- Erin Kirkland/Daily
By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 5, 2012
As quarterback and wide receiver, Jack Kennedy and Joe Reynolds were always a likely tandem. They met three years ago and quickly struck up a chemistry on the field, as Reynolds hauled in Kennedy’s passes.
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In time, Kennedy noticed something in Reynolds, something he’d never had in a wide receiver before — this guy Reynolds had some serious pipes.
Kennedy and Reynolds started to meet away from the field, trading in the football for a laptop and their cleats for a couple pairs of headphones. Today, three years later, they are known as JDK and Rey, a rap and R&B duo.
Reynolds provides the soaring melodies while Kennedy works the wordplay and rhymes. They combine to do all of their own production.
One of the duo’s songs, “Hundred Level”, their third release of the summer — will be included in the Michigan Stadium pregame mix prior to the Michigan's home opener against Air Force on Saturday.
JDK and Rey collaborated with the Michigan Marching Band for “Hundred Level” as an early showcase of their unique flair.
“Honestly, we don't like comparing ourselves to any (other artists),” Kennedy said. “We just try to make music that we like and is different. We try to have a message.”
Early this summer, they adopted the name JDK and Rey and started to publish the trove of music they had already compiled — or “stockpiled,” as Kennedy put it.
“For some reason, everyday they said, ‘Hey Kenny, how’s it going with your girlfriend?’ ” Demens said. “ ‘Oh, we’re off, we’re on, we’re off, we’re on. This happened, that happened.’
“I didn’t know that they were taking notes and making a song about it.”
Finally, they wrapped up the record and Reynolds e-mailed it over to Demens.
“At first I didn’t believe it,” Demens said. “I thought they were kidding. They kept saying, ‘Hey Kenny, we’ve got a song about you.’ ”
“I couldn’t stop listening to it.” Demens said.
The music video for “Kenny’s Anthem” will be released on Sept. 12. And, no, Demens won’t be in the video — Reynolds played his role. “Hundred Level” was released on Aug. 10 in preparation for the season opener.
Kennedy remembers coercing a hesitant Reynolds into the studio three years ago. That’s when their musical relationship began. Kennedy had some beats on his laptop; Reynolds heard them and was sold.
At first, the duo was joined by former Michigan offensive lineman Ohene Opong-Owusu at first. Opong-Owusu played the piano, Kennedy the drumset and Reynolds the acoustic guitar.
They had all the pieces.
“Well, we might as well do something with this,” Kennedy said.
In fall camp two years ago, the coaching staff held a talent show. Teammates urged Kennedy and Reynolds onto the stage. (It didn’t take too much coaxing.) They did a short set, joined by punter Will Hagerup on electric guitar, and waited for feedback.
The feedback came quickly.
“The guys just went nuts,” Kennedy said with a smile. “They had no idea we could even do that.”
At the Sugar Bowl in January, the football team took a boat ride down the Mississippi River, the massive artery dividing New Orleans. Kennedy, Reynolds and Hagerup took the stage again to serenade the crowd. They have also performed at Mock Rock, in front of an audience of a couple thousand. But the big unveiling will be at the Big House on Saturday.
Kennedy got his start in music back in high school, playing drums in a rock band. He dabbled in rapping but didn’t record anything until he came to Michigan.
“I’m just trying to be creative with flows and actually say something in the music,” Kennedy said.
Reynolds has been a crooner for years, but his musical talent, he said, started when he moved to Rochester, Mich. and was taught guitar by a friend in school. He pinpoints to New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Frank Ocean as one of his favorite artists.