Berlin-bred Rapper Kelyvn Colt is A Master of His Domain
The rapper discusses the evolution and ownership of music on his own terms.
Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, a mid-sized city known for its gambling and luxurious hot springs, Kelvyn Colt derives his musical pedigree from various international scenes. The rapper, 26, projects a worldly perspective: His lyrics alternate seamlessly between German and English, the latter passed down to him by his father, who left Nigeria for Germany as a 19-year-old orphan. “As a kid, I wrote a lot of poems,” Colt recalls. “My dad used to make me write haikus, and I would always try to outperform myself each time.”
With age, Colt’s rhymes grew more complex. “What really got me [to be] serious about music was that I wanted to move people like music moved me,” he says, citing Kid Cudi, 2Pac, and Eminem as inspirations. But music took a detour when an opportunity to be the first in his family to attend college arose. “I dropped out after a few weeks because it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he says of his stint at law school in Germany. “I wanted to rap.” Colt was soon on a one-way flight to London, where music was his priority. Still, he juggled both a job on the Michael Kors sales floor and a 90-minute commute to business courses at the University of Buckingham.
In 2017, he released his debut, LH914 (EP), named after the flight number for that pivotal London passage. In the ensuing years, Colt’s business background would serve him well: He has his own company, Triple Black Heart Gang, and in 2019 made Forbes Germany’s “30 Under 30.” Today, having terminated his Sony contract to buy back his catalog, Colt is the definition of an independent artist—one with 14 million Spotify streams and counting.
He’s relishing the success of his first autonomously released track, 2020’s “4 Am | Mein Block,” which reflects both his hometown pride and expansive worldview. “‘Mein block’ is German for ‘my block,’ but ‘my block’ is not just one postal code,” he explains. “It’s many different parts of this Earth.” Colt’s strength lies in his independence, and it’s safe to say his global ambition and entrepreneurship make for a winning combination.