"Not many of us will cure any diseases or slay any dragons, but every single one of us, every single one of us, is called to be a king or a queen, a hero in our ordinary lives. We don't build statues to worship the exceptional life, we build them to remind us of what is possible in our own."
These lyrics come from the song "Interlude", track five on sophomores Nicholas Warmington and Jesse Douglas' debut CD, Young Jay, First Impression. The album, which was released on Feb. 24, is a product of their own music company, Under Age Productions.
Under Age Productions was created one day last semester while Warmington and Douglas were discussing their mutual love for music. Warmington had been rapping for some time, and Douglas has been an avid song writer for over two years. The two decided to combine their talents and start their own record business.
Both Warmington and Douglas were exposed to music from an early age, finding themselves influenced by family members, heritage and pop culture. Douglas' inspiration came from his father and brother, who both played music and wrote songs. Also, Douglas, who was born in Jamaica, has been influenced many times by his country's reggae culture.
Warmington too was inspired by members of his family and rappers he admired. "When I was small, my dad would play music for me, but hip-hop really started it," says Warmington. Grandmaster Slash, Biggy and Tupac were all role models for him, and Puff Daddy, says Warmington, "was like the mentor I've never met."
Despite their admiration for popular artists, Warmington and Douglas rap to their own beat. "I respect rappers for what they're doing, making money and all, but many have let the industry get them," says Warmington. "They are only rapping about what the people want to hear."
With expressive lyrics and a smooth, hip-hop beat, Young Jay, First Impression sends the message to all listeners that being unique is acceptable.. The album features ten original songs that reflect the "life experiences" of the boys and the messages they want to share. The feature song, "First Impression", intertwines a fast-paced, pulsating, foot-tapping tempo of drums and guitar, overlapped by a light piano and a mystical wind instrument, giving the song a deep and almost spiritual touch.
"Their music is different," describes sophomore David Joseph, a long-time friend of both Warmington and Douglas. "Most people rap about clubs, drinking and big butts, but their songs are calm and have more feeling. They are lyrically advanced."
The song "Last Supper" describes their desire to write original lyrics while attempting to revive the more "old-school" style of music. "I'm the first thus I should be the last one between me and resurrecting hip-hop...sun, stars, moon, earth-it's the lyrical eclipse."
Starting a record company is a strenuous and costly enterprise. Both Warmington and Douglas found it difficult to manage schoolwork, play junior varsity basketball and make enough money to start the business. The boys were almost completely self sufficient in creating Under Age Productions and producing their first album. Warmington works at a music store, so he was able to get a discount price on blank CDs and cases, and they hired a CD designer to create the cover art for them. The night before the album debuted, both boys stayed late at Kinko's doing all the printing for the CD covers.
Despite all the time and effort they put into Under Age Productions, Warmington and Douglas say that many people doubted their ability to pull it off. "My parents didn't think I could handle it," says Douglas. "But that just made me work harder."
Under Age Productions has already planned to sign with other rappers at Blair and a few at Springbrook, including Ice Burg and Frank Dog. After all the time they've invested in the record business, neither Warmington or Douglas plans to abandon their project after graduating. "I want to continue with the company while I'm in college. I think I can do both," explains Warmington. "Right now we're just testing the water."
Warmington and Douglas will be selling their album during school for $7.
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