My Music May Define This Election
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My Music May Define This Election

This is my first time paying attention to politics. Biden pulled me…

If you don’t know his name, you know his sound. Marcos Palacios, half of the production duo Da Internz, is now Kosine, a producer, artist, and talk show host. The Chicago native leapt from the classroom to the studio and found himself working with Nicki Minaj (“Anaconda”), Rihanna (“Birthday Cake”), and dozens more, from Nas to Justin Bieber. At one point, Kosine admits, he started to believe his own hype, which ultimately led to business drying up and him moving back in with family. After some soul searching and a reset, he ended up on Joe Biden’s radar; now, his sound, which he calls “gourmet ratchet,” is urging people to vote in the upcoming election. He hasn’t always been active in the past, but that changes this year — for him and, hopefully, for you too. Here are his thoughts, as told to Aliya S. King.

I’m not big into politics. It’s just not something I’ve always followed. I’m working on that. On my show, Kingz With Kosine, we had guests like Van Lathan and Shaun King, and I was nervous about holding my own because I’m not necessarily keeping up with what’s going on politically.

That’s why when my team told me that Biden wanted to use my music for his campaign, it almost didn’t register at first. My management is freaking the fuck out, and I’m thinking, “Is it that big of a deal?” I celebrate all the wins, big and small. But I stay focused on the day in front of me so much that when things like a call from Biden happens, it takes me a minute to get it. The power in it.

This is an extremely important election, and of course I’m proud to contribute.

Did I ever think my music would play a major role in a presidential campaign? Of course not. Twenty years ago, I was just a junior in high school trying not to fall asleep in trigonometry. (The cos and sin in trigonometry is where I got my name.)

I hear that Joe Biden’s team wants to hear some of my music. And I’m like, nope. That’s not real. I’m not a politician. What is this? How is this happening?

I couldn’t have predicted this. So this has forced me to rethink some things.

First of all, let me make this clear: My team is run by Black women. That’s a special kind of support. Like, I got women who are in Black sororities with national networks. They’re plotting out my moves even when it’s a Saturday morning and I’m working on music. They believe in me and believe in what my mission is. Enter Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

I hear that Joe Biden’s team wants to hear some of my music. And I’m like, nope. That’s not real. I’m not a politician. What is this? How is this happening?

So, here’s the thing. Twenty years ago, I read Quincy Jones’ autobiography. It blew my mind. I read it in two days. This is a man who works. And pretty much anyone in music whose career I admire — Michael Jackson is my favorite singer of all time — has a connection with Quincy Jones. I’ve studied all of his steps. And I know that his career has taken him all over. So if Biden’s team is reaching out, it means I have something to contribute. I knew it was time to make it happen. And I did.

But this song was a bit different. That’s my voice on that song. For a long time, I was only in the studio; I was just the producer. So, I’m going into the booth, praying that the words come through and that it sounds good. Like, it’s never a guarantee. It’s like an election: My music is the campaign, and people who listen are voting on if I’ve gotten my message across. I’m grateful — I’ve won a lot of elections.

So, looking forward: I have to understand politics better and become more active. I can’t have my voice on a track telling people to vote, with Biden’s voice saying “I approve this message,” and not have a stronger grasp of the political process.

I’ve always been more of a man of faith. And then when I’m reading the Bible, there’s nothing in there about a White House or a government. That’s all a separate construct.

But I’m here now, lending my voice to a cause I believe in. If me yelling out “vote, vote, vote” on my song makes people do just that, I’ve done my job.