By Cameron Lee
November 22, 2022
On February 13, 2022, Kendrick Lamar performed at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show in Inglewood, California, sharing the stage with fellow megastars Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Eminen in spectacular fashion. Lamar, who hadn’t released an album since 2017’s Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN., had many fans awaiting a possible album announcement. One of those fans was UNC Charlotte freshman, Sreyas Kodukulla, better known as “SK.”
“So me being an upset Kendrick Lamar fan, I just tweeted as a joke, saying that he’s ‘officially retired’ because at that point, I was like, ‘We’re never getting music from this guy.’”
SK, a 19-year-old computer science major from Westford, Massachussetts, would frequently visit Raleigh during summers to visit family growing up. His experiences in North Carolina factored into his decision to attend UNC Charlotte.
“It’s a very pretty state. So I just really like the location, you can drive two hours and you’re at the mountains and you can go three hours and you’re at the beach. Or you can like, go to South Carolina…There’s just like, everything you need,” he said.
During the onset of the pandemic he became more engaged on Twitter, and set out to become influential in the music commentary space, mainly out of boredom. As a kid of Indian descent in a small New England town, SK found solace in music since he often felt like a misfit, too white for the Indian kids, and foreign to the natives.
SK started to build a following with his timely music-related tweets, sometimes even agitating fan bases with his takes, but what happened on April 18, 2022 would drastically change the course of his life.
On that day, Kendrick Lamar announced that his highly anticipated fifth studio album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers would be released on May 13. What was shocking for SK and presumably millions of Kendrick fans was how he announced it on Twitter. Lamar used SK’s tweet back in February during the Super Bowl with a link to his website oklama.com.
“Holy f*ck Kendrick Lamar knows I exist!” is what SK remembers screaming as his Twitter account rapidly gained tens of thousands of followers and millions of impressions in a matter of minutes.
Trying to make sense of it all in the following days, SK messaged Kendrick Lamar’s creative business partner and pgLang co-founder, Dave Free.
“I asked him [Dave Free], ‘So was this like, random? Was this planned? Like, why my tweet?’ He told me that Kendrick was initially gonna just tweet the link out…but he said that he saw my tweet and was like, ‘yeah, I want to use it.’ Like, ‘I’m just going to use this.’ He thought it was funny. And I guess that’s how it happened,” SK said.
While having your musical idol share your Twitter account to millions around the world was a surreal experience for SK, what happened on August 10 was even more unimaginable. Coming back from a summer vacation in India to Boston specifically to catch Kendrick and Baby Keem perform at TD Garden, SK made it to the arena just as the opener Tanna Leone hit the stage. Following the show, he got an unexpected message from Dave Free who connected him to an assistant that guided SK backstage. After meeting Free and Tanna Leone, he was brought into a room where Baby Keem was, and as he was walking toward him to dap him up, Kendrick stood up from his peripheral and greeted him.
“No words could come out of my mouth. I was shocked, man. Like, it was the craziest thing,” he said.
Admittedly and understandably nervous, SK soaked in the moment with Kendrick and Baby Keem while they got to know each other and shared a few laughs.
“he don’t know u lil bro” pic.twitter.com/XC9IRFF0lb
— SK⚡️ (@raptalksk) August 11, 2022
“They were super nice…you can tell that they’re like brothers. They just complement each other so well, not even just musically just as people, and like their personalities,” he said.
Still trying to make sense of it all, SK is getting acclimated as one of the rising voices in music commentary on Twitter. Now, with over 172,000 followers, he offers thoughts on a wide-ranging musical palate tweeting about everything from Beach House to The Strokes to Mobb Deep and, of course, popular new releases.
“I think I just proved to myself that it can be real, you know? Like, it’s always just been something I was doing for fun, but I’m not gonna fumble it. I just really want to make something happen with it now,” he said.
top 5 album from the last decade pic.twitter.com/Fb673ClmRV
— SK⚡️ (@raptalksk) November 9, 2022
Wanting to eventually do more on YouTube, TikTok, and get into writing, SK is still keeping things in perspective.
“Like, at the end of the day, it’s Twitter, right?” he said. “So like, it’s hard sometimes to look at it as an actual achievement because I’m just like, writing, typing words into a tweet.”
He’d also like to get more into digital marketing and has some potential music industry internships lined up, and he currently gets paid for occasional sponsored tweets to supplement his college expenses.
— SK⚡️ (@raptalksk) November 22, 2022
Though he’s now being recognized on campus, SK also wants to enjoy his college experience and the city he has come to adore.
“I won’t ever get sick of just taking the light rail into Uptown and just walking around. Like, that’s like my favorite activity to do in Charlotte, I just love the city so much.”
And for the many aspiring Twitter music influencers that ask him for advice, he says, “Don’t use a gimmick to get big, because the gimmick will never stick…know the people in the community, whichever community it may be, form connections, make friends.”