Keion Bell: Basketball star… and budding rapper?
Shooting hoops in Italy isn’t the only thing former Missouri guard has got on his mind.
Some of you may have heard of Keion Bell. You know, the 6-foot-4-inch basketball player who dunked over more than six people at Mizzou Madness last year.
Or perhaps you’ve heard his rapping talent in the notorious “Welcome to the Zou” rap. Bell did quite well for himself at MU, but some of you may be wondering: Where is he now?
Bell has taken his talent, both for basketball and for music, to the next level. He currently plays the game of hoops professionally in Italy and is thinking about his second mixtape. Yes, that’s right — his second.
Bell released a solo project entitled Martyr in Flames: The Movie at the end of summer 2013, right before he left for Italy. He acquired a strong and supportive fan base while at MU both in playing basketball and music.
An active Twitter user, Bell credits a good amount of his mixtape’s success to the social media site. He’s maintained his fanbase in America since going oversea and has acquired Italian fans as well.
In Italy, many people view Americans as celebrities, and even more so if they are professional basketball players and/or budding rap artists. For Bell, adjusting to being stared at and idolized amongst the Italians was difficult, especially since Bell says he is a naturally reserved individual.
You would never guess the LA native to be a reserved and closed off person if you listened to his mixtape, however. He raps about everything in his life because, to Bell, his mixtapes are like his diary.
And he doesn’t rap for fame. He raps because music was his first love. While he welcomes his fans’ feedback, his passion is what’s most important to him.
“I make music for myself,” Bell says. “If it’s good for one person, then so be it.”
Martyr in Flames: The Movie is filled with religious undertones. His mother, a very religious woman, was a huge influence in his formative years, and as a result, he learned to filter his life struggles and experiences through the lens of religion.
“I believe what makes a great artist is a person who can talk about something they know about,” Bell says.
In the mixtape’s title, “Martyr” refers to Bell himself and “In Flames” refers to the challenges he’s faced as a “martyr” in the music world.
If you look at the cover of Martyr in Flames: The Movie, you will, at first glance, notice three 6’s. However, if you look closely, you’ll realize that they’re actually 9’s flipped upside down. Keion used this design technique to encourage people to never judge a book by its cover.
Immediately someone could see the three 6’s and believe the mixtape might be “satanic.” If they listen to the songs, however, they will find the project is the complete opposite.
Religious acceptance is important to Bell. He communicates in his songs that people should not ridicule others because they have a different point of view, but instead, should strive to understand where people’s beliefs originate from and why they believe it.
Music is not a fleeting love for the basketball player. When asked where he sees himself five years down the road, Bell replies with confidence.
“Still writing, reflecting and making music,” Bell says. “I see myself essentially doing the same thing. Basketball, as well as music.”