Travis performing in February 2018
January 23, 2000
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Kristofer Madu (born January 23, 2000), better known by his stage name Travis Karter is an American rapper, songwriter, and philanthropist.
Travis first rose to popularity as a musician with the debut of his music video, “Til’ The Day I Die,” which featured a cameo from reggae artist Ky-mani Marley, and prompted an interview on national television vía Smile Jamaica, Jamaica’s premier prime-time news program.
In 2015, Travis founded a non-profit organization called "Water Is The Answer" purposed to provide access to clean water worldwide, an effort to which he donates a significant portion of his professional earnings.
Kristofer Madu was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where he spent the first 8 years of his life before moving to Kingston, Jamaica.
A young Madu first took interest in music at the age of 11 in emulation of his older cousin, Craig “Kingstunna (Cooli Boi)” Hoo. In interviews, Madu often speaks of Hoo as a brother, rather than a cousin.
At the beginning of his career, Madu performed under the moniker “K. Titan–” a double entendre play on words to the unique spelling of his legal name, coupled with an allusion his hometown’s football team: The Tennessee Titans. Madu’s career as an artist first began to gain traction with the release of his debut music video, “‘Til The Day I Die,” which featured a cameo appearance from reggae artist Ky-Mani Marley, and attracted national attention prompting a televised interview vía Smile Jamaica.
After completing middle school in Kingston, Madu returned to Nashville to continue his education. There, he attended a small, majority-white, southern parochial school. In a 2018 lecture given at Johns Hopkins University, Madu spoke of this time as one in which he learned quickly what it felt like to be an “outsider.” The environment proved stifling for his creativity, and for a brief period, Madu assumed an indefinite hiatus.
It wasn’t until being inspired by a close friend that Madu returned to the microphone and continued his career– this time under a new name: “Travis Karter”
Shortly after the release of his first mixtape, “2k,” when Madu was 15 years old, his older cousin and mentor, Craig, was shot and killed in the parking lot of an apartment complex in North Nashville. Madu describes Craig's passing as a pivotal moment in both his life and career, since which he now hopes to “continue his [Craig's] dream forever.”
That same year, in 2015, Madu founded Water Is The Answer, a Non-Profit Organization purposed to battle water-poverty worldwide vía the construction of sanitary wells and boreholes around the world.
With the 2017 release of his album “Phase III,” Madu decided to repurpose his professional career– coupling his musical career with his philanthropic endeavors, and rebranding “Travis Karter” as a primarily charitable effort: seeking to utilize the revenues generated from musical royalties to fund the sustained global provision of clean water. Since then, Madu has continued to donate considerable amounts of his musical earnings toward this cause– contributing to the now-completed construction of a well in Arondizuogu, Nigeria, providing water in a community of over 20,000 people.
While Karter’s primary introduction to rap came through his older cousin, “Kingstunna (Cooli Boi),” he has mentioned in several interviews various mainstream acts from which he draws both personal and artistic inspiration. Karter has stated that he has been inspired by acts such as Kanye West, Tame Impala, A Tribe Called Quest, and Jay-Z.
In a televised video at the age of 11, Karter stated, “When I grow up I want to be like Jay-Z: not only a rapper, but also a mogul.”
In a 2018 interview, Karter stated his desire for his music to be "on the crossroads between the fun and exhilaration of the new school and the subject matter of the old school,”
The Cornell Sun describes Karter’s music as “like his artistic and philanthropic model, quite unique.” “His vocals are low pitched, bubbly, packed with reverberation and ride effortlessly on the beat.” Continuing to characterize his sophomore album “Phase III,” as “a rollercoaster of slapping 808s, pounding kicks and high energy hooks.”
Instrumentally, Karter’s music has been described as mobilizing “a diverse range of instrumentals” all commonly joined by “a common trappy theme packed with high pitched resonant synthesizers.”
Currently, Travis spends most of his time in Baltimore, Maryland where he attends Johns Hopkins University. There, he is an International Studies major on Pre-Law track, with post-grad intentions of attending Law School and achieving a combined JDMBA.
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- "Freshman rapper talks music, charity and life". The Johns Hopkins News-Letter. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
- "Hip-Hop and Humanitarianism | Arts | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
- "ARTIST FEATURE - Travis Karter". NC Views. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- Water Is The Answer (2018-04-14), Kristofer Madu: Lecture at Johns Hopkins University 2018 Hop Talks, retrieved 2018-04-26
- "International Studies | Krieger School of Arts and Sciences | Johns Hopkins University". Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
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- "Some artists do it for the bag, Travis Karter does it for the world - Trapstyle". www.trapstyle.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- Nwokeji, Ugo (2010). The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra: An African Society in the Atlantic World. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9781139489546. Search this book on
- "Delve Into The Creative Depths of "Travis Karter" - Artist Profile & Spotlight". The Order of Anubis. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
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