Ex-UM quarterback turned rapper opens for Lil Wayne

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Jack Kennedy has been on the big stage before.

The former walk-on quarterback at Michigan (2009-2012), where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, will step foot on another big stage Friday in what could be as equally life-changing for him as playing in Michigan Stadium.

Kennedy, a rapper/producer/lyricist, has been added to Lil Wayne's "Big Show at the Joe" tonight and will perform one song, his newly released "It's Time" as the second act of the show at 7:15 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. Other performers tonight include Trey Songz, Yo Gotti and Omarion.

This by far will be the biggest musical stage for Kennedy.

"I think it will change my life," Kennedy said in a telephone interview. "Performing the one song is incredible, but being connected to this is the real huge win."

Kennedy, a Walled Lake native, credits a connection with local radio show "Mojo in the Morning" and Tony Travatto from the station for helping him get the break to perform at the WJLB-sponsored show.

He's not nervous but excited about the opportunity to perform during a huge show.

"I don't think it's intimidating," Kennedy said. "After you've played football, not that I played that much, but you're around that all the time."

Clearly, Kennedy is not applying his double-major to his music career, but he said there have been benefits. He has been aggressive in terms of pursuing opportunities, knocking on doors, driving across the country to get meetings to keep his career moving forward.

"Where (the degrees) helps me the most is in meetings – they take me seriously," Kennedy said. "I don't have a manager, so they'll listen to me."

Kennedy said he applies visualization skills he used in football to help him prepare for performances. He practices in the basement of his apartment complex, because it's a space as large as a stage.

"It's just like football, the preparation," he said.

He has upcoming performances at the Vans Warped Tour at The Palace parking lot July 24 and at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

But tonight's appearance could go a long way toward advancing his career.

"It's finally getting more real," Kennedy said. "I've worked a long time, make money mixing for people and make enough to scrape along. I'm starting to get real traction. It's the real deal."

Jack Kennedy