Meet Andrew Davis, a stone cold rapper with a warm heart.
Son of Houston rap legend Big Mello, The Aspiring Me is destined for greatness. There is no denying that Davis is deeply invested in his art. Claiming he would take death if he couldn’t have rap, the rapper faced a fear of anacondas and roamed the New York streets for 17 hours during the production of his latest video “Not Today”.
His spur-of-the-moment production captures moments from Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade. Not only is the rapper writing and recording lyrics in real time, but the people, the NYPD vehicle, and even the anaconda are all real and totally random. The rapper admits that he endured swollen feet for a month after his ordeal. But, when he remembers the experience, he can’t help but smile.
This past weekend, The Aspiring Me gave us a look into his aspiring mind. The rapper opens up about his father, his artistic journey and his views on the Houston music scene.
Tobechi: Why did you choose the name?
The Aspiring Me: It’s always been my website’s name, and it was the name of my first EP.
It all spawns from not wanting to be my dad’s shadow…
Back in high school, I was going by Lil Mello. I would play my music for people – specifically people that my dad knew – and they would be like, “Man, this is tight! But it’s not really that Mello…”
After receiving that so many times, I wanted to have my own identity. My name is Andrew Davon Davis, so I decided to start going by the moniker A.D.D. I started to build my brand with A.D.D., and put out a project in 2010 (The Aspiring Me – EP). The project got the ball rolling really hard, and I got picked to play SxSW 2011. I was getting ready to play SxSW, and right before I get out there, they send me an email like: Yo… we’re going to have to take you off the show. There’s another group in Dallas named A.Dd+, and they have a larger buzz than you right now.
It’s whatever though. I know both of those guys. They’re pretty fucking talented. Their album When Pigs Fly is the shit! At that time, they did have a larger buzz than I had, and we were booked to play the same showcase. It was a Texas showcase put on by Matt Sonzala.
Matt was like, “Yeah man… you’re gonna have to change your name…”
So me, Matt Sonzala, Lord Hightower, and Fat Tony we all sat down. That’s like my counsel group. We’re at the studio, and we’re thinking of names.
I thought: The Aspire A.D.D…
Then I thought, my website has always been The Aspiring Me, and it’s already the name of my first project. I could just go under that moniker. People would still recognize it as part of something I’ve done. And I think it tells my story better than the name “A.D.D.” does.
T: I’m sure since your father was a rapper he had some sort of influence on you.
TAME: Oh yes.
My dad is my BIGGEST influence.
I mean… he is who I get my talent from. Him and the higher power – that’s where I get my talent from. All of the stuff that he did with music is kind of similar to what I’m doing. It’s just that the times are different, and the oppressions are different. Not really that different, but I don’t know… Maybe with the internet, shit gets brought to light more.
He came up in a time that was like… Reaganomics. And I come up in a Joshua Age. There’s a difference between hustling just to make a living and living to claim a greater purpose – which is what the Joshua Generation is. It is us saying, “This is ours, and this is what we are going to do with it.” I’m a part of that generation, and my music likes to reflect it as well.
T: Other than your dad, who else influenced you?
TAME: Man! Anyone that made good music! That’s a very broad question, and it’s hard to narrow it down. Since my dad was a musician, and played all types of shit, I’m influenced by so many things… Like…
When I was in high school, I started getting influenced by Kanye West a lot. Then I started listening to alternative music, because of the lanes Kanye opened up working with different artists.
My dad died in 2002. After that, we moved to another side of Missouri City. It was a little more diverse, and I got to listen to what my friends out there were listening to. I picked up on alternative music and The Neptunes… Kanye was just global. Kanye just broke the doors down. People were catching Kanye anywhere!
T: I love Kanye! College Dropout is one of my favorite albums!
T: Wow! I didn’t know that!
TAME: Yep. He went from working with the Geto Boys in the late ‘80s, to working with my dad for Wegonefunkwichamind. That’s when he started like producing and stuff… From there he went on to touring with Scarface and that’s how he linked up with Kanye.
T: If you couldn’t be a rapper, what would you be?
T: Tell me something about you, that no one knows yet.
TAME: I’ve finished recording my 2nd album OK, Whatever. I just don’t know when it’s going to come out yet, and…
I’m moving back to New York.
T: I love doing this with friends and people I have just met. Name the songs you can’t stop listening to right now.
Travis Scott’s “Oh My Dis Side”
Travis Scott’s “Maria I’m Drunk”
Frank Ocean’s nostalgia, ULTRA – EP
Big Pun’s “Still Not A Player”
21 Savage’s “Slaughter ya Daughter”
There’s a whole lot of other songs… It’s a lot of stuff!
The Aspiring Me "Everytime"
T: What do you want your music to do for people? What’s your overall message?
TAME: I wouldn’t say it’s an overall message. It’s a life-long art exhibit.
I don’t want to be the person to tell you what you should do, what you shouldn’t do… I’m not a rapper that will preach to you. I’m definitely not trying to be a role model. That doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to being a leader, but I guess, at the beginning of the day, I just want to tell my stories and share my experiences. I believe that if you want to change the world, you’ve got to examine yourself.
I just want people to understand that they can really be themselves, and still be successful by being themselves.
You’ve got to be brave enough to put yourself on the chopping block.
With my music comes so much vulnerability… stuff others might not be willing to expose, but it gives me a chance to examine myself. I don’t want anybody to feel alienated or to feel like what they’re dealing with is bigger or smaller than what I’m dealing with.
T: You’re moving back to New York. Is this your way of branching out? Do you think an artist can make it by living solely in Houston, TX?
TAME: There is a fucking world out here! It’s a whole world out here! Houston will always be home, but I do feel it will take a long time before an artist such as myself will properly be able to make it here first, and then leave. Even artists like my homeboy Travis Scott. He had to leave and come back. And he just dropped his debut album Rodeo, but how many Houston outlets do you see talking about it. I’m looking at radio, even press… I’m looking at it top-down. Like even with me…
There’s certain venues that I can’t play. Certain venues that… before the ownership changed, I could perform anytime I wanted to. It kind of seems like this is the scene for a young Black person:
If you aren’t on some Afrocentric, young-Black-shit, there’s really nothing for you to do…
Even though the turn-up is an extreme vibe, when me and my friends turn-up, we aren’t on some dangerous shit. I’ve never played a show where my friends or somebody else pulled out a gun, or a show where a big ass fight broke out. You know what I mean?
But venues down here don’t like the young-Black-turn-up crowd. My friend’s night is about to end, because he has too many Black people coming to his night. They do love Black business, because we’re the consumers. That’s why certain nights have a “Black Night”. It’s why Avant has Wednesdays. If that wasn’t the case, I would be able to come in anytime, but anytime I try to book a show at that place [AvantGarden], they’re like: Hey! We want you to do it on Wednesday. What if I want to do it on Tuesday? Nope. They’re like: No we don’t think our crowd would like it…
So you just want to stick me with the Black crowd? What if I want to diversify my market? Are you telling me, you won’t give me the chance to do that? You just want me to perform in front of what you think is ideal for me. People have right to that I guess.
It’s their business, but at the same time… That’s low-key racist.
Especially when venues have a “Black” night, and it’s known widely that this is the “Black” night.
It’s not just Avant. Its other places. Places like The Alley Kat… they booked me for a show, then a week before the show, they cancel it. Places like The Commoner downtown. It’s a really cool spot, but they don’t let any Black DJs spin upstairs. The Black DJs that are there, only spin house music. I’ve been throwing my own shows since 2008. It just seems like… to get the vibe that I want, I have to throw my own shit.
T: And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
TAME: Well, there’s something wrong with it when you’re trying to advance your artistry, because you don’t want to be a promoter. Like…
I don’t want to be a promoter. I’m trying to advance my art.
New York’s lifestyle just fits my lifestyle. It’s a 24-hour city. I stayed up 17 hours shooting “Not Today.” In Houston… I wouldn’t be able to do that with no one down here.
I have friends who disagree, but I feel like they’re saying that because they’re on an Afrocentric vibe, and it caters to you. That’s awesome, but it’s really weird because,
I don’t want to see the entire young-Black culture in the city become Afrocentric.
I don’t want to walk into a venue where every Black person in the crowd is Afrocentric, and the venue’s playing bombada-type music.
T: I agree. There are different shades of being Black, White, Latino, and so on. If everyone is Afrocentric… everyone’s the same.
TAME: Yes! Let me just put it like this: There’s a lot of Erykah Ba-dont’s around here. And I love Erykah Badu, but DAMN. Even at AfroPunk Fest – everyone looked the same! It would have been cool to see an Afro-Studies professor from a prestigious HBCU come and talk about the meaning or something. I don’t know… They might not be aware of it, but it just seems like… they’re selling a lifestyle.
T: So what is your favorite thing about our city?
TAME: The food! And whenever my friend Tony and I are in town at the same time.
T: Any local artists you would love to shout out?
TAME: Shout out to Fat Tony.
Shout out to Flyger Woods.