Kay Em (left) and DeeSaint [photo: William Wright]

Rising Island dreamer

Kay Em

Review | by Simon Wright

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The Guild – May 7

S.I.D. for Kay Em is about community.

With an Island that appears now to have more artists than fans, according to John DiSantis (a.k.a. DeeSaint), co-producer of the hip-hop show S.I.D. (Small Island Dreamers) and The Guild Present Kay Em in Charlottetown, he also believes the scene in PEI is starting to pick up for hip-hop.

With a 4-hour show on May 7 demonstrating a collective of young rappers, some singers, hype men, and zero tech crew, no one could have predicted the turn-out of the small venue that Saturday night.

“Every time we do a show, I’m like, ‘no one’s coming,’” said Kerry McCarthy (a.k.a. Kay Em). McCarthy had a star-quality vibe in the room in his sound and originality that stood out, with a mix of freestyle and pre-written rap verses on stage over his original beats, all of which he has completely produced on his own.

“Oh (expletive)! This man is 18 and already this dope, and (he’s) already doing this, man? That’s where it’s at,” DiSantis said recalling how he thought when first hearing Kay Em’s music at The Iron Mic Festival in Charlottetown almost a year ago.

Out of the many young artists DiSantis has encountered, McCarthy right away seemed more committed to putting in the work than others. Where most might say, “Oh, you know, it’s a great idea. Talk to ya later,” McCarthy might respond to a request from DiSantis to do a project with “What are you doing next weekend?” or “What are you doing right now?”

The show featured Island hip-hop artists S.N.K., Loki, Killa Cam, and others. While most rappers dressed in the typical hip hop fashion, McCarthy stood out from his fellow performers, in his smart, tucked-in dress shirt, black pants and dress shoes.

There was one moment where McCarthy was doing the moon walk to one of his tracks. One explanation for this impulse as a performer could be early musical influences, like his dad playing The Beatles, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and Michael Jackson, before discovering artists like Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, and Frank Ocean.

“I don’t know where music is going to go”, said McCarthy. “I want to be at the front lines, leading it with the people.”