[sidebar]Big Island-born Kealoha Mahone, perhaps better known by his emcee identity of K-Luv, just moved to San Francisco to record an album as a signed artist. His mixtape You Don’t Look Like You Rap came out earlier this year, as well as teaser singles off of the Pro and K Came to Rhyme EP. He is going on tour in November.

Despite his accomplishments of the past, present, and what will be of the future, 27-year-old K-Luv’s emphasis always goes back to humility. In an interview with him in person, the importance of his family’s working-class background comes up repeatedly. “I grew up extremely poor. I went through a lot of my life without having anything, and having to work really hard for everything,” he says.

K-Luv never forgets his humble roots. He chooses his words and phrases carefully, even feeling uncomfortable using the word “fans” to describe his musical supporters due to the separation it puts between them. Though he acknowledges, “I’ve been blessed to gain all the popularity I have.”

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Having first encountered freestyling while after joining the military out of high school, K-Luv has since tried his hand at various types of rapping, from battling to music-making. He says of his musical evolution, “I feel like I had my time in each of them. There was a point when all I did was freestyle in ciphers, freestyle in the park, freestyle in the car, freestyle when I woke up. At one point I was battle rapping a lot.” And about his music now, K-Luv says, “I’m more in the music-making phase. I’ve grown a lot in the sense of artistry. I’ll sit for days or weeks on a song. I’ll spend a lot of time formulating a concept … I storyboard my own videos. I try to help direct. I have no film experience, but I’m always involved in the process. It’s just the way my brain works. I see in pictures.”

The things K-Luv sees in pictures vary greatly, as they would for someone with a diverse range of interests and for someone who is sensitive to what is happening around him. From the dark and serious song “Nothing” to the light-hearted “Rollin Stoned,” K-Luv says, “I am a storyteller. I definitely feel like that’s one of my gifts. I would definitely consider myself a lyricist.” For the upcoming LP, K-Luv says, “It’s gonna be about life, really. I’ve been through a lot of things on my short time on Earth. There are a lot of things that don’t get spoken about in music. Life struggles, making that paycheck, wanting to follow your dreams, needing to take care of your family, the struggle of the common man, the common man being the champion. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it,” he says.

See the full article in the Fall 2011 issue of FLUX Hawaii, on stands now. Click HERE for locations.