Chatters of children between ages 5 and 10 years old linger throughout the chapel of the church as the students rush in to start their day at school. The moment 8 o’clock hits, a teacher calls out “it’s prayer time,” followed by an echo of students excited to begin their morning prayer before class. They run into the classroom, dashing into the arms, and some even grab a leg, of their teacher Kei-Landa Rembert, also know to them as “Miss Rembert” the hip hop teacher. They greet her with hugs filled with tightness and love.
In a classroom that is decorated with alphabets on the walls, a mini children’s library along side a chart of numbers and shapes, Rembert calls out for the students to bring their homework folders up to the front of the room.
“No running around in the classroom,” exclaims one student who is self-proclaimed as the class monitor. “Want me to tell Miss Rembert?”
As the day goes on, an excited Rembert delicately blushes as she announces to the students that it is time to practice their phonics. Her method for teaching the students an easier way to learn their vowels, erupts into a song.
“Aa-aa-aa-aa-aaaaple” is heard in harmony from the students as they sing along with Rembert.
In a classroom full of five year olds, it can be somewhat difficult for Rembert to keep all of the students focused for long periods of time. This was proven as she read a book of poetry to the students and mentions that her favorite ice-cream is vanilla bean. A result of uncontrollable laughter, which causes Rembert to also catch the contagious laughing bug.
Rembert manages her days by having story time with her Kindergarten class, to recording in the studio or performing on stage in front of people and showcasing her rapping and singing skills as a Christian artist. She confirms that she is not a superhero, but she is living out her dream and doing what God called her to do.
“I love music, I love God,” Rembert says with confidence. “He’s the one who directs my life and directs who I am as a person.”
She wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music growing up, but remembers of when she was a little girl, her uncle giving her a CD to listen to. He introduced her to singers and rappers that represented God in a “dope” way, far from the typical gospel music. It was the way they articulated their words to sound so smooth, still keeping the 90’s hip hop swag, yet talked about God all throughout.
For Kei-Kei, she knew since the age of seven that music is where God wants her to be.
In her bedroom one day, she had a vision of being an artist and making music that was uplifting onto God. Envisioning herself standing in front of people with the main purpose to bring them the truth and love. As she grew older, she wondered where that music would come from, but throughout the years, God provided lyrics for her to perform, improvement with her vocals and experiences that lead to stories to tell through music form.
Most would compare her rapping style to that of the legendary artist Lauryn Hill. “Some people say that I sound like Aaliyah,” Rembert reveals. “If she were to ever rap.”
As for being a kindergarten teacher, this was never something that she expected to be able to label herself, someone who once made fun of teachers.
“Who I am as an artist, overlaps who I am as a teacher, because I’ve been able to open up creatively with the kids,” says Kei-Landa as she laughs at the memory of finding rhythms for her students when she teaches them vowels and uses rap as an learning technique. “Oh snap. We rapping the vowels,” an excited Rembert says.
Being a teacher is an exciting and encouraging job for Rembert.
As far as becoming a Christian artist that is well known, she is aware of the difficulties that it takes for her message to be heard. With her confidence, she knows that it will still take some dedication and faith.
“A lot of times people look at the title more than the music, so they automatically associate me with other people they might have heard.” Rembert said.
Her goal is to reach as many people in her age bracket [18-25] with hopes that they would give her a chance before they label her as a Christian artist and make their decisions from that.
One day, Rembert went out to audition for a college tour and she didn’t mention to the judges that she was going to rap and sing about the gospel. After doing her audition, the excitement of the judges was overwhelming, yet they managed to say things like, “we didn’t know you were a Christian rapper!” Fortunately, that didn’t hinder her talent and she was able to be a part of the tour.
“I didn’t tell anybody I was a Christian. I wanted the music to speak for itself.” Rembert said eagerly.
Aside from God being Rembert’s inspiration, she also grew up in a family full of women who inspire her and are artistic in their own way. Her mother who is an artist raised Rembert with her three other sisters and along the way released a bit of her creativity in each of them. Living in a house full of creatives, but especially women, it can get a little feisty. But for Rembert and her family, it’s all about support.
“You’ll hear things like, ‘you’re wearing my stuff’, but ultimately it’s, ‘you make great stuff.” Rembert laughed. “They leave room for me to just be me.”
Between teaching Kindergarten students in a school that is located above her recording studio and going on mission trips with her church to places like Zambia in South Africa, Rembert is certain that she found the source of life. That which she declares is God, and if you go to him, he will always be there and she wants to share it with others.
Rembert, better known in the music world simply as Kei-Landa, is currently working on her first EP called 24 and before confirming a release date, she wants to make sure that it sounds like the best it can be.
“The hardest part with making this EP, is letting go,” said Rembert. “The fear of coming out and not being heard, but I trust that I had to let it go.”