Interview by Patrice Rivers @thatriverzgurlbrandllc
Born as Sean Kirkland in 1991 in Brooklyn, NY, ARNSTAR is an actor, dancer, rapper, social activist and overall creative! While raised in Harlem, NY there’s a subtle blend of influences from the two boroughs. It was destined for ARNSTAR to become the person he is today because he comes from a multi-faceted family. Having performed on stages such as Times Square New Year’s Eve (2021), America’s Got Talent (2020), Madison Square Garden (iHeart Radio’s Jingle Ball 2018 and more! Aside from his love for music and dance, ARNSTAR discovered he had a knack for acting too. He landed a supporting role in The Netflix Original Film “Roxanne Roxanne” as the legendary “MC Shan”, who was a close friend to legendary Femcee “Roxanne Shante” (Juice Crew). Then, he became a cast member in Season 11 of MTV’s Nick Cannon Presents “Wild N Out. “With ARNSTAR’s high-spirit and love for connecting with people on and off the stage many are drawn to his presence. His mission is to provide a world where people are free to express themselves to their highest ability by using his talents and his involvement in the community as an activist for the youth.
I got a chance to catch up with this busy star Arnstar to talk about the importance of hip hop and its culture as well as his music career.
Patrice: Thank-you Arnstar for sitting down for an interview for Your Voice Hip Hop magazine. You are versatile in the line of entertainment such as acting, music, dancing, serving in your community and being a hip-hop pioneer. I really applaud you for all your hard work and dedication.
Arnstar: Thank-you! I grew up in a household where all of these things are happening at once. My family are my greatest motivators. We listen to jazz and hip-hop, Anita Baker; my mother is old school. We also watch movies; that is what we do.
Patrice (laughs) You grew up in that environment where music was important such as old school hip-hop. What are some of your favorite artists whether they are old-school or artists in general?
Arnstar: My biggest music inspiration and performance is Michael Jackson. He literally gave everything he had whether it’s on the stage during performances or off the stage. Michael was always powerful with his delivery. That really captured me as a child.
Patrice: Michael Jackson is definitely a legend. I love his music and of course The Jackson 5. Almost everyone has a unique stage name. Arnstar is one of those unique ones might I say. How did you come up with that name?
Arnstar: I basically took a nickname that my mother gave me. I grew up with the nickname Arnie as a kid. My real name is Sean of course. By the time I was nine, my brother started changing his identify and started giving himself tag names or names they would go by in the streets by evolving their name and their image. I was going to keep ‘Arn’ because Arn is cool. When I looked into my memory bank, star had been the most categorized phrase and utilized towards me as a kid like “He was a star student” or “He was a star player on our team” So, I’m always hearing it and it resonated in my sprit loud that when I thought about it that in my head I stated “Arn-star, BING!” I was like “That’s it!” From nine years old moving forward, I have been known as Arnstar.
Patrice: Well I love it and it definitely has a ring to it! You have done films and made several television appearances as well during the course of the years such as ‘Roxanne, Roxanne, portraying MC Shan” ‘Pimp’ with KeKe Palmer, ‘Wildin Out’ with Nick Cannon, have you been working on any recent new film projects lately?
Arnstar: Lately I have been focused more on the music, but I’m always ready to go out for any auditions that is open in my field. It was a blessing to portray MC Shan in ‘Roxanne, Roxanne’ because hip-hop has been a cornerstone ever since. My dad was a part of a legendary crew back in the day called Rock Steady so that’s where my heritage came from. That’s my understanding of I am Hip Hop. It pushed me towards rapping and representing the culture rather than getting caught in just the expression. People ask me “How do you stay true to the culture?” And I tell them I just study. I never met my dad, he passed away before I was born. I learned Hip Hop through everything I was connected to at that time.
Patrice: Wow, amazing! I know you mentioned that you stay true to the hip hop culture. Do you feel like hip hop itself is changing?
Arnstar: Absolutely! It has every right to. If I was to stay the same, there wouldn’t be anything new. If the culture continued to grow, there wouldn’t be any story behind it. Hip Hop will always have its face changing, it’s sound changing, it’s voice changing. I welcome the change and the adjustment. As long as we remember the roots and keep this tree growing, then we won’t fall over.
Patrice: Definitely! Besides the hip hop culture as a rapper and an actor, you are also a part of a dance movement called ‘W.A.F.F.L.E.’ which I love what it stands for by the way. How did that all started?
Arnstar: ‘W.A.F.F.L.E.’ stands for ‘We are A Family For Life Entertainment’ This movement started in 2011. It branched from a culture that started in NYC in 2006/2007 called Lite Feet. It was for Harlem originally, but now it is in over thirty plus countries. It is the fastest dance style
in the world as well as the best representation of a group of young men that comes out of the culture. I joined in 2014 understanding that besides the acronym of the name, that is the movement that young men are a part of family and instead of being in a competition and battling, we had the idea since we were already friends, we decided to become a team and build each other up instead of trying to outdo each other on the dance floor; it’s been a major success since then.
Patrice: Let’s get into this music! Tell the readers more about your album ‘Light Layers: Extended Spectrum that was released February of this year and the whole music journey thus far.
Arnstar: So, “Light Layers: Extended Spectrum” came out on my birthday February 5th. I figured what better gift to give myself then an album and share it with the world. Music is something that has been unescapable for me. I’ve been trained in classical music at the age of nine. I knew I wanted to sing and dance and I’ve been doing it ever since. By nine I attended the Boys Choir of Harlem where I learned classical music, Mozart, pop, then I was a hype man for Lil’ Mama at the age of sixteen which brought in my spectrum on where I can go, what it can do and what it can really bless you with. I’ve been rapping since the age of thirteen and writing poetry since the age of twelve. Writing has also been something that has freed my spirit. I knew music was something I needed to do; something that I am and a part of. The album is a culmination of what I been through in the last two years and I am grateful to have that done and completed. First it was an EP with six songs then I added another seven to complete the album.
Photos by Tai Collins