We had the good fortune of connecting with Kardo Santana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kardo, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When it comes to taking a risk, there’s a quote I live by. J. Cole once asked, “If you scared to take a chance, how we gone get rich?” I remember hearing that and thinking to myself, “He’s right.”
Most times in life, we play it safe. As I sit here and think about my life and my career, in many scenarios, I played it safe and it hindered me from excelling in many areas. I realized that being still and being stagnant are two different things. To make progress, you have to go through and process, and in most cases, taking risks, no matter what you fear the outcome will be, will serve you greatly. Just remember you’re going to win some and lose some but do not fear mistakes because there are none.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is unapologetically real and raw. I am an artist who specializes in Subconscious and Spiritual Hip-Hop. It is a combination of being saved and still having attachments to the street life I have been exposed to while growing up. What sets me apart from others is that I never put myself in a box. I love all genres of music, and I try to incorporate them into my art. I view myself as a “Walking Negro Spiritual”, and I view my music as the new ‘southern hymns’. After developing this sound for several years, I would have to say I identify my style as ‘street gospel’ (not to be confused with Christian Hip-Hop).
When I think of what I’m most proud of, I would have to say it’s the fact that I have started my own entertainment company. I spent so many years trying to get on the radar of record labels, but I’ve been given the runaround. I noticed how record labels would ask me to produce, write, and even record demos for their artists, but they never wanted me to be their artist. I would beat myself down about this so much that it caused me to become depressed. But then I realized I could create something of my own. I know what it feels like to be looked over and to start doubting yourself, and I never want another artist to feel that same way. So, Soul Full Entertainment was born.
I got where I am today professionally by working hard and praying harder. Being from St. Matthews, South Carolina, I can honestly tell you that there aren’t many opportunities back home. It’s desolate and scary, especially when you’re ambitious and you’re chasing your dreams. I credit my mother for keeping me active in school. Being in the Upward Bound program at Claflin University really exposed me to the benefits of pursuing an education on the collegiate level, as well as giving me opportunities to travel to different states to see that the world was much bigger than St. Matthews. My mother was a single parent, and that alone drove me to a point where I knew I had to do any and everything to take care of her. Because of that, I would later attend Claflin University and gain my BA in Mass Communications and a minor in Theatre Arts. My path was a long and difficult one due to the lack of finances, but I was blessed enough that God kept providing a way to pursue my career. Even so much that after I graduated from Claflin University, I enrolled to become a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where I’m pursuing my MFA degree in Film and Television.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned on the way is that I can not expect others to be like me. This was a hard concept for me to grasp but a necessary one. I learned just because I handle things a certain way, others don’t have to handle them the same. I learned that just because I would go beyond the call of duty to help others, that doesn’t mean that others would do the same in return. I had to learn that just because I would sacrifice all that I have to succeed in my life and career, that doesn’t mean that others should do the same for me. Everyone is different, and we must allow them to be who they are. Our job isn’t to shape and mold everyone in our image but learn how to appreciate them just the way they are.
One thing I want people to know about me is this: “I know the sky can’t be the limit, especially since Michael Jackson walked on the moon.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friends visited me in Atlanta, I would take them to the Sweet Water Creek to start our morning off with a nice jog. We’d hit The Original J.R. Crickets for some lunch because the wings there are amazing. After that, we’d take a trip to Little Five Points and head over to Criminal Records to pick up some vinyl records. I would definitely take them to Jackson Street Bridge to see the sunset. Afterward, we’ll hit Extreme Teriyaki for some takeout, or we’d go to Behinana if they’d want to sit in.
The next day, we’d go to Piedmont Park and take some pictures. That way they can see the view of Atlanta from a different perspective. Afterward, we’d go to Lenox Mall. You can’t come to Atlanta and not go to Lenox. While we’re there, we’ll grab some Mango chicken for lunch. Anyone who’s ever had the Mango chicken from Lenox knows what I’m talking about. Following that, World of Coca-Cola would be perfect. And we’d end the night at The Battery Atlanta. The energy there is crazy and perfect for sports fans or anyone who loves Atlanta. The food is amazing as well.
The next day would be dedicated to the Georgia Zoo and the Aquarium. Those places are nice getaways when you just want to have fun and keep it simple.
The next day we’d have to hit up the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame for the experience. After that, we’d have to go to one of my favorite food spots in Atlanta called The Bando. Trust me, the food and the decor give you the authentic bando vibe that you’re craving. That night we’d have to go to the State Farm Arena to catch the Hawks play. Preferably they’re playing the ‘home team’, the Charlotte Hornets. That way we both can enjoy the game.
And our last day will be dedicated to spending our day at Six Flags over Georgia because all my friends are amusement park junkies.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would definitely like to dedicate this to my tribe. My family and friends have undoubtedly been there for me through it all. As I try my hardest to balance all the highs and lows of my life and career, I know there are several faces that I can turn to. I realized I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to have genuine people in my inner circle, and I know that it’s divine energy that allows the positivity to keep flowing to me and through me. Whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or a home-cooked meal to lift my spirits, I appreciate all the love that has been sent my way. Sincerely.
All photos were taken by Kemet Alston of Kemet Alston Photography.