I don't have a lot of memories from my childhood, but the ones that I do have are tied to music. I vaguely remember my mom bouncing me on her knee to different rhythms. I remember playing with action figures in my room and my brother blaring Snoop Dogg. I couldn't even really make out the words, I mainly felt the bass. No matter what was going on in my life, as a kid and even into adulthood, music was always with me.
I think as an artist, the biggest thing you have to ask yourself is, why? Why do I make music? Why should people care? As I get further in my career, I realize how important your "why" is. When things get difficult, when I'm not selling out shows, when I get stuck on a lyric I'm writing or something like that, thinking about my "why" is what pushes me past the "how". It's easy to get lost in the "how". How do I do this? How do I do that? The quickest way to get back into production mode I have found, is reflecting on my "why".
I remember my first CD. It was Ludacris' first commercial album "Back for the First Time". I thought he was very lyrical and witty with his lines, but was also humorous. I was able to really relate to that. I started listening to Biggie, Red Man, Method Man, and all of those artists fed me a little something different. The more Hip-Hop I listened to, the more their lyrics stood out to me. Back then, a lot of rappers prided themselves on their lyricism; they all seemed to have that in common.
Fast forward to high school, a bunch of friends and I put together a studio in a closet. We had bad equipment and a bad software, but we did the best we could with it. When I first started out, I mainly focused on lyrics. Around that time, Soulja Boi, MIMS, D4L and artists like that came out. Nas dropped an album called "Hip-Hop is Dead", and among the newcomers that started to come out was a artist named Lupe Fiasco. It was mainly him and his complexity alongside what I thought was mediocrity that really made me want to hone in on my craft.
When I got to college I was a much better lyricist, but I was only making music on the side for fun. That was until I met one of my best friends, who I'm still close to today. At this point he was just a random guy in my dorm, and I was the random guy who just wrote what I thought was my best verse ever. I was walking around spitting my verse to people and he was one of the people I let hear it. He told me it was dope, but more importantly he helped me see how it was a gift.
See I never sold drugs, never went to prison, and never killed anyone, but that was what most rappers talked about. When I got to the point to where I actually shared my experiences and outlook on the world, I started to see how my music impacted people. I started to see how the talent I had really was a gift. The more shows I did and the more songs I wrote, the more the gift manifested itself.
At the time I was kind of between monikers. I went by Roc Wiler, RossBoss, and was still finding myself. Eventually, seemingly out of nowhere, MIRAAGE came to me. More importantly it made sense. As I was doing shows and stuff I saw how people maybe took me at face value at first, another rapper, but as the content penetrated their minds, I started to see how the music had a deeper impact. Just like a mirage. In the desert, a mirage is when somebody thinks they see one thing but once they get up close, they realize it's something different. That's a lot like my impact as an artist.
My "why" developed. The "why" that pushes me forward now is different from what it started as. For a long time my "why" wasn't strong enough. When it isn't strong enough, you get stuck. It's very simple now though. My "why" is YOU. The positive impact I have on you, and all of us enjoying a good time in the process. That's why I do this.