- How did you get into making music?
Well I started writing songs when I was in the 10th grade. I was way too shy to let anyone here them so it took me a few years before I could build up the courage to let anyone hear them. After letting my brother Carl (The Captain) hear some of my songs he ended up taking the songs to my parents and from there with their support the rest is history.
- Who are some of your major inspirations?
There are many people and artist that inspire me. My biggest inspirations are definitely my parents and grandparents because of their involvement in the community. For as long as I can remember I’ve always admired the work they’ve done in the community. As far as artist my biggest inspirations are Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, James Brown, Nas, Twista, and Outkast. As you can see I pretty much listen to a bit of everything.
- In songs like ‘99%’, you rap about economic inequality and corruption. What motivates you to inform your listeners about these kinds of issues and how do you maintain a hopeful and empowering tone?
My work in my community keeps me grounded enough to understand what’s going on with the world around me. As an artist I feel it’s my job to write about what is going on. I know the power of music and having a message so I always try to combine the two. With songs like 99% at first it can sound dark, but I always try to find hope in knowing things can always change for the better as long as we work together and with me that’s always the overall message. I feel teaching these principals to our youth is very important and that’s why I partnered with Life Sports Fitness a dynamic community based non profit youth development program with a wide variety of active enrichment programs for all abilities, like athletics, arts, and academics. They base there one-of-a-kind sports curriculum on a 12 core value platform, with core values like leadership, integrity, honesty It is a perfect fit and gives me consistent access to over 190 participants during the school year and summer camp(s).
- What sets you and “As I Am Records” apart from the rest of the industry?
I believe we stand out because of our sense of community and the way we do business. As an artist I understand how important it is to believe the message you’re trying to convey in the music. At times labels can be a bit controlling and try and dictate the message for the artist. I like to think we are willing to give artist a chance to be themselves.
- You spend a lot of time promoting positivity in your local community. Can you tell us more about the work you do outside of music?
I’ve truly been blessed when it comes to working in my community. I have some of the most amazing partners and sponsors. For example my partnership with PMD Ministries and Pastor Marcus Davidson not only help keep me involved with programs to help those less fortunate, but also help to spread a much needed positive message through the community. Our most recent project is an anti-bullying comic book entitled “Leron’s Song” based off a song I wrote entitled “Keep Dreaming”. With the last election there’s been a lot of division and so with Life Sports Fitness and PMD Ministries we’ve developed the anti-bullying comic book as well as a stage show to make our message more interactive. We want to reach children and young adults that have been the victims of bullying and let them know they’re not alone. We also want to make sure and help those kids who may play the role of the bully as well, because as they saying goes “hurt people, hurt people”.
- You have achieved a lot and you have done it all on your own terms. What advice can you give someone who wants to be independent while making an impact on their community?
Honestly the best advice I feel I can give is to be consistent and if you can perceive it then you can achieve it. It’s always difficult doing things outside the box, but it’s definitely worth it. I’m truly blessed because I’ve found a calling doing the things I’m passionate about. My love for my community inspires me as an artist to create music for the people I love and gives me an endless amount of inspiration.