The Khalil Amani Reader

Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!

Dougie Dancer Ken Dawg: Beautifully Disfigured

Dougie Dancer Ken Dawg: Beautifully Disfigured

By Khalil Amani


Many of us have a story of struggle and survival. Sometimes we think that God has singled us out and taken a great big ol' dump on our life. And then, some of us have created a life, which is filled with drama. But what does one do when things beyond your control shape the very fabric of your existence? There are people put on this earth to teach us a thing or two about our own intestinal fortitude. God has granted us examples, that we may learn from and show us that what we call “struggle” and “hard times”—pales in comparison to some of us who endured the worst kind of tragedies.

Meet Oakland, California’s own Kenny Matthews (age 24), better known to hip-hop heads as "Ken Dawg.” Ken Dawg was severely burned in a house fire at age three—his entire body. I had a chance to do a phone interview with him and get what kind of vibe he's on. You might remember Ken Dawg as the dancing phenom from (WSHH July 2010)--the disfigured young man who taught the world how to "Dougie." It goes without saying that Ken Dawg laced that dance! It was one of the few times on WSHH that most of the haters were left aghast—speechless at the man whose physical aesthetics were marred by an unfathomable accident from years gone by. We saw this disfigured young man "busting moves" like he was alone, singing in the shower. He made the most hardcore of Internet gangsters stand down on the hateration. I was proud of hip-hop the day I saw Ken Dawg dancing.

As children, we were taught that “Beauty is skin deep” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Nobody challenges these clichés more than Ken Dawg! Nobody exemplifies inner beauty more than Ken Dawg! Being “beautifully disfigured” might sound like an oxymoron, but when you meet Ken Dawg you get the point.

From three years old until the present, Ken Dawg has found a way to survive—yea, even thrive. But it has been a struggle, having to undergo somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred (100) surgeries over the years to repair his body and face. Through it all, he deals with the stares, the looks, the leering, the ogling and the sheer disrespect for being “different.” His mother, Juanita Turner reaffirms her son, “You still human!”—“You’re beautiful on the inside and that's what really counts!” As for Ken Dawg, he’s gotten used to it; “I don’t pay it [the staring] no attention.” Ken Dawg credits his grandfather, the late Beltram “Sonny” Wells with saving his life by throwing his burning body through a window. His grandfather succumbed to smoke inhalation as a result of the fire. (WOW! Now that’s some heroic ish!)

Ken Dawg loves life! He loves hip-hop and he loves dancing and through his dancing he has touched more lives than he’ll ever know. Ken Dawg is a ghetto celebrity of sorts. He is one of the “most known unknowns,” having garnered 500,000 views on Youtube, 300,000 views on and being featured on Ken Dawg has had more "looks" at his video than some of your favorite rappers! Celebrities such as Everybody Hates Chris’s Paige Hurd and rap group Cali Swag District have acknowledged his “desire to inspire” through dance.

What’s next for the dude who doesn’t give a damn about people hatin’ on him? It’s time for Ken Dawg to get on the speaking circuit and talk to others about his experience and how that has shaped his life. It’s time for The Dawg to talk to others about overcoming their “shit-uations.” Hip-hop should embrace Ken Dawg—all you Bay Area rappers—forget about white girl rap groups and white chicks using the N-word to gain attention! That ain’t the inspirational business! Too Short, Mistah Fab. Messy Marv. Keak Da Sneak, E-40—y’all should put Ken Dawg in your circle and let him teach, lecture and get money! Bring Ken Dawg full-circle into the hip-hop world.

Ken Dawg inspires me. That’s why I wrote this blog. “Out of chaos comes order.” “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” Ken Dawg has shown us the wounds this world has inflicted upon him. We should be grateful to be alive, healthy and able to live a normal life. What we take for granted—is work for him. May God help, protect, and uplift this young man’s light.

Follow Ken Dawg:

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