From the Kid in the Back of the Studio to Solo Success: Demrick on the Real Grind

The real grind—the one you don’t see on social media—is not aspiring to achieve overnight success in hopes of showcasing your craft.
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My name is Demrick. On Friday, July 13, I will release my third solo album, Came a Long Way. Like the title of the album suggests, I have indeed come a long way. This is my story.

In today’s world, we’re accustomed to the instant come up, the overnight success. We’re living in the Swipe Up, Link in Bio, Stream Now Generation. There’s this raw, unmanicured energy flowing around that makes fame and success seem so accessible. It’s like anyone can become your next favorite rapper—literally, anyone.

Malcolm Gladwell once said it takes 10,000 hours to perfect your craft, but, nowadays, it seems like all you need is 10,000 reposts. Don’t get me wrong, all praise due to those who come up quickly, but I’m here to tell you it’s not always like that.

Let’s take it back to the beginning. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Spokane, Washington. It was just me and my mom. My father was locked up early on in my life and rapping became my escape. It was my way of dealing with that loss. I would rap at school in between classes or in the cafeteria at lunch. I was always looking for ways to entertain my friends and grab respect from my peers.

My mom moved us around a lot, but we eventually planted roots in a project in North Philly, which is where I really came into my own as a rapper. I started hustling too, but I don’t like to glorify that chapter of my story. It might sound cliché, but that life cost me a lot of friends. I saw so many smart homies get locked up; guys with charisma and charm became fiends and lost everything. I knew that I deserved more than that and that music was my way out.

Philly is where I truly experienced hip-hop. Growing up in Washington, I was removed from the culture that existed in Philly. Instantly, I was drawn to and inspired by the other artists around me. In 2007, when I was just 20 years old, I joined a rap group (Tangled Thoughts) that caught the eye and ear of legendary West Coast emcee Kurupt. He brought us out to Los Angeles, signed us to a small record deal, and independently released our one and only album, Kurupt Presents Tangled Thoughts: Philly 2 Cali.

Shortly after relocating, I met Cypress Hill frontman B-Real, who let me tag along in studio sessions. I’d always sit in the very back corner of his studio, biding my time for just the right moment to storm the recording booth. My patience was rewarded when I landed four guest features on B-Real’s 2009 album, Smoke N Mirrors, so I’d say it was all worth it.

After the album’s release, B-Real asked me to be his hype man. I toured all over the world, performing for crowds of up to 30,000 people every night. It was wild. Soon thereafter, I started working with Xzibit, bouncing between the studio and the road as a hype man. If someone needed me, I was there. In 2013, B-Real and Xzibit approached me about forming a three-man group named Serial Killers. It was like everything came full-circle. I started off as the young homie looking for a moment to shine and in four years time, I became their peer.

After the release of our debut, Serial Killers Vol. 1, I graduated from hype man to frontman. I landed my first solo independent record deal, began working with producers DJ Hoppa and Scoop Deville, and teamed up with Dizzy Wright for several joint albums. I even secured the opportunity to create my own cannabis strain, Stoney Point. It wasn’t without struggle, but after four long years of nonstop travel and learning to believe in myself, I finally came into my own as a solo artist.

Looking back at my journey over the past 11 years, I consider myself fortunate to be able to create in a genre that recognizes the power and impact of the co-sign. Just look at other art forms and genres—you don’t see rock artists putting on for the next generation. One day I was in Philly and dreaming of a big break, and before I knew it, I was freestyling for Dr. Dre in the kitchen of his Los Angeles estate with Xzibit.

I went from the kid in the back of the studio to recording features to being a hype man to locking down my own solo career. I was willing to do whatever it took. I learned that the real grind—the one you don’t see on social media—is not aspiring to achieve overnight success in hopes of showcasing your craft. People forget about your losses, but they always remember the times you win. You can win the game or you can win a championship, the choice is yours.

I came a long way. You can, too.

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