The sophomore smoke spot.
Envision this if you will. The year was 2002 and it was a hot summer in Arlington, TX. I lived in a mobile home with my mother and behind that mobile home was an ittty bitty 5ft by 5ft shed. Any normal person would suspect that this shed was just like any other shed, housing tools and other junk, but at certain times of the day and night one could see from the smoke leaking out of the door and the smell of skunk in the air that this was no ordinary shed.......this was the sophomore smoke spot. This was the place that I first began to rap.
At any given time there would be 3 to 6 teenagers bunched up inside with smoke so cloudy you couldn't visually see who was across from you. All you could hear was coughing, instrumentals, and free styling with an occasional face peeking through the fog. With little room to spare someone would be designated the task of holding the boombox while the cypher went around the circle. I had always been a writer, but it wasn't until that point that I had the desire to energize and express those writings verbally with rhythm. During that year some extremely heavy hitting hip hop albums were released including (but not limited to) Jay Z- The Blueprint, Royce da 5'9 - Rock City, Eminem - The Eminem Show, and Lil Flip's - Undaground Legend. I was fully immersed in the grittiness and power of hip hop at the turn of the century.
During my first (and only) year of college I had a friend who owned a business and was selling "backup" software to corporate America (and by backup I mean illegally bootlegged copies). Yea the work was illegal but hey I'm not one to condemn white collar crimes that stick it to the man. This guy was BALLING. His house at the time was a two story, four bedroom house with multiple other spaces for hangout rooms, which only spelled one thing for a bunch of college kids.....PARTY! Somewhere in the midst of kegs and chants of CHUG CHUG echoing over upside down teenagers I remember asking him if he would let me use some of his space to build a little makeshift studio. Thus began the first step of a full career into music. In the farthest room in the back of the house I pieced together my first recording setup which consisted of a handheld dynamic microphone, a laptop, a M-audio interface, and half of a cardboard box that we would lean over into to use as a makeshift sound proof booth. It wasn't much and the quality sucked ballsagna, but we could express our creativity and make songs which was enough for us! Over the next couple of years I was setting up makeshift studio's ANYWHERE I could. Think of a place and I probably had a studio there. Grandparent's living room, good friends laundry room, garage, back rooms of back rooms. My clothes were stained with the stench of cigarettes and blunt smoke while computer screens reflected off of codeine glossed eyes with hints of mountain dew in the air. Who would have known from these rooms of stag net smoke my life's work would be born.
Fast forward 12 years. I have graced the stage with acts such as Bun-B, Obie Trice, Waka Flocka, Crooked I, Joyner Lucas, Paul Wall and many more. I've had the opportunity to work and help develop countless DFW artist's as a producer/engineer via my recording facility ACDaudio. I have succesfully launched ACD Music Group as a platform for my own artistry as well as 6 other TALENTED acts to release and promote our music to the world.
For me, being a musician has never been about the sales or how many people liked my last facebook post. It's about building lifelong relationships with peers that you argue with for an hour over if an adlib belongs in the track or not. It's about the drive, determination, dedication, and sacrifice it takes to develop an artform that is an accurate reflection of oneself. That same drive that I had as a young man, pulling all nighters to get that melody juuussttt right is the same fire I have now that propels me forward into the unknown. When a dope ass punchline hits me, I still get that same kid like excitement that I had in that smokey shed free-styling all of those years ago.
But perhaps even more importantly than all of that, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of it matter. There is no greater satisfaction than making a song and having someone tell you that it helped them heal, or that a song of yours made them cry from a flood of raw emotion. What good are the works created if there was no-one to relate to them?
I look forward to many more sometimes-hard, sometimes-ugly, always-worthwhile experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my most recent album, ‘Underdog’.
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.