Millikin Spotlight Artist:KoVu


Rebekah Icenesse, Writer

This week, the Millikin Artist Spotlight is on Baron Despenza, known by his stage name “KoVu.” He has been studying at Millikin for the past three years and is currently taking a break from his studies to continue to pursue his love of music.

Growing up in Plainfield, Illinois, Baron had always wanted to be a singer, but he did not have a strong enough voice, so he turned to rapping. At 22 years old, Despenza has already achieved a massive amount of success.

On Sept. 2, he released his first nine-track album, Contrast, and it can be found on Itunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.

He is currently in Chicago performing and working on his next album, and I had the opportunity to interview him over the phone about his music, his inspirations, and why he decided to study at Millikin. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Why did you decide to study at Millikin?

A: “I liked the smallness and the fact that everyone is so close. The teachers actually know your name and it’s not a class of 400 people where you can’t talk to your professor.”

Q: Why did you decide to pursue music?

A: “It’s always been a hobby for me, but when I got to Millikin [that] changed around. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do before I got there, so I started focusing more on music. Me and my roommate and a guy that lived in Mills, we went to his dorm room because he had recording equipment. We just started making music, and I started to take it more seriously.”

Q: What do you write about in your songs?

A: “I write about things that I go through. I write about experiences I have with my friends. I write about breakups that I’ve been through, and I write about the relationships, not just love relationships, but friendship relationships and things like that.”

Q: How does it feel to finally put your music out there?

A: “It’s incredible. Just seeing your name on such a big platform as Apple Music or Spotify is breathtaking, because I’m from a small town where everybody knows everybody. Everybody is trying to be a rapper nowadays, so I’m one of the first to actually say that I’m going to be something and put it out there on a global scale. It’s pretty cool.”

Q: You’ve said that you’ve released new music, but what else are you doing right now? Are you performing or making more music? What are you doing currently?

A: “I’m making more music. I’m working on the next album. I just had a show the other day in Chicago with Moosh & Twist and Pryde, and we’re planning on going on tour in the next few months.”

Q: Who are some of your biggest inspirations and influences?

A: “Drake is one of my biggest [inspirations] because I never really grew up on hip-hop music. I was always listening to R&B and pop because I heard it around the house, but when Drake came out, he made the whole singing and rapping at the same time thing cool, so that got me into hip-hop and I did my research. Another one would probably be Jaden Smith, because he’s so different and weird. I like the way he carries himself like he doesn’t really care what other people think and he just does what he wants to.”

Q: What are some of your favorite artist to listen to?

A: “I like R&B a lot. I listen to Chris Brown and Drake, obviously. I just got really big into Young Thug. I really don’t like that type of music, but when you hang around people who listen to it, it kind of grows on you. I actually really like to listen to Justin Bieber. He’s a crazy artist. It’s amazing how he takes over the world with his songs. It’s very inspiring.”

Q: Have you met any famous artists or musicians?

A: “Yeah. I have met Waka Flocka, because I did the show with him at Millikin last year, and then we did two more shows after that. I’ve met Chance the Rapper and I’ve met Kanye’s manager [even though] that’s not really [a] famous [person].”

Q: How did you get to open for Waka Flocka?

A: “Before I did the show at Millikin, my agent, Tyler Goss, had connections in L.A. and  knew Waka Flocka’s booking agent. He got us on the shows in Grand Rapids and St. Louis, and then it happened to wind up at the show at Millikin. We just reached out to Millikin and that’s how we did it. It’s all through my agent.”

Q: What was it like opening for him?

A: “It was crazy. I’ve done small shows in my hometown, and I went from getting booed off stage to going to a crowd of 800 people in Grand Rapids. It was amazing. From getting booed off stage to having so many people react to your music in such a great way is amazing. It was really breathtaking. I can’t really believe it.”

Q: For my last question, what is one thing that you want people to know about you?

A: “Know that I’m not a serious rapper. I like normal, goofy things and hanging out with friends. I watch One Tree Hill, and I’m not your typical rapper that talks about killing people and selling drugs and things like that. My music is about normal stuff like hanging out with friends and going to parties and breakups and relationships.”

KoVu will continue to make music and pursue his dreams, and Millikin will be watching from the front row singing right along with him.