Terry Kennedy, “Skateboarding Was a Hobby… Then I Got Shot.”
Skateboarder, rapper, and now BET reality-TV star, Terry “TK” Kennedy has done it all. The Long Beach native was determined to get praised up and raise up out of his neighborhood after losing his mother to drugs at 15 and never knowing his father. After constantly bugging a friend about his clean attire and fresh kicks, Kennedy discovered skateboarding at Cherry Park in downtown LBC. While he went on to be a chairman of the skateboard, TK’s always wanted be behind a different kind of board. Grindin’ for the past three years with his rap group Fly Society, the trio dropped their Bloodbath mixtape and are looking to release their first official album this December.
Now, with his top rated BET reality series, Being Terry Kennedy (Tuesdays at 10pm EST), TK is taking his brand to new heights. Who would have thought all this could happen for the 18-year-old kid Pharrell picked for team captain of his skate team, Ice Cream Skating? The grind continues…
XXLMag.com: First skateboarding, then rapping, and now a reality series on BET… Who’s idea was it to get your story told on TV?
Terry Kennedy: I wanted to pitch a show, but every time people would be like, be like “Compton-Ass Terry…” and me and my manager are sittin’ back like I have more to me in life, I’m doin’ much more in life, and I’m tryin’ to give back more in life. [Now] I’m 25; I’m a grown ass man; I got more to offer and I got more responsibility. I wanted to go to BET. I sat down with them, [and] they were like, Dude, you gotta get your story across so [you] can motivate them kids in [your] neighborhood so they don’t gotta got through the shit [you] went through. I wanted to be around my peoples and I specifically wanna talk to my people about this moment right here so they can be comfortable in your own skin [and] have a dream.
Skateboarding and “Compton-Ass Terry” seem like two different lifestyles. How’d you discover skateboarding as an escape?
Funny story was, I played football [and] basketball right, [but] I used to always see a kid I played on the basketball team with—I was in 8th grade at the time—after practice and I’d be like, Damn! He had fly skate kicks on, and I didn’t know what they were so I’d always bug him about everything he was wearing… Eventually he got tired of me buggin’ him about shit and was like, Dude, why don’t you just skate [or] why don’t you just go to the skate shop and by this stuff… and I’m like, Nah man, I ain’t tryin’ to skate man, hell nah, you know, just tryin’ to be too cool. [Eventually] I ended up going to this park called Cherry Park that was in downtown Long Beach, and [saw] two other Black kids I knew. From there, I felt comfortable ‘cause I knew them two dudes, and after that I just started goin’ up there everyday.
What made you get completely serious about skating to make it your profession?
After I got shot. [Until then] I was just treatin’ it like a hobby… Then, when I got shot I was like, Man, this is… fucked. I gotta start skatin’ like my life depended on it. Like, I promised God, if I stay on this board I’m not gonna look in no other direction, but what I need to do on this board and [start] moving forward in life? So I just stayed on it.
So Pharrell was the first to really recognize your talent and signed you to his skate team, Ice Cream Skating, how’d you two link up?
I was about 18 years old, and he just got that shoe deal with Reebok, with Ice Cream, and he wanted to start a skate team. He and his youngest brother wanted to do something together I guess and Pharrell has always been a big fan of skateboarding, so I guess it only made sense for him to put a team together. He put his brother on the team and started asking people around, I wanna get a couple more Black male skaters…and my name happened to come up. I was still on Vans at the time [but told] him my contract would be up in a couple months … and sure enough, he gave me a call within like three months and started making everything happen.
Did your relationship with Pharrell push you into music or is that something you were already interested in?
No, I was already into it. Like I was skatin’ but I always just seen my cousin, he was always rappin’ and my other friend Felix was always producing, so I was always into it but never tried it… But what ended up happening was my cousin was like, You know what you gotta do now? You need to start rappin’ about things and you need to get that shit off your chest…it’s the best way, ‘cause if not, you mentally gonna carry that shit, you know everything you been through. Let that be your therapy. Once I started rappin’ I felt a lot better cause I could just talk about my problems. I love it.
Fly Society is your group, right? Who are the other members and when did y’all start up?
[The group] started in 2007, and it’s me, Fuzzy Feliz and H.I.T.
Has it always been just you three?
No, it was more. We had Curren$y in the group as well. Curren$y always wanted to be a solo artist and Fly Society always wanted to be a group, and I respect [him] for that ‘cause he came to us firsthand and was like, Dude, I wanna be a solo artist ‘cause I’ve been in other situations where my career didn’t get a chance to take off, you know. And he was like, I just wanna step out and do my own thing; I’ll make music with y’all but for the most part I’ma do my solo thing.
Last year Fly Society came out with the Bloodbath mixtape and y’all had features from Bun B and Travis Barker. How’d you hook up with them?
Travis Barker, I’ve known him through my friend Lil’ C, that was my best friend that passed away. You know, and from there he said he’s just always been a fan of what I’ve done and what I’ve been doing, so it was dope. We got to work on the track, then [Travis] reached out to Bun B and asked could he chop up his vocal on the hook and Bun B was like, yeah, no problem. And I appreciate that. Big shouts out to Bun B cause he didn’t even know me that well and he was just like, yeah no problem, Travis, I respect that kid.
So on your show, Being Terry Kennedy, you have guest appearances by Ice Cube, Snoop, and Justin Bieber. Does that mean you’ll be working with them in the studio soon?
I ain’t think about it yet. You know what’s a funny thing, I kinda wanna do it without so much help right now. Since I’m new to the game I kinda wanna prove myself. In an ideal world, let me prove myself. Let me allow you to become a fan of me and grow to like me. Snoop blessed me enough already; Cube blessed me enough already. Them bein’ on my show…gave me an inch, I don’t gotta take a mile. —Amber McKynzie