“If you ask my granny, she would say I came out with dancing feet,” King B tells me, but the talented 21-year-old, who just released his debut project “Heartbreak Hotel,” identifies as more than just a musician or rapper. He is a creator and dabbles in everything from marketing to film writing to fashion.
In no time, young King B immersed himself in church music and his early inspirations: Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross. With his family’s encouragement, he performed at church, school talent shows, and competitions in St. Louis, Missouri. “My family had seen it in me before I could even breathe … before I could stand up on my own. I always had a family that pushed me to use my talents,” he says.
As a kid, he enjoyed the songs his granny enjoyed. He recalls singing “When a Woman Loves” by R Kelly, and “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson, which became his granny’s voicemail. “She would hang up on you, so you can hear me sing at the end and be like ‘listen to my grandbaby sing.’ I love my granny,” he tells me, laughing.
From Gospel music, King B transitioned to trap music — but with a twist.
“I always had that soulful singing and praise dancing inside of me, hidden from people,” he admits. “I’m ready to give the world the best of both worlds.”
King B credits Lil Wayne for his passion for Hip Hop and versatility. “If it weren’t for Lil Wayne, I would’ve never started hip hop. He taught me to go with my style and come with it raw.”
My heartbreak taught me to be okay with myself.King B
The origins of Heartbreak Hotel didn’t come into play until after King B got picked up to do a tour with Blac Youngsta and moved to California. Away from everyone, dealing with a bad breakup, and living in hotels, the LP was born. Only later did King B find out what a “soul-inspiring” name he had chosen — one that tied back to Elvis and Michael Jackson.
The project consists of 12 tracks/short films, each exhibiting King B’s powerful voice, deep spirituality, and a message of resilience and hope — finding light in dark places.
“No matter how I made you feel, I know that I [inspired you] never to give up,” he says.
When I ask King B what heartbreak taught him, he answers with wisdom beyond his years: “My heartbreak taught me to be okay with myself. You think your heartbreak is supposed to break you, but really, your heartbreak will make you.”
One of his songs, “Suicidal Baby,” came from a painful reality of life: from knowing that people can appear happy outside but be battling real demons inside, like depression. “You are not alone,” King B repeats in “Suicidal Baby,” but so often it still feels that way — the power of the mind.
“It’s like Beautiful Pain wrapped up that makes me who I am. You can’t make this kind of music unless you truly live it,” he says. Life is about understanding your highs and lows, King B explains, to be okay with your darkness and learn to balance yourself. Out of every song in the album, he urges his fans to listen to the last song, “Hotel Suite.”
“It represents my soul,” he tells me, adding that you can go through a bad situation and be okay if you keep looking for the light.
He tells me he misses the old generation of music – “the soul days” as he describes it: a time when you could move with the music, every track evoking a different emotion. So, he is mixing the new with the old in Heartbreak Hotel Deluxe, which is coming out next.
When I ask him what message he wants his listeners to hear and hold onto, he responds (without hesitation): “I want you to tell them to keep pushing and growing … to allow themselves to go through phases because transformation is real. No matter what situation you’re in, stay true to yourself.”
Stay inspired by and in tune with King B via his Instagram.