Screwston, Texas

How Stressful Is Being A Rapper... Really?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday (that isn't a national holiday) Rocks Off will have some of them discuss issues relevant to their culture.

This Week's Panel: V-Zilla, Nosaprise, Preemo, Yung Redd, hasHBrown

Not Invited: Ricky Ross, because he thinks he's Big Meech, Larry Hoover.

This Week's Prompt: We're all familiar with the lavish way rappers' lives are portrayed, what with all of the money, clothes and hos (or man-hos, for you femmes). But what about the other side? Charles Hamilton, who shot up in Internet fame a ways back before crashing back down to Earth just as quickly, recently admitted himself to a mental health hospital. We all saw Kanye crack up.

How stressful actually is it to be a rapper? What does that feel like?

V-Zilla: Stress is being subtle, especially when you love - and I mean love - what you do. This game can ruin friendships, relationships, partnerships, etc. I've been fortunate to travel to foreign countries, flip language, rock shows and opened up for legends, just to come home to no notoriety.

I don't bite my tongue: [I] guarantee I can hang, if not straight up obliterate, that chrome contraption [microphone] against anyone. But I'm still broke.

I got so many side hustles. I sleep an average 4 hrs a night, 7 days a week. I've ghostwritten records that got artists on, but my stubbornness to not conform keeps me in this underground. Stress? Shit. That's guaranteed in our profession.

To make it, to live better and provide on the daily off music is damn near more than the average 40-hour work week. And yet and still we trudge on through the mud and muck, all for the love of the game.

Preemo: Basically I feel like nothing worth having is easy to obtain. What people have to realize is this life isn't for everybody. I think the most stressful time in my life is when I was dealing with a label and had people who where not artists in control of my creativity. That was stress.

The other thing people don't realize is that when you come from poverty and almost overnight earn a tremendous amount of money, you become a target. And not just a target for jackers, but a target for everybody that thinks they have a realistic shot at getting a piece of your money.

From groupies to lawyers to past "friends" or past business associates, even family members. This is something that can be a tremendous source of stress. But this is the price for living our dream.

Nosaprise: Eh, being a rapper is stressful sometimes, but then again so is every other job I can think of. I'd rather be stressed about music then stressed about missing a shift at Red Lobster.

Yung Redd: I think people are [used] to the normal type of music; look at me and Killa [Kyleon]. We are real MCs, with all the right things an artist needs to make it. At time, labels won't put full attention on a new artist because they're used to the same routine. Another thing, it's too much underhand cheerleadin' for certain artists. But I feel nobody knows talent or who will blow.

hasHBrown: Being a rapper in Houston doing the style of hip-hop that I do is an adverse road, to say the least. I think before I became more business- and press-savvy I always thought talent was the only thing that mattered. Over time I had to see that talent isn't enough when you're trying to make a name for yourself. It would be easy to sit here and complain about how hard it is, but in actuality nothing worth having ever comes easy.

Everyday is an opportunity for someone new to hear your music. Talent doesn't lie, people can see and or hear that you have talent but your grind has to overmatch your talent. I don't think this dream is more stressful or less stressful than any normal person's everyday life.

When this rap life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, pour in some liquor and have a celebration.

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Shea Serrano