Like most teenagers, he has a lot to get off his chest. But Kevin Hanna's lyrics set him apart from other artists who rap about money, cars and girls. He has something meaningful to say and people are listening.
Name: Kevin Hanna
Hometown: Skokie, Illinois
Why did you decide to get involved with music? I decided to take music seriously when I was 18. When I was in about fourth grade was when I started just writing for amusement, but nothing too serious. When I became 18, [I] noticed that this is something I really enjoyed doing and actually had some talent toward.
What influences or inspires your music? My music is inspired by all sorts of things. It could be a conversation, an experience, [or] my mood. I think when it comes down to it, the more I learn and develop and gain, [the] more experience in life I'll have things to write about and get off my chest.
Who is your favorite artist? I don't think I have a favorite artist anymore. The artist that was most influential to my music is without a doubt J. Cole, but that doesn't mean others didn't inspire [me] too. If anything, I go through phases of what I listen to and sometimes I go through phases of listening to nobody. It just all varies.
Which artist would you most like to work with and why? Drake, hands down. He has been the hottest rapper out for a couple years now. Anything he puts out is gold.
Which of your tracks are your favorite and why? You know how when you ask a mother, "who is the favorite child?" she replies, "I love them all equally"? That is exactly how I feel. Each song is like a part of me in a weird way. In order to write that track, I had to be feeling a certain way, and experiencing something at that time. So for now, I don't have a definitive answer.
Your sister Reine is very involved in Chicago's Assyrian community. What does she mean to you? She is like a coach. She encourages you and tries to see things at your point of view. She is a great sister and is really knowledgeable so I can always count on her for anything.
How does the situation of the Assyrians in the Middle East make you feel? It makes me feel determined. If you take a step back and look [at] what hip-hop has done for the African-American culture, it is encouraging. Messages and movements have been tied into the flows of the groups like Public Enemies, artists like Tupac, Biggie, Kendrick, Cole, the list [is] too long to list. Hip-hop gives you a platform to have a voice and make a change. It allows you to raise awareness [of] issues and help people get through that daily struggle.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? Music. If it isn't this, honestly I have no idea what it will be. It's not easy, I know that, but I'm up for it. Every aspect.
When was your last live performance? My most recent performance was at Subterranean and that was in November. I had about 15-20 minutes for my set and was opening up for Cozz. From the looks of everyone, it went good. It was funny to see the change in the crowd because at first everyone was skeptical. Then when I got midway [through] my set I saw heads bobbing and [people] listening.
Can we expect new music from you some time soon? Yes. Very soon actually. My new project is going to be an EP, which is titled "Uplugged." Everything for the most part is completed. I am just waiting on a few little things and it will be ready to go.
What is your favorite Assyrian word? Mat Mariam (Saint Mary), or B'slewa (By the Cross) because those are the first words that other races pick up from our language.
Any final thoughts? Thank you to everyone [who] has supported me, especially with social media. It has become so easy to put people down. I'm thankful that I have enough people who believe in me and want to see me succeed. That is something I will never take for granted.
Portions of this interview have been edited.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinHanna5