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Roy Kinsey

Chicago, United States


Roy Kinsey is an anomaly when it comes to tradition in his respective industries. Roy Kinsey is a black, queer-identified, rapper and librarian. Kinsey’s non-conformist ideology has informed his sixth album, KINSEY: A Memoir, which he proclaims as his best work yet. Following the still-poignant Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey, KINSEY: A Memoir, captures a sinister yet sincere and potent musical performance. In the album, Kinsey reflects on his early traumas that threatened to debilitate his belief in himself and his family’s abilities. It is the manifestation of a queer man, in a black body, coming of age in Chicago. Chicago-born and raised, Roy Kinsey is a librarian for Chicago Public Libraries.

CAB 5 Contribution

Project Overview

Roy Kinsey Rehearsing "A Westside Story: Legacy Project"

A Westside Story: Legacy Project is the first live listening session/performance of the in progress work of lyricist and librarian Roy Kinsey. Part listening session, part performance, and part album discussion, Roy moves through the space of the Chicago Cultural Center, giving audience members a rare look behind the veil into his creative process when constructing an album.

Kinsey’s 9th studio album, A Westside Story: Legacy Project, due Fall 2024, firmly focuses on housing and growing up in an ever changing Chicago, rehashing the unfinished argument Dr. King began while residing in Chicago in the late 1960’s concerning the despicable housing conditions that so many in the city endured.

This in progress musical work captures a snapshot of Chicago in this new decade; one filled with uncertainty, where a new story is unfolding. Some completed songs on the album discuss the loss of friendship, unrequited love, and survivors guilt when one community member is forced to move due to the gentrification of their neighborhood and the other ends up in prison (Darius (Moonlight)), the hurt and trauma gay men experience and inflict navigating same-sex relationships when they have histories of hurt while trying to love one another in marginalized and segregated parts of the city (Crossfire), ancestor veneration (Black), and a citywide conversation between a witness, kids who commit crime in the city, their parents, civilians and the obstacles of raising children in the city (Get Y’all Kids), respectively.

This self proclaimed audiobook is a living testament to the power of not only rap and libraries, but to the power of audacity. During MLK (Freedom Weekend), the Chicago Architecture Biennial and Roy Kinsey invite audiences to peer behind the veil into this rare, vulnerable and intimate creative process of sharing a new (in progress) album, developing and rehearsing the live performance, and discussing thoughts, themes, and creative decisions.

The City is the Site