Emcee/spoken word artist/producer I.K.P. (The Infamous King of Positivity) presents the Luke “Homay” Lewis-directed music video for “Till The Day I Die”, I.K.P.’s self-produced single from In Positivity We Trust: I.K.P. 4 President Pt. 2, his new album featuring DaQuan, Swanny River and Children Of Leisure. Born in the East New York section of Brooklyn, New York and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, I.K.P. is head of Reigning Positivity Music, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, and a member of East coast LGBT rap collective The AlliYance (watch the “Cake” video). I.K.P.’s previous releases include In Positivity We Trust, and Executive Realness: The Extended Play Suite (Bandcamp). I.K.P. recently released a visual for Executive Realness single “No Mention” (Youtube). “I reference my battle with mental health issues and using my art to reflect on who I am become as a person and how I use my art to fight back,” I.K.P. says about the new single. “I’m fighting back at the level of all my personal issues, for those who are going through similar situations, struggling to find that inner strength to get through it; for people who feel like they have no way out.”
Your new single “Till The Day I Die” deals with mental health. How much of this was borne from personal experience? Did that make this a hard song to write?
All of it was personal experience. From the first line… “my homie Booder said they wanna know the deal”, me and him (the same guy that featured on the AlliYance track “The Front Line”) actually had that conversation and that’s what he told me was missing from my catalog. A real story that breaks down who I am. That’s what sparked the inspiration for the record. I was in the hospital briefly. No one except my ex knew. I didn’t want the meds at first. And the doctors told me they would keep me until I took em. Writing poems in crayon because they didn’t allow pens and pencils, anything that could be used to inflict self-harm. I still have those poems. Yeah all of it is real shit. It wasn’t hard to write because I use rap as a way to cope and figure things out anyway. Had it not been a song, it would have just been verses that helped me process the thoughts.
Do you think people in the LGBT community are at higher risk for mental health issues as a result of the stigma they face in society?
Probably so. It’s hard to say that definitely because those that may identify as LGBT come from so many backgrounds. It might depend on the environment they grew up in and if they have full support from those close to them. And as far as stigma, everyone’s journey is different and I’m not a researcher that can give you real numbers about that so I won’t pretend I know. I do know that for me, stigma is what I fight all the time as a gay black man who is HIV positive, so much that it’s built into my identity. This is what I mean when I say I’m elevating your perception. I hope with the record that someone who is going through something similar or went thru it will listen, take a piece of it, see the good and relate to it in their own way.
How do you think that is best dealt with on an individual level?
There’s not really a “one size fits all” scenario that could be prescribed. The thing about it is when you’re going through those dark hours, how you deal with that is pretty much based on the only ways you know to cope in that moment. Is there someone you can call? Who is with you? What do you have available? I watched my ex do what he called “self-medicate” with weed and alcohol when he would go thru it. Sometimes I was there. Sometimes no. Sometimes I’d join him. Sometimes we’d fight. But I knew in some moments I was all he had. But when I went thru my breakdown no one was around and I was living in temporary shelter since I was homeless. Not too long before, I got a card with a number for the Veterans Crisis Line. In that moment, that was the only thing I knew I had. Thats what I’m talking about when I say it’s what you have at that moment. You just have tunnel vision. You only see what’s in front of you. If I didn’t see that card, things would have just have ended up differently. A support system helps. And a sense of purpose does too.
You maintain a prodigious musical output. What is your process for churning out so much music?
I usually keep something in the stash. I’m always producing something. There’s a lot that I have at this moment that is just waiting for the right time to drop. I love doing music. This is what I feel I was put on Earth to do. So anything connected to it, I want to be involved.
What’s the latest on your crew The Alliyance?
We got a few surprises. We had a great 2016. Everybody’s in the lab working on a variety of things. But look forward to more dope visuals from the Introducing The AlliYance EP and the return of JulYance.