Meet “City”. City is an artist, musician, and performer. As he states, “I classify myself as a hybrid artist – a pop artist with a little bit of swag.” Music is his passion, and his talent.
I’ve been approached by many upcoming bands and musicians waving virtual flags saying “Write about me!” Sometimes I wish I had more time to travel and meet these wonderful people. However, I’m very selective in who I say something special about. Partly because of the time I have, and there’s just one of me to go around! That, and I have to be able to stand behind who and what I write about and really believe in them. City, is just that kind of entertainer and person.
City caught my attention on Twitter. I’m very careful about the links I click on that are tweeted my way, but his tweet to me looked legit. I always trust my instincts and I went with it, and I’m so glad I did. “Blackout” is City’s single that literally got me to listen. (He’s launching his first single “Blah Blah” off of his debut EP W.I.L.D. at the end of September.) Before I knew it, the groove of his music got me goin’. The beat blasting out of my iPhone made me want to get up and dance. He had somethin’ here….and I wanted to showcase his talent.
What’s so special about this Atlanta performer? He’s a musician, rapper, and entertainer who creates clean music. He doesn’t do drugs, does not disrespect women, and the focus of his music is to bring back “feel good music” where people are just having a good time. Here, check out his live performance at Wild Bill’s in Atlanta and his videos on his YouTube channel for the flavor of his style and sound.
Think about how many celebrities, musicians, and performers out there that dabble in drugs, write song lyrics with profanity downplaying women, and are on a mission to create chaos instead of just doing what music was intended to do in the first place: make people get up, have a good time, and dance! City, is bringing the beat back to its roots, and is on the verge of becoming big.
“As a kid growing up and watching the generation under me, I saw they are influenced by the music they hear. I don’t want someone to get hurt because of my music. I have a younger brother who is super easily influenced. There’s power as an entertainer and what we hold with our words,” explains City about why his values on living a fun, clean life flow through his music.
“ I am a solo artist. I make my own music. I write my own lyrics and work with other producers who get my vision and put it into music. Each artist I work with, I choose; and I make sure they share the same moral ethics. I make sure what I represent – they represent. “
I get that. When you do something in music, media, or art, you have to be careful that the people you work with fit into the way you work and what you believe; they are an extension of you and your enterprise.
City’s look and image is not your “typical rapper” persona either. He likes to stand out while being a positive role model and having a good time. His style is all about being urban-cool, while expressing himself with his different hair colors.
“It is who I am. It’s more of a natural thing. I don’t want to conform. I won’t want to wear the baggy clothes and the heavy chains to prove I’m a successful artist.”
‘Get on Down’ with City in his video to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.
“There are 3 influences that have the most impact on me: Afrika Bambaataa because of its music; Busta Rhymes because of his energy and deliverance, and Diddy because of his work ethic – where he’s started, and who and where he is at now.”
Five years from now, City wants his name not just to be known, but to be known as a brand.
“[I want] my name as a brand – on the face of good life music. When people think of a good party or a good time and City comes up first – where my name becomes a brand,” he aspires.
As any successful artist knows, before you can enjoy the glitz and glamour of the lifestyle that comes with the adulation of fans, you have to put in a lot of hard work. And, that hard work has to continue, or your career goes south. City, a 26 year old talented performer and musician, has the business savvy of someone twice his age. He speaks like he’s been in the music business for many decades as a professional. He, however, has the passion and energy of youth propelling his career. He’s got the drive where I know I’m going to be saying “I knew him when…” in a few years when he breaks the barriers of hip hop-pop music done his way.
Majoring in visual communications and marketing at Washington State only serves to enhance his innate musical abilities. He owns many businesses that not only weave through his own personal career, but they help to give others a chance to express their musical abilities, as well.
“I have City Creationz, which is a design business, and an audio visual company called Blu Room Studioz. At Blu Room Studioz we offer youth and expired artists with music passion, who didn’t have the opportunity to take their music to the next level when they were young, a professional studio with reasonable rates and they can record and get a free photo shoot at the same time. Blu Room Studioz started as my personal studio. A lot of people started asking me if they could work with me and do what I do. That’s where I thought about setting it up as a business. I don’t cater to the Fortune 500. I cater to the people who work every day and still have a dream.”
He also has his own label "Good Lyfe Muzik."
You wouldn’t expect this artist that produces such a fresh urban sound to play the cello, but he does.
“I play cello, drums, keyboard, piano & saxophone.”
What also may surprise you about City is that his step-father opened for the Commodores and Earth Wind & Fire. He was in band and chorus through elementary and high school. He’s a New York native, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was 12 years old.
“The blessing is that I was 6’5” and got a basketball scholarship so I took the opportunity,” relates City about why he didn’t just jump into music full force after high school. His education has definitely enhanced his ability to succeed in the music industry, so he can market himself effectively and establish an income through many venues.
You are probably asking yourself, “Does this guy have a real name?” Yes, he does. You’ll have to follow him on Facebook to find out what that is. However, his stage name came about as a result of how he did deejaying on the side in college.
“ Everyone called me “Deejay City”. I brought them new and fresh music, since I’m from Atlanta [“the city”], one of the places that’s churning out all of the new music. Then when I moved back to Atlanta, I dropped the ‘Deejay’. This was at the time Twitter began. So people began to ‘Follow the City’, which was my other name. Now I am ‘City’.”
Once City had a following, he continued to do what he does best and has performed in some memorable places such as London, Canada, and Washington.
“Canada was the most exciting one because they really know how to par-ty! I don’t think we left the club until 7am the next morning,” stated City of his favorite performance venue so far.
He doesn’t let fame go to his head, though.
“I am not like many artists who show up at the last minute before they go on stage. I get there way earlier. I’m very rarely in VIP. I walk in the venue and I’m running around, dancing. I want to be with my people. I always want to be reachable to my fans.”
I think by being reachable to others, he expands his audience even more. People get the sense he’s real and that he cares about his audience. As he inspires others, others also continue to inspire him.
“When people come to me who are 50 plus and want to hear my music and love my music – and at the same time, people in their 20s and younger like my music – that’s my fuel. There is no stopping me.”
City has big dreams, but he knows he needs his team to get there.
“I can’t take credit for anything without my team. We all sit down and brainstorm. I love to be on camera. I want a reality show! I think it would be crazy!” City said with excitement in his voice at the prospect.
“There’s more to me than just music. I own my own businesses. I went against the odds as a young black man in America. Young black men are slotted to live their lives by society to get certain jobs and live to a certain age, for example. All you have to do is stay focused and do what you want to do.”
It’s not always easy but there’s one piece of advice City gives to those who aspire to do great things, too:
“You go as far as you allow yourself.”
I think that applies to everyone, not just young people, but everyone who ever had a dream, goal, or aspiration.
“Headed to the top. Never gonna stop.” – as City raps in “Blackout” - says it all. City’s goin’ big – blasting out of Atlanta and up the Eastern seaboard, bouncing coast to coast. Give it a little time – without a doubt, you’ll also be saying “I knew him when…”
Follow City’s performances and Blackout Tour on Facebook and keep up with him on Twitter @iamcity . He’s got some great videos on his website, too. Don’t forget to subscribe to his YouTube channel while you’re at it!
Download "Blackout" here!
This blog was previously published on the author's own website, TheLadyinRedBlog.com