- Penny Hardaway - Watt Chamberlin
What is your background? tell us where you grew up and some information about your upbringing/experiences as a youth:
I’m originally from Memphis, TN. I grew up in South Memphis, off of Roanoke and Mississippi, but I lived in Whitehaven and Cordova at different points also. I had a pretty good upbringing; I was in the hood but my mom made sure that I didn’t have any wants though. I have an older brother named Bryan and he’s 12 years older than me, so we never had a real sibling rivalry or nothing. He just put me up on game about the streets, females, life really. I have an older sister named Ansley, but she’s older than my brother, and on my dad’s side, so I didn’t see her a lot. My dad was in the picture and he lived with us until I was about 7 or 8 then he and my mom separated. After that, it was more like he just came and picked me up to take me to and from places. I would spend a weekend night with him every now and though. I credit my mom and brother for making me the man I am today.
I played basketball all of my life so that’s what kept me out of the streets. I was a high major basketball player that was ranked nationally and in the state of Tennessee from middle until I graduated. It’s actually kind of crazy how I got into initially; I always play basketball from birth and it was my first love, but music wasn’t. I was about 12 and this guy moved into our neighbor and he was about 16 or 17. He moved in two doors down from me. I don’t remember his name but he was really into music, making beats and rapping, so as we all hung out it grew on all of us, me and two of my friends. I started trying to freestyle, and trying to rap until eventually, I started to get good at it. It became something I enjoyed doing that wasn’t basketball. I swear he only lived there for 6 months, could of been longer, but it just seems that he came just to introduce me to music. He apparently moved, he just kind of disappeared and none us have heard from him again to this day.
I won the Tennessee state championship undefeated in basketball with my high school team, the Hamilton High Wildcats in 2006 which was my senior year. We were the first team to win state undefeated in Tennessee in 31 years and I was named state MVP. I still kind of rapped for fun on the side but wasn’t doing anything serious with it because I was focusing on my basketball career. I left Memphis and went off to play basketball at the University of San Francisco in the fall of 2006. My freshman year, I was a starter and was named to the West Coast Conference All Freshman Team. I also met a girl who would sing in different events and she would use the software Audacity to record herself singing and said I should try it for rapping. The first recordings that I’ve ever done was using the built in laptop mic, iPhone headphones, and the audacity software lol.
The next year my head coach was fired and I transferred to a junior college in Twin Falls, ID, College of Southern Idaho. I continued to ball out and I continued to use audacity to record songs in my free time. I didn’t know where to get beats so I would just download beats of popular songs and freestyle over them, like Lil Wayne’s Dedication mix tapes. I would let my teammates and close friends hear it and from what they told me, they liked it lol. I just continued to do it and continued to get better.
After a year, I left Idaho and went to play for the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT, where I currently live with my girlfriend Rylee and our 4 year old daughter; I also have a 8 year old son that lives back in Memphis with his mom. In Utah, it was basically the same formula of basketball 1st, music 2nd. I met a now long time friend of mines, Trey who had real studio equipment, a real mic, in-box, speakers, all that stuff, but we would record in my dorm room. Neither one of us knew how to mix or master or anything so the quality was pretty terrible but my skills where starting to really take off. Trey was the one that really taught me how to make to make a complete song.
I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease my senior year of college, which long story short, ended my basketball career. Now all I want to do is make music and do what I have to do to make that happen so that I can provide for my family.
At what moment did you know that music was part of your life and what feelings did you have towards making an active impact with your music?
I felt that music was a part of my life back when I met this kid that moved into my neighborhood when I was around 12. He introduced music to me and I fell in love and I have been ever since.
I didn’t want to make an impact with my music until years later after I fell in love with it. My first love was basketball, so I wanted to make an impact with that. Once I got hurt in college, and basketball was no longer an option, then came the feelings towards making an impact with my music and wanting to seriously pursue it as a profession. Friends and family said that I should pursue it because not too many people get 2nd chances at anything. I’m taking their advice and it’s one of the decisions that I’ve made.
What artists inspired/influences you and if you could collaborate with any artist (alive or passed) who would it be and why?
I’m from the south, so mostly all the artists from my region. Gucci Mane, T.I., Jeezy, Three 6 Mafia and Yo Gotti of course, Outkast, and more. Snoop, 50 Cent, and more also.
Yo Gotti would probably be the artist that I would collaborate with. He built a brand from nothing. He started on his own with nothing and built himself into a global brand. He’s also from my city so of course there’s that too lol.
What do you think about the current state of hip hop/mainstream music?
It’s definitely changing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though. I personally don’t listen to a lot of mainstream music but I’m kind of on both sides of the fence. I like dope lyrics and lyricists, but also love hard beats. Sometimes I feel like being told a story through lyrics and sometimes I just want to hear a hard beat and don’t really care about what it’s talking about. I do think the emphasis on lyrics has been on the decline over the last several years though.
Currently, what projects do you have in the works that you are most excited about?
I’m working on dropping my single Bonkerz. I actually recorded back in 2011, but I’m in the process of getting it ready to drop first of the year 2017. I’m working on getting a video shot for it and also getting my debut mixtape “100” done also. I’m excited it about it all because this journey has come from just being something I did for fun to something that can come put me in a position to take care of my family.
What are your short term career goals within the next 6-10 months?
I just started my own entertainment company/record label, Seven-Twenty Entertainment, so I want to promote that and get that off the ground. I would like to have dropped Bonkerz and one more single off of the mixtape, and hopefully drop the mixtape also.
I am working with some other major artists and hopefully I will be going on a tour soon. I also hope to have signed my homies to my company in the near future.
What are your long term career goals within the next 2-5 years?
Long term, I would like to have multiple artists, actors, comedians, and athletes signed to my entertainment company. I plan to have a stable company in the entertainment industry within the next couple of years.
If you had one song out of the catalog you have created to show a person what song would it be and why?
It would be my song Bonkerz. I would show that song because it is so versatile, it could be a trap song, a club song, or just a good ol’ get crunk song. It best describes me as an artist and me as a person, it’s what I did on a nightly basis at the time.
To the person who had never heard of you what is it about your music and story that you would tell them to entice them to be a supporter?
My music is real and honest music. It’s not about stuff that I have never done, I don’t have to make up lyrics.
My story is a perfect story of not taking full advantage of an opportunity and then being able to have a 2nd chance to take advantage of a completely new and different opportunity. It’s a story of learning to appreciate the gifts that you are given because it can be taken from you in an instant.
If your music could be described in five words what would those five words be?
Authentic Charismatic Relatable Great Humble
What do you bring to the game that is unique and different?
I bring a multidimensional aspect to game that I can use to adapt to any situation. I’m not just defined to one type of rap or art. I’m able to change my style depending on the message that I am trying to convey at the time.
I have southern roots, but I look at my art in a way like Snoop in the sense of I can give you a smooth slow track, but I can turn you up just as quick on the very next track.
To the aspiring artist who is considering a career as a musician what lessons or advice would you give them to inspire them or to uplift them in the journey?
The biggest thing I can say is do your homework, like really do your homework. Make sure you check and double check what people say that they can do for you. I’ve wasted a lot of time and money investing in essentially “get rich quick” sites and schemes. Everybody apparently knows somebody or is working with somebody and can send your music here and there. So just make sure who you’re working with is credible.
On another note, stay positive and keep the faith that if you continue to work hard and put the time, effort, and energy in the right places, the universe will repay you for your hard work.
What are your social media profiles and where can people purchase/download your music?
I’m working on getting Bonkerz on Spotify, iTunes, etc.
What are your final words you would like to say to people that you have left out?
I just want to say thank you and give a big shout out to my lovely girl Rylee for supporting and spending her last on me to support me in chasing this dream of mines. To all my family and friends that are supporting me and have supported me through the years. Thank you to Moe Rock for the opportunity to be featured and for this interview. Big S/O to South Memphis and the whole state of Tennessee!