There was a time when Atlanta stood as the voice of reason within Southern hip-hop. Sandwiched between Miami’s booty-shake and Memphis’ penchant for pimping and pandering, our city found a way to reconcile carnality and the quest for higher consciousness. Like Dungeon Family stalwart Goodie Mob did before him, Stanza seems poised to bring up the rear. As his 2006 debut Name This Album proved, he represents the side of the streets seldom heard from nowadays — the street smart side.
— Rodney Carmichael
You know, I heard L.L. Cool J and Run-D.M.C. ’cause it was there. But I was young then, I was trying to go outside and play. But my first introduction to hip-hop was when my cousin had 8Ball & MJG’s Comin’ Out Hard — when they still had the [Jheri] curls on the cover. That’s back when cats were dubbing tapes. A cat had a white dub tape. I think my cousin Monica stole it from my other cousin Ooh Wee. She stole it from him, and I stole it from both of them. But I used to play it once I got a hold of the tape. And I remember sitting in front of the stereo, just looking at the stereo, listening to it. And something about it caught me, I can’t explain to this day what about it actually caught me but that was my introduction to hip-hop.
After that, I started writing poetry. Literature class, English class — you know how you have that little poetry section. It intrigued me. Iambic pentameter is the best thing ever. Cats don’t use it to this day. That’s a jewel; I drop it. As far as poetry, that was a way of getting things across that were going on in my life. As a young cat, I just wrote poetry. I was writing haikus and I didn’t even know what they were. You know, you write a quick sentence, boom, that says everything and you’re done. That’s a haiku.
I was still playing football and I got into selling drugs. It wasn’t a big thing. I wasn’t the big dude on the block, just under the radar doing something I saw. But that was an outlet. Selling dope, it was an outlet. But then I started getting into the music more and I started studying.
I met DJ Teknology in college. He was 16 — a genius. He came to Clayton State and I used to be president of SLAC, a student organization on campus. I saw him outside making beats and said, “Hey, come be a part of SLAC.” Then I saw him in the office making beats. One day he let me listen to this beat. Oh my God! So we got together and Name This Album was born.