A stay-at-home dad. A husband. A sober, recovering addict and alcoholic. A Eugene native. An independent rap and hip-hop artist. Kenneth.
The name “Endr Won” was coined when Kenneth got involved with Eugene’s graffiti community as a teenager. He grew up messing around with drugs and alcohol at an early age. He came from a single-parent family, and had “a lot of free time to get into trouble.” At age 15, he ran away from home and started living on the streets, where he joined the graffiti community and found his “second family.”
In graffiti terms, the best names are short. Kenneth liked the word “endure” and the meaning behind it, hence Endr. Also in graffiti terms, the artist typically places a numeral 1 after their name to signify claim to that name. He has since shifted the “1” to “w-o-n” based on his sobriety.
“I’m in recovery, and I’m a grateful recovering addict and alcoholic,” he says. “I switched it up, not necessarily that ‘I won,’” which is kind of finite, but it felt like I had overcome some things at the time.”
Kenneth, aka “Endr Won,” has music on all major streaming services, and has toured Canada and the U.S. several times with some big names in the rap and hip-hop industry, such as E-40 and Mac Miller. His latest album, The Last Few Years, is set to be released on streaming services around August 19. He said that this album is the biggest yet of his music career.
The album features several artists — Apathy, Locksmith, Self Title — that Endr Won used to listen to 10 years ago as a fan. He says it’s surreal to have them as a part of his album now. But more so than that, he described the album as a culmination of all the work that’s been put in throughout his life.
“It took me a long time to be able to say this, but I’m genuinely proud of myself and I put a lot of work into what I’ve done musically,” he says.
He also says that this album is his best as far as sound and production. Joey Coffman, one of his “best friends in the world,” produced the album, and Thaddeus Moore of Liquid Mastering mastered it.
“It’s just a record that I know that I’m going to look back at when I’m old and gray, and matter what happens in my career, the fact that I have arrived this far, even if I stopped doing music tomorrow, the fact that I’m even in this moment and able to talk about this album is an honor I don’t talk lately,” he says.
Endr Won may be a musician, but he doesn’t take his other job — full-time stay-at-home dad — lightly. His new album features a song titled “This Much” which is a song about his son. His son is 6, but Endr Won started working on the song when he was born.
Endr Won grew up without his dad in the picture, and he says the song expresses what it’s been like, from “growing up without a dad to becoming one.” He talks about how he used to daydream about his own dad, and the father-son things they would do.
“It’s kind of like a crazy dream come true, because all these things I get to do with you,” he says, speaking to his son in the song.
His son’s voice is on the song at the end of the song, singing in the background.
On Friday, August 12, Endr Won will have an album release show at The Big Dirty in Eugene. The event will have physical copies of the album for sale, as well as merchandise like hoodies and hats. Anyone that gets a ticket ahead of time will receive a free digital copy of the album.
Endr Won is excited for this event to showcase his new album, and to participate in the Eugene music scene which he describes as “insanely talented and underrated.” But he is also proud to see where he is now from where he started.
“I remember sleeping under Jefferson bridge, and now during Thanksgiving, I take my son down there to feed the homeless and just teach him some of these things like empathy and gratitude,” he says. “There’s purpose in the pain. And that’s how the music has been: my hurt, my pain, the crazy stuff I never thought I’d talk about ends up being in the music.”
Endr Won’s album release party is 8 pm Friday, August 12, at The Big Dirty. Tickets are $12.