Page Kennedy is best known to audiences as an actor, but you probably don’t know that he’s also had a lengthy music career. He uses his music as a platform to send out timely and powerful messages, as with his new single, “SAFE.”
I recently spoke to Page about the single and the accompanying music video, while also taking a few moments to look back on his role as Radon in the Spike TV sitcom Blue Mountain State, which continues to be one of the great cult hits in comedy history. Hear what he had to say about both sides of his career in our interview, and then explore more of his tracks on his YouTube channel.
Brittany Frederick: What was the genesis of your music career? Has it always been a passion or was this something you were inspired to recently?
Page Kennedy: I’ve been doing music before I was doing anything else. I started rapping in 1984, when I was seven years old, and I have been rapping ever since – through elementary school, junior high school, high school, college. Because I didn’t have a record deal, no one was able to know who I am, except my friends or the people who were aware of me.
But once the internet got to a place where you could actually put your stuff out on your own without having a record deal – maybe around 2015, ’16 – then that’s when my music started to go more public. I built a social media following that would allow me to put my music out without having a deal, which I still don’t have.
BF: Your single “SAFE” is incredibly topical, but how did you start crafting it, since the issues you’re tackling are so complicated? There’s nothing that can be easily simplified down to a hook.
PK: It is very complicated and convoluted. When the quarantine happened I said what am I going to do with my time? I became a TikToker because I used to be on Vine; I never wanted to get on TikTok. I refused to. Then my friend and I weren’t doing anything, and he was like well, let’s just start making TikToks. I grew on there really fast.
Seeing how things become so viral on TikTok, especially music, I said, “You know, I wonder if I created something…” I’ve created like little ditties that have been popular like, “There’s some chores in this house, there’s some chores in this house.” I started that whole trend off the Cardi B WAP phrase, and that went to like three billion hashtags on TikTok. That’s just a silly, little fun thing that blew up.
So I was like, maybe if I can create something that’s more impactful and they get a similar amount of numbers, I can change lives, I’ll change something…I decided to try and figure out a way to use my voice and my platform to tell an unbiased story so that I could spark conversations, and in that, then hopefully elucidation happens. That’s what I did with [his previous single] “FEAR.”
Then after “FEAR,” I had done a TikTok about “SAFE,” and it didn’t blow up. My friend Dom was like, why don’t you make a song about that, because then maybe that will reach more people? So that’s what I did. I took the TikTok that I’d made – I was just talking to my son about getting home safe, and about kids being invisible and wanting to fight for their rights – and I took that idea and I created the project out of it. That’s where that spawned from. Those two projects are what got me to decide to do a conscious album of the soul, which is what I’m doing right now.
BF: How did you translate the message of the song into the music video? As it’s not easy to make a video right now, and you can’t just throw together anything when the subject matter is this serious.
PK: I felt like the importance of this message is seismic and it needed to be treated with care. I went to my director who directs a lot of my videos, and I just discussed with him the plot of this and the process of it, and I was like well, how do we make this happen? Is this something that we can do right now? Where are the locations that you won’t actually get in trouble? Just trying to figure out all the logistics, but this video turned out perfect.
I mean, it wasn’t perfect in the filming, because a lot of stuff was happening with cops coming and gangs meeting up in the area that we were in…We’re in the middle of trying to shoot this video and hoping that they don’t think something is really going down and it turns crazy. We filmed it on the hottest day in recorded history; it was 121 degrees on that day. My director had a heat stroke…We ended up having to go back to do two re-shoots to add things because we had to go to the hospital. A lot happened [but] the video just turned out perfect and it meant so much.
BF: On a comedic note, you’re part of an upcoming Netflix series called The Upshaws. What made that the next acting project that you wanted to do?
PK: First of all, the cast. The cast is amazing. You have Mike Epps at the helm, you have Wanda Sykes, and you have Kim Fields. Those are all iconic names, and personalities, and actors. So [with] that alone, I wanted to be a part of it. And then being Mike Epps’ best friend is a fun and cool experience to have. I’ve done multi-cam shows in the past and they have the best schedule in Hollywood. I was like, I’m all in for this.
My character has a lot of fun stuff at the beginning of the season. He has an interesting arc, so if you watch the first three episodes, you’re going to have a lot of fun.
BF: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention your part in Blue Mountain State, which is a sitcom that still comes up in conversation a lot among TV comedy fans. How much of an effect did that show have on you?
PK: Every day of my life that show is brought up because it reached different generations. When it first came out, it reached people that are in their late twenties by now; then when it hit Netflix, it grabbed a whole new audience…Probably of any TV show besides maybe Weeds, I’m most famous for Blue Mountain State. If you’re 30 years old or younger and you know me, and it’s not from the Internet, that’s where it’s from.
I loved that character. That was a great character to play, because I played football in high school and in college, and I was nowhere near as good as this guy. To be that good and being able to play that cool was awesome, and I would love to continue to do it.
BF: Are there other projects you loved that people don’t ask you about? Anything you think has flown under the radar?
PK: There’s two main shows that I’m mostly known for, Blue Mountain State and Weeds. The Meg is a pretty big movie that I did, probably the biggest movie that I’ve ever done. It grossed over a half a billion dollars. But I’m not noticed as much for The Meg as I am Blue Mountain State, which is crazy. A movie is two hours of your time. A series is like 13 hours of your time. So you get a chance to be attached to a character much more [with TV]. Even though more people collectively may see the film, the relatability and the love would be more from the show. It’s likely to become more infectious.
BF: You’ve built a very diverse career, between comedy and drama, and acting and music. Do you purposefully strive to constantly change, and is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’d like to in the future?
PK: I pride myself on being one of the most diverse actors/rappers in the world. That’s something that means a lot to me and it means a lot in my music as well as the acting. I want to be extremely diverse, where you don’t see me coming. I feel like I’m as strong in my comedy as I am in my dramatic pieces. On top of that, I also am a Shakespearean-trained actor. I don’t get an opportunity to utilize that very much anymore, but hopefully I will be able to do that one day, too. That would be a dream of mine.
I can’t tell you which one I enjoy more, because I love comedy as much as I love drama. They both come very naturally to me so I love them equally. I just want to do great work that is here and lasts forever. I feel like Weeds is something that will be marked in history forever; so is Blue Mountain State. My arc on The Closer is probably the most stimulating piece that I’ve been able to do in over 70 credits. That one is the most jarring and grabbing and captivating of a piece, and that was drama. So I like doing them both.
You can watch the video for “SAFE” below. Photo Credit: Dustin Poteet/Courtesy of Marque Public Relations.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.