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“Falsely accuse me, they call it blackmail/I have to be twice as good because I’m a black male!”
This has been my credo since I entered the professional world and began trying to establish a career for myself. Music had always been my outlet. My escape from the ills of the world or my canvas to reflect on the state of the ghetto. Never did I think I would encounter prejudice in the world of music. Music was my sanctuary, my safe haven. Then it happened. To preface, there are stereotypes that rappers are usually not intelligent because they make poor business decisions and lack education. I have defied these stereotypes my whole life.
So, as I began to make noise for myself one the local music scene I quickly discovered a glass ceiling. I would only get so far until I had someone to “represent me.” The fact that I had a degree in Business Administration and a degree in Human Services Management meant nothing in the world of music. The good ol’ boy network was unable to be penetrated. At the same time, I began networking with other artists, DJs and club owners and started to get more familiar with the “rules” of the game.
When I tried to get radio play on local stations I was either told that my music was too “aggressive” by the conservative stations and it wasn’t “hood” enough by other stations. Then I flipped the script. I began forging a relationship with my current label. We had mutual respect and they saw my vision. In pushing the music forward many doors happened to open once I had “representation.”
The elephant in the room and nobody in the industry will openly admit this, is that in addition to them being just as intellectually sound and driven as I, my “representation” does not have as much melanin as I do. With my team it is all love and we are family. We laugh with and at each other, get angry and yell at each other and then apologize like men. We see how the game goes, but we continue to let our music transcend color. That is the essence of UniFi Records. This is US!
SPEAK Easy (pictured above, far right) is a member of the Milwaukee hip-hop group RapLords, who released the album #RapLords this past November. The 12-track project includes an impressive list of local and national features, such as Skyzoo, Guilty Simpson, Open Mike Eagle, Punchline, Haz Solo, Signif, Vonny Del Fresco, Rusty Ps, J.J. Jabber and Vincent VanGREAT. For more, visit www.unifirecords.com.