As Atlanta is known for its movies and music. Now, the city is flooded with a bunch of young upcoming underground artist and producers with many of these artists being in high school, or college. However, this raises the question: How can these young producers balance school and music? As school is challenging nowadays and the music industry so brutal we asked artists ”How do balance school and music.”
For this article, we interviewed young Atlanta rappers Roi’el King, Camo and Domani Harris to ask the challenges of doing music and school.
Camo is an artist from Atlanta who’s been making music for about a year. Camo got into music through a group of friends and in recent months has been taking it serious. This is mainly due to his label 1865 pushing and motivating him like parents. Making Camo feel like a family, not a business.
School is one of the most challenging things young people of this generation. With school starting early. It can be a real challenge to get there on time while coming back from a tour or a show that ended after midnight. He told us that you will be missing out on sleep so you can do your best in school. Often coming to slipping grades. However Camo’s parents were on him about his grades ¨My mom like real big, then she would have something to say about me going to the booth. Then I couldn’t speak for myself, i was under her roof so I didn’t want no conflict.
Backup plans are really important. If Camo’s backup plan doesn work, he has a plan to become a dentist. But he wants to make it more comfortable, with PS4‘s and lounge chairs in the lobby “Making it a good environment. To not smell like a dentist. ” Also using social media after the dentistry to grow his brand and make and his clothes. As the corporate world and marketing was more realistic to his parents.
Social media (his IG is 1drippycamo) has played a big part in pushing out his music. Shouting out to people or just being nice to people. Being a people person who helps others as he’s trying to be a build up his fanbase and establish himself as an artist. Letting us know that you “Be yourself but don’t be selfish”.
To Camo, making music is fun. Often times jokes from friends will end up in the finished product of the song.
His advice to others: “Don’t make music that sounds like someone else. Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Often times artist question how will this artist hop on the beat or say this”?
Have a producer who understands your type of beats and not what’s hot at the moment. So stay true to yourself and never be somebody else.
We also interviewed Roi’el King who attends Tucker High. He is an artist that’s been taking music seriously for four years whose only support from day one has been himself.
Roi’el King says there are lots of challenges recording music while being in high school. “It’s like trying to juggle a whole another life,” he says. “You’ll sacrifice a lot of sleep. Your money is going to go to distribution and getting your look down good.” With Ro’iel’s mom not being able to provide for him fully, Roi’el has to pay his own bills, buy his own food, clothes, transportation and products. With all his focusing on his music. His grades slipped, however teachers helped him get his grades up.
Despite all the hardships, he says it was worth it. Roi’el King says he receives 80% of his royalties and owns all the copyrights to his songs. He’s learned graphic design for album cover artwork, writes his own lyrics and knows how to mix and master his songs.
Many things young people don’t understand is that when you’re an artist, you’re a package, you’re a brand and a business. Roi’el King also sheds light on the fact that being an artist takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In this new age of rap music, lots of rappers now make songs to release on a streaming platform. Then they expect to blow up. But in reality, it doesn’t work like that. In their songs, young artists say that they be grinding everyday and then in the line of the song, flex their money.
A line from California rapper Hopsin’s “The Ill Mind of Hopsin 5” states, “You fiend for the glamorous fruits. You don’t have ‘cause you Idolize rappers that do. And all they say is I got money and stacks in the roof and now you think it’s gon’ magicly happen to you.“ This makes us realize how much we think music is easy and fun. When in reality you have to work for all that money, that’s why artist talk and feel proud about it. This theme can be found in the song “Cake Factory” by Roi’el on his new album which talks about “how people want fast money, fast cars.” If you don’t put in the effort, it’ll never happen.
On Roi’el newest album, “Roi’el” the opening track, “Lost Files” shares his feelings about not knowing his father and the passing of his grandfather, who he saw once when he was 4. “Red Pedals” talks about love while “Peacekeeping” is a freestyle with him getting stuff out of his system. “Tell Me That” is about a longtime friend who turned their backs on him.
J.Cole is a role model to Roi’el. For one, he says J.Cole is real. One of the things Roi’el says he’s learned from him is that “You don’t need to be something you’re not.” In fact, Roi’el says he would rather “stay in his community of those who love his music rather than being something he isn’t.” This is important to upcoming artists of all genres, not just hip-hop. While some may think it’s cool to party and get drunk or high, 20, even 30 years down the road, it’s really about the central message you give in your music that can stay with listeners. Because all the partying and drugs will fade away.
Even when you’re doing a collaboration with another artist, you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. With collaborations, you can bring listeners to another genre and they can hear what you bring to the table. They might even like your music giving listeners a different opinion of the genre. Which is why Roi’el likes the music of Lil Nas X Being Versatile plays a big part in the industry. Use people not saying “you’re not going to make it, it’s already been done” as motivation. You are You, and know one can be You.
Last, but not least, we have Domani Harris, a rapper from Atlanta. Harris, 18, the son of famous rapper T.I., says he’s been taking music seriously since about 15 or 16. His purpose is putting his “emotions and feelings into the music and seeing other people relate to it and help them out. Having someone to relate to feel like you’re not alone.”
When we hear songs, one of the things that stick with a listener is the beat. When asked about the beat has to correspond with your emotion or to have a contrast to it, Domani responded, “both.” Harris says there are no rules to the creative process. “There’s no real solid answer,” he says. “It’s all based on how you feel.”
His biggest influencers have been his parents — “old school” artists and legends. “They give you a good foundation to build off of,” Harris explains. He also brings to light the fact that a lot of us young people don’t listen to them. While in all reality, “They must have done something right, they legends for a reason,” he says. Harris explains he studied what they did and put his own swag on it.
Harris says his father has been really helpful to his development. His dad would often recommend artists who he thought Domani should listen to, including OutKast, UGK, Dungeon Family and Hot Boyz to name a few.
As a kid, Domani describes himself as “weird.” He said he had “a Lego, skateboarding and drawing phase.” When asked what would he do if music wasn’t his career choice, Harris says family members suggested occupations all over the map: “You going to be a pilot when you grow up. You going to be an architect. You going to build stuff”. “You should be a painter.” There was no clear path for him until they saw how serious he was about music. Everyone told him he was going to be a “dope lyricist.”
His advice to young artists trying to stand out is this: “Don’t portray yourself as something you’re not.” If you want to last, you have to be yourself.
If you don’t take anything else from the article, take this: Be Yourself. Even if you’re not a music artist, this is good advice for everyday life. No one can be you. Only you can be you.
VOX ATL teamed up with Writing Our Wrongs to invite teens at the Historic Young YMCA in Southwest Atlanta to speak about what they would like to change in their community and they also shared advice to fellow teens about how to rise above their circumstances.
The teens also had an opportunity to write out their thoughts. Here is what they had to say:
“I was in a situation where one of my friends went to a nightclub the day after his birthday, and he needed to have some fun. He had gotten into it with a classmate that didn’t like him at the time. They started arguing back and forth, and the person had pulled out a gun and almost shot my friend, but luckily a police officer stopped the problem.” –Markese, 15
“Something that impacts me is violence in my community because it has affected lots of people around me and it is starting to get out of hand. One of my brothers died because of violence.” –Omega, 16
“As I walk the streets, I see litter that speaks more volumes than one can see.
Wondering why the people don’t care, care about the pollution,
Chemtrails the government sprays in the air.
It’s not easy to try to clean Mother Earth alone,
Trying to show people how polluting the earth will turn into a dead zone.
Spreading love and positivity throughout the day knowing if we come together thing will go our way.
Taking care of where we live is important, it’s where we sleep, eat, show love in.
Every day, every minute is a chance for change, a change that will and can end Mother Earth’s long-lasting pain.”-Ananda, 18
“Crack bags and broken glass. What’s that?
It’s the hood where it’s so-called bad.
Broken bottles, used condoms.
Prostitute on the corner just waiting for a model.
Newports are new sports and ways to put people like me through court.
Every empty liquor bottle is another heart shattered
Why don’t you just take our future and burn it on a platter
We say it’s all ’bout the money because it’s greener than pollen
Another child being influenced by a street gang is just another dead man walking.
Why don’t we buy the streets before it’s too late
Instead of killing and becoming another inmate!”-Jordan, 14
“Something in my community that I care about is children getting home safe. Stop putting trash on the ground to make the community look dirty. I care about this because if you keep putting trash everywhere you live it makes your surroundings nasty. People should start being friendly instead of mean all the time… I care about kids being safe because a lot of young people my age are dying. People are just mean for nothing and wanna be mean just because.”-Taya, 14
“The most important thing I see in my community is financial problems. In certain areas, I see abandoned homes and broken down apartments and half done buildings that the city didn’t even finish. Since most families are having money problems, they would have to move from house to house not knowing where to go and trying to find a job.”-Xavier, 17
“One thing that affects me is kids with disabilities because not only are they being picked on but they don’t live a normal life. The reason why I care so much is because I was blessed to be regular and I feel like everybody is the same and should be equal.-Jeremiah, 15
“Growing up in school that was predominantly white or Hispanic was an uneasy feeling. It was as if I was an actual black sheep but unglorified. Like I was a stain on a white T-shirt. We could never fully relate to one another because of our different culture and who we view the world. Every time they would see someone that looks like them, it would be future lawyers, doctors, scientists. But for someone of my color, it would be athlete or gangbanger. A lot of time we talked differently and they would mock or make fun of how you talk. When there were pictures taken, you would always think you’re too dark for the pictures or for some reason there is never enough light. And with every day you go, you felt more as if you don’t belong there. No matter how many friends you make or much they tried to relate or understand. But for me as a person…I became comfortable with the fact that I was different. I became proud that I was the odd one out. I didn’t care that we wouldn’t be able to relate to anyone there. I had a family at home and at school, I would be known as the one that’s different/unique. In my mind, I felt that we were all the same in the sense of shaping our lives. I know that I could become a lawyer, doctor, athlete or scientist if I wanted to. I wouldn’t worry about what we/I couldn’t do and be focused on what we/I could do.-Dwayne, 17
Something that’s strongly affecting me in a bad way is negativity. I feel like negativity is spread throughout schools, households and when you’re walking up and down the street. Negativity can change a person’s mindset, it can change the way people feel. And it can most definitely change the way that people handle certain situations. I feel like the little bit of positivity that we have in our community isn’t enough. Negativity overpowers positivity. But one person can change that. For example, if I get 10 people and those 10 people get 10 people then the word will spread quicker about positivity and what it can do for the soul and body. Another thing is empowering the voices of our teens. A lot of teens don’t think they have a say so.-Tia, 13
When I go over my friend’s house, which is an apartment. I always see five and seven-year-old walking by themselves. The problem with that is that over 800,000 children are reported missing each year. Someone told me a story about how a dad was looking up how to kill a kid. What came up was making him stay in the car for a few hours, and this kid was about three years old. If you think about it, if you are three, you can’t open the door. The only thing the baby will do is cry.-Julian, 13
When I was younger many people teased me because of my freckles and I really used to come to school covering my face with make-up to hide my freckles. I really cried and cried because of the way people teased me. The makeup made it worse on my face and I was really depressed and sad and asking God why did he make me like this. But later on many boys were calling me beautiful and my mom and dad were calling me beautiful too.-Aura, 17
I wanted to play football but I thought about it and I said no because I am in the “Lead By Example” program. In my community, I see cats & dogs, homeless people, violence, trash, cars, fights and gangs. I say that our community is bad because people in the community are sometimes not safe to be around. It is not safe in the community because people gang bang and do robberies and crimes and shooting and there are crazy people. I say this because I am speaking what I feel in my community. –Dior, 16
Something that I really care about is no more trash in the community. Some people around the community just walk down the street and throw trash down and act like they don’t see. Sometimes it’s trash cans in front of them and they still throw it on the ground still. –Jani, 12
My community is full of poverty,
with lack of love and properties,
It has gang members and robberies.
Some people watch and make a mockery
but don’t want to help clean up the streets.
I will create the change for youth
and come back and spread some truth,
That it doesn’t matter who you are,
But the journey you take and if you go far.
I will bring my family out
End the droughts
And stop the doubt
That everyone on this road won’t make it out
And be the praise they shout and shout.-Travion, 16
Growing up in a white school and being the only black girl with one other Puerto Rican girl. Being there, they singled us out because of our skin color. We couldn’t play games or do certain activities because they thought we weren’t good enough because of our skin color. Nobody understood us nor took the time to figure us out. They never asked what we liked to do or what we were interested in. We often got bullied because of our skin color. Growing up as a young black woman in a white racist school, I always felt singled out. I wanted to bleach my skin to fit in. I didn’t think being black would get me anywhere in life. Now that I am older, I realize that my skin color is a wonderful thing to have. Being black taught me that I am strong and confident. That experience helped me love my skin color and that I have tons of opportunities going for me. I want to be the youngest black female architect in the state of Georgia but over time go worldwide. Being black is beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with my skin color. I have equal opportunities as anyone else in this world. Always look at people as an equal, never single anyone out just because of their skin color. I want to do a podcast and go around different places showing young black girls and boys that their skin color is amazing and that they don’t need to do anything other than be themselves to fit into this society that we are in. There is no problem with being yourself. If someone has a problem, just tell them you’re unique in your own special way. Love yourself or nobody else will. Treat yourself like you would treat someone else.-Synai, 16
VOX ATL staff writer Sophie James, a 15-year old at Decatur High School, attended the Global Youth Climate Strike on March 15, 2019. Started by Greta Thunberg in Sweden, the global strike brought teens from 125 different countries together to fight for climate change action. Watch the video to hear from teens who participated.