It was one of the most exciting times of my life when I landed a shot to be a part of the ROC NATION ROSTER. One week after graduating from University of Southern Mississippi, I received a text through a consulting company that I subscribed to stating they could help get my music to some of the industries top A&Rs. I figured if I could have someone in the music industry hear my music, they would want me on their label. After debating back and forth in my mind about if the text was real or a scam, I decided to contact the number that was available in the text. After about 2 rings a man by the name of Kells answered. I politely told him that I was interested in meeting an industry A&R to have a chance to be signed to a major label. He told me “it’s not that simple sir, first we have to like your music and MAYBE we will give you a call.” After telling me there are no guarantees, he asked me where can he find my music. I sent him a link and we hung up abruptly. Afterwards I said a quiet prayer to the heavens above for favor. I prayed that they would find something interesting in my music that would make them want to do business with me. After I said a prayer, I tried not to wreck my brain about it and let it go.
A few weeks by and I decided to take a new job which did not allow me to have my phone at all throughout the day. From time to time I wondered if I actually had what it took? Will they ever call me? Will I ever get my one Shot? Unbeknownst to me, Kells from the consulting company had been trying to contact me however, I did not know this because the new job I took did not allow us to have our phones. It was about 6:30 pm when my cell phone rung from an unknown number. Usually I don’t answer those calls but I decided to that day. On the other end I heard “Hello, is this the rapper T.WILL$? Immediately I got excited “YES, it is who is this?” The man answered ITS KELLS!! My heart began to pump at a rapid pace. Kells stated that a man named Mr. Bernard was interested in me. They collectively agreed I had a lot of talent, Kells called Mr. Bernard on three-way, Mr. Bernard told me I would be speaking to him from that point forward, he let me know that he had an audition set up for me with LENNY S. Lenny S was a man who went from a street promoter to a Music Business executive working alongside with the great Jay-Z He also helped Jay Z with his albums. I got a rush thinking about how much more polished I would become being around Lenny. Mr. Bernard asked me If could get a flight to New York to meet him in Manhattan? I said yes, he gave me all the details and sent me a contract that had to be signed. It basically stated that if I were signed to ROC NATION that they would get a finder’s fee. I agreed to the terms and sent it back immediately.
Just knowing that I could possibly be on the same roster as Jay-Z or J Cole was enough to keep me on edge. I constantly filled my mind up with a life of being in recording studios, meeting beautiful women, seeing large amounts of money and rocking a multitude of people with my lyrics. I was overcome with excitement. To increase the probability of being signed, I studied every interview I could that Lenny S had on YouTube. I wanted to pick his brain for as many key points that would make him take a liking to me. One of the key things he stated in every other interview was “People have to either want to be you, or believe you.” I put together an elevator pitch and practiced it in the mirror. Leading up to the audition, Mr. Bernard stayed in contact with me and I appreciated it. He helped keep my mind at ease because I often worried if this opportunity was real. Mr. Bernard gave me a lot secret jewels on how to conduct myself, how many songs I needed, and advised me not to speak unless I was spoken to. A few weeks went by and I began to prepare for my trip to New York City the Hip Hop Capital of the world. As time got closer I received even better news. Lenny S would be in Atlanta and Mr. Bernard asked me if I can make it there for my meeting instead. I told him yes. I was ecstatic because Atlanta was a lot closer than New York. This meant I could save a lot more money, I felt as though God was on my side and nothing was going to stop me from being the first Mississippi artist for ROC NATION.
On the day of the audition I was a nervous but still confident, my brother and I rented a car from Enterprise and started on our way to Atlanta Ga, the meeting was at 11:30pm. On our way there, we talked about how we were about to blow up, we talked about all the money we would see and how much better life was about to be. When we finally got to the studio, I was greeted by Mr. Bernard. I was excited to see him and he instructed me where to wait and he was going to call me when Lenny S was ready. Although the meeting was supposed to start at 11:30pm, we waited until about 12:35am. While I was waiting I became anxious, and nervous but my brother helped me to remain calm. Finally, they called my name and I walked into the room. There he was Mr. Lenny Santiago, He stood up with a great big smile and shook my hand. I thought to myself its really him, I can’t believe this, here is the man who worked on all of Jay Z’s albums and was affiliated with Def Jam. In my mind I said to myself this is it, I am here, I have arrived!
Lenny S asked me what was I hoping to accomplish? I said I want to be apart of the Roc Nation Roster. I gave him all the reasons as to why I would be a good fit just like I practiced in my elevator pitch. He said that’s great and proceeded to ask for my music, he popped the cd in and said “let’s see what you got!”
Mr. Bernard reminded me not to talk unless I had been spoken to and I did as I was told. I thought Lenny S was a cool guy. He was down to earth, polite, and spoke to me with the utmost respect. He played they entire demo, track 1-5 and did not skip one song. Mr. Bernard whispered to me that being that he did not skip anything it was a great sign that he liked my work. Once the demo was finished, Lenny S told me that I had the potential to be a great lyricist. Also complimented me on my ideas of the songs and my flow. He said my music sounded polished and my lyrics sounded rehearsed and crisp. However, he also pointed out that I should simplify my hooks, he told me they were not simple enough. He explained to me that today’s rap fans enjoy simplicity. After giving me a few more pointers, he then gave me an email address and a number, he asked me to continue to send him more music. After asking me if I had any questions I politely said no, we shook hands he took my music and we went our separate ways. I went home and began to send him more music and call the number but to no avail. Months went by and I continued to send him more tracks however I never got a response. I began to feel angry, and a part of me was discouraged.
After some time of thinking, I realized I should take the advice he gave me and continue to work as hard as I can to get my music to the world. I learned so much in that short period of time. I learned about persistence, perseverance, and a reminder that I should never quit because I am talented and determined. I also thought about Jay-Z’s story and how he was turned down by EVERY LABEL. Then I reflected on J. Cole’s Story. I thought about how Cole tried to give Jay Z a demo of his music but was denied. Then he triumphantly won a spot on the Roc some time later. I am grateful for Mr. Lenny S and him giving me his time, and his advice on music. I took his secret jewels and began to apply them to my latest album The Game’s Best Kept Secret. I am appreciative for the advice he gave me for success.
Although I did not land a spot on the ROC NATION roster I knew I could not give up. I am so determined to roc this nation through my music, and feel blessed to put out my art independently. If you want to experience my latest body of work click here for The Game’s Best Kept Secret.
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