By Sarah Asinof | Front Page Editor
Kenneth Hanson comes across as a typical Baylor student, a senior economics major from the small town of Pocahontas, Ark. But, Kenneth is much more when he embraces his musical abilities under the name Skinny Kenny, a SoundCloud rapper and music producer.
Hanson started playing around with music such as Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in Eighth grade. He played the drums like his father who also was a drummer and played in various bands in high school.
“He was always big on trying to teach us music and listening to music and trying to understand what makes a song stand out from the rest,” Hanson said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to make songs that could stand out among the rest.”
By high school, Hanson started broadening his musical abilities and wanted to be a rapper. He began learning the technicalities of the music production side of things. By the time he reached college, he kept wanting to learn more.
“It was mainly trial and error. I first used a website to drag and drop sounds. Once I got the hang of it, I wanted to do it myself. I figured out what equipment I needed and I bought it,” Hanson said. “When I got into college, I was like, ‘I understand how to put a drum tack on but how do I get this to sound like a real drum?’ I wanted to grasp the technical aspect. I read a lot of books, articles and watched a lot of interviews.”
Now his process can take weeks, if not months to produce a song. Not only does he write for himself, he also produces music for other Baylor student artists.
“I’ll mess with a beat for two or three weeks and then let it sit for awhile and then come back it,” Hanson said. “Then I can totally finish it. Start on it, come back. If I making a song for an artist, if they tell me what they want then I just go with that. But if I am creating it before I contact the artist, I make five or six beats and then send them to artists.”
Where does his inspiration stem from? Hanson produces music and writes songs based on his mood or external influences such as the radio. His biggest inspiration happens to be xxxtencion, the late rapper, singer and songwriter.
“It’s really aggressive and out there not a lot of artists have the confidence to do that,” Hanson said. “When they rose to fame, I was just like ‘Wow, he is just being so hardcore aggressive and people are accepting of it.’ When he dropped his album, few songs sounded like the Beatles, a rock band, slow music. How can an artist that’s a rapper come up with that? His stylings are incredible.”
From xxxtencion, he gained a new perspective on creating music that was different and unusual.
“You don’t have to have a rap beat, you don’t need all these things that people say you need to have to have a successful music,” Hanson said. “You can have any genre of music, and whatever you think sounds good then other people will too. Most artists make music that they think the fans will like, but artists should make songs that they like.”
Just because Hanson was on his way to college didn’t mean that was going to be his sole focus. His father wanted him to leave the small town, but not stray too far away from his roots. He chose Baylor because of its proximity to home, but also his way out of the small town life. He found that while his friends and family supported him wholeheartedly, Pocahontas seemed jealous that he was breaking out of the small town.
Haley Baltz, Hanson’s girlfriend, has known him for about 10 years, they met when he moved to the same school as her in sixth grade. She fully supports his pursuit in the music industry.
“I might be biased, but I think he’s really talented,” Baltz said. “He’s always listening to music, whether it’s his or someone else’s.”
While Hanson says he would never take back his time at Baylor, with friendships that have molded into family, he finds that Baylor lacks in music production courses and non-traditional music majors such as music production. He decided to make music his hobby and pursue pre-med, though he eventually changed to economics. He plans to pursue music whole-heartily after college where he will try to get signed, produce music independently or go to a master’s program that offers a music production concentration.