The Roots of My Passion: Hip-Hop Music

As my articulate works blossom, you will witness my passion within the music community, mainly hip-hop & rap genres. You are probably wondering how the hell some woman from the small-town USA demographics and mentality would turn out to have such an admiration and love for the hip-hop community and the black community.

We didn’t have a lot of diversity where I am from, but we had a very few biracial kids we grew up with and biracial cousins in our own family. So that in itself taught me the basics of acceptance. For my passion for the hip-hop community in general, I blame my brothers (laughing). As early as I can remember, specifically fourth grade, I remember Andy (the oldest) driving us to school half the time rather than riding on the bus. It all depended on his schedule, to be honest, but we would listen to different music, but preferably Hip-Hop and R&B, because that is what Jon (my other older brother) only listened to while growing up.

We would listen to The Lox, Boyz II Men, Da Brat, Will Smith, 2Pac, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, etc. I was rapping along lyrics that my mom would probably have flipped about if she knew that was the type of music my brothers listened to around me. Can you imagine a ten-year-old white girl from an area where it’s so tiny that two towns had to join to be one school district? Let alone with only two biracial kids in the entire school at the time blasting “Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg in her big brother’s car? Yeah, that was me (laughing).

Three music albums would define my fandom and passion for Hip-Hop and other similar genres. The very first album and artist that would draw me into hip-hop would be Est. 1999 Eternal and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. My brothers introduced me to the next album, the Dr. Doolittle Soundtrack, released in 1998, produced by Timbaland. I was twelve at the time. Ginuwine’s song “Same Ol’ G” was my jam considering my last name started with a G, and I even had big dreams back as a kid. Aside from Ginuwine’s song, that album has fire after fire for each artist’s single put on that album. The second album would be Tupac’s two-disc Greatest Hits collection album released in 1998, only two years after his death. 

The rest is history, and the exposure of hip-hop culture through access to MTV, BET, etc… would open my heart and eyes when it came to enlisting. My experience with the military truly cultured me with diversity and various backgrounds that represented the melting pot of the United States of America. The fallacy that felt so real within our military community made me believe that as long as we carry the US Flag with pride (or whichever coalition forces worked with us in Iraq/Afghanistan), you were my brother and sisters in arms.

I never comprehended or understood the miseducation and various issues as a child, or even right away with the military. However, the music and entertainment that was presented to me never stopped me from enjoying the events that provided and supported each soldier’s, airmen, etc… with salsa nights and hip-hop nights. These events were meant as morale boosters for those homesick in a war zone. It was a different atmosphere that I didn’t know really existed before the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I sensed it, considering I was one of the few white folks going to every single hip-hop night throughout my tour in Taji, Iraq, back in 2006-2007.

My love for hip-hop would expand lyrically through artists like T.I., Kanye West, Eminem, Twista, etc. Of course, Mike Shinoda would release his album, “Rising Tied,” under his Fort Minor brand back right after I finished Advanced Individual Training, and I would play that album non-stop all through my deployment. The females would get so damn annoyed with me in the barracks, because “Where’d You Go” was my song during that deployment, and I would also have it as my ringtone for my phone at the time (laughing).

My battle buddies from Waco, Texas, whom I would bond with, would introduce me to artists like Tech N9ne as we pass the time with Spades on a nightly ritual working overnights at the dining facility. I would be more stoked when Bone Thugs, who are my all-time favorite hip-hop group, would release an album called “Strength & Loyalty” to help me get through the rest of my deployment in 2007.

Thank you for reading my blog. In return, I give you a playlist of Hip-Hop and R&B music that helped me through my deployment on Spotify!

In The Spotlight w/ Marcus Porter

As I sit here sunk into this black leather couch surrounded by anthem beats and blue saturated walls writing these questions, I am witnessing and studying Marcus Porter in his own process. Honestly, it’s the usual vibe of productivity, we are just missing two of our team members. The show must still go on, while I marinate in Marcus Porter’s lyrics and story.

The pandemic really was tough on everyone. How were you able to keep yourself afloat, mentally and physically,  during our lock-down?

During the pandemic, I was able to sit back & create without having to feel rushed. But, of course, I also did a lot of reading and anime watching

Anything you discovered about yourself during the pandemic? 

 I discovered my love for all types of art again. I had lost it because I wasn’t focused on it or trying to seek it out. But once I did, I fell in love again.

I have had the privilege to sit in the studio with you recently. You have a very intriguing writing process when it  comes to your songs. Can you tell the audience how that process goes? Which comes first for you, the hook, the  verse, or the beat?  

 The beat is usually the first thing that comes, and sometimes it’s just a simple four or eight bar loop. Then I typically start humming to myself until I find something that sticks. Sometimes it’s the hook first, but lately, it’s been the verses to come then the hook. But I always write from my heart.

You just dropped the single, “Born Black”, how did that come about? What influenced the song?  

“Born Black” came about during quarantine when George Floyd was murdered. So the song is a reflection of my own life experience. It was also influenced by many others who’ve dealt with racism, mistreatment, & death simply due to their skin pigment and social injustice. I was born black. Along with others, we’ve been seeking, fighting for, and addressing our shortcomings when it comes to black women & protecting them from the nonsense we deal with.

What do you want your audience/listeners to take with them after listening to “Born Black?” or any other song  you create?  

I am fighting for everyone and know the struggles we face, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I just try to be relatable and give them good content and sound to vibe to no matter what the scenario. My music represents my experiences and who I am as an individual.

Performing in Portage, WI. 6.19.2021

“Born Black” isn’t the only song you have with a feature on your upcoming album. Who else is featured on this  upcoming album? 

I have a few different features for the project. They are Chakari, K.I.L.O., 1neofMani, Juciee Monroe, Jay B Coolin, The King, so it’s pretty stacked on it. Each one came through and did their things; I appreciate them all.

You’re not just a musician. You engineer first many, many local artists. What came first for you as an artist? The  producer or the musician? 

The musician was always first, but I engineer because there weren’t many around, and I had an interest in it and wanted to create the best-sounding project I could. So I went to school to really learn the skills that have made me a better musician, from producing to the final master.

How and when did you discover that music is what you wanted to do with your life? What’s your story? 

I’ve known music was my calling since I was about 7 or 8, but I really knew right before I went to high school. I was interested in sports, but it was fading because all I wanted to do was write and make music. So my story is… Dad is a DJ, and mom did some drumming in drum core, and they made this young man who loves to create music and help others however he can.

What type of story are you trying to convey in your music? What do you want your audience to take with them  after experiencing your music?

The story is my story, but also everyone else’s too. I write music to have self-reflection. If you feel what I’m saying, then you’ve been there or are there, and I’m on the journey with you of this thing called life. I want to be as relatable as I can while still giving you a vibe.

If you want a taste of Marcus Porter’s story, make sure you check out his new single “Born Black”

Q&A Feature: Nathan Timmel

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Whether in Iraq during his USO tour, or the fact that he’s a ‘cheesehead’ at heart, or just bumping into each other in a random social Facebook group, we were meant to meet eventually, so we can sit and talk, while he scavengers on Rocky Rocco pizza, while we share our common interests and philosophies with our life experiences.

Now I sit with him again, to give him his own spotlight to share his own story here on my blog. Hey, Nathan…. Thanks for joining me!

You’ve been doing comedy for a while now, Nathan, with some epic experiences over the years as a performer. Can you give the readers a short resume of who you are and what your accomplishments are that you’ve made over the years of comedy?

A short résumé…  Mi llamo es Nathan. I stand on stage and yap into a microphone, which in turn makes people giggle. I may be a nobody, but I’ve managed to eek out a living slinging jokes. I’ve put out 5 CDs during my career, and have just finished recording/editing my 6th. Two of those CDs receive regular airplay on the Sirius/XM comedy channels, and one of them, “I Might Not Be Joking,” made it into the top 20 on the  iTunes comedy chart.

My official bio is: Not as serious as Plato, but lighter than Socrates. Not as edgy as Clinton, but livelier than Nixon. Not as heavy as GWAR, but deeper than Culture Club.

I’d say that’s accurate.

Tell us the story of how Nathan Timmel got into comedy?

I was in a band in college, and we started picking up some steam. A half-dozen college radio stations started playing our songs, and we began charting on the nationally published College Music Journal, so naturally we imploded. I wanted to go on tour and build a fan base; the singer wanted to get signed to a record label and have them do all the work. I said, “We’re not going to get signed unless we go to the places we’re getting played, get some fans, and give a record label a reason to sign us.”

He disagreed, and the band broke up.

I’m a bass player, one with enough self-awareness to understand I’m no Sting. With little desire to end up in another band where there would be fighting and disagreement, and without the ability to write songs/sing on my own, I decided to hit an open microphone and make with the silly.

It stuck, and here I am.

Most of your comedy would be drawn into the dark humor genre, and a lot of your jokes basically are of you providing your opinions and sharing stories of your life, as well as, making fun of the current issues on politics and society. What do you think is the key to get a message across on an affective domain to the audience?

I think the best way to get a point of view across to anyone is to be universal. If you take a side, then you alienate the other side. If you go with universal truths, it’s hard for anyone to deny or discredit what you’re saying.

People still will deny and disagree with and discredit what you’re saying, but it’s harder for them to do so.

Are you worried about offending the modern audiences with your material considering the controversies today with comedians, i.e. David Chappelle?

I’m not, and here’s why: everyone is offended by something. That’s all there is to it. So no matter how hard you try, someone will take issue with something you say. Therefore, the best approach is to not worry about it. I just go forth with my own values and limits in mind; lines I won’t cross: homophobic, racist, or sexist comments.

Regarding Dave Chappelle, I don’t know that there’s much controversy surrounding him. There’s invented “controversy,” but that’s not real. What you have to remember is that the audience loves his most recent, the “controversial,” special. Not just the in-house audience he recorded it in front of, but everyone, everywhere. The show is currently rocking a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The reason it’s “controversial” is because “critics” have it at 35%. Those “critics” are nothing but a bunch of “woke” idiots virtue signaling how awesome they are to other idiots.

People say you’re supposed to “punch up, not down” in comedy. Meaning you attack the powers that be, not victims. What Chappelle did in his last special is attack woke culture head on, because today that IS punching up. With stupid people being offended by Goddamn everything, and the media writing articles like, “Twitter explodes after… (insert anything non-controversial here)!” and then finding the ten stupidest people on Twitter to use an example of how outraged everyone is, being “woke” means being in power. Thus, that movement is fair game for mockery by comedians.

And note: there is a difference between mockery, and complaining/whining. A lot of people whine/complain. Chappelle mocked, and did so brilliantly.

Hell, even President Obama called out woke “culture.” Hopefully it’s a signal that like anything stupid, it’s time has passed.

Would you ever consider doing comedy specials on streaming services to broaden your audiences?

(Laughs) My buddy is currently in a band, and one of the members said, “We need to make a viral video!”

As if it’s that easy, and that going viral just happens.

I’d absolutely do comedy specials on streaming services, but unless someone is backing those with some authority, it’s doubtful they’d move the needle. I mean, I’ve a YouTube channel with more videos than you can shake a stick at on it. No one cares, because no one knows who I am.

That said: I’m taping my first Dry Bar comedy special next week. I don’t know when they’re going to release it, but I’ve seen some of their videos go viral, so…

*crosses fingers*

Are you planning to go on tour or simply have any new bookings?

I’m always “on tour” and/or looking for new bookings. Being an unknown comedian means you’re perpetually trying to work; you don’t schedule 3 months and then take 3 months off. It’s financially unfeasible to live like that.

You’re not just a comedian. You are also an author. Can you provide a proposal for what your books are about that you’ve published so far? 

To date, I’ve put out three works of non-fiction. The first book was a memoir, and the next two were letters I wrote to my kiddos over the course of a year.

I just finished my first work of nonfiction, and I was about to self-publish it, but the wife read it and sat me down and said, “OK, I’ve always supported your writing, but what you have to understand is: this one is good. Like, really good.”

So, she’s not letting me self-publish; she wants to find me an agent.

I wish her luck, but I know that’s much, much, much easier said than done.

How are your books different from your performances as a comedian?

On stage, I have to be funny. It’s my job. No one goes to a comedy club to do anything but laugh. The books give me an outlet where I don’t have to be “on” all the time. They have funny moments, but they’re not inherently humorous. Writing allows me to explore the other nonsense going on inside my noggin; things that won’t work on stage. Non-jokes, if you will.

What are some of the biggest highlights and accomplishments you’re proud of over the years as a comedian?

It’s easily my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two best compliments I’ve ever received have come from shows for the military.

I’ve been closing my shows talking about my time in Afghanistan, and that’s on the CD I have coming out in January: “This Could Get Awkward,” so I’ll tell a story about Iraq.

At Camp Anaconda, a woman named Leah Burton approached me after my show. She shook my hand, and said, “Sitting in the theater, in the darkness, just laughing… I actually forgot where I was for a second. I was laughing, and then I looked down at my uniform and was startled. I looked around the room and wondered why everyone was in military garb. Then I remembered how far from home I was. I remembered I was in Iraq, and my family was a thousand miles away. But for a moment, I forgot.”

I mean… all I do is tell jokes for a living. It’s not supposed to mean anything. So when I hear that against all odds I’ve actually made someone’s life a little more tolerable? It sticks with you.

I know a small portion of some of your background as a comedian that includes life experiences. Your life experiences have been a helpful tool towards your comedy, but the question is, has comedy been a helpful tool for you as an individual? How has it evolved you as a performer and individual?

I don’t think I can put it any better than Hawkeye did on M*A*S*H: If I’m not laughing, I’m screaming.

We live in a cynical world, and the news is always negative. If I wasn’t actively making fun of that, it’d be too much for my fragile little psyche.

Log on to Facebook at any given time and scroll through your feed; it’s people shouting at one another, people whining about how awful their life is… I have “friends” who haven’t made changes in a Goddamn decade. It’s the same litany of negativity over and over and over, without any attempt to self-improve. Comedy has helped me observe such negativity from afar and actively decide not to engage in such behavior.

Two more examples: Last Week Tonight, with John Oliver. That show takes on the most depressing subjects possible and makes you laugh while learning how bleak things are. And finally, The Life of Brian… I saw that as a kid, and it’s always stuck with me: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

“If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”

Today, you are a great family man now with two beautiful kids and your wife. How is life different now compared to before fatherhood?

I haven’t slept in seven years. I think that’s probably knocked some time off my overall lifespan.

Your stories of your kids have surely added some new material to your arsenal. How has your comedy evolved today compared to your material from ten years ago?

I’d say that like most people, I was angrier when I was younger. We age, we gain perspective, we mellow out…

If you don’t, holy crap are you annoying. Have you ever met an adult–someone in their late 30’s or 40s–that’s still carrying that adolescent chip on their shoulder?

I think my material these days is easier to digest.

Last, but surely not least… How about them Packers? 

They will be the death of me.

Q&A Feature: Legendary A.T

Legendary A.T is a multi-talented artist who’s musical passion has brought her multitude strides of courage and unapologetic attitude towards her craft to tell her very own story. Now I sit here and spend some time with her as I present to her a platform to tell her story with us.  IMG_8609

In your own words, who is Legendary A.T?

Legendary A.T is a singer, songwriter, rapper & musician from Lonoke, Arkansas. I’m extremely passionate about music and creates it when I feel that I have something to say. I’m a real artist who only speaks on real life experiences that I’ve been through.

How did you come up with your stage name, Legendary A.T? What does the acronym or initials, A.T stand for in your name?

‘Legendary’ was inspired by Bob Marley’s Legend album. When I was introduced to his music, I began researching him and reading up about who he was. I was inspired by what he stood for as an artist. I wanted to choose a name that would represent who I am and what I want to achieve, which is someone who would stand out with a distinctive style of music that people can relate to. I want my music to live on forever. I want to always touch and motivate the people who listens to it, even if it’s 20 or 30 years from now.  A.T represents the first and last initials of my last name which is Angela Terry.

What’s the story of how you got into music? How long have you been working as an artist?

I’ve been a musician since I was 7 or 8. I started out playing the drums at church, and as I get older I’ve always knew that I wanted to sing and rap from being inspired by Lauryn Hill. I began writing poetry and song lyrics when I was 14. I started pursuing music and recording professionally in 2016 with Ferocious Production Studios here in Little Rock.

Were you also magnified towards music, or did you once gravitate to a different route in your life?

Music has always been apart of me for as long as I can remember. Saturday mornings, in the early 90s, I used to hear my mom listen to artist like Sade, Anita Baker, and Howard Hewitt when she would clean our home. I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to do music. It just felt right. I come from a family of musicians.

You just released your second album, S. Murray (A Different Side). How is this album different from your first? How did you come up with the title of your new album?

S.Murray (A Different Side) differs from my  Back To Me, album because the messages in my lyrics are a bit more in depth with what I’ve experienced and endured from me speaking about being molested. I’m able to show people my creative storytelling abilities. Also, my different styles of writing music I do without traditionally being categorized to just one genre. I’m able to create from all angles, hence the title, (A Different Side). The S.Murray portion of my album title was named after a close friend who inspired a few songs on the album. I began writing music for the album back in 2017.

You had the privilege of collaborating with Tray Chaney on a song on your new album. How did that come about and what was it like to work with a well-known artist like Tray Chaney?

I’ve followed Tray’s career since HBO’s The Wire series when he played ‘Poot’. Years later, he appeared on one of my favorite shows Saints and Sinners as Kendrick. I began following him on Instagram, and I started seeing him post about his music.  It was different, unique and positive. Tray has his own style, so I reached out and after a year of trying to get in contact with his people, we finally connected. I like his vibe. He’s a super humble and laid back individual.  I explained the concept of the song and that I wanted to feature him on, I sent it over, and the rest was history. I think he’s an amazing talented,  inspiring, motivational artist whom I’d like to work with again!

Do you have other artists on your bucket list that you would love to work with?

I would love to work with Lauryn Hill, Seal, Sade, Phil Collins, and Paul Hardcastle. I’m a huge fan of their crafts.

How does it personally feel to have your own billboard ad in your state to promote your new album?

It’s always felt surreal to me, because I’m not a mainstream artist, as of yet, and we mostly only see major artists on billboards. I had imagined seeing my face on different billboards within Arkansas and other places, and I’ve made that happen. It is amazing and I feel somewhat accomplished in a way.

For an artist in Arkansas, what would the audience not know of the career development compared to those that are artists in a metropolitan area like Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York?

Nothing comes easily. Being from Arkansas, you have to work hard to be heard, because there’s not a big market for music here although Arkansas is filled with talent. If you’re not consistent and willing to go that extra mile by marketing yourself, you’ll never be heard in my opinion.

What is something about Arkansas, or even the people, that you would like to share that outsiders probably wouldn’t know about the state? What keeps you to stay, rather than taking your career to another city?

Arkansas has some of the best musical talents, actors, and  historical icons such as Civil Rights crusader Daisy Bates, Former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders (who was the first black woman to hold that post position in country), Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Poet/Actress Maya Angelou, Scottie Pippen, Al Green, Billy Bob Thornton, etc… all hail from Arkansas. I love the history here, plus most of my family is in Arkansas. It’s my home.

Do you feel the availability of social platforms and our modern tech world has helped those in more remote areas to be discovered?

Absolutely! I’ve heard so many artists have become overnight sensations with sites such as SoundCloud. You can upload your music and you never know who may hear it, and just like that an artist’s song could become a hit record.

In your album, S. Murray (A Different Side), the interlude “No Love for You” spoke out to me. Especially the line, “Told me, I shouldn’t have told people who molested me…” That’s a powerful interlude. What gives Legendary A.T her strength and her voice? What gave you the influence to speak out about that raw aspect of your story? Does it help that it gives others, who feel they don’t have a voice, something to relate to?

I get my strength from God and my supporters. Some people are  afraid to speak up about being abused. One of the main reasons people don’t speak out about being abused is, because they feel that no one will believe them, or they may receive backlash as I did when I outed my molester back in 2017. I did not have much support from my family. Some tried to make me feel as if I was bringing shame on my family.

Overcoming that hurt is why I write these type of raw lyrics, so that my supporters will know how I was treated, and I will use my voice and be support system to other victims out there. I never completely allowed certain family members to tear me down when I’m  a survivor of molestation. I felt as if they tried to regulate my healing process by saying things such as “I should let it go and forgive” or that “I shouldn’t have spoken openly about it”. I was even told by someone that me speaking about being molested could ruin me trying to to pursue music, but I never listened to them.

What other projects are you working on now? What’s next for Legendary A.T?
What should we expect from you in 2020?

I’m always constantly writing music, and I’ve been invited on a few projects as a featured artist, which you’ll be hearing soon. My goal by 2020 is to be known worldwide. A artist who touches people with my music. I will also like to have my 3rd released by fall of 2020. That’s the goal.

Your talents expand from singing, to playing the drums, to playing the acoustic guitar. Would you have a hidden talent that your fans may not know of?

I’ve always been an aspiring massage therapist. I’ve always been great with my hands, so yea, that’s one of my many talents. I enjoy relaxing people, because of the benefits your body gets  by getting massages. I used to make money in High School giving messages during class to my teachers and some classmates. I would give them shoulder massages or hand massages and they’d fall asleep (laughs). That’s when I knew I had a special gift.

We Can’t Heal Alone

2db2aa9b-ca54-43e2-8fe5-0bdf3df5cce6A special someone in my life told me last night that, “We can’t heal alone…” and that’s been sticking with me all day. He is right, so for those who sincerely been loving and supporting me, if it seems I am taking you for granted, I deeply apologize. I promise, I am not.

Survival mode is a pain to climb out of after decades of fighting demons alone. Figured I switch up and express my gratitude, instead of allowing my mind to resort to the worse case scenario in my position. You are appreciated beyond words.

…and for those who are trying to take efforts beyond measures to ensue my accomplishments and success, I am trying to open myself, but the leap of faith is my current biggest fear in my life, especially of having crashed and burned by someone I took a leap of faith on fairly recently. I’m still healing…