Charles City musical artist graduates high school, drops album with ‘Point to Prove’
Written by Erica Larochelle
If working two jobs and graduating high school last month wasn’t enough of a challenge, many people haven’t really heard of Charles City’s Keenan Stewart. But releasing a 17-song album as well under his stage name “3KTrae”, his album entitled “Point to Prove” seeks to do just that.
Stewart’s July 2 release was just a sample of what the artist could offer through his vast of musical talents. After gaining 10,000 streams across all music platforms on the first day of its release, a message was clearly sent by the artist.
Growing up in the rural Charles City County, Stewart wasn’t exposed to rap and hip hop music until middle school. But after hearing the genre for the first time, he was hooked.
“One of the first rappers who really caught my eye was Fetty Wap,” Stewart said in a Sunday afternoon interview. “My brother was the one who actually introduced me to the particular artist when we were playing basketball one day.”
Stewart went on to say that in seventh grade that Daniel Harris was a local rapper in the area. After finding out Harris was into music, Stewart sought out the dream.
“He [Harris] is one of the biggest reasons that I started making music in the first place,” he said, crediting the foundation of his writing and desire to perform.
Stewart’s musical background began in his church and as a member of the Chickahominy Indian Tribe. From a young age, he was singing in his church’s choir as well as listening and learning about his culture, where he continues to contribute today by singing and playing the drums at traditional pow-wows.
“When I hear music, it’s a different viewpoint than others,” the recent high school graduate reflected. “With my music, I decided to take inspiration from where I came from.
“Being Native American and coming from Charles City, I talk about how much music is different for me and how I view life differently from how any artist would,” Stewart added, pointing specifically to artists Lil Skies, Juice WRLD, Post Malone, and Caleb Gordon, a Christian rapper. “A lot of artists influence me, and there are a lot of them that are in various genres of rap.
“Even today, you don’t hear about many mainstream Native American artists, but I seek to be the one to break that trend,” he commented.
Stewart’s influence and motivation is evident in his music. Songs on his album are inspired by his happiness, relationship with God, a family member’s passing, and reflections on his life.
“I have had many ups and downs in life and it’s better to focus on the ups,” Stewart said. “When we were in lockdown due to COVID-19, that’s when I really got into working on this album.”
That album was “Point to Prove.” Stewart went on to talk about working on his favorite song, “Never Changing”, and also reflecting on “Alright (It Is Well)”, a celebration and dedication to the memory of Mamie Whitehead, a relative of his who also drove his bus to school for several years.
The artist also said he learned from his first album “Primal Instincts” that was released a year ago.
“That was a very hard time in my life and the emotions were poured into it,” Stewart confessed. “’Point to Prove’ is about better times and how I am hopeful for a brighter future.
“I’m making music to change people as well as myself in a positive way,” he added.
That positive message is reflected in the song tracks on his album. Stewart prides himself by saying none of his music contains unnecessary language.
“If you can’t get your message through without using profanity, that just shows a lack of vocabulary that you have,” he adamantly said. “A lot of people tend to think that this area is filled with dumb, country people. I want to prove that just because we come from a rural area like Charles City or New Kent doesn’t mean we can’t all do something great with our lives.”
And Stewart’s message is already getting a lot of steam both locally and abroad. One of his earliest songs was played on local radio station 106.5 The Beat by DJ Skull, whose real name is Matthew Robertson, another Charles City native. Stewart’s songs have touched fans as far as the United Kingdom and various parts of the United States.
“I worked with my audio producer Thomas Leck as he mixed all the instruments for this album,” Stewart said, praising the assistance. “I plan to work with Daniel on his musical projects.”
As far as goals, Stewart didn’t hold back on an ambition that he plans to reach.
“I want to have a song or album from every musical genre go number one on every chart in the future,” he proudly said. “No artist has done that before, so I want to be the first.”
Stewart’s life isn’t going to slow down for music. The recent Charles City graduate received a full ride scholarship to the College of William and Mary, where he plans to study anthropology.
“I want to learn more about my people and the culture and spread those messages as well,” Stewart said. “I want people to see the good things we have going on.”
And Stewart’s work ethic hasn’t gone unnoticed either. His former coach has seen the musical prowess of the rapper.
“I’ve seen times where we were at a track meet and he’d do his event, then go under the bleachers and pull out his computer,” said Andre’ Jones. “He’d slide his headphones on and work on a song, saying the words out before I had to get him to go do another one of his events. And once he’d finish that activity, it’s back to the computer.”
Stewart’s future definitely remains bright, with a lot of his songs appealing to a number of age ranges and diversities.
“Point to Prove” is available on all media platforms. For more information on Stewart, visit www.3ktrae.com.