Name: Curtis McKinnon
Stage Name: Mr. McKinnon
Hometown: Orlando, FL by way of Brooklyn, NY
Patricia: First, I would like to thank you for allowing me to tap into your greatness! I wanted to utilize this platform to show who you are as an artist and welcome those around the world to witness someone I admire and respect as not only a friend but also an artist! So, without further ado, let's jump in! What/who inspired you?
Mr. McKinnon: My earliest inspiration came from Tupac Shakur. Seeing the “Changes” music video stirred up something in me. From the visuals to the subject matter, he was the first hip-hop artist that spoke to the core of man for me. He spoke about things that mattered, not just surface-level subjects.
Patricia: When do you create your best material?
Mr. McKinnon: Typically, when there’s an overwhelming emotion that comes over me, it overflows and spills onto the page through my pen… or rather my thumbs lol. Real-life experiences both good and bad create my best work. Mostly the bad because unfortunately, that’s what most people relate to as opposed to the good. That’s why my formula is to start from the bad place, but I never end there, because there is always something better to look forward to.
Patricia: What do you feel is your biggest barrier to being an artist and why?
Mr. McKinnon: I’m an anomaly in every sense of the word so I don’t take the traditional path 90% of the time. So, with that, naturally, people will say you need to do things this way or that way and I’ve never been a “do what everybody else is doing” type of guy. I go with what makes sense to me. It’s a gift and a curse. If I can’t make sense of it, I’m going to do what comes naturally and I make peace with that.
Patricia: What do you consider is success for an artist?
Mr. McKinnon: Success for me as an artist is being able to take care of yourself and your family through your art. First and foremost, however, it’s fulfillment through your art. If you don’t feel alive or like you’re living your purpose every time you share or perform, I’d question why you’re even doing it.
Patricia: Have you ever declined an opportunity and why?
Mr. McKinnon: Several. When you’re an unsigned artist, especially in the poetry space, oftentimes it feels like you’re a social worker getting paid next to nothing but expected to give this high quality of excellence. I’ve been doing this long enough to where I still love it, but I can’t accept everything that's given as an “opportunity”. At this stage in my career, it’s not an opportunity if I have to pay to perform. That’s more of an insult. I’ve happily paid my dues grinding in the open mic stages since 2011 and have earned my space in this field to where I can decide if I want to do something off of love or not based on the relationship or cause.
Patricia: How have you changed as an artist from when you first started?
Mr. McKinnon: My confidence has increased and I don’t second guess myself as much. I’ve had a lot more life experience than when I first started so naturally, my content has evolved with it.
Patricia: What are some of the challenges you had to overcome as an artist?
Mr. McKinnon: I’m a perfectionist. If I don’t think it’s good enough, it won’t see the light of day. Much less will I make much progress on the project. I’m still working on that thankfully. Taking improv classes helped me to shed some of that.
Patricia: Do you think there is a division between being yourself and being an artist? Explain.
Mr. McKinnon: It’s interesting. I put on my stories a few weeks ago that people always ask me about a podcast. The thing with podcasts is that it’s a more intimate setting for you and your audience. When you’re in that setting, you’re more open and receptive as a listener. There are no distractions with music or sound and there’s no stage. It’s a conversation. So if I share something on a podcast, there’s a greater chance of outrage as opposed to if I share those same viewpoints creatively on a song or a poem. A song or poem, it’s taken as art. However, even if it’s how I feel, it’s more palatable than if I just say the thing in the middle of a conversation. So there’s division only until you truly master not caring what a single soul has to say about you and you’re unapologetically yourself in every avenue. Most people don’t live that way though. They like to say that they are but they’re only that way in front of their friends and family, not for the world to see. Those people are usually on TikTok using sounds where you don’t even hear their real voices let alone what they think. They compartmentalize heavily hiding behind a wall to feel safe. We’ve all been guilty of it in some form but is universally accepted as an artist vs a human being is two completely different things.
Patricia: Describe yourself as an artist!
Mr. McKinnon: I would say I would say I’m an artist that appreciates lyricism, matters of the heart, and being a beacon of light and hope. My goal as an artist is to bring balance. Even if you’re in a bad place, nothing says you must stay there. I believe in God, and I hope that if you ever paid attention to my lyrics, you can see Him in me even through my imperfections.
Patricia: What would be your ideal place to perform?
Mr. McKinnon: Madison Square Garden and Raymond James Stadium
Patricia: What are some of the takeaways you’d like your fans to cherish?
Mr. McKinnon: Honestly, I’d like for them to take away that every lyric, verse, or piece came from a very real place from both life’s harsh and rewarding lessons. My purpose in this life is to be a luminary so if I’m inspiring someone to be the best version of themselves, I’m fulfilled.
Patricia: What do you value most about being an artist?
Mr. McKinnon: Freedom of expression. Always!
Patricia: Where can people connect with you?
Mr. McKinnon: Instagram, Facebook, & YouTube @Mr.mckinnon
Twitter & TikTok Mister McKinnon