Concrete Dreams

Preemo paints his masterpiece, but who will wake up to listen?

"So I taught you not to cry when it's time to say goodbye and I don't feel like I should / Always hated goodbyes because none of the goodbyes were good / And I know you appreciate the money that I sent you but deep down I know you rather have me there with you"

Early the next morning, speeding down Interstate 10, we're late for our brother's high school graduation in Katy. There's no choice — Preemo is going to have to crash the graduation party. We just don't have time to drop him off first.

Walking up to the Merrell Center, he says, "I don't think I've ever been to a ­graduation."

Preemo dropped out of seventh grade and ran away from home at 13 to live with his 17-year-old girlfriend, so it's understandable that this milestone assembly seems foreign to him. What isn't is how a man of limited means could bluff his way through life until eventually becoming one of the wittiest and most intelligent underground rappers on the scene.

Or how he can carry his life from one city to the next in trash bags with incredible positivity and create Concrete Dreams, a project that hopefully will be resurrected and hailed as a composition before its time.

Looking at Preemo's turbulent past, you know he isn't supposed to be here, but he is, so it's natural to want his music to reach millions, and to think it's destined to do just that. But nothing about Preemo's life is predictable.

As much as you might want to think he's now meant for fame, because that's how the fairy tale always ends, then you need to listen to track three. "The Ultimate Truth," which samples the Alan Parsons Project's "I Am a Mirror," is Preemo's favorite track on Concrete Dreams:

"Suppose I were to tell you that the meaning of dreams is not all that it seems / And the ultimate truth is a lie / You are just a puppet who can dance on a string / Do you feel anything? / Would you laugh? / Would you care? / Would you cry?"

Is the ultimate truth that Preemo got in his own way? From where he wanted to be?

"I'd rather die with my integrity," he says. "And when I'm dead and gone, they're going to be like, 'Damn, that shit was dope.'

"If I die, if I'm never heard and I never get the respect that I'm due, it is what it is. At the end of the day, I'm going to live and die with the decisions that I've made."

Maybe then, the world will awaken to a concrete dream.

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