By DAVID GREEN
Cody Long knows what he’s up against in his quest to become an accepted rap artist.
1. Small town.
2. White boy.
“Ha, ha. Let’s make fun of the white boy,” Long said. “I get discriminated against.”
“I had a low quality mic and the output was really bad quality,” Long said. “They made fun of me. I’ve had a lot of criticism over the past two years.”
He sees that changing. When he performed at Adrian’s L.A. Café in April—the Spring Jump-Off event for Runnin’ Records—he was the opening act and it turned out to be a much longer act than he originally planned.
“I totally rocked the place,” he said. “They knew this kid’s serious.”
In a small town where country and rock rule, Long ventured out into strange territory.
“I started something that nobody else was doing,” he said, “but I have more fans now. A lot of kids from Morenci are starting to listen to me.”
His development in the field has been aided by connections made through Tom Phipps, owner of Runnin’ Records. He’s helped Long connect with several rap artists from other parts of the country. Through his MySpace page, Long works with DJ Ant from Ft. Lauderdale, Young Money from North Carolina and others.
A recent song drew more than 2,000 hits in a month on MySpace. Long thinks that’s impressive for a Morenci kid, and his latest song is doing even better.
Rap songs are known for violent lyrics, often filled with sexually suggestive phrases. Long figures most rap artists don’t actually live the life they’re talking about.
“In real life I’m shy,” he said. “I don’t encourage kids to go out and do what I say. It’s entertainment. It’s something for fun, something to listen to. It doesn’t really relate to my life.”
Long faced a hurdle convincing his parents of that, but “I’ve got them into it now,” he said.
He sees rap as a means of self-expression.
“You write what’s on your mind down on paper,” the 16-year-old said. “Not everybody goes through drugs and lives in the ghetto. But everybody has troubles. That’s just part of life.”
But he tires of people telling him, “You’re not hood. You’re not black.”
“It doesn’t mean I’m trying to be something I’m not,” he said. “I’m just myself.”
Small-town white-boy rap isn’t a genre he’s developed, but maybe that will come later.
“I have 20 or 30 songs on the back burner,” he said. “I spend hours every day networking and writing and revising.”
Long has been a fan of rap for about four years and he’s been rhyming for more than two years. He didn’t get really serious about it until last year.
He comes up with the lyrics and performs them with free beats available on websites. He paid money for his last one—the better ones generally cost—and he’s considered buying software such as Fruity Loops to create his own.
Long has earned the respect of Dustin “RitZ” McLaughlin, a rapper from Adrian who helped Long get started.
“Cody is doing great,” McLaughlin said. “He’s talking with some big artists and he’s really doing good. I’m really proud of him.”
Long wants to bring in a couple other rappers to get a show together in Morenci, and if this whole rap thing doesn’t go anywhere, he’ll fall back on his other plans—to work as a radio host.
For now, he’ll keep on rapping.
“I want to be one of those white boys who makes it,” he said.