The African Rapper Shares a Personal Story on Pain, Passion and the Pursuit of Happiness
Being a true African American man raised in Decatur to East African parents, I’ve had quite a unique life experience. I was the only child out of my 5 siblings to be born in the US after my family fled Eritrea during a time of civil unrest. My parents risked all of our lives in order for us to live our lives. In addition to those complexities, my dad was a missionary who began the first Eritrean church in Atlanta. As a result, I spent the majority of my formative childhood and early teenage years in church: church meetings, Bible study, prayer groups, revivals, spring break and summer break. Even when I wasn’t physically at the house of worship, I still lived in a house of worship. We weren’t allowed to listen to secular music at home, but as we got older I’d sneak in my brother’s car to listen to Eminem or Jay Z or Bob Marley.
Being at school became my only outlet for a taste of real life because I was around kids who lived differently than I did and with that came curiosity on both ends. I wanted to know what it was like to act up, while my classmates put me to the challenge. They would dare me, the preacher’s kid, to curse or behave in ways contrary to what I was taught. For a long time I resisted the negative pull but over time that struggle between good and evil wore me down. I started indulging in my passion for music, especially rap, although I’d always been a lover of music. My mother has a beautiful singing voice, my older brother plays the piano and I sang in the church choir, a gift that continues to serve me well in my career. My new lifestyle created a different kind of war my family couldn’t escape from. I started getting into a little bit of trouble, which pushed me to write more and really pour my soul into my music. The whole time this was happening, I was fighting my own personal battle of having the support of my homeboys who came to every show I did, yet my family didn’t believe in me. I understood and respected my parent’s sacrifice to give my siblings and I a chance at a quality life. I know they didn’t go through all that strife just to have their child be a rapper. They didn’t understand the promises placed inside of me. They wanted me to go to college, get a good job, get married, raise a nice family but I had my own vision. It’s been hard to put your all into something you love and not have the encouragement of the people you love. As the years pass, they’re coming to terms with my decision to rap because they realize that music is all I want to do.
I got the name Bags because I can rhyme at any pace, speak on any subject you can think of, which is like my secret weapon, my bag of tricks. You never know what you’ll get when I drop a track. I think because I did so much of the initial groundwork in the early stage of my career like shooting my own videos, creating my own beats, singing my own hooks that I subsequently became an even doper artist. To make a point to this article, I want to encourage other young guys to be steadfast in their dreams, respect your family but also respect the talents that God placed inside of you that other people may not fully recognize just yet. Be your own team and fan club because at the end of the day you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will join you on your journey. And no matter what, keep your integrity. My faith is still strong inside of me, which is why there’s no check big enough to make me not put out music that doesn’t matter or have the ability to touch a soul.
This article courtesy of Tamiko Hope. Miko got her start in the world of entertainment as a college intern at LaFace Records in Atlanta, Georgia. She went on to work for Usher and Goodie Mob before launching her own PR and editorial firm Word Ink. Hope has been an integral part of the growing success of southern artists, spearheading national PR campaigns for Grammy award winning artists, producers and DJs. Her clientele has included OutKast, Rocko, Shawty Lo, DJ Toomp, Zaytoven, Sonny Digital, Metroboomin, DJ Spinz, Que, DJ Scream and DJ Princess Cut, whom she also manages. Hope was born in Atlanta, GA and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from the State University of West Georgia. She is the author of the e-book The Industry Insider: 10 Key Facts from Music Industry Insiders. In addition to PR and writing, Hope is also a public speaker in the realms of entertainment and youth empowerment, particularly young women.