Kiyoshi’s Journey: A Hip Hop Balancing Act of Inner Peace and Sustainable Living

This guest post is part of the What’s Your Story project here on this blog.

My name is Kiyoshi Shelton.  My artist name is Kiyoshi.  I was born in Saginaw, Michigan and received my first introduction to music from my father who is a music teacher.  He was a band director who always taught different bands growing up like the high school marching band and the jazz band.  My father started me out playing guitar when I was an 8 year old child and I would make up songs on my guitar when I was a child.  All of my siblings played instruments. My oldest brother Akira became a professional jazz musician as a teenager and would later produce the majority of my music to this day.  My brother Akira used to break-dance and play Yo MTV raps and popular rap songs during the 1988-early 1990’s golden era of hip hop so this is how I got introduced to hip hop and learning about rap music.

In addition to being heavily into music, our family was also a very church-going Christian family that attended church multiple times during the week.  In 9th grade, I began rapping at church and writing poems and raps during my high school classes.  I would rap at church often and the following year, I soon began entering youth poetry slam competitions.

In college, I was known for winning a lot of the local talent shows and soon built my reputation as one of Metro Detroit’s most creative and talented artists when I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The year after graduating from Eastern Michigan University, in 2006, I read the book “The Secret.”  I discovered “the law of attraction” and that opened the door for me to begin reading various spiritual and self help books and watching countless youtube videos on spirituality, conspiracy theories, and the mind-body connection.  I started getting more into spirituality, metaphysical studies, and learning about different religions around this time.

In 2008, a friend of mine told me about the benefits of yoga and how it could also help me perform better as a performer.  The first yoga class I took was a hot bikram yoga class in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the winter of 2008.  I enjoyed it but because of the high cost per class, I didn’t pursue yoga until 4 years later.

In 2010, I decided to move to San Diego after attending a self-help/how-to-make-more-money-and-better-your-life seminar in downtown San Diego.  I felt the calling to move to San Diego because of the lovely, warm weather and I felt deep down inside that it was the place where I was going to grow a lot.

In February of 2011, my girlfriend at the time and I packed our bags, drove cross-country, and I started a job as an admissions counselor at a University in San Diego.  It was a job where you were required to talk on the phone in a cubicle for the majority of the day.  After a while, I got fed up with the repetitive nature of the job and felt stuck.  I start noticing myself get heavier as I was eating a lot of the delicious Mexican and other San Diego restaurant foods I wasn’t accustomed to.

I knew I needed a change and in the beginning of 2012, I decided to workout and run regularly during my lunch breaks and eat way healthier. I started attending conscious events and yoga festivals in the Spring of 2012 and was hooked ever since.  I was meeting super friendly people who were in shape and driven in life.  The atmospheres of the yoga events I attended were very heart-based and full of love.  Most of the people were so welcoming and non-judgemental.  I loved everything about yoga.  It complemented my lifestyle as a performer and overall person.  It made me feel more alive and in tune with my body.  I could think clearer, I was able to dance more freely, and feel more confident about myself.  As a result of my healthy eating lifestyle, regular yoga practice, and working out at the gym, I lost 20 lbs and was feeling better than ever.

Since then, I have been an active part of the yoga community here in San Diego and have made many lifetime friends because of yoga.  Some of my closest friends are these two guys named Dru and Crisanto.  They go by the name “Mental Physix.” (www.mentalphysix.com)   I met them at a yoga class in San Diego that they were DJing at.  I found out after the class that they come from a similar hip hop background like myself and are also heavily into yoga and doing music.  The first time we hung out was at Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, California (www.bhaktifest.comhttp://www.bhaktifest.com) We started hanging out more, traveling together, performing together, and collaborating on different projects together.

2012 was a pivotal and significant year for me in regards to growing as a person and musician. In 2012, I decided to create a project that was empowering and inspirational, different from the typical hiphop on the radio.  I wanted to bring more balance into the world of music and hip hop.  Understanding the power of affirmations, I decided to do something unique and have each chorus/song title on this project serve as a positive affirmation.

Since its release, I have performed at many music and yoga events like Bhakti Fest, Shakti Fest, One Love Movement Fest, and others.  I have performed rap, spoken word, and music in yoga classes and yoga dance parties.  My music is very uplifting with positive messages and the topics in the songs I write range from talking about health to chakras to dancing to current social issues people face.  I even have a song I am working on with the Los Angeles legend: DJ Drez.

My mission is to actualize social change through the collective power of music, dance, and community while restoring balance, inspiration and respect to the Hip-Hop and global arenas. My music engages audiences worldwide with a highly interactive, exhilarating and authentic stage performance, while conveying a clear message of positivity, health, sustainability, social justice, and Love.

KiyoshiI am now a 34 year old yogi, inspirational music artist, and passionate lover of health and fitness.  I currently reside in sunny San Diego and always find time to attend the numerous conferences and festivals in and around this beautiful state of California.  After moving here from Ann Arbor, Michigan two years ago, my life has changed dramatically.  I have consistently practiced yoga since early 2012 and since that time, I have grown tremendously spiritually and mentally.  Festivals such as the SDYoga journal conference, Bhakti Fest, and the Tadasana Festival have all had a significant, positive impact upon me.

In addition to yoga and acro-yoga, I occupy my time by creating/writing music, ecstatic dancing, attending music festivals, laughing and cracking jokes with my family/friends, working out, reading and watching films, hula-hooping, surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, spending time at the beach, hiking, puppetry, and enjoying life in every moment.  Loving, laughing, and learning are 3 principles in which I live by.

Today, with over 15 years of creating rhythms and rhymes, I have toured internationally to perform at socially conscious events, festivals, and venues all over. I plan to get my yoga teacher’s certification some time this year, continue inspiring through hip hop, touring with Mental Physix, and bring our shamanic rhythms to classes all over the world.

Be inspired, visit Kiyoshimusic.com or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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See more of my art at Zazzle.com/OviedoStyle

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