Portrait: King Karlemagne

They say a journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step. What if, though, that first step is into a brand-new, foreign land? For Virginia-based Rapper, and aspiring mogul, KING Karlemagne (born Karl A. Talla Demgueu), it’s been a tumultuous journey – one that began with a 10,000-mile trip, and with an end yet to be written. Born in Cameroon, a disparate country in central Africa, Karl’s early misfortunes would later help catapult his rhymes into impassioned pleas of survival. “My first home was my grandmother’s house. Although my father did his part, he wasn’t married to my mother – so she too felt she had to do her part. After dropping out of school (due in part to mine and my sister’s birth), she tried to find workwhich wasn’t promised there as it is here; hence the trip to the States.” A move to Boston at age nine, while a better situation for the family, put Karl on the early defensive – at an age which otherwise would be spent in relative innocence. A native French speaker (France once shared Cameroon’s territory with England), the upheaval to an English-speaking land provided what could only be described as a massive culture shock. “It might have been the toughest part of my life,” he recalls. “You go from speaking freely with people, to a place where you don’t really identify with anyone. You’re an outcast. I felt nobody could relate to me being from somewhere else – so hip-hip was a common ground.” Also dealing with a father he’d see sporadically for weeks at a time, Karl turned to music as his own form of expression, communication – and acceptance. With hip-hop as the anchor, Karl’s influences of 50 Cent, Michael Jackson, along with his native African tones & drumbeats, allowed him to finally open his sphere of influence – and he hasn’t looked back since. “Being able to utilize the music that I make to tell stories that I couldn’t necessarily share as I was going through them is the greatest gift of all to me,” Karl says of his music. “These songs allow me to speak in a language that everybody understands; and that’s music!” Karl’s years of perceived jilt have also given him the gift of virulent observation – in the vein of Eminem and Joe Budden before him, he has a knack for championing the underdog. Now twenty-four, the young poet is prepared to not only take world by storm with not only his music, but his business ventures to accompany it. Karl reflects: “As time’s passed and I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that almost everybody I’ve seen in the public eye is literally a walking ad for something. The smart ones are advertising their own things though – and that’s just what I plan on doing. Starting with my ‘#TEAMKARSLTER’ merchandize, amongst other things I plan revealing in time. ” With a rigorous work ethic, Karl’s ambition far exceeds the miles his voyage has covered thus far. As his musical journey begins, his life’s travels are finally coming full circle. With a return trip to Cameroon to introduce his native people to his music planned for later this year, Karl’s honesty remains unrelenting. “I started off talking about ‘I got this, I got that’ – when in reality, I didn’t. It was just wishful thinking. Now, I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I just hope to have a larger platform – for the world to hear my music, and even more importantly, in some shape form or fashion connect with my story.” KING Karlemagne’s debut project, entitled ‘Foreign Exchange…

And so A Journey Began‘, is currently available for download.


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