Courtesy of High Level Image
Fifteen minutes to shine was all that I could think about as I waited anxiously for the microphone to perform the biggest show of my rap career.
I’ve played in plenty of football games, given speeches and sang a solo for the choir at my high school, but no kind of nerves amounted to this. I was opening up for Twista, a rap icon I’ve looked up to since I was a kid.
Twista’s album was one of the first CDs I ever owned. I remember myself as a 12-year-old, walking down the aisles of Wal-Mart with my mom, a Walkman in one hand, the newly purchased Twista “Kamikaze” album in the other. With my headphones plopped on my head, I would mouth the words to his songs, thinking I was an actual rap star. I had the look on my face of a kid who just received a new toy. That’s the passion I had for rap.
Throughout high school, I always wrote lyrics and free-styled. I never started taking rap seriously as a career until about a year ago when I met DJ Mauly T, the producer/DJ/engineer for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Cleveland’s rap icons.
We really hit it off when we met. Mauly had heard my music before and really felt he could help my career out and develop me into a commercial artist. From that moment on, Mauly took me under his wing, and he had me in his studio the next day recording. After countless hours spent brainstorming ideas and recording, we eventually set out to do shows together.
Now the day was finally here, the biggest gig of my entire career.
“Smallz, you’re on in two minutes,” a Peabody’s stage worker said.
I could feel the sweat already dripping down my neck, and the heat inside the place finally start to take effect. As I stuck my head out through the curtain to get a glimpse of the crowd, I could see all of my college friends, along with my parents and a bunch of unfamiliar faces, waiting anxiously for me to make my appearance.
I could only think about how when that curtain was raised, every single eye in Peabody’s (a concert hall in Cleveland) would be looking at me, waiting to see what this 5-foot-8, Jewish boy who goes by the alias of “Smallz” was made of.
I kept telling myself, “You have nothing to lose Eric, you’re the man, no one can touch you, and this is your moment to shine.” As I said my final words of motivation, I braced myself for one of the most exciting, yet nerve-racking moments of my entire life. I took a deep breath, looked up toward the sky and said, “Here goes nothing.”
On the count of 3, 2, 1 the curtain raised up and the microphone was handed my way.
“Here he is ya’ll,” Mauly roared. “Smallz!”
As I walked onto the stage with my chest out, acting as confident as could be, I felt my spirits lift and kick the nerves away. People were going crazy, yelling my name and cheering for me. I felt relief as I went into my set.
I made my way across the stage trying to work the crowd as much as possible. I scanned the audience and saw them rapping and singing along with the choruses I belted out. I was connecting with them, as if they were all miniature versions of me, repeating back the lyrics like I used to do as a kid. They were actually singing my words.
Once I made it through my last song, I got a final roar of approval from the crowd, dropped the microphone and walked off. I was greeted by my friends and family. I gave them all a big hug of appreciation for coming out to see me and show support. I soaked in their words of praise, smiling from ear to ear, thinking to myself, “It’s only the beginning.”