Genesis the Greykid is a poet, creative, fine art poet, and underground hip-hop artist co-signed by the Media Label Creative Control TV. Genesis has recently become one of the few emerging Fine Art Poets in the world, selling over $12,000 in his first two-hour exhibition in Chattanooga, Tennessee titled “Through the Grey”. Your Urban Hippie had the chance to chat with him about his work and some of his upcoming projects.
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Genesis: I’ve written poetry and music professionally since 2010, but since middle school had always had a love for the visual arts and poetry. I never really poured myself into the visual side, because all the art shows I went to growing up all felt the same. And the art there (although beautiful), was so different than how I saw the world and so I thought I’d just stick to poetry and music….until the fire in my bones wouldn’t let me sleep any longer without exploring poetry in a fine art setting. So I spent 2016 travelling around the country – 5,800 plus miles by foot and Amtrak – gathering life, and love, and beauty from various people and experiences around the country. There hasn’t really been many Fine Art Poetry exhibitions in the world, especially with anyone selling their poems. So that was my push. I wanted to push beyond conventions.
When did you decide to take your art from a hobby to a profession?
Genesis: Toward the end of 2009, I decided to make my first jump. I was working at a pretty good job, then got laid off and decided to myself, “Man, instead of getting another job, why not put the same effort into this music? I got a lot of people rocking with my music and writing that’s in the industry. I think I can make a living with this.” So I tried, and after about 10 months, only making $150 total within that time span, I picked up another job lol. It was pretty rough.
It wasn’t until a few mentors told me about making a strategy and a plan (these initial mentors weren’t in music, they all worked different professions), before it actually started making sense to me. How to monetize my art. And if art became apart of my being, in essence, I’d be living life for a living. So the last big jump came in 2010, only a few months after picking up that new job when times got rough.
I was just starting to fall in love with the art of planning and strategy around how I saw living life for a living, when my homie @DjArtifacts (he’s now Blac Youngsta’s DJ and with Mogul Management) called me out of the blue. He had just moved to Atlanta at the time and told me, “Genesis…you’re the best lyricist I’ve ever heard, you know you’re crazy talented. Stop playing around, quit that F*$%ing weak 9 to 5, and go get it.” That same day 3 minutes after hanging up with Artifacts I walked back into work, wrote “Genesis the Greykid” on a little sheet of paper and placed it under my Bosses desktop keyboard in their office. I quit and haven’t worked a job since.
The first year was rough, but I made some crazy connections with Kristoff Murphy, Scott Mckenzie “Great Scott”, Kevin Thomson, Carlye, Coodie & Chike. The following year I got into a rhythm, everything was falling in place, the year after I realized I’d probably never have to work another job ever again. I mastered the art of value. The art of being human. Once I was able to walk away from a major record deal that wanted to trample on my integrity, I felt cemented in place…money could never be used as a tool to make me do something i’m not 100% behind. If it doesn’t make sense, if it’s not in line with my internal compass, I don’t do it.
Can you tell us a bit about “Through the Grey” Exhibition?
Genesis: I wanted to create a literary art experience….an envelope pushing celebration of how language can be experienced in a very personal way, artistically. This exhibition is a solo show of my Fine Art Poetry, but has many moving parts outside of the art. The idea is to create a space where the people actually become apart of a large poem, in a sense. The plan is to bring this experience around the country. Currently exploring Nashville, Chicago, and Atlanta as the next places for the show. We feed each other’s spirits with beautiful poetry, language, so I felt it necessary that 10% of profits from all shows go to the charity Feeding America….so we can also feed some bellies in the process.
You took a 5,800 mile journey around the country via train and foot. What was the inspiration behind your decision to make that venture?
Genesis: I wanted to fully immerse myself in the work. I wasn’t interested in only writing poetry while travelling…I wanted to become a poem. And to do that, your body has to find that utopia of presence that only exist after getting out of your own way and being open…being fully awake. Being in the now. I needed to leave, to come back. I needed to get out of myself, to find myself so to speak. This may sound a little extreme, but I think all creatives should couch surf after college or before some big endeavor for at least 6 months with different people. Some within your field of exploration and definitely others that are completely different in every way than you are.
Can you tell me about a moment or experience during your travels that was most impactful?
Genesis: After travelling along the Mexican border for a few days, I finally made it up to Los Angeles. I stayed with the homies Salim and Adam De Boer (dope artist) and spent some time each day hanging around or in Skid Row. I didn’t spend a long time each time, but I spent consistent time each time. I spoke with people, wrote poetry with people, grew sad with people, shared love, it was beautiful….and sad. I thought it was from a lack of love, the homie Salim pointed out it was a lack of hope.
You are a man of many mantras. What is your favorite mantra? Why?
Genesis: While I was in New York, headed back to DC then Atlanta. I bumped into a monk that also enjoyed beautiful language. So we went back and forth about our ideas of what poetry was….what being a human being was. Afterwards, he left me with this thought, he said “Genesis, I love the way you think. Keep doing the work. Keep exploring what’s inside of you. We currently live in an era, where there’s a lot of stuff in the windows, but nothing in the room.” I’m not sure if you was quoting someone toward the end or not, but it stayed with me. And if you look around it’s scary how true that last part is. Everyone is more concerned about surface level stuff when most of all the treasures you’ll find in this life are beneath the surface. It’s that hidden wholeness I humbly encourage others to explore through my creations, be it music, poetry, or fine art.
Who inspires you? In the literary sense and in your day-to-day life?
Genesis: Thom York is a big inspiration. Him, Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, BB King, Getz & Gilberto, T.S. Elliot, Hafiz, they’ve all inspired me in some way. The biggest inspiration has definitely been my parents though, Russell & Angela Mcgee. They taught me how to love, care, dream, create, grow, endure, how to develop a work ethic, how to cultivate faith, the importance of prayer, and building a spiritual foundation. I love them more than these words can express. They’re really my best friends.
Sometimes it’s very difficult for artists to just be artists and survive doing what they really love. What advice can you give to aspiring poets and writers?
Genesis: One of my mentors told me a story about a musician that wanted to get better on the piano. So he asked his teacher, “How can I become a master over these keys?” The teacher told him, “If you want to master the keys, you have to master self. If you wanna become a better musician, you must first become a better human being”. For me, that’s the most important thing for anyone that wants to grow within their field.
Once you feel you’ve got a level of mastery over your craft, reach out to other poets and writers making a living doing what they love. See if they’d like to take you under their “wing” so to speak….they’ll teach you how to navigate the rocky seas of monetizing your craft. Gather some mentors around you within your field, but make sure to have others in completely different fields than your own.
Try to explore the landscapes within. Attempt, each day, becoming the most authentic version of yourself that you can….everything else will fall into place. I promise.
Your dream adventure – where would you go and what would you do?
Genesis: That’s a tough one (lol). The first thing that comes to mind – a cabin on the coast of Ireland a mile or so away from a store that sells fresh fish. Writing poetry & short stories, meditating, just being open to the wild landscape there.
What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
Genesis: I’m taking it day by day right now. There are some collaborations i’m pretty pumped about. One with Audrey Schilt, she’s known for helping build the legendary Ralph Lauren brand,
serving as Creative Director of Collection, VP for 22 years. We are collaborating on a Fine Art series that should be a lot of fun.
Also, I’ve brought in two amazing people (Susanne Gabriele & Kevin Thomson of CHNLD) as partners to help expand and scale this poetry/creative workshop I created called Words In Grey (my book of poetry shares the same name). It’s designed in two parts, for businesses it takes the current corporate culture and the employees internal compass, and through an artistic methodology aligns the two. The second part is designed for the community, pushing more towards tapping into a hidden wholeness and claiming one’s own brilliance. As much as I love the arts, I also love people, and so this for me was the most effective way I could pour back into something.
Me and Dj Artifacts are in the middle of developing ideas around his incredible ear for music and curating, and my Fine Art Poetry exhibitions Through the Grey. Will probably pull the producer Myke Stallone (crazy talented) in on it. Finding the balance, the places, building a team. Artifacts and my bro James Chapman (entrepreneur, speaker, writer) we’re always pushing each other. We don’t always collaborate on things, but we’re always throwing each other opportunities to excel within our own zones of genius. It’s good to have brotha’s like that in your circle….that’s pushing just as hard as you are, that’s supporting just as much as you are, that wants the team to win just as much as you do.
How can we get more of Genesis the Greykid?