Who have you played with? And what kind of music do you normally perform?
I’ve played for Meek Mill (1 tour), Jazmine Sullivan (2 tours), the musical director for Marsha Ambrosius (5 tours), and Floetry (2 tours). I recently played at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards with Future.
The kind of music I perform depends on the artist I’m either touring with or performing with, from hip-hop to R&B, even Gospel. With The NOW Generation it really depends. Loving and enjoying every style and genre, we try to incorporate everything including pop, experimental, hip-hop, and gospel. But my favorite has to be gospel, because I have more freedom in my playing and creativity. I just love music! (*laughs*)
When were you personally inspired to become a musician and what does music mean to you?
I was inspired to play music when I was about two or three years old. Every Sunday I would watch my family sing, play piano, or play drums. I would also attend different concerts with my mom. That all made me love and enjoy the musical sounds and the reactions of people as they sat back and listened to different melodies and fills. Being a full time musician hit me when my mother used to take me to the “Black Lilly” at this venue called the 5 Spot down in Old City. I would see The Roots, Fatback Taffy, Jill, Musiq, Floetry, and Glenn Lewis. They would just let the band vibe out. That was by far the craziest experience of my life, because it felt sooooooo good! It was a feeling that made everyone in the room scream and just feel free. To me, music means life. I’m only saying that because, honestly, I don’t know what I would be doing without it. From age three till now, 23, it’s all I know. It’s my life.
From a musical standpoint, what’s the advantage of live drums over a drum track or generated beats?
The advantage of live drums over a drum track is the feeling and aggressiveness the drums allow. It’s nothing like having music feel and vibe with you instead of you feeling and vibing with the music. If you get what I’m saying… (*laughs*) I always tell artists that I work with that it’s always good to have both, because there are somethings the track can do that live drums can’t. Still, people tend to move better to live instrumentation, it’s a know fact.
I read that you started touring at the age of 16. What was it like to go on the road at such a young age?
Yes, I was 16, fresh out of 11th grade going into 12th at Girard Academic Music Program. It was a surreal experience, most kids from where I’m from in North Philly were going to school then going home and hanging outside, like normal kid stuff. I was catching flights, in and out of the studio, leaving early, doing homework on the back of the tour bus. Looking back, I was doing a lot. In the moment, I was excited because it was something my parents and grandparents prayed for, and something I had dreamt about every day!
You’re a two time Grammy winning drummer, how has all your success as a percussionist influenced your life?
Two time Grammy winning drummer! Wow!… It has been an amazing journey. I can honestly say that God really is a man of his word. Nothing has been the same since I won those awards, I was going through an difficult time beforehand and, since then, its been nothing but greatness, on and off my instrument. I’m grateful! The amount of tours, sessions, shows, and opportunities are unbelievable. Now I get to play music with my group of friends on a daily basis. Creating music is a wonderful feeling. Living in a neighborhood where people acknowledge your skill and respect you for it is humbling… God is good!!!!
You’re very involved in your church. Has your involvement there and performing gospel music influenced other facets of your career?
I’m a “church boy” “PK (Preachers Kid)” .. and I’m proud of it! To me, playing for the Gospel artist I toured with for years helped me to be able to play any style of music. Also, church is a whole different feeling when it comes to expression on your instrument. But, like I said before, my family prays for me daily, and so do I. One thing I’ve learned is to never be ashamed of the Gospel Of Jesus Christ .. There have been days on the road when I’ve miss my family, church, friends, and bed, but I read the Bible every morning. I pray before I start my day and before I hit the stage. I’m never ashamed of the goodness and many blessing that have been put in my life. So why not promote it?! It’s real! For the simple fact that I haven’t lost yet.. And that’s not a cocky answer, it’s a fact. I’ve received and am still receiving blessings because I don’t front or conform. I represent and try my hardest to live what I preach, which is to keep God first and everything will fall into place.
Tell us your favorite story from life on the road or a show you did.
I recently experienced a huge highlight in my career. It all happened in a matter of seven days. I posted a video clip of me playing a song by LilUZIvert (below) on a Saturday and a couple days later received a call to fly to Atlanta and meet a major producer, Zaytoven. Not knowing the full details, I flew out to Atlanta and was asked to judge an audition. Then, later that day, I found out that they wanted me to play on the Video Music Awards with Future. I flew home then went up to New York City on Friday. There we met Future and rehearsed then recorded the show on Sunday. This is the highlight of my career (so far), because I’ve always dreamt of doing an award show — For it to be one of the biggest award shows was mind blowing! It was just unbelievable, because it happened so fast. I was able to see and meet some of today’s musical icons – Jay Z, Diddy, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Future, of course. God is good!!!!
I can honestly say that I have friends who have family members who have cancer, or who have died from cancer. It’s, by far, one of he worst feelings thinking about those people, and I’m behind BANDADE 100,000%! It’s an amazing cause that brings awareness to something that people die from everyday. All we can do is fight! In fighting, you’re one step closer to winning.
What has been playing on your iPod (Spotify, TIDAL, whatever) lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Chance the Rapper and Anderson Paak for the past month. I love there free spirit and musical vibes. Chance is very churchy (*laughs*),which is hilarious to me. Anderson plays drums which is pretty dope if I may say so. Both artists, musically and lyrically, have stood out, that’s the stuff that catches my attention.
Favorite local eats in Philly?
My favorite local eats… let me start off with Ishkabibble’s, best cheesesteaks everrrr!!! Silk City Tai & Buffalo mixed sauce wings, Sid Bookers’ fried shrimp is amazing on broad street in uptown, City View barbecue chicken pizza, and my absolute favorite is Mr. Lorenzo’s on 25th and Thompson across from my church. This man sells water ice, brand and rice, tacos, and sooo much more. I go there the most for the fried boneless breast chicken sandwich on potato bread.
How can we follow the different projects you’re involved in and stay up-to-date with your upcoming performances?
LOVE MUSIC . FIGHT CANCER