June 15--FARMINGTON -- After Stevie Stone performed his first show in 2006, he decided he wanted to be a professional rapper.
"I didn't know I wanted to until I did that show," Stone said.
Although he had been offered a chance to play basketball in college, Stone turned his focus on music, and, in 2011, he signed with Strange Music, an independent recording company.
Along with two other rappers signed with Strange Music -- Krizz Kaliko and Mayday! -- Stone performed in Farmington Friday evening. On June 5, the bands launched their Summer of Strange Tour 2013, and Farmington was their seventh show.
Stone, the son of a pastor, grew up in a family of musicians. His mother led the church choir and played the piano and organ in church. His father also played piano.
Stone said he always believed he would make it in the music world. His album, "2 Birds, 1 Stone," comes out in August.
"You're reward comes when you least expect it," he said.
Ben Miller, a rapper with Mayday!, said being part of an independent recording company allows bands to have more creative freedom. That's partly because the company doesn't tell musicians what they should sound like, he said.
Miller is one of two song writers for the band Mayday!. He said when the bands sits down to write a song, they have a conversation about what's going on and then "let it come naturally from what you've been experiencing." In August, the band will release its album "Believers." On June 25, Miller will be releasing his debut album, "The War Within." Mayday! took its name from the distress signal. When the band formed, the initial members felt that music being produced was two-dimensional. They wanted a name that expressed a sense of urgency for people who wanted to hear a different type of music.
Miller said his favorite part of music is it's power to bring people together.
"That's what we get to see out on the road," Miller said.
Miller took his stage name, Wrekonize, from something he saw on a wall when, at age 13, he was spraying graffiti. He said his father always told him to be aware of what was going on around him -- to recognize what was happening.
Krizz Kaliko also is a stage name. The rapper was born Samuel William Christopher Watson IV.
"How about that for a stage name?" Watson said. "That's why you've got to shorten it."
Watson had been called Krizz most of his life.
"Kaliko is like my face," Watson said. "It's multiple colors, like a calico cat."
Watson was born with a condition called vitiligo, which creates white spots on his face. Michael Jackson also had vitiligo. While some people try to hide the condition with makeup, Watson has woven it into his identity. He said he wanted to let people know he is different, both in his appearance and his music.
Watson, who said he has bipolar disorder, admitted he was on the verge of committing suicide after his girlfriend broke up with him in 1999. Instead, he turned to music.
"Through music, I can escape," he said.
Watson said people with similar problems recognize things about themselves in him and in his music.
Sometimes, Watson will get tweets from people who tell him they were on the verge of committing suicide, but then they listened to his music and it gave them encouragement.
"I feel really responsible for the world now," Watson said.
He said he feels like he has a duty to continue creating music to help people. In August, he will release a new album called "Son of Sam."
Watson writes all of his own music. Often, he bases songs on personal experiences, such as break-ups, parties and the ups and downs associated with bipolar disorder.
"I just live life, and then I write about it," Watson said.
He never runs out of new things to write about.
"Live life, and it gets rid of writers block," he said.
Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her@hmgrover on Twitter.
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