“Music Is All I Have in This Life”: A Guest Editorial by Dallas Rapper SADFACETHUGGIN

SADFACETHUGGIN grew up poor in Abilene, Texas. When his family moved to the Dallas area, he knew he had to change to make something of himself—or else.
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My name is Marcus Denman II, also known as SADFACETHUGGIN. I was born and raised in a small West Texas city named Abilene, about two and a half hours west of Dallas. Around the age of four, I attended church services at Holiday Hills Baptist Church, where my grandfather was a deacon. The church was in a low-income neighborhood and was a predominantly black congregation. As a small kid, I couldn’t see over the pews, and so I’d run and join my grandfather in the front row, directly in front of the pianist and choir. The church is where I received my introduction and enlightenment to music.

The choir was big, powerful, angelic, and the music was great. I began to take notice of how much the music moved me, and before you know it, I was joining the congregation in singing. I didn’t quite understand what everything meant, but I knew there was something special in the lyrics that had me in my feelings. When I was 10, my grandfather passed. To cope with his passing, I found comfort and peace in music. Unfortunately, his death also began a chain reaction of acting out at home and school.

Growing up in Abilene, we were very poor. There was a lack of opportunities. My parents wanted more for our family; they wanted to remove me from this environment, where there were seemingly only two options: I would either end up dead or in jail. Six months after my grandfather’s passing, we relocated to the Dallas area.

The transition from Abilene to Dallas was rough for not only me but my family. In the city, my parents worked harder than ever before, from sun up to sundown. Their work schedule left me in an unfamiliar, almost vulnerable situation.

Being introduced to a larger city with new influences, more freedom and flexibility, I lost direction. From sixth grade to 12th grade, I bounced around from school to school. One expulsion followed another expulsion. I got caught up in a volatile, violent, and destructive lifestyle. Fighting, robbing, and selling stolen items became my new norm; I’d completely done a 180 from my early years in Abilene on that pew with my grandfather.

Senior year, my last expulsion, I hit rock bottom. Having realized I only had three of the required 24 credits needed to graduate, I knew I was going to drop out. That decision was confirmed when a judge echoed the same sentiment. At that point in my life, one foot was in music and the other in the streets.

At 16 years old, I discovered SoundCloud and Audiomack and began to release music to the public. I knew I could make great music, but I was still trying to find my sound and my place in the local music scene. Unfortunately, without structure and guidance, this led to making music that was “for the time” but not “timeless.”

Eventually, I began searching for opportunities to perform, but I learned a lot of the local promoters were focused on money and not the music, and wanted me to buy my way onto the show bills. In one instance, a promoter said he would put me on a show but gave me 24 hours to come up with $300.

Without a dollar in my pocket but fueled by Adderall, I took my pops’ lawnmower and began walking through the neighborhood at 7 in the morning. Any yard that looked remotely unkempt, I walked up to the front door and offered to mow their lawn on the cheap.

After mowing 15 yards in about eight hours, I had the $300 and my FIRST show! But it wasn’t really about that show. I was able to answer my own question: “How bad do I want this?”

That Saturday night was my first performance. I met most of the buzzing youth in the local Dallas scene. Several artists and producers came up to me after my set, and they all wanted to work with me. I didn’t necessarily know why, but they saw something in me and my music I hadn’t quite seen yet. I was still trying to find myself and sound, but I knew music was the only thing that made me feel like somebody.

That day forward, I had multiple promoters reaching out to me. I linked up with a company called Aeronotiqz; they booked me to open on a few of their shows. Within months, I was headlining their shows. As my fanbase and buzz began to build quickly on a local scale, I landed on the radar of Intelligent Grind, one of the biggest concert/tour promotors in Texas. The shows with Intelligent Grind provided me opportunities to open for Lil Mosey and Smooky MarGielaa.

Just before my 18th birthday, I received my most significant break yet. The owner and founder of Intelligent Grind, Cody Collins, introduced me to his cousin, Calvin Collins, a music industry veteran.

Within a few weeks, Pitch Black The Label was founded by Calvin and Cody, and they signed me as their first artist. They communicated to me that I had the potential to be a superstar, but several things personally would need to change. I would need to develop a more consistent sound and branding and commit fully to my music career. I had come too far to quit, so I committed.

In August 2018, I released my first single, “Fuck Luv,” which was premiered by Zane Lowe on Beats 1 radio. Lowe played the chorus back six times! We followed up the single release a few days later with my debut EP, SADFACE. The single and EP were received with critical acclaim and prompted support from many national publications. Things moved quickly. Within months we were taking major label meetings while still releasing new singles and projects.

Today, I am 19 years old and more focused than ever before. Over the past 17 months, we have released five projects and am currently working on a sixth, World Of SADFACE II, which will be my second LP. Each of the projects collectively has amassed millions of streams. I am comfortable with the realization that music is all I have in this life.

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