Although Kevin “Kaoz” Moore is influenced by artist such as KRS One, Ice Cube and Common, he is not your average hip-hop artist. Moore is a socially conscious entertainer whose work is reflected in his spoken word performances. The Cleveland native currently resides in Minneapolis where he works for Pillsbury House as an HIV/AIDS educator. In 2007 he received the National AIDS Education Services for Minorities (NAESM) Award for Excellence. He talked to PrideIndex to discuss coming out, his music and what’s next on the horizon.
PrideIndex: How did you get the nickname Kaoz?
KAOZ: I went through a ton of names as a shorty growing up trying to rap. Kaoz was one I settled on in high school. I needed something that used the letter “K,” and I wanted to use Kaos, but other rappers used that spelling so, I added the “Z” to make it specific. And Kaoz/Chaos is what I try to cause. Disrupt thought, think out the box, and make something unexpected, scary, but real happen.
PI: What made you decide to become an openly gay hip-hop/spoken word lyricist?
KZ: I felt another voice needed to be heard and that gay men and young adults needed another representation. Much love to everyone who has done it, but I felt I would speak for a demographic that we don’t see in mainstream media representation of gays in entertainment or society.
PI: Do you believe your coming out of the closet will make it easier or more difficult for any future gay hip-hop artist?
KZ: I know it will make it easier. I’ve witnessed it. Some gay rappers who have recently entered the game have told me it would. That makes me proud. But it’s the same inspiration I got from seeing Tim’m West, LastO, Bry’Nt, Verba Sscience, Prince Cat-Eyez and countless other “out” rappers. It’s the universe at work.
PI: What was the reaction of your family and friends regarding your decision to come out?
KZ: A little apprehensive, but they support everything that I do. Especially when it comes to spoken word, theater or writing. They have been there since I was in the 4th grade playing MLK Jr in school plays. It makes them happy to see I am still living my dream, and being a leader at the same time. Much like MLK, fighting for the same principles.
PI: According to published reports you started to write poetry while in elementary school. Tell us about the first time you performed in front of an audience and what was their reaction?
KZ: I was nervous. As I’ve said before I was playing MLK in a school play my family, friends and classmates were blown away by the passion I put into the play. In rehearsal, I was at 75%. (Laughs). But when the day came to be on stage, I pulled some energy out of nowhere, and my husky ass played MLK like no other actor had before. My mother was so proud. I felt good too, and immediately I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with that gift and opportunity.
PI: If you could go back in time ten minutes before that first performance what advice would you give to yourself?
KZ: Know that if you mess up, it’s okay. No one’s perfect. I think I have a perfectionist’s attitude with some things in life, and it can be hurtful, because you will beat yourself up whenever what you do is not “perfect.”
PI: How would you describe your artistic style?
KZ: Very off the cuff. Although I rehearse a lot, I let my energy govern where I go onstage when it comes to my music and spoken word. You can’t rehearse real life, nor can you rehearse “moments.” The Creator controls my moments.
PI: Any influences?
KZ: KRS One, Ice Cube, MF Doom, Common, Mos Def, Tech Nine, Mad Lib, Tribe Called Quest, B.I.G., Lauryn Hill, Mc Lyte, & Me’shell N’degeocello just to name a few.
PI: Where do you find the inspiration for your music and spoken word performances?
KZ: Usually from what is going on in my life at any given time. Or, world issues, current events or happenings that affect me and my people.
PI: While looking over a few of your photos I could not help but notice your six pack abs. What do you do to keep physically fit?
KZ: I try to eat right. Try to work out at least 3 times a week. But work and life make that hard sometimes, so when I can’t exercise I watch what I eat. During warm months I bike everywhere. But yea, since no one or nothings perfect, don’t think that the 6 pack is there 24/7 – 365 – I’m human too, on the holidays especially. I just try not to let myself get too far out of shape.
PI: Have you ever considered modeling or acting? Why or why not
KZ: Acting of course. I have been doing theater and film most of my adult life. I’ve been in about 3 indie pictures, some PSA/campaigns. Modeling I thought about and was always told I was too short to do runway, so I’ve considered print, but it’s not necessarily a field I want to get in to. It doesn’t do it for me.
PI: Tell us about your work at the Pillsbury House in Minneapolis?
KZ: I manage a Health Education/HIV Prevention program for a community center in Minneapolis. Our program offers rapid HIV screenings, individual counseling, public health education workshops and events, street outreach and a men’s group called Brother Circle of Minneapolis (BCM612). We also refer people for services, encourage volunteerism and offer other assistance.
PI: Why did you become an activist?
KZ: I had no choice. I think being born a gay male of color put me in a class of immediate activism. Being the minority and in some senses an anomaly. I knew early I would always face challenges, if not for my race, my orientation. So I’ve always tried to be a voice for the voiceless. And also, had grown from being the voiceless, to being and agent of change.
PI: What projects are you currently working?
KZ: I have a few collaborations with fellow out hip-hoppers. I’m also working on some singles for this summer. Finalizing dates for a tour of sorts during Pride season, and continuing work on my next full length album tentatively entitled “The Intervention,” set to release early 2012. I may drop an EP or two in the meantime. More videos from songs off “The Tyler Durden Ep.” As well; I’ll be adding more video direction credits to my resume.
PI: Briefly tell us about some of your upcoming appearances. Where we can see you performing spoken word and/or singing and dancing?
KZ: Hip-Hop Against Homophobia @ The University of Minnesota April 4, South City Open Mic (Featured reader) April 8. Staged readings for the new theater plays, “Waiting for Giovanni” & “Med/Ie/A” at the Pangea Theater in Minneapolis. More dates for the summer are being added so people should keep track of my touring through my website www.kaozonline.com. To hear Kaoz’ music visit www.reverbnation.com/kevinkaozmoore.