Kenneth Dolberry, a SHU alum (‘16), spent his college career balancing his burgeoning rap career and his studies.
Currently, he is a Seton Hall graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in Strategic Communications.
During his four years as a journalism major, Dolberry worked as a manager for the women’s basketball team, was involved in many clubs and was featured on WSOU.
Born in Queens, N.Y., he was raised in a family that was musically talented.
Dolberry said his mom was a choir singer, and his two older brothers were musicians, one being a rapper and the other a singer.
His father is a fan of hip-hop and was the first person to introduce Dolberry to rap music.
“Growing up my dad was a hip-hop head and would play old school rap artists like Rakim, Melly Mel and Grand Master Caz, so I was able to grow up listening to some of the pioneers of rap,” he said.
Although Dolberry was exposed to music his entire life, he did not have an interest in it, instead deciding to focus on his education.
“I always tell myself you have to fall in love with something before you go full force and take on the task,” he said.
It was not until his junior year of college that he decided to write under the name “Kenneth Rae-Shaun” and began to take rapping seriously.
When Dolberry began to write songs he pulled from his own personal experiences during his life for inspiration.
“All of my music is very truthful, realistic and it’s based on the things I go through in life,” he added. “That’s what hip hop is about. Expressing yourself and talking about what you go through on a day-to-day basis.”
Dolberry said his family is important to him and when he showed them his music for the first time, his family stated they always knew he was destined for a career in music.
“When my brothers heard my first song they both were telling me ‘We knew you could write and rap, we were just waiting for you to show it,’” he said. “The first time I stepped into the booth to record, the producer called me a natural, saying that he couldn’t tell it was my first time recording.”
Ryan Flannery, a Seton Hall alum (‘16), used to interview Dolberry on WSOU.
Dolberry would perform on Flannery’s hip-hop show What Chu Been Missin on Sunday’s from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“At first, Kenny performed freestyles over legendary hip-hop beats from Jay-Z and Jadakiss,” Flannery said. “Then, he started to send me songs to play on the show, which I played over air.”
Each time Dolberry was featured on WSOU, Flannery would interview him, discuss what music means to him, who influenced him and what made him want to start rapping.
“My main goal as a rapper is to spread a message and speak up for people that are afraid to defend themselves,” Dolberry said. “I also rap about everything I been through because I know there are people out there that can relate to what I am saying and there is just so much truth to what I speak.”
Currently, Dolberry is a graduate assistant and continues to manage the women’s basketball team.
Although his main focus is on completing his education, he continues to have fun recording music and releasing songs on his SoundCloud page.
Dolberry said, “right now, hip hop is an art form I’m in love with and very passionate about but if I get the chance to be a rapper as my career, that’s what I’ll do for the rest of my life.”
Fabian Carter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.