Matula Kiladi is a rapper based in El Paso, Texas. As a former felon, he says he’s been fortunate that he has had success with his music career because he’s not sure what he’d been doing otherwise. Our brief conversation covered his experience as a former felon, professionally and politically.
Why he’s a good citizen:
I believe I am a good citizen. I switched up from doing bad things to doing the right things.
How he feels about not voting:
To me right now, what I’ve seen as a convicted felon, what I saw last year in the election, it really didn’t bother me. I actually felt kind of proud I didn’t vote. The election felt false. It felt disrespectful. It was embarrassing.
I’ve seen a lot of presidents and elections. I’ve never seen this much drama.
How music has saved him:
Once you’re a felon, you’re marked as a bad person. No one is going to give you the opportunity to be better. I’m just blessed that I’ve always had music. I’m blessed I have a career from that. If I didn’t have that, I’d be applying to different jobs, and it’d be difficult to get one.
America’s biggest problem:
I think one of the biggest problem facing America right now is Donald Trump, because of the way he carries himself. He’s very disrespectful. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have experience (in government)? America will face a lot of lost trust in the future. With everything that’s going on, I’m pretty sure the world is wondering, “What’s happening in America?”
What he thinks American high school students should know:
It’s one of the best countries on earth. You’re blessed to be a part of it. You have the freedom to reach out and work hard for the things you want.
What people can to do to be better Americans:
Give people opportunities, especially convicted felons. People who have made mistakes – maybe they shouldn’t be (seen as) a felon the rest of their lives. People should be given a chance, maybe a pardon of some kind.