by Collin Masters
Superstar songwriter Kevin Cossom has written hits for the likes of Keri Hilson, Justin Bieber and Rick Ross, but has maintained a humbleness that eventually catapulted him to the forefront of his own career and gained him much-deserved respect. With a determination to be successful in an industry full of ups and downs, the Florida native continues to make music for his fans and earlier this year dropped his new mixtape, By Any Means. He talks to YRB about his writing process, transitioning into a solo artist and working to wrap up his Jive Records full-length debut, LOVE.
YRB: Being a songwriter, did you find it hard to transition into a solo artist?
Kevin: The hardest part about the transition is just the schedule. Being an artist was always primary for me. This is what I wanted the most, and I believe most songwriters are like that. Instead of just writing a song for someone, then they have to perform it and promote it – I have to find that balance and do all of that.
YRB: As a songwriter you’ve penned for several big name artists. Do you think it’s going to be hard to write a hit for yourself?
Kevin: I just do what I’ve been doing. There’s a reason why those joints was hits. The people I wrote for are not only artists that we look up to and respect, [but] they’re songwriters as well. For me to be able to write for them is a cool thing, and lets me know I’m doing the right thing.
YRB: What’s your writing process like when you’re writing for someone else?
Kevin: When I write for someone else I keep the same vibe like when I’m writing for myself. Except, for me, I already know what I want to talk about; other artists might want to say certain things or they already have a theme they’re going for with the album. So I try to get their thoughts and see where they want to go with it, and sometimes they let me do my thing.
YRB: Are there any differences when writing for yourself?
Kevin: I just listen to some tracks. If I’m there with a producer we might make something from scratch. Sometimes I have ideas in my head already and certain producers can put something around what I’m doing. Nine times out of 10 I go in and vibe to the music, then jump in the booth get the creative juices flowing and make something happen.
YRB: How did you come up with the title By Any Means?
Kevin: When you first get signed you hope they jump right on it and things move fast. At the time things were moving a little slow with the label, which is one of the reasons I named it By Any Means – because we were going to make it by any means, just doing whatever we have to do. If it’s with the help of the label or without their help, I’m going to continue to do my music and keep trying to win.
YRB: What kind of feel were you going for with this project?
Kevin: It was pretty much more freestyles, just hip-hop and urban-based. Just giving people a whole view of me as an artist [and] showing them what I can do.
YRB: Tell me about your previous mixtape, Hook vs. Bridge.
Kevin: I named the mixtape Hook vs. Bridge because back then I was known for writing hooks. It was the bridge between me being a songwriter to an actual artist writing full songs. It was also kind of cool hooks, verses and the bridge being the three components in a song.
YRB: I see you have different collaborations on your own songs that include Rick Ross, Pusha T and Joe Budden. How did you choose to collaborate with these artists?
Kevin: It was one of those things where Rick Ross is from Florida so it was only right we do something. Some of the other songs were joints I already had; others were songs that I wrote hooks to that needed to get placed. I reached out to different artists to be apart of certain records. I wanted to get anyone who was willing to be down, and I appreciate everyone that came through for me.
YRB: Will your debut album, LOVE, be an uptempo album or more love ballads?
Kevin: I’m working on it now, putting the finishing touches on it. Uptempo is not the first thing I think of, but I definitely don’t want it to be monotone. The concept of the album is LOVE being an acronym for Levels Of Various Emotions. As much as I love to party and have fun – I show that part of me in the album – but I have other songs on there that are real for people to connect with.
YRB: I know you and Danja have great chemistry. What other producers have you worked with that bring out the best in you?
Kevin: The Runners and I have great chemistry because we come from the same place in Orlando. Now we’re in Miami recording, and I also got a lot of my placements with them.
YRB: What artist would you love to write a song for?
Kevin: I would love to write a song for Beyonce or Gwen Stefani. I think they’re both dope. I would love to do something with John Mayer; I think he has a dope vibe.