Music is my life. I love making music and beats.
I’ve been beat boxing for crowds since I was a kid. For me, something special happens when sounds come together. But most people don’t know that there's a story behind my sounds.
Growing up, I never talked about my stuttering. It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember, especially when I was younger. It’s important for you to know a little about that era, because that was when my musical journey began.
When I would try to say words as a kid, funny sounds would come out. I'd always get caught up on the first letter and could never push the full word out of my mouth. My teachers and parents supported and encouraged me, but I just couldn't figure it all out.
I remember running into my bedroom closet crying and squeezing my throat to try and force the words out. It felt like no one understood what I was going through.
Eventually I took these funny sounds and turned them into beats and patterns, which helped me understand sentence structure. Once I found that internal rhythm, I realized that I had true talent within my struggle — beatboxing.
By the time I was in middle school, I was banging on the school desks and kicking beats while other kids would rap and make songs over them. The struggle was still there, but people started to learn more about my talent.
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan with my parents and two older brothers. My house was the gathering spot for friends and family — the grill was always smoking, people were always over and music was always playing. My eldest brother, Nabil, was a producer and DJ. Every night, musicians, singers, and rappers would come down to his basement music studio and record. It was amazing to see different musicians collaborating and the process mesmerized me. Being around that environment gave me a peek into what it might look like to have a career in music.
Also my brother DJ’d at events all across the Detroit area. When I was younger, my brother would have me lug his record crates to the events. In the music business, that was basically the entry-level position. During my brothers’ gigs, I would always hide out behind the DJ booth — plotting ways that I could get on the mic. One lucky Saturday night at a rooftop club in Detroit, my brother was switching records and handed me the mic to kill time between sets. I was nervous, but once the first sound came out on that mic, I was totally in my element. My beats came out and the crowd instantly reacted. My hidden talent was well received.
From that point forward, I put all of my time into music. I would practice my speaking routines and go into the basement studio to practice my beats. As I kept growing and developing, friends started signing me up for talent shows, inviting me to perform at their parties, and hounding me to beatbox everywhere I went. Although I still stuttered, my talent outshined my speaking struggles.
Over the years, I’ve recorded music, collaborated with hundreds of artists across the world, and have performed in every space with a mic — from dive bars to arenas. Most recently, I've challenged myself to do a project called year of beatbox- where I record and publish a beatboxing video everyday. Through these experiences, I’ve learned such valuable lessons along the way.
The most important lesson I have learned is to believe in yourself. As cliché as that sounds, there is so much truth to it and it cannot be more simply said. You can be the smartest person in the room, but the second you start to stutter, people look down on you and it can be debilitating. There’s nothing worse than knowing in your mind what you want to say, and not being able to say it. With my talent, it has made all of the same people who doubted me now beg me to let them know when my next show is. I used music as a tool to change these people’s perspectives on the way they view stutterers.
I still stutter, but that's become a smaller part of my story. The silver lining is what came out of it. Sometimes our challenges create dreams...dreams we would have never known otherwise. While fighting to speak, I discovered that I could beatbox. Since that moment, I dreamt of becoming a professional musician. Today, I’m proud to say that I am a musician and my music is what defines me. Don’t let stuttering define you. Believe in yourself and embrace what you want to be known for. Own it and be the best you can at whatever you love. Let that be who you are. I am a beat boxer musician. Who are you?