Gerrick Kennedy has the job everyone wants. As an award-winning music writer for the Los Angeles Times, he not only interviews artists like Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kelly Clarkson, and Mary J. Blige, he critiques their role in culture and weighs their influence on society. It’s not just heady pieces he pens, but also the dishy news that can go viral, like when he broke the story on pop girl group Danity Kane’s latest break-up, which occurred after members came to blows in a recording studio.
After five years with the Times, he’s earned a respect within the music and media worlds that grant him all kinds of scoops, as well as nearly-front row seats at Beyoncé concerts. The 26-year-old is a prolific writer — just this month, he’s written pieces on Nas, Robin Thicke, Pharrell, the aforementioned Danity Kane and Beyoncé, and even Vanilla Ice. Kennedy’s love for music and writing flowered at The School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, and he nabbed an internship with the L.A Times while still in college at Ohio State University in Columbus.
“Being in a progressive city such as Columbus was such an incredible experience,” he says of his pre-L.A. years.
After interning, he entered a six-month training program that helped him get his feet wet in entertainment reporting. Only a few years later, he would find himself being one of the last reporters to speak to Whitney Houston before she died in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2012. His professionalism and razor-sharp writing were noticed that year: the National Association of Black Journalists named him Emerging Journalist of the Year.
Between his reporting and Instagramming from Coachella or the Justin Timberlake concert, his passion for music is evident. Of course, most of us like music, but Kennedy lives it. When asked who he’s listening to now, he rattles off a few familiar names, but many that we’ll likely be hearing more of soon: people like Jhene Aiko, Disclosure, Banks, Kelela, and Esty. He names the gay British artist Sam Smith, who’s blowing up now in the U.S.: “I championed him last year, long before his breakout moment.”
Kennedy may be the living example of, “do what you love.” And if what he loves is bringing us music that we’re going to soon love, then his job is well done.