In 1992-93' I was a little military brat growing up in Baumholder, Germany. At the time I remember Kris Kross, TLC, and artists like Toni Braxton were coming out of Atlanta, Georgia and dominating the air waves world-wide. Music still had it's emotion and soul back then and I became motivated and inspired to one day become a successful artist in my own right. Being on the Arsenio Hall Show and becoming a signed artist became my ultimate goal and dream.
One day while I was at home in my bedroom listening to AFN Radio, a song came on that seemed like it didn't actually fit the format I was vibing to but it caught my attention. I turned up the volume on my little Sony boom-box and bobbed my head to a new sound, a new voice, and a different musical direction artistically. Some guy was talking about "Tennessee" and it felt really good to my ears. The drums hit hard but the musical backdrop was a far cry from any of the other groups I'd been listening to. At the time I was more into New York based factions like EPMD, Public Enemy, and Gangstarr. These collectives spoke out politically and told tales of what it was like to come up in the inner-city with gritty stories of New York life. Hip-hop was my CNN and everything I was listening to was more rugged than Bohemian and what some would consider as Hippy.
I had no idea who Arrested Development was but "Tennessee" won me over. This particular song made me curious and I wanted to hear more from the group that hailed from Atlanta, Georgia. I appreciated and enjoyed the fact that hip-hop was growing and had much more to offer than just the rugged and raw. I wasn't opposed to listening to something that was conscious and less aggressive. To tell the truth, I've always felt like I was more Arrested Development than I was The Lench Mob. My parents raised me well enough to know what was entertainment and what was reality. If NWA was really out in society killing people, they wouldn't be making records and showing their faces on MTV every week. It's not rocket science...
Anyhow, during high-school my instructors loved to tell me (in their own way) that I wasn't college material. They liked to say little sly shit like, "You're not disciplined enough and you don't have the focus to make it in college Mr. Berry". I don't know if this was their foolish attempt at reverse psychology but the truth was/is, I didn't want to go to college anyway! Nor did I want to join the armed forces like all the other kids who had no idea what they wanted to do after they graduated high-school. I always knew (at a early age) that I wanted to pursue music as a career but my beautiful and adoring parents would veto my dream(s) and made it clear that I was going to college.
Fast forward a few years and I'm ironically living in Atlanta, Georgia attending a HBCU. It's crazy because at the time I had no idea Atlanta would be the next big music hub as it is today. I simply came to Georgia to get my degree (for my parents) and then I planned to move to New York so I could pursue my dreams as a artist.
My first few years in Atlanta were very tough (financially) yet exciting as hell at the same time. My struggle to stay afloat with the bare essentials was not easy but I was having a ball in the city that hosted Freaknik every spring. You see, Atlanta was alive and thriving and I was enjoying the fast life that came with it. I enjoyed this life so much that I was seriously messing up in school (flunking) and partying way too much. As I reflect on those days I realize I should have been studying and trying to get studio time but I was caught up. I was completely going HAM in the nightlife arena and chasing pretty ass women inside of 285. this time in my life was nuts! I couldn't help myself nor turn down the invitation to a private party at the Swiss Hotel with Puffy and Usher frolicking around with gorgeous women everywhere? Who couldn't say no to a birthday party at LA Reid's house with Pebbles "The Mercedes Girl" prancing around looking like the most beautiful creature God ever created. I was totally absorbed by the Atlanta entertainment scene and relished in it every chance I could get. After all, I had just left living in rural Baumholder, Germany for four years where there wasn't even a mall that I could frequent. Atlanta, Georgia presented me with a whole new vista of opportunity and experiences. I was a young boy gone wild!
After 5 years in "The A", I finally beat the odds. To the people that know and knew me best, I did the unthinkable. I actually went to college and received my degree. My parents were elated and I must say it didn't feel too bad to see the both of them proud and happy. The best part of it all was that I was finally free to do me without having to answer to anyone. For the most part...
In the past, most elder's close to me have said things like, "Don't quit your day for that music". They've also said things like, "Hey we support you but the music business is no place to make an honest living". Some of these statements would detour a weak minded person but I continued to believe in myself. I never stopped chasing my dreams and eventually I got the attention of Atlantic Records. When the Atlantic Records relationship didn't pan out I got the attention of Outkast's label "Stankonia". When the "Stankonia" deal went south I landed a deal with a Japanese label called "Day Track" and toured the world. I've toured all over Europe, Africa, and South America via the music I've made on my own accord. God has been great and I've achieved a lot success in my own right. As a true independent artist I may not be as large as Chris Brown but I've rocked stages around the world and made money, sold, albums, and rang bells globally.
With the above being said, I recently had the opportunity to open up for the band I first heard in my bedroom when I was a little boy. Since then Arrested Development has won two Grammy's and two MTV Awards to name a few. I've developed a good working relationship with Speech of Arrested Development and I've even been featured on a few albums he's released in Japan. I've also co-directed two of Arrested Development's latest music videos entitled "Living" and "Raga".
In conclusion, I'm living proof that dreams do come true. Big or small, don't ever give up on yourself and never give up on your dreams. Keep up the good fight and continue to believe in yourself. You never when your time will come. Stay focused. Stay disciplined.
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