Rob Kenner

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Rob Kenner
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Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
EducationThe University of Chicago (BA)

Rob Kenner is an American author, journalist, editor, documentary filmmaker, and DJ specializing in hip hop, reggae, and dancehall music and culture. His bestselling 2021 book, The Marathon Don't Stop, is the first biography of hip hop artist, activist, and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle.[1]

A founding editor of the groundbreaking hip hop monthly VIBE,[2] Kenner's writing has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Wired, Billboard, Complex, Mass Appeal, Pigeons & Planes, Ego Trip, and Poetry.[3]

Kenner has held senior editorial positions at major digital media companies such as BET, Complex, and Mass Appeal. He has produced and directed docuementary shorts on a range of influential hip hop and reggae artists. He is also the founder of Boomshots Media.[4]

Kenner served on the board of the nonprofit Buckminster Fuller Institute, working to promote the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a yearly prize which awarded $100,000 grants for solutions to the most pressing problems facing humanity.

Kenner resides in New York City

Early life and education

Kenner was born in California where he attended Montessori School before moving to Baltimore where he completed his high school education. His father was the distinguished Canadian literary critic Hugh Kenner, who traveled extensively as a lecturer and visiting professor, often bringing his family with him. Kenner earned his bachelor's degree at The University of Chicago in 1987, with a concentration in English Language & Literature.

Editing career

In 1987, Kenner joined the staff of Art & Antiques magazine as an Editorial Assistant. By 1990 he had risen to Senior Editor. That same year Art & Antiques won a National Magazine Award for the feature "What's Not Hot," which Kenner co-edited. In 1992 he became Editor in Chief of the magazine.

In 1993 Kenner resigned from his Editor in Chief position to join the start-up team of Quincy-Jones's culture-shifting monthly magazine VIBE. He worked at VIBE for 17 years, writing numerous feature and cover stories and producing covers on cultural figures ranging from Tupac Shakur to Barack Obama.[5] VIBE won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2001.[6] Kenner is the only founding editor of VIBE to remain on staff at the magazine until it folded in 2009.[7]

During his years at VIBE, Kenner edited such books as VIBE Hip Hop Divas, Mercedes Ladies by Sheri Sher, Death Around the Corner by C-Murder, and Unbelievable, a biography of The Notorious B.I.G. by Cheo Hodari Coker, which was optioned by the producers of the hit film Notorious.[8]

Kenner has produced and edited cover stories on the likes of Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Sean Combs, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Barack Obama, Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and A$AP Rocky.

Author and journalist

Kenner's 2021 book The Marathon Don't Stop is the first biography of the hip hop artist, activist, and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle. Published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, the book was endorsed by the likes of Quincy Jones, Questlove, and Greg Tate, hitting The New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction, hardcover two weeks after publication. The Marathon Don't Stop was excerpted in Los Angeles magazine and Essence magazine, and was chosen as one of Spin magazine's Best Music Books of 2022.[9]

Kenner and his book have been featured on Good Morning America,[10] National Public Radio,[11] KDAY FM,[12] and Sway's Universe on Shade 45.[13] Kenner has also spoken about the book at SXSW[14] as well as NYU, Stanford University, Howard University, Florida Memorial University, the Toronto Public Library,[15] the Commonwealth Club of San Franciso, and the Nashville Museum of African-American Music.

Kenner is the co-author (with George Pitts) of VX: 10 Years of VIBE Photography[16] and contributed to the bestselling Tupac Shakur as well as The VIBE History of Hip Hop.

Kenner has written cover stories on the likes of Nas, Sean Paul, Alicia Keys,[17] Jhene Aiko,[18] Bobby Brown, Rita Ora,[19] Bob Marley,[20] and Buju Banton.[21]

Documentary filmmaker

In 2016, Kenner directed De La Soul Is Not Dead, a half-hour documentary on the seminal hip hop trio De La Soul.[22] Kenner was also the last journalist to interview all three members of the group before the passing of Dave Jolicoeur aka Trugoy the Dove.[23].

Kenner has also produced documentary shorts on artists ranging from Post Malone[24], Nas,[25] and Curren$y[26] to Hood Celebrityy[27] and Skip Marley.[28]

Kenner collaborated with Donald Glover on his 2014 short film "Chicken and Futility."[29]

Reggae expert

Kenner began working at the East Village reggae record shop Irie Ites[30] in the late 1980s, and went on to DJ in clubs around NYC, backing recording artists like Rayvon, Jamal-Ski, and KRS-ONE. He co-founded the BBC Hi-Fi sound system along with selector Seeborn and Willi One Blood.[31]

Kenner compiled and wrote liner notes for greatest hits collections celebrating such legendary reggae and dancehall artists as Beres Hammond,[32] Shabba Ranks,[33] and Ninjaman.[34] Kenner also produced and hosted the Strictly Boomshots show, which has aired on Radio Lilly[35] and on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, featuring interviews with top reggae and dancehall stars.Template:CN

A former member of the Recording Academy, Kenner served on the Grammy committee for the Best Reggae Album award. His article "Hate Me Now: What It's Like to Be A Grammy Voter" exposed some of the flaws within the awards voting system, leading to a falling out between Kenner and the Recording Academy. [36] Some of the issues pointed out in Kenner's article have since been corrected.[37]

In 2008, Kenner founded Boomshots Media, a digital platform and production company focusing on reggae, dancehall, and the influence of Jamaican sound system culture on worldwide popular culture.[38] Boomshots Media has collaborated with Red Bull, Supreme,[39], the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise,[40] and VIBE magazine.[21] Boomshots also produced the documentary, Skip Marley: Let's Take It Higher.[41]


  1. "The Marathon Don't Stop". March 1, 2022 – via
  2. [ ]
  3. "Rob Kenner's Profile | Freelance Journalist | Muck Rack".
  4. "Must visit Reggae blog: Boomshots".
  5. "It's Obama Time :: The Vibe Cover Story". Can't Stop Won't Stop. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. [1]
  7. Carr, David (July 1, 2009). "Vibe Magazine, Showcase for Hip-Hop and R&B, Dies at 16" – via
  8. "Notorious (2009) - Trivia - IMDb" – via
  9. "17 Music Books of 2022 That Will Change The Way You Listen - SPIN". Flipboard.
  10. "Video Remembering rap legend Nipsey Hussle". ABC News.
  11. "'The Marathon Don't Stop: The Life & Times of Nipsey Hussle' | All Of It". WNYC.
  12. "Nipsey Hussle Was Once Invited To Perform At Posthumous 2Pac Album Event By The Late Afeni Shakur" – via
  13. "Rob Kenner Talks New Book The Marathon Don't Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle – Sway's Universe". April 5, 2021.
  14. "Why Nipsey Hussle Still Matters". SXSW 2023 Schedule.
  15. "Rob Kenner: The Marathon Don't Stop - The Life & Times of Nipsey Hussle". Crowdcast.
  16. Kenner, Rob; Pitts, George (October 1, 2003). "VX: Ten Years of Vibe Photography". Harry N. Abrams – via Amazon.
  17. "Alicia Keys: Unlocking Alicia (2012 Cover Story)". Complex.
  18. "Jhené Aiko Interview: Inner Visions 2014 Cover Story | Complex 2014 Cover Story | Complex".
  19. "Rita Ora: Rita Rocs (2012 Cover Story)". Complex.
  20. Kenner, Rob (February 4, 2011). "The Business of Bob Marley: Billboard Cover Story".
  21. 21.0 21.1 Kenner, Rob (June 25, 2020). "Buju Banton's Redemption Song".
  22. Legaspi, Althea (September 9, 2016). "Watch New 'De La Soul Is Not Dead: the Documentary'".
  23. Nast, Condé (February 27, 2023). "De La Soul Picks Their Favorite (and/or Most Hated) Tracks". GQ.
  24. "Post Malone is a Rockstar (Documentary) | Mass Appeal" – via
  25. "MEMORY LANE: Nas Remembers "Illmatic" Moments With Faith Newman, Part 1: When Nas Met Faith". Complex.
  26. [
  27. "HoodCelebrityy: Jamaica Inna Real Life | Mass Appeal" – via
  28. [2]
  29. "Childish Gambino's Short Film "Chicken and Futility" | Complex" – via
  30. "Friends of Irie Ites NYC".
  31. "BBC – BBC HI-FI SOUND".
  32. "Beres Hammond - Can't Stop A Man: The Ultimate Collection". May 26, 2003 – via
  33. "Shabba Ranks - Caan Dun - The Best Of Shabba". May 26, 1995 – via
  34. [3].
  35. "Radio Lilly".
  36. "Hate Me Now: What It's Like To Be A Grammy Voter". Complex.
  37. Moore, Sam (May 27, 2021). "Grammys announce further rule changes for 2022".
  38. "Boomshots". Boomshots.
  39. "Why Buju Banton's Supreme Collab Really & Truly Matters • Boomshots". Boomshots. July 9, 2019.
  40. "Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, and Burning Spear Speak on the Return of the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise • Boomshots". Boomshots. April 21, 2022.
  41. "Skip Marley "Let's Take It Higher" • A Boomshots Documentary" – via

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