SKATE/explain: Who Inspired TK’s Musical Crossover?

For an explanation of SKATE/explain, go here. For article and TK interview, read on.

It’s no secret that when you’re good at things, other opportunities you might not otherwise get seem to come your way. In Terry Kennedy’s case, his focus has broadened a little, but there’s no denying that he’s skilled on a skateboard and, well, it’s those skills that have allowed him to scream his way into hip hop, smiling that multi-colored grill of his.

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In my opinion, he came out of the gates firing like Mac in Predator in his Baker 3 part—the beat was pretty sick, the lyrics were simply delivered in the growling southern rap style (even if he isn’t southern) and…he even gave himself a shout out at the end, in a show of true rap bravado. His Baker Has a Deathwish song was pretty good, too. I thought it worked.

But, since that Baker 3 debut, he’s released a wealth of newer videos produced by (low voice) Jordan…Tower…Films. The production of the music has changed considerably with the times, it seems, slipping in more autotune and the kind of beats that would amp up the Power 106 crowd more than those of us who might prefer to dabble in the style of his Baker 3 song—and he seems fine with that.

But, it made me wonder, what are some of the more interesting cases of someone making a musical crossover? And, who inspired TK? There are almost too many athletes that have made the crossover into rap to list them all here, let alone when you start looking at other facets of fame (I mean, even Clint Eastwood had an album). But, I compiled some of interest:

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First off, one of my favorites, Randy “Machoman” Savage’s piledrive of rap music. His most biting track, “Be A Man” relives his WWF rivalry with Hulk Hogan, as he hits Hollywood Hogan with rhyme schemes the way he might have with a folding chair.

Years earlier, it was Eddie Murphy’s chick who wanted to “Party All the Time,” while somehow mashing 3/4ths of everything that was popular in the 80s into one four minute clip—Rick James, Eddie Murphy, a video shot in the studio with headphones on, a white guy with teased hair in spandex pants playing a triangular paint-splashed guitar, synthesizers and people dancing like Carlton.

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Speaking of family sitcoms, even Bill Cosby made a musical soiree in the early 70s. Long before the Cosby Show, Jell-O pudding’s greatest advocate was better known for his stand-up routines. But, that didn’t stop him from trying his hand at some experimental jazz on the album “Badfoot Brown and the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band.” Bill jammed out a helluva song with “Martin’s Funeral” (which Tribe Called Quest sampled in “We Can Get Down”).

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But, it takes someone accompanied with the same sense of grandiosity as Muhammad Ali to make songs to really put a smile on your face. Interestingly enough, Ali is the kind of person that TK’s crew—Paul Rodriguez, Jereme Rogers, Chaz Ortiz and a few others—often credit as an inspiration.

Yes, Muhammad Ali had himself a singing career, mostly centered around how great he was, but it might be one of the funnier things I’ve heard in some time. In one song, Ali rewrote history… taking credit for, among other things, the Boston Tea Party.

It all made me wonder, though, who actually influenced Terry’s stab at making music. So, I asked him:

Terry, you’re trying to crossover from skating into rap. Are there any famous crossovers that were influential to you?
Deion Sanders, for sure. He was the only one who did it and really didn’t get criticized as much as everybody else.

Do you feel like you get criticized a lot?
Actually, I don’t really. I mean, skate kids’d be the first to criticize you.

They’ve got to be a little harsh, though. I mean, they’re the most judgemental.
Yeah. So, the minute I went to the skatepark and kids were like, “Yo, I’m listenin’ to your song,” pulled off their iPod and let me listen, I thought, I got the green light to at least try and do this.

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Evan Hernandez: Skate kids are the most critical…
I figure, if I like doing it and some of ‘em are sayin’ they like it, I’ma try it.

Have you ever heard of the musical crossovers of such greats as Clint Eastwood, Machoman, Muhammed Ali, Bill Cosby or Eddie Murphy?
Some of ‘em. I didn’t know about Ali. The Eddie Murphy song with Michael Jackson—that’s so funny.

You mean Murphy and Rick James?
Nah, him and Michael Jackson—it’s funny as hell. The video’s all weird and he’s trying his hardest to sing alongside Michael Jackson…hit those high notes and all that.

With Deion as his guide, Terry seems certain as a new member in the long lineage of musical crossovers. Cosby, Clint, Machoman…there are too many to keep straight. In skate alone, there’s The Goat & Occasional Others, Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, Duane Peters and a bunch more that are beloved.

As far as Terry Kennedy, though, I personally like the guy, so if he’s grinding it out and doing videos to segue his skate career into rap, more power to him. In the very least, he’s keeping his feet firmly in skateboarding. And, for people who are not fans, it’s just another feather in the hat of musical side projects that people can look back upon with a smile on their face.