Brandon Alexander Williams still vividly remembers the first time he heard rap, the art form which eventually became his career.
“I was 10 years old in my cousin’s basement in Downers Grove, Illinois, with my older brother Steven and my cousin Chris. And I remember they played an Outkast record from 1996, their album ‘ATLiens.’ The main song is called ‘Elevators (Me & You).’ I remember hearing the beat and being like, ‘Oh, what is this? This ain’t nothing like the Earth, Wind & Fire my parents listen to.’ And I remember it was so fascinating. I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something like that,’” said Williams.
Currently a resident of St. Louis, Williams, 36, spent many happy hours while growing up in Peoria watching music videos and studying the work of famous rappers.
“We would watch the videos over and over again, and I remember watching and stopping them. I would have my notebook, and I would write down what they were saying. Right then, I was fascinated with what they were saying and how they were saying it,” Williams said.
By seventh grade, Williams was writing his own raps and performing them at Peoria High School. He would bring in a boom box and perform with his friends before school, and he also had opportunities to perform on stage.