I got into music when I was 12 years old. I was coming in the house one day, I ran past the living room, but then I noticed there was some sort of machine on the table. I was like, "What is that?" Had some knobs on it, I go up to it, I’m clicking buttons, I’m messing with knobs and things. I started making like a beat. I was like, "Whoa, this is pretty cool." I always used to tap on the tables and stuff during class and whatnot with pencils, but when I saw this beat machine, that just blew me away that I could make a composition come together like that.
The beat machine belonged to this guy my mom was dating at the time. He was completely submerged in music, he absolutely loved it from listening to creating. I don’t know if he was very good at it. At the time, I didn’t know how to evaluate what was good and what wasn’t. But I knew that his passion ran so deep and he ended up playing a major role in my early years and my artist development stage. For a good five years he kind of mentored me. He taught me what 16 bars is and when I first started writing my raps, I was influenced by hip-hop, but it started out with poetry. Then it kinda transitioned when I started learning how to make beats behind it and then it came into hip-hop. Then I’d just kinda write a whole bunch of curse words because that’s what I heard. That’s what I thought hip-hop was. He read it one day, he got my little black book, he was like, "Man, this is not what it’s about. There’s so much more that you can talk about. What are you experiencing in life?" He continued to feed me the information that I needed at that early age to be able to guide me in a direction in becoming an artist and producer.
From that beat machine, that little seed of interest just started growing and I started exploring different ways to create and compose music and I started making beats on Fruity Loops at the time, it’s called FL Studio now. Then just small things here and there, just exploratory stuff. Doing music with my brother, we made our first mixtape on an actual tape, using a karaoke machine. We would layer our voices at the time. A single track obviously, we would record into a tape with a microphone, but we would play the tape back of the lead vocal from one boombox while we recorded into another boombox so that way we could layer our voices. We would do that about three times to get a good layer of voices. It was just whatever we had to do to make it work.
Although I’ve been making music since I was young, a lot of what has happened the past few years in my life is what has built my artistry. I just tripped over myself so many times in the past two or three years. I used to be a straight A student, a goodie two-shoes type of guy, momma’s boy, I did everything right. My parents would compare me to my siblings, there was just so much stuff that I was just floating on. Literally, like a cloud for me. I felt untouchable. I felt like I didn’t do anything wrong. I was the best artist in the world. I was the best this, the best that. I just felt like I was on a mountaintop. Until...
The corporate company I was doing graphic design and web design for cut the entire marketing department, fired everybody at the drop of a dime, no two weeks or anything. No severance packages, nothing. They just cut everybody loose in the marketing department. It was on my anniversary, August 19, 2015. So I come home and I look at my wife, she has the house just laid out and everything. It’s our anniversary, she’s excited. I come home with this news that I don’t have a job anymore and we were devastated.
Being a momma’s boy and expecting everything to be handed to me, I thought somebody was going to hand me a job. I thought somebody was just gonna meet my needs because I had them. We struggled even longer. We stayed there so long because I didn’t know what to do. I just was confused. I was afraid. I had never been in that position before. I have a wife, I have a kid who’s one at the time, and trying to understand what just happened? Life really just kinda sat me down and I had to look at my life and where it had come to and how it got there, not being prepared, having no savings, having nothing, just reduced to dust. That was the significant event that really, really made me pay attention to ok, I gotta look around, I gotta really assess life. I’m not on the mountaintop. I’m not so valuable that I can’t be fired. Also, there was some things, some issues at home, I wasn’t the greatest husband, I wasn’t the greatest father. I realized I wasn’t really spending the time I needed to spend. Like I said, I was floating on my cloud.
Then I just started falling really hard. I noticed that I didn’t know everything. I just was so unaware of how much knowledge I actually lacked. It transpired in every area of my life. When it came to music in particular, I thought I had every skill I needed in music. I thought I’ve mastered music. Or I’m just this great artist, this great person, this great all-around everything. It just hit me, just so many things confirmed that, "You’re not really that great of an artist." Well, not that, but it was saying, "You have some flaws in your artistry. You have some places you can improve. You can have better stage presence. You can produce beats with a higher quality." It was so many areas where people were like, “Eh, it’s ok.” And that’s when it began to crush me and bring me back down to Earth and help me realize over the years people may have congratulated me too much or may have overstated my successes, but in the end it’s really myself. It’s not about what people say to me, it’s about, “Ok, I hear you. Thank you for the compliment. It’s encouraging.” But I know that in all wisdom, I’m always a student. I’m always learning. I’m always growing. So I think as far as maturity as an artist, I had to just grow up and realize, man, you know what, regardless of what people say, obviously as I continue to grow and get better, people are going to congratulate me and appreciate the artistry and different things, because I’m very passionate about it. I think my passion will always come through, but it should never be to a place where I just feel that I’m superior to everything and everyone. Because that’s foolishness. At that point, I would stop growing again.
My priorities were just so mixed up and that’s actually where my album Vertigo was birthed, from that transitionary season. A lot of my revelations and lessons I put in that album to kind of be a remembrance and then also be an encouragement to anybody else out there in that same mental state that I was in. Part of the concept, I had an image of myself on the cover, just very clean, very crisp, very well-kept, tailored. But inside, my mind is just off-balance and going crazy. But I look ok on the surface and that’s generally how it is with someone with vertigo or anybody who’s seemingly ok on the surface, but on the inside completely out of whack, completely off-balance, and that’s where the title Vertigo came from. Then the whole theme through every track you can kinda hear it, man I thought it was this but it’s actually this. I express some of my fears in Vertigo. I think five or six songs were specific to my marriage and my wife, just not understanding my roles as a husband. Just being off-balance in every area and having misplaced priorities.
Although I was expressing some of the lessons I was learning at this time, Vertigo was not therapeutic for me. It’s one thing to make music about a lesson because I understand it for the moment. It’s almost like I was still stuck. Remember, I was an A student. I was always good at taking tests. I was always good at displaying my knowledge, but I wasn’t necessarily good at applying my knowledge. So I got to a place where it’s like yeah I can perfectly articulate this in music and teach others. Teaching is easy. Application is where it became difficult. I went through that season, made that album, I’m sure so many people got delivered from it. I even got messages that people stopped themselves from committing suicide, stopped themselves from leaving their families, walking out on their spouses. Then here I am falling right back in the same season again because I failed to apply. Oh boom, I got the lesson and obviously, life is gonna come back around and test me, especially if I’m out there trying to encourage and teach others. It’s gonna come back and try to test me and see, ok, did you get it though? So it came back and I fell again.
My new single, “De La Dirt,” is fairly old for me at this point because I made that hook during that season of hardship. I just made the hook because I knew at the time I was learning that lesson of being humble, but I didn’t have any words because remember I was getting all the lessons but I didn’t really have any application of the concept until I went through some more things, which I detail in each verse. So the hook was created around that time. Then when I fell again and multiple things began to happen and I really realized ok, the core of that message of being humbled and humbling oneself, that’s when the message began to get clearer after the second fall, around 2017. So I started crafting the verses based on the experiences that I was going through. So I wrote the first verse when I was in the experiences, including the line ““Call me a winner/spring/summer/I don’t ever fall.”
Man when I write, sometimes I promise you I look back like, "Whoa," not just in amazement at the punchline, but it’s that God would insert something deeper than what my intention was. I would look at it like whoa, I’m looking at that line like we all go through seasons. I was always in up-season, always in a season of stability. I was taught about the seasons of the soul in a sermon I heard way back, but it was like the summertime, that’s the high time where there’s not really any pressure. Then you have fall and then you have winter where you’re kinda really at the bottom. Then you have spring where you’re springing up. But as I looked at the bar, I was like whoa, I don’t ever fall, I’m never in a falling season, I’m never in a season where I’m going down. That was one of the underlying messages is like whoa people with pride really are in self-denial. I was truly in self-denial in every season I was in. Things could be falling around me, but yet in my mind, I’m good. I’m not falling. My initial intention with the bar was just a play on words, "winter" and "winner" sound the same, then obviously the correlation of all the seasons down to the latter, fall. When I get in my zone, I get creative and express what I wanna say, sometimes trying to correlate as much as I can like a bar that goes into another or it’s a whole stanza of one punchline.
I wrote the second verse when I was out of the vertigo phase, including in the last bar, “And I done got a little wiser/It don’t matter what they say/I can only be tempted by what I desire.” That’s when I just realized like whoa, I’m only attracting this stuff to me. I can only be tempted by what I desire. How can I be tempted by grapes if I don’t even eat grapes? But if I have a desire for grapes, that’s the only time I can be tempted. So that’s the point in which I was like well, I can’t blame anybody anymore. Nobody’s responsible for me but me. Even if things happen to me outside of my control, in my youth or even now as I’m older, the only thing and the only person I can control is myself. So a lot of “De La Dirt” and the project that it’s a part of is all about ownership and taking responsibility. Acknowledging what happened, acknowledging the outside forces, but taking responsibility for myself.
During this time, the Book of James got me through a lot. The first chapter of James in particular. There’s a lot of little biblical references in my music. For me, I make the choice of not being so direct in quoting Scripture. I may sometimes if the art fits it, but I take a much more artistic approach when it comes to crafting songs. But I’m heavily influenced by James Chapter 1 and then just the whole part of trials, the whole part of "consider it joy." Or just looking at it like you know what, you can’t blame God because God can’t be tempted. You can’t blame people. You can’t blame things. Because the truth is that we’re led astray by our own desires, our own lusts. That’s the truth. That’s what the Bible says. It’s just a matter of taking ownership and saying you know what, even if somebody wrongs me, the Bible says hey, if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other. It basically says don’t be offended, control or manipulate them or take out your anger on them. The Bible says don’t sin in your anger. Don’t do something externally just because somebody wronged you. Take ownership for some of the things that you may have done to cause that. I don’t think anybody intentionally afflicts you unless obviously some of the sinful things people do out of spite or whatnot. It’s about ownership, it’s truly about ownership for the purpose of freedom. To get free internally, you have to be self-reliant depending on only God and taking responsibility for yourself and everything you say and do.
It’s funny because Vertigo is actually what helped me realize man, I gotta apply what I was talking about. I went back and listened to the album and thank God it helped me climb back out of that season. I know for a fact that in the Bible it says if an evil spirit leaves someone, it goes out into the desert roaming around, but it will come back to the house that it left, it’ll come back to that person. If it finds that house empty, if it finds that house unoccupied, which basically means if you haven’t filled that thing with principles or if you haven’t filled that thing with right values, it’s not only gonna come back, but it’s gonna bring seven demons worse than itself. Not only did I go through that season, but when I fell back into that season again, it was seven times worse. It was so much worse. Man, my marriage was on the line. My wife experienced some difficult things, she experienced depression. It was so much more amplified. I wish I woulda got the lessons the first time, but it was after falling in the season again that I was like, “Oh, that’s what I was talking about in Vertigo." Then I got it again and obviously more songs resulted. I have another project I’ve completed that’s an extension of Vertigo, but it’s like ok, now it’s time to get free from that stuff. I’ve highlighted those things, but now it’s time to break free. That’s the title of this next project, Freedom. To get free internally, you have to be self-reliant depending on only God and taking responsibility for yourself and everything you say and do.
My desire is really for those who are, forgive my lack of words, but stuck up or just really caught up in themselves or feeling like they’re the savior of the world (I’m just expressing different thoughts that I had when I was in that state of mind). I’m so fearful for them because the Bible clearly states that you can prophesy in Jesus’ name. You can do miracles, signs and wonders. You can do wonderful, deep things, but if you don’t have love, if you don’t have love, you’re like a clanging cymbal. It’s so evident that God cares nothing about external acts if they’re not coming from a pure place. Doesn’t care. That’s what the entire issue with the Pharisees was. They had laws that they learned and could teach very well. Again, mind you, I’m telling you about when I had this vertigo, I was able to teach it very well. But I didn’t apply it yet. So it’s like we have these modern-day Pharisees that are becoming well-versed in religious orders in the Church. Scriptures, they can quote Scriptures like nothing else. Again, just speaking about my experiences, being that I was in this place, I was able to do everything very well. I can get systems down pretty quickly. So I’m very fearful for those people who are like myself in some of the areas I was and some of the areas I have yet to discover. I’m really, really hoping and praying that as I continue to push my music out, as I continue to just put this out here, that I really, really cause them to think about where they are internally. Not about the cars they drive, the jobs they have, the deep, wonderful prophetic things they do, the sermons they preach. The Scripture clearly says, “You can prophesy in my name.” But in the end, there will be people standing before the judgment seat saying, “But Lord, I prophesied in your name.” He’s going to say, “Away from me, I never knew you.” It’s going to be like, “But wait, I thought me doing all this stuff was getting me in position, or going to get me in. I thought this was my key into the gate.”
Outside of my passion for God, music and my family, my other passion is to help people really learn that hey, pride is just as much of a sin as some of these external things that you see people doing. Lust and lying are equal in God’s eyes. Some of these internal sins that no one can see that are ever-present. The hate, the anger, the bitterness, the jealousy, the envy. Some of these things have to be not only exposed, but dealt with properly. Hopefully, my music can help them reflect on that and lead them to a solution. Not to just help them see what the problem is. Because that doesn’t help either when you just point out everything that’s wrong. Hopefully, they can see where I was wrong, what I found that went right, my self-discovery, my everything. That would be my heart, my motive, my intent behind everything I do with music, to help people get free on the inside.