by Quinn Welsch
“I’m the next level of truth,” raps hip-hop artist Conceit. Whatcom Community College might know him a little bit better as Kareem Khalics (Kha-lease) Bryant.
Bryant is a current student whose musical career has landed him up and down the West Coast, and as far east as Washington D.C. He has been on stage with big names such as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the Ying Yang Twins, and Paul Wall, among others.
Bryant’s story spans the world, but begins in New Jersey, where he was born. He enlisted in the Navy as a nuclear machinist on the USS Nimitz. After his discharge, he worked in Afghanistan as a contractor for Kellog Brown and Root. From New Jersey to Georgia, and Montana to Virginia, Bryant has lived all over the U.S. and uses his travels as a way to relate to a larger audience.
“I’m a chameleon,” says Bryant. “I know how to relate to anybody.”
Though his stage name might suggest Bryant is vain, he says his choice of name refers to his outlook on his musical career. In fact, Bryant’s lyrics have a message that is deeply personal, inspiring, and motivational.
“You hear most music being real misogynistic, talkin’ about bitch this bitch that, drugs, guns, which is all a part of life,” he said. “I grew up with a lot of that. But for me to talk about that, or to make that my main focus, would be doing a disservice to my kids.”
In his song “Take My Pain Away,” Bryant depicts the American hour glass as less than half empty: “I don’t understand our government’s system of thought, Or what we the people must do to correct it, We gotta fix it fast our soldiers are dyin’ to protect it.” And, “This constant devastation in this nation is a sign, Gotta count your blessings ‘cause we runnin’ out of time.”
Bryant also raps about issues like aging, natural disaster, and economy in the song: “We run from father time fight with mother nature, Resent our Uncle Sam it seems like your family hates ya. Feel like a stepchild with no voice and no hope, Tryin’ to comprehend the reason why your government is broke.”
“The whole world is a family, and it seems like sometimes you’re treated as a stepchild of that family,” said Bryant of the lyrics. “I never went into it looking for any political message or anything. It’s just honesty.”
The song is dubbed with a worldly sound and has a strong beat that incorporates several background instruments and a Bulgarian chant.
Bryant’s lyrical messages are not all socio-political. In fact, a lot of his music is similar to the larger genre of hip hop egotism heard across the U.S. today.
In his song “The Greatest,” Bryant describes his style as “flows so clean it’s like I gargle with bleach.”
“When I thought about the greatest, I wasn’t talkin’ about myself,” he said “I talk about different people who were the greatest in different things, and then I correlate it to myself when it comes to music.” His inspiration comes from people like Muhammed Ali, Biggie, and Tupac.
“There’s definitely two sides of the coin,” Bryant said. In one of his more melancholy songs, “I Know What a Dream Is,” Bryant describes some of his lesser qualities. “For me to really be reflective of myself and be honest with myself, I had to talk about the good the bad the ugly, the everything,” he said.
“The music I do is big on using life’s emotions as motivation,” he said. “I just try to make sure my music is honest to me, honest to my vision, and honest to my family.”
“I hate rap, just to be honest,” said Bryant. His feelings toward music are passionate, but his feelings on the industry differ. “I don’t down any artists for doing what they do. It’s more the consumers that I’m concerned with, more so than the artists,” he said, “Right now, there’s not many people listening for anything more than the dollar. They’re looking for artists that can get them the quick buck or the ringtone.”
“There’s no part of me that listens to any other artist that thinks I can’t be on their level. I respect the hell out of Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Luda, T.I, but I don’t see myself as being a less of a man than any of them,” said Bryant.
Bryant has had his share of failures and doubts. On two separate occasions in Atlanta, Bryant found himself doubting his career choice after “bombing” on stage. “It got me into the habit of taking my losses and turning them into victories,” he said. His song “The Anthem” was spurred by one such failure.
Bryant isn’t the type to write down lyrics. He describes his flow as a more genuine form of creativity. “I got into the habit of just listening to the beat, over and over, and thinking my lines in my head,” he said, “Then I get in the booth and do work.”
The biggest satisfaction for Bryant is networking and creating a fan base. “Hearing Eminem say ‘Yo, Conceit is sick’ is what I look for more so than the money. The money is just the means, not so I can have the Bentley.”
Bryant works primarily with producer James “Blaq Santa” Barrett. Bryant has released three studio albums, “Classic”, “I Shall be Heard”, and his most recent, “Perfection,” which was released in the summer of 2011. He says he may release a new album, “Money Back Guaranteed,” in the summer of 2012.
“I like the fact that hip-hop is mainstream at this point.” He said, “The marketing aspects for hip hop are growing.”
Bryant is a journalism major, who is also in the process of writing two sitcoms and a novel. He plans to transfer to Western Washington University in March.
Conceit’s website is: www.conceitmusic.com
Conceit’s latest music video can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3K92DE9AWo&feature=youtu.be