A Little Moore: student rapper KAWAN to make big break at CounterPoint

It’s not hard to find aspiring rappers around campus. With Atlanta being a major hip-hop hub, it seems there’s always someone trying to break into the industry. But even with talent, it can take years to be noticed and even longer to actually catch a big break. Unless, of course, you’re KAWAN. For this rapper, performing at popular festivals like the CounterPoint Music Festival in Rome, Ga. is as easy as sending a 140-character message on Twitter.

Kawan Moore, a sophomore majoring in hospitality, released “Make It Nasty,” his first song as a solo artist, on New Year’s Day. Borrowing a beat from Electronic producer and DJ Butch Clancy, Moore made a “satirical twerk song” using the names of popular celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres.

KAWAN will perform a song with Butch Clancy at CounterPoint.
KAWAN will perform a song with Butch Clancy at CounterPoint.

Moore said after Clancy got a hold of the video, he decided to direct message Clancy on Twitter and ask him if he could perform with him during his set at CounterPoint.

“I saw that he was performing at CounterPoint so I messaged him jokingly and I was just like, ‘yo when you come to Atlanta let me hop on stage with you. I’ll rock the crowd.’ And he was like ‘I don’t know if I can do that man.’ A couple minutes later he responded and he was like ‘alright let’s do it.'”

He said he was surprised Clancy said yes.

“It was really one of those ask and you shall receive moments. That’s really how everything with my music has been.”

Moore said he’s excited about performing at the festival even though he’s only doing one song. He said he hopes he runs into Andre 3000, half of popular Atlanta rap group Outkast. The duo is scheduled to headline the festival.

“Hopefully I bump into Andre 3000 because that’s my inspiration.”

The influence can be spotted in the “Make It Nasty” music video, where Moore can be seen wearing a multicolored polka dotted suit with a matching tie while making silly faces in closeup shots and making grand gestures. He said he also looks to British artist Jamiroquai and actor Charlie Chaplin for inspiration when it comes to his eclectic style and dance moves.

“I like making people dance, not like twerk dancing, but dance as in like move your body [and] be free.”

When it came time to find a director for the video, Moore turned to his best friend, Georgia State film major Kyle Morais, who was looking to make his directorial debut.

Morais said he helped put scenes together and assisted with casting, but Moore was the one who came up with the vision and paid most of the expenses.

“We only had five hours to do the video,” Morais said. “It took a lot of
work, but it was more like a family bonding experience with the crew.”

Moore said initially he was hesitant to release the song because that’s generally not the type of music he makes. He said he’s still trying to figure out just what his rap style is, but referred to it as “alternative rap.”

“It’s a song that I was debating on releasing because that’s not my style of music, but I wanted it to be something that was creative, clever and colorful. I want to bring some color and something fresh to music, rap music in particular,” Moore said. “I talk about freedom a lot. Something that’s a recurring theme in a lot of my songs is no labels on people, no labels on clothes. Just this whole free mindset of being free from the boxes people put you in.”

Moore recently brought his songs to life during a show at Obscure Good’s Bliss event on Edgewood Avenue on Feb. 28.

Georgia State student Elijah Watkins, co-founder of Obscure Goods, said Moore’s music blended with the goal of the event.

“We wanted the show to be eclectic and [to] have people dance,” Watkins said. “We want people to go back to the age where people can dance, not just twerk.”

Still, Watkins said it took the audience a while to warm up to Moore.

“I think at first they were taken by surprise because his act is so different, but that’s what makes him so cool,” Watkins said.

Moore said 2014 for him is all about establishing himself as an artist. He plans to release an EP in April or May and hopes to do about two shows a month, including an upcoming Raw Artist Showcase at Terminal West.

Additionally, he has been reaching out to media via email in hopes of gaining attention. Even without a manager or public relations representative, it’s been working.

On New Year’s Day the “Make It Nasty” video debuted on CBS Atlanta after Moore reached out through email. He said he already had a relationship with the channel because when he was in high school he recorded the video “Brookwood Where You At?” with two friends and was asked to perform the song on the station. The video now has over 700,000 views on YouTube.

In addition to attending school and pursuing a career as a rapper, Moore also works at Mellow Mushroom. He said despite the juggling act, being an entertainer is his number one priority.