MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - From saxophonist to singer, Kenneth Whalum III's first stop in Memphis, after interviews with VH-1 and BET, was right here at WMC Action News 5.
We got a first look at music from the Memphis native's new album "Broken Land" on the heels of playing sax on rapper Jay-Z's 4:44 album.
"It's a testimony," Whalum said. "you've been through something already and letting you know somebody else has been through something similar or just that somebody else understands. I think that helps."
After growing up playing sax on Beale Street, and then more than a decade with the likes of Kanye West, 50 Cent, and John Legend, Whalum says singing is an extension of his musical expression.
"I can't say when I was 11 or 12, I was singing into a brush," Whalum said. "I was really not even thinking that way."
Though he's part of a music dynasty, between uncle Grammy-winner Kirk Whalum and little brother Kameron Whalum, a trombonist for Bruno Mars, he said being the one in the spotlight instead of in the band feels different.
"I would say that it's a vulnerable place especially for myself," Whalum said. "I like to say I'm like Batman. I don't like a lot of hoopla."
You can hear Whalum's sax in the song "Bam" on rapper Jay-Z's new 4:44 album.
"The Jay thing, that worked out great, but it wasn't really a lot to talk about," Whalum said. "We already had a relationship and it was something I wanted to be a part of because I'm a fan of him and that kind of music."
He recorded Broken Land in just one day using ideas and stories from childhood to now, the title inspired by street artist Banksy.
"Banksy has this Dismal Land, which is the opposite of Disney," Whalum said. "All the rides are broken down, the signs are torn apart and that's what I kind of saw in my mind as far as the concept. It was more of a place that you go sober if a tour de ruins."
The eight-song album, which he wrote, sang, and produced, is classified under alternative music.
"I love Memphis," Whalum said. "I love being from here. I love the fact I wouldn't be willing to make this type of music if I wasn't from here and that's just really how I feel about it. A lot of the stories are directly a result of me being from here with this being my breeding ground where I learned a lot of early lessons."
Whalum owns his own music and only released it digitally.
"Right now I want everybody to download it, you know and show that sort of independent campaign and approach can be effective," Whalum said.
Whalum will tour in the fall from Memphis to London.
You can find his album, "Broken Land," on Apple, Tidal, Google Play, and Spotify.