We all grew up together, all the young boys in Centreville. Most of us were aspiring to be athletes but ended up making music instead — not necessarily together, but alongside each other. In our final years of high school, we realized that we couldn’t all make a living off of basketball, and those of us who couldn’t had to move on to other things. So we strived to express ourselves in a different way, and for a lot of us, that expression was made through music.
We would play ball and hang out at the Centreville Community Centre. It was a place where we could express ourselves through writing and freestyling out by the basketball court. The street lights would turn off at around 11:30 every night, and that's when we were supposed to go home. I remember staying out long after the lights were off, freestyling together at the basketball court or the playground. For us, that was our creative expression. It was a fun atmosphere, but we still tried hard to one-up each other.
We saw these stories of young men who get scholarships to prominent schools and are sent off to play pro sports. But rarely did we hear a story of a young man making it in hip hop. There’s no scholarship for that, it’s not a talent that schools or mentors really touch on, or advocate for. So it’s difficult as a young man to make the leap from passion to project.
Centreville is important to hip-hop culture because a lot of local artists come here from the surrounding blocks, like Chandler, Activa, or Greenfield. Once a year, they would all gather at the CV Classic basketball tournament. Besides being a chance to win some prize money, that was our opportunity to showcase our talent and prominence to the community.
Lots of local artists use Centreville like a stage, to shoot music video scenes and other media. Centreville is a community where we were all able to find ourselves. Growing from young boys to men, Centreville helped us find that balance between two things we all loved — basketball and hip hop.