"Phe-Nom, Phe-Nom, Phe-Nom!" His voice echoes through the sound system, but as I scan the club I can not see the Kansas City legend. As his DJ yells "PHE" the crowd anxiously yells, "NOM!" "PHE" "NOM!" "PHE" "NOM!" The crowd, though smaller than what the club can hold, is ecstatic. Every one; from the staff, fans and local artists that opened the stage for him, is ready for the show that is about to take place. An eruption of applause brings my attention to the side stage where I get my first look at him, hyped and ready to go.
Def Metal Gospel's own, Irv Da Phenom did not cease to disappoint throughout his entire set. The energy stayed high and the crowd was feeling every lyric he spoke. I couldn't help but become ecstatic myself, especially during his song, "Phenom Pt. 3", when he pointed at me during the line "but not you baby, you can stay." Being front and center has it's perks. I could feel the breeze of his DJ's dreads as he went in on stage. In May, Phenom (Born Mitchell Irving) will be just 25 years old. To look at him and speak with him, I had assumed he was older than I. However, when I asked him about his demeanor, he humbly replies, "I guess it comes from always hanging out with the older folks in church and in the community." Aside from spending time in church, Irv started making music when he was 11 years old. He mentions recording on his mother's old windows computer until he was about 14 when he hit a "real" studio.
Irv says back in the day he was a "bit of a hustla"; selling drawings, candy, juice boxes, and everything else throughout school. Phenom grew up watching his father run his own tire shop until he was old enough to work in it himself. Due to this way of life, he always had the "be your own boss" mentality. The tire shop proved to be difficult work; from negative degree weather to over one hundred degree heat. He did what he had to do until he could do what he loves to do, make music.
At the show where I met Irv, I mentioned we had a sorta smaller crowd. (The size of a crowd most local artists are used to; with about 30-40 people tops) However, it does not phase this rapper. He preformed as if there were thousands of people listening. So I have to ask him what goes through his mind when he sees a "less than desired" sized crowd. His response is gracious, it doesn't matter if there's ten or ten thousand, he's just happy there is one person who respects what he does enough to come out and watch him. Phenom also mentions his good friend Tech N9ne, with whom he's done music with, who preformed back in the day for a crowd of 7! (Including the staff of the venue) Phenom says, "So far, I've been blessed to always have at least twenty on the worst night." Knowing that he is just paying his dues and griding every step, "it's the process" he says.
Although collaborating with Tech N9ne may have helped speed up this process, Phenom has his own label; Def Metal Gospel or DMG. I asked him to break it down for me and this is what I got: Def = Dope, Metal = Raw, Gospel = Truth. "That soul connection to music. The honesty I strive to live my life by and keep in my music," he tells me. Dope Raw Music. I laugh as he tells me that he's also a Gemini and Def Metal Gospel can often be misconstrued as Death Metal - Gospel, two words that he had never heard put together before. Yet he says, "They describe me and other geminis so well." I have to agree with him, being a Gemini myself, "I can be thinking with two different minds simultaneously," a fact that Phenom embraces.
One of my favorite things about Irv Da Phenom is that he creates what he calls "Human Music". In other words, it's music that comes from the things we experience as humans in our day to day world. He says, "Everything that happens to me has an effect on the art I create and how I present it to the world." Phenom's goal with his music is simple; to live a life of happiness and fulfill his constant need to manifest what goes on inside of his head. He believes that making music is just one of his many purposes in life. He hopes his fans find "healing, motivation and anything else that helps them get through their day to day." I fully believe him when he speaks, much like his lyrics, there is power behind his words. Take his song "Hate Your Family" off his album Who The F#@K Is Irv Da Phenom. The song is pretty self explanatory in its lyrics. If you haven't heard it, I beg you to click the link and take a look. Take in the lyrics, breathe them and let them manifest.
Irv Da Phenom is a man of many talents; he is more than a rapper, singer or philosopher. He's a phenomenon if you will, hence his name. He has a dream and is hustlin hard to get there. Phenom is down to earth, easy to talk to and a powerful lyricist. I couldn't help myself but I had to ask him if we could expect any future collaborations with Strange Music, in which he vaguely responds about a "certain CoatHanga Strangala". If you don't know what that means, go bone up on Brotha Lynch Hung. And if you haven't already, go get yourself a copy of the newest Phenom album, Los Kangalas ft Jarren Benton and Dizzy Wright.
I'll leave you with words of wisdom from the Kansas City Phenomenon himself, Keep it 3H (Honesty, Hunger and Humility) and "DREAM BIG AND HUSTLE HARD." - Phenom