the opportunity he’s forged to spread the good word. And the path he forged wasn’t always as deliberate. “I had no idea that I would be in music, in the radio industry, entertainment, at all. It never was a desire of mine. I actually was on the medical track… I was even pre-med going into college. I graduated from Wake Forest University. But that was it. I knew I was going to be a doctor, but once I got to Wake and started taking classes, and really started kind of having a heart search, I really got convicted about my motives for wanting to be a doctor. I really just wanted six-figures, and to be able to play golf and drive a nice car, and, specifically I wanted to be an anesthesiologist, and I was like ‘I can work Monday through Friday, have my weekends to myself, travel,’ and really all of those things had nothing to do with serving people. So, I was like ‘Okay, what do I really want to do?’ And so, I settled … Well I shouldn’t say settled, but aligned with my true life purpose, which is communication.”
Kevin continued, touching on the role of his faith early on in that path. “Specifically, for me, as a Christian, and becoming a Christian while I was in college, I just became so aware of my life calling. Which will be to communicate God’s love to people all over the world. And I didn’t know what that would look like then, but I knew once I started as a communication major, that I was gaining the skills that I would use in some future platform. But even then, I had no idea that it would be in music and in the radio industry. So, it’s just beautiful how God can kind of set you up, and give you all the skills you need and a life experience, and then sit you on this platform and it’s like that’s what all the other things were for. So …here I am.”
It was perhaps by chance that Big Redd combined his talents, encouraged to do so by his peers. “They blessed me, they pushed me forward to go pursue it. And that’s when I began my solo rap career as Big Redd. This retreat that I went to, I believe it was my junior year of college, and some guys introduced me to Christian rap. And I had never heard of Christian rap before. I had been rapping since I was in middle school. But it was always a hobby, and I would rap in different talent shows, and I was the guy. People were like ‘Oh, Kevin knows how to rap, so get him to do it.’ I was that guy. And, never really thought much of doing it again. Once I gave my life to Christ, I was like “Okay, hip hop and Jesus, they probably don’t go together.’ So, nobody forced me, but I was just like “These two probably aren’t going to go together well,” so I just had kind of put rapping down.
Big Redd’s career arc has shown him the ropes from the perspective of artist and industry insider.
Kevin manages the radio group Millennial FM, 95.9 in Columbia, South Carolina. “The cool thing about Millennial FM is that it’s the genre of music that I’m in as an artist. So being on a path where for six, going on seven years, of being an independent artist, pushing, trying to get radio airplay, trying to make the case for this genre of music to gospel, to hip hop. Like, our music is either too gospel for hip hop and it’s too hip hop for gospel to play it, traditionally speaking. So, there’s really no home for you in terms consistent national or even local, regional radio airplay. So, being part of Millennial is special to me because we’re creating the outlet that somebody like me would be looking for six, seven years ago. So, it means a lot to me to be a part of offering a platform to emerging artists. And for us to do it well so that we can replicate this across the country.”
A man of focus, Kevin continues, speaking openly about this day to day, balancing it all. “It’s also still a huge passion of mine to create my own music. So, it inspires me to see other up and coming artists on their grind and doing their thing. And it’s like, ‘Okay well you’re not a dinosaur, you gotta stay in the game, keep doing your own music as well.’ The majority of my day is focusing on Millennial FM. Then I’m a husband, I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old so I’m a husband and daddy. Really husband and dad first. God first, family second, business is third…I kind of start Big Red after the kids are asleep. That’s when I’m writing. That’s when I go to a coffee shop and write or go to the studio, things of that nature. So, it’s a delicate balance and I have a great support system in my wife who just believes in the dream as well and who just allows me the opportunity to spread my hands out in so many different places.”
I can’t help but note how grounded Kevin clearly is, suggesting he could lead motivational seminars …which of course, he already does. “Because of some of the successes that God has granted to me, it’s an honor for people to ask you questions about their careers and the paths they should take. I actually launched a seminar series in my city in partnership with the city of Columbia called the Indie Ground. And it’s, at the time, and still free, as of right now, thanks to our sponsorships. It’s a free feature for emerging music artists to learn the business side of the music industry. We’ve done sessions, anything from copyrights, contracts, and I’ve brought an entertainment lawyer in to talk about things like that. I brought in some friends in television to talk about how to land a TV interview and how to conduct yourself in a TV interview. How to get free press. Did a seminar called “Can I Get Some Love on the Radio?” And, so I had a program director come in, as well as a studio engineer, to talk about both the technical side as well as the presentation and communication with the program director. How do you get that first radio airplay? How do you keep a song in regular rotation? And be persistent without being a pest. So, this is the type of seminars that I would like to continue and do on a larger scale across the, branching out into my region and then, you know, possibly across the country.”
Alongside those goals, Big Redd shares what’s ahead for him musically. “I’m working on a full album now. I’ve done an EP and I’ve had features on other people’s songs, features on other people’s albums. I’ve put out singles. I’ve never done a full album yet. So, I just feel like I have to tell an entire story at once, in one sitting. So, I want to create this audible piece of art that I leave behind. And that’s very important to me, as an artist, as a creative, to tell this story over 10-12 songs. Not that that’s the music industry format anymore. I don’t know. It’s just important to me to complete that full project.”
Play MPE is thrilled to be a part of that journey. Big Redd continues, gracious in returning the praise. “A quest for more. That’s why I became a client of Play MPE, because I believed you all could help me get more, to maximize my resources, to be able to reach more people with music that I believe was created to impact the world, literally, and it has done that. So, I’ve told several of my friends and now it’s a part of my regular conversation. Hey, if you haven’t heard of Play MPE, you need to check them out because it’s been positive for me all around.”
Well, ditto, Sir!