Kenna Zemedkun, known professionally as simply Kenna, is an Ethiopian-born
American musician. His track "Say Goodbye To Love" was
nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in the 2009 Grammy
Kenna is the eldest son of an Ethiopian family that immigrated to
Cincinnati, Ohio. He was later raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Kenna began to express an interest in music upon receiving a copy
of U2's The Joshua Tree.
 New Sacred Cow
With the release of his first single in 2001, "Hell Bent",
Kenna gained moderate popularity and an underground following of
fans who eagerly awaited the release of his debut album, New Sacred
Cow. After many delays and swapping of record labels, the album was
finally released under the Sony imprint Flawless in 2003. A subsequent
North American tour was launched in the Summer of 2003 with Depeche
Mode front man Dave Gahan.
The album, which was co-produced by Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, contained
elements of electronica, synth pop, post rock, and house music. Two
singles, "Sunday After You" and "Freetime" followed
the release of the album; the music video of the latter, along with "Hell
Bent", appeared sporadically on MTV2. "Freetime" reached
#19 on the U.S. Dance charts.
In Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, which is about the way people
judge and make decisions in their lives, a portion of one chapter
focuses on the stops and starts and difficulties that Kenna experienced
in getting his music accepted by the general public, despite the
tremendous reception and enthusiasm that music executives, other
musicians and a small, loyal fan base had when they heard his music.
 Make Sure They See My Face
Kenna's second album, entitled Make Sure They See My Face, also
co-produced by Hugo, has faced delays, written over the course of
three years, finishing in early 2007. The album was originally
set to be released on June 5, 2007, then pushed back to June 19,
2007, finally being released on October 16, 2007. Kenna, in an interview
with Vibe magazine, cited the reason for delays as being over the
video for the album's debut single. The inspiration for the album
came from Kenna's attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the title,
inspired from phone calls by Pharrell asking Kenna; "are you
going to make sure they see your face?". Kenna's climb took
him to 18,200 feet before he fell ill from taking a sulfur-based
altitude medicine, to which he had an unknown allergy. On October
23, 2007, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 20 Heatseekers
An unrelated song from his second album, "Face the Gun",
was released to appease his waiting fans, and initially was not to
appear on Make Sure They See My Face, missing from early promos of
the album. Ultimately, it was included in the final track listing.
Kenna released a track from the album, entitled "Better Wise
Up", in time for the Super Bowl; this track can be found on
his MySpace page, as well. A remix of "Better Wise Up" featuring
Audio Imagery has been circulating the internet since August 2007.
There has been no official word from Kenna or from his label about
 Summit on the Summit, Land 2 Air Chronicles, and Songs for
Kenna has stated on his official Twitter that he will start recording
songs for his third studio album, entitled Songs for Flight. Kenna
has also stated that much of the lyrical content of the album will
be inspired by the experience & importance of the Summit on the
Summit project, when he and friends climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in January
2010, to bring attention to the global clean water crisis.
A new song called "Turn" was made available as a free
download on his official MySpace for a limited time. It has since
been released on the iTunes Store on January 26, 2010. Proceeds from
the sales of the track are donated to the Summit on the Summit project.
Kenna and his celebrity friends and "Summit on the Summit" colleagues
were featured on the cover of the March/April 2010 issue of the fine
beverage publication, Mutineer Magazine, where he was also interviewed
about the climb to Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, to bring
clean water awareness to the masses.
On February 13, 2011, Kenna announced plans over Facebook and Twitter
to release a series of 3 EPs with 3 songs each, titled the Land 2
Air Chronicles. The series will be followed by his 3rd studio album
Songs for Flight. The first EP, titled Chaos and the Darkness, was
set to be released on March 8, preceded by the first single "Chains".
The song was streamed on Kenna's official website on February 22.
However, on March 4, it was announced that there had been an unfortunate
technical failure with the hard drive that stored the majority of
the files that made up the songs for not only the EP, but also the
Songs for Flight album, wiping out the majority of the material recorded.
Despite how upsetting it is for Kenna, he and his production crew
are currently in the process of rerecording and reproducing all the
songs, stating that he only considers this to be "more Chains".
Despite the challenges, the first Land 2 Air Chronicles EP was eventually
released on April 26, and "Chains" was made available as
a single on iTunes & Amazon on March 8.
 Other works
Kenna has also contributed to many other tracks by bands associated
with Chad Hugo or The Neptunes, including but not limited to "Spiral" from
William Orbit's album Hello Waveforms and "Red to Black" and "The
Hard Way" off of The Rising Tied, the first album from Fort
Minor, the side project of Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. "The
Hard Way" is only available as a bonus track on the limited
edition version of the album. Kenna also appears on Mark Ronson's
album "Version" with a cover of the Ryan Adams song "AMY".
On October 6, 2006, the world premier of "Out of Control (State
of Emotion)", from Kenna's EP entitled Black Goodbye Ride, was
played on East Village Radio on Authentic Shit with Mark Ronson;
it became available on iTunes on December 19, 2006.
On July 7, 2007 Kenna opened the New Jersey portion of the Live
Earth concert. He also toured with Nelly Furtado throughout various
stops on her "Loose" tour.
Kenna was featured on Mae's third full length album Singularity
on the tracks "Last Transmission II" and "Novocaine".
Both tracks being bonus tracks on the iTunes Store.
Kenna produced a number of tracks for Ashlee Simpson's third album "Bittersweet
World", released in 2008.
Kenna has also worked with Lupe Fiasco on the remix of "Say
Goodbye to Love" and the The Cool Kids on the remix of "Loose
Kenna teamed up with UK Grime artist Wiley for his 2008 album "See
Clear Now", appearing on the track "Summertime". The
song was released as the album's second single in the UK, hitting
#45 on the UK Singles Chart. Kenna does not appear in the video.
"Out of Control" appears in the soundtrack for the video
games: MLB 08 The Show and FIFA 08.
Kenna is currently working with pop singer JoJo and will be producing
tracks for her new album "All I Want Is Everything".
He also made a remix of the Kings of Leon song 'My Party' which
was on the Charmer single as a B-side.
On RJD2's 2010 album The Colossus, Kenna contributes vocals to the
song "Games You Can Win."
Kenna is featured in the latest string of Gatorade Commercials.
He created, wrote and does the vocals on the Chad Hugo produced track, "Lock
it Up", which plays in the background of the ad.
Kenna the featured celebrity in the HP You on You project advertisement.
Kenna & Pharrell have collaborated with Clipse on their 2009
album Til the Casket Drops on the track "Life Change".
Kenna and Lupe Fiasco recently recorded a song together called "Resurrection".
This song was released on the charity album Download to Donate for
Haiti in 2010, in which the proceeds go to Music for Relief, Linkin
Park's charity. Also present on this album is "Never Let Me
Down", an unreleased track from the Make Sure They See My Face
 Summit on the Summit
Kenna has organized an expedition to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
called Summit on the Summit to raise awareness of the billion people
worldwide who lack access to clean drinking water.
Other celebrities, including Jessica Biel, Santigold, Emile Hirsch
and Lupe Fiasco, committed to the treacherous climb, which started
on January 7, 2010 and was completed on January 12.
The documentary on the climb aired on MTV on March 14, 2010.
New Sacred Cow
Released: June 10, 2003 (U.S.)
Label: Columbia Records
Singles: "Hell Bent", "Sunday After You", "Freetime"
The Black Goodbye EP
Released: 2007 (U.S.)
Label: Star Trak
Make Sure They See My Face
Released: October 16, 2007 (U.S.)
Label: Interscope Records
Singles: "Out of Control (State of Emotion)", "Say Goodbye To
Love", "Loose Wires"
Charts: U.S. #124
Land 2 Air Chronicles I: Chaos and the Darkness
Release: April 26, 2011
"Chains" - 3:47
"Kharma Is Coming" - 3:19
"What U Want" - 3:24
Songs for Flight