Kelvin Bloodsaw felt lost in 2018.
After ending a relationship and losing his job, he turned to writing prose and poetry to get him through burn out. Then, his writing turned into rapping and reignited his passion.
Bloodsaw, a junior public relations major, will release his debut album, “Shannon‘s Son,” a project a year in the works, in January. The seven-track album will be released on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud under Bloodsaw’s stage name, Diamond Blacc, and will encompass a wide array of styles, like love song and ‘hard and heavy’ rap songs within the hip hop genre.
“What I wanted to do just as an artist is to appeal to all different types of people, so I tried to reflect that in my songs,” Bloodsaw said. “I sort of picked a song out of every genre.”
Bloodsaw wanted to create a wide range of music to attract listeners who enjoy different styles, he said. The album also includes an upbeat dance song and a song about Bloodsaw’s experience as an LGBTQ artist, he added.
The original release date for the album was Jan. 1, 2021, but Bloodsaw is pushing back that date to make time to shoot two music videos, do promotional photoshoots and build a website to go along with the album release.
The album’s title is named after his mother, who he calls his “best friend.” When Bloodsaw first started making music, his mom and grandmother were the first to listen, and supported him, he said.
“My mom’s like my twin,” Bloodsaw said. “She’s my best friend. She’s really excited about it, so I just figured out of my love and appreciation for my mom, I would name it after her.”
Bloodsaw works with Philadelphia-based freelance producer David Sousa, who Bloodsaw met through a mutual friend earlier this year.
Sousa mixes Bloodsaw’s vocals, does post-production for his songs and helps give suggestions for the tracks’ flow, movement and organization, Sousa said.
“I’ll help him out, like I’ll give some suggestions as far as you know, like helping guide the structure of the songs so it’s cohesive,” Sousa said. “But for the most part, it’s him.”
Earlier this year, the two had been recording Bloodsaw’s album in Temple University’s recording booths in the TECH Center and at REC Philly, a collaborative studio and coworking space located on 9th Street near Market.
Due to closures and restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, they have since moved back to recording the album in Bloodsaw’s South Philadelphia house.
Limits on social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bloodsaw to improvise with filming music videos. He first imagined an elaborate music video involving many people, but now it’ll be a lyric video, created with digital editing apps.
Another video will be a dance compilation video that features many of Bloodsaw’s listeners and friends dancing to his song “Bounce That” similar to TikTok dance challenges that grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“It’s clips of various people like sort of dancing but it sort of looks like a culmination of these just different people dancing on camera,” Bloodsaw said. “I think it’s cool like we’re all kinda going back into that quarantine mode. It sort of feels like everybody’s just sort of messing around on their phone and making funny videos.”
Bloodsaw is adapting and learning to balance his recording process, his job managing properties for the United States General Services Administration and his schoolwork, he said.
“I’ve been working through the pandemic, so I’m at work everyday and have night class,” he added. “I’m just rolling with the punches, just adapting and adjusting as best I can.”
Bloodsaw’s lyrics focus on self-love, self-expression and building and continuing relationships with loved ones, he said.
“I just want people to have a good time and feel good about themselves and know that the person behind this loves you, cares about you and can relate to all the things that you’ve gone through,” Bloodsaw said.
As an LGBTQ artist, Bloodsaw wants to represent the LGBTQ community within the hip-hop world and promote a message of self-acceptance, he said.
The last decade, especially 2019, brought changes in the music industry as LGBTQ artists have more visibility and acceptance to come out, as more artists are vocal about their sexuality, Billboard Magazine reported.
Listeners like Paul Alexander, 30, who has listened to Bloodsaw’s earlier singles for two years and lives in Alexandria, Virginia, said seeing LGBTQ artists in the hip hop genre is meaningful to him as someone in the LGBTQ community.
“I don’t think there’s enough representation of us in the music industry right now,” Alexander said. “It’s nice to know as a gay man that there is an artist out there who is telling a story similar to my own.”
Reaching listeners like Alexander is crucial to Bloodsaw’s work because he wants to grow a set of followers who know him on a personal level, he said.
“I want to have that broader connection with people because I love people, like I want to make sure that that connection is always sort of maintained,” Bloodsaw said.