Kelvyn Colt certainly stands out – even on the busy street crossing in Berlin’s Steglitz district. His unusual pastel-coloured outfit, his blonde dreadlocks, his headgear – called a “do-rag”, which is popular in the hip-hop scene: Kelvyn Colt lives hip-hop in a fashionable way too. Both journalists and fans alike regard this 26-year-old as one of the most talented rappers in Germany – a hip-hop prodigy, and someone who many believe is capable of sustaining an international career. The over one million monthly listeners who tune in on the streaming platform Spotify are a testament to this.
Colt was supposed to become a lawyer, but he dropped out of his law studies after only a few days. Colt’s next attempt to study business in London was also just an excuse for him to go abroad: “I knew early on that I wanted to be an artist. I just didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I thought I owed them a degree,” Colt says.
Hip-hop artist Kelvyn Colt.
His incentive – achieving the greatest possible independence – is also reflected in his preference for the electrically driven EQC.
The German-Nigerian from Wiesbaden does not just work hard at university in London to keep the peace at home. He suspects that his courses such as “Entrepreneurship” and “Marketing” might stand him in good stead in the future. The 26-year-old sees himself primarily as a musician, but also as an entrepreneur. Communication with the streaming platforms, advertising strategies, brand cooperations that are so important today: he prefers to do all this himself. Or working with management consisting exclusively of women – a pioneering constellation in this male-dominated hip-hop world. In general, Colt does a lot of things differently to his peers. He is an ambassador for equality and diversity in the industry. These are just some of the issues that Colt also stands for as a member of the EQ community. He has been part of the Mercedes-Benz initiative since September 2019. The common goal: bringing together people who want to make a difference.
At the beginning of the year, Colt even went so far as to buy himself out of his contract with his label and took the courageous leap into artistic and entrepreneurial independence. He was following the example of superstars like Jay-Z, one of Colt’s great role models. “If you don’t own the rights to your music as an artist, you’re really nothing more than an employee of your label.”
Now Colt is his own boss. And his own art product – which he consciously markets internationally.
In contrast to many other successful German rappers, it is natural for Colt to rap mainly in English. The level of competition only manages to spur him on. “Of course, I could get nervous about being up against hip-hop greats like Drake, Kanye West and Travis Scott, whose monthly listeners on Spotify and other streaming services far exceed the 10 million mark. But I see that as the inspiring thing about it. It fires up my ambition.”
He rarely puts his smartphone down. Making phone calls is also part of his job. And this is “my life,” Colt says.
His strong will to succeed can also be seen in the fact that he is constantly on the phone. He rarely puts his smartphone down, even when he is posing in front of the camera. The person on the other end of the line knows full well that he will have to interrupt the call briefly because, for example, the photographer needs his full attention. What is astonishing, however, is that almost no matter what the situation is, the person talking to him from the other end never gets the sense that Colt’s only half listening, or would rather be somewhere else. “My job is my life. When I’m not in the studio or writing screenplays, I’m answering emails or on the phone.”
Work is not everything to him, though: “I also try to set aside some time for myself.” Then he visits his family, walks the dogs. This does not happen very often, though: Colt commutes, circumstances permitting, between London, Berlin, Paris and the USA, sometimes having to live out of suitcases for months on end. He spends what free time he has with his various circles of friends. Colt is well connected. Even as we meet him, a friend who missed a flight is visiting him. He is spending the unexpected free time in Berlin with Kelvyn.
On the road, sustainably: Kelvyn Colt is planning future CO₂-neutral concert tours.
The EQC exudes that exciting feeling of electric mobility.
He also enjoys the lifestyle that his profession allows him. “Travelling in comfort, enjoying good food – these are the things I treat myself to,” Colt explains as he puts his smartphone in the pocket of his pastel-green designer outfit. This was designed by Virgil Abloh, the new superstar of the fashion scene, who has just launched a cooperation with Mercedes-Benz. Colt knows what a privileged life he has: “A functioning health care system is already an absolute luxury in Nigeria.”
His empathy and an ethical, ecological awareness also play a major role in his mobility. He prefers to drive electrically: “The EQC is very practical in the city. I don’t need engine noise. It’s much more important to me that I can listen to music as clearly as possible.”