Sydnee Smith, Reporter
Leshawn Jones is an up and coming rapper in his second year at Pierce College Puyallup. Leshawn came to Pierce College because of the schools audio production program. Originally born in Tacoma, Leshawn moved to Lakewood when he was 4 and lived there for two years. After that he moved to Stellacom, back to Tacoma and finally to Puyallup. Leshawn’s mother wanted to provide a better environment, away from violence and gang activity.
“Ever since I came to Puyallup I went on a better track cause from where I was starting I was honestly on a track to not really go anywhere with life,” Leshawn said. “I was a dreamer as a kid but people didn’t influence me in a positive way so they made me feel like my dreams were worth nothing and so that’s how I felt and so coming from nothing you can’t really gain too much, you can only learn from it.”
Leshawn credits the way he is now to having lived in those areas and sees it as a good thing because without those experiences he wouldn’t be where he is now.
After Pierce Leshawn doesn’t know if he wants to continue going to college. For Leshawn, it’s hard even being in college sometimes because a music career doesn’t necessarily require a degree. He thinks he’ll finish out his AA and go onto pursue his music career.
“Music is the only thing I can think about,” Leshawn said. “When I’m sitting in class I’m thinking about the song that I just recorded and I’m thinking about ways that I can make it better or thinking about new songs that I can record. It’s hard for me to stay focused in class because I’m constantly thinking about what I can be doing with music outside of class.”
Leshawn keeps his own name as his rap name, Leshawn Jones. It’s something no one can take from him. He originally wanted to go with Young L, but if googled that someone else comes up. ‘Leshawn Jones’ is something that is him, anyone can just look his name up and find his music right away.
“When you make music a lot of it is kind of like a blanket theory for other people to be able to connect to, even if it’s your personal experience,” Leshawn said. “You got to give it to other people to relate to, so when I get to use my name I get to keep it personal myself.”
Everything started with Leshawn and his friend Nick. In fifth grade, Nick introduced Leshawn to T.I. and his first real love of rap music began. Thus began Leshawn and Nick’s introduction to writing and recording.
“Nick’s mom got this little tape recorder so we set that up, found a beat on youtube, we put the little mic there, we have the beat playing and we just rap into it and then we’d play it back and we’d feel so cool cause we’re all ‘oh we just made a song’,” Leshawn said. “It was the worst quality. Being able to do that just by ourselves was awesome because it gave you that hope, like we always thought as 12 year olds, ‘yeah we’re gonna be famous by like 14.’ It always kept that hope alive.”
Although music was always important, that desire kind of fell off the tracks in junior high. In 9th grade, he attended Couch Tour-that’s when he saw Lil Snupe. Lil Snupe changed Leshawn’s entire perspective. Lil Snupe inspired Leshawn to freestyle and that’s when he started wanting to make music professionally. According to Leshawn, Lil Snupe didn’t care what anyone else was saying, he believed in himself and that’s what Leshawn wanted to do as well. During his sophomore and junior year of high school Leshawn’s drive slightly deplenished. He recorded but didn’t seek the drive like he does today. Leshawn started to heavily pursue music in his senior year of high school. He credits T.I. and Lil Snupe for making him want to pursue rap and be a dream chaser.
Leshawn speaks about how a lot of schools diminish the arts. They tell students that isn’t how someone is going to make money and support themselves. It kinda puts a stick in kids hearts. It makes kids believe they can’t really accomplish their dreams.
“I tell myself you’re gonna be a rapper and it doesn’t matter how much your making you don’t have to make billions of dollars as long as you’re doing what you love, you’re waking up everyday doing what you love, that’s the biggest part and, you know, I’d rather live off a salary that provides me a studio apartment and food on the table but I’m still able to get up and go to the studio and hit the stages and see people there for me,” Leshawn said.“A career is something that you wanna wake up and do every day for the rest of your life, that’s what a career is and a job is just something that you have to do. That’s why I want music to be my career.”
He spoke on how it’s hard when he sees 17 year olds who are really becoming something. He is close to the same age, being 19, but he get a fraction of the listens they do. When he think what hes making is amazing but it’s not getting the attention someone else’s stuff, who he doesn’t think is as good, it’s hard. It can really affect confidence levels. Those situations of seeing everyone move around oneself will either push that person forward or make them fall.
If Leshawn couldn’t sing he would want to act. In his senior year in high school he acted in ‘Hairspray the Musical’ as the character Seaweed. He spoke about how that inspired his love singing too. If he can strengthen his singing voice he can use that in his music more. He is also apart of the concert choir at Pierce.
He sports a tattoo behind his ear: a music note with wings. Leshawn said some of his friends thought such a visible tattoo, on the neck, wasn’t a smart choice. But Leshawn never let that stop him because, to him, it shows people he’s a man of music. He is a man with the dream and passion for music. One day he hopes to grow the tattoo by adding feathers that go down the back of his neck and onto his shoulder with the quote, “May your dreams give you wings.” He is trying to take this dream and turn it into a reality.
“When people see it, I want them to know music is always on my mind, that I’m a man of creativity,” Leshawn stated. “When people see the wings they realize I’m trying to take flight with what I wanna do.”
Leshawn described his desire to perform. Music is the one thing where he can truly be himself. Nothing is fake, music drives him to be the most genuine person he can be. If the artist speak truth in their music they’ll try to live as truthfully as possible as well. If it wasn’t for music, Leshawn wouldn’t even have a drive to go get into his car. It’s like a gift no one can take away from him.
“I always imagine it’s pitch black, I got a platform underneath me and I’m getting raised up with a mic in my hand or my ear and when I look up and it’s just a stadium full of people,” Leshawn said. “If I ever had that opportunity, I’d probably like break down or cry cause that’s something that I picture. It’s so powerful, everyone is waiting for you.”
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