The Story So Far…
I feel I was groomed from an early age to be a person who could relate to many different kinds of people. By the age of 12, I had already lived in 5 different states within the US (Born San Antonio, TX; NH; FL; MD; NY – And have since lived in TN, NYC, MN). I got to meet so many people from different walks of life in different regions of the country. It was a really unique, though often painful, blessing. It was as though as soon as I would put down any roots and establish a solid friend group, the winds of change would carry me elsewhere.
It’s really hard being the new kid. You are going up against everyone’s long-standing established friendships and circles, having to somehow find a way to break in and be accepted. Constantly being a fish out of water taught me many great strengths, but it also taught me to be a people pleaser, which served me then, but it would soon develop into a reflex. And for my teenage years and into adulthood, that set the stage for me having gaping worth issues. I spent so much energy trying to make others accept me and love me that I lost sight of myself and what I needed. Though many years too late, I am glad that I finally realized this was really what I had been doing all along and have done the work to help bring balance to this situation.
It’s such a human thing. Toko-pa Turner would say “the absence of belonging is the great silent wound of our time.” And when we forego parts of who we are just so we may be accepted and receive the belonging we are seeking, it’s really false belonging because they aren’t accepting us for who we really are. And the more distance we put between who we really are to maintain this charade so “they’ll like us,” the deeper the chasm we create within our soul and we run a great risk of losing parts of ourselves that may never return unless we are really willing to go through the heart of it all to retrieve them.
Regardless, moving definitely gave me a vastly richer understanding of the world and about people in general – which I feel would give a songwriter a far greater chance at being relatable. The pain of both moving and the rejection and ridicule I often faced being a new comer, offered me a greater emotional depth and a steep inclination towards introspection – more shining qualities of a true artist, in my humble opinion.
In 1999 (read here for the full origin story AND music), at the age of 13, I would begin writing hip hop music with two friends of mine. We called ourselves The Slap Happy Grand Pappy’s (SHGP) – the three of us being Ernie (me), Cinquan (Luciano), and B-4 (Sean). I honestly don’t truly recall how I came up with that band name, but we went with it! We recorded one album together under that name in 2000.
From then on I went by the name Aquarius and struck out on my own. I wrote and recorded 19 albums between 2000 and 2017 under the name Aquarius.
1999: SHGP – “SHGP”(self entitled)
2002: Aquarius & G-Flow – “Aquatical Flows”
2003: Aquarius & G-Flow – “The Future Is Now”
2006: Eastcoast Anarchy Mixtape Vol. 1 – “The Mixtape Kingz”
2006: Rutledge Hall Mixtape Vol. 1 – “The Rose Project”
2007-08: Eastcoast Anarchy Mixtape Vol. 2 –
2001: “A New Beginning”
2002: “Amongst Tha Shadows”
2002: “Afta Tha Lights Go Out”
2003: “The Return of Soul”
2004: “My Final Words”
2005: “Metaphorically Speakin'” (Unfinished)
2005: “Tha Se7en Deadly Sinz”
2006: “The Age of Aquarius”
2007: “Lyrical Seduction of the Subconscious Mind”
2009: “AQ & Bach: The Masterminds of the Masterpiece”
2010: “Street Signs to the World Forgotten”
2017: “The Night Sea Journey”
After the Lights Go Out through The Return of Soul were albums that were a collection of music I wrote during a depression I fell into during high school. Music really saved my life then. It was the creative release and the therapy I needed to work my way through it. (You can read more about this here – AND hear some tracks!)
My Final Words through Lyrical Seduction was the most swaggy I’ve gotten. Still always quite a bit of conscious stuff sprinkled in there, but not like my earlier depression albums nor the albums that would follow AQ & Bach (pron. Awk & Bach).
Se7en Deadly Sinz would become my first concept album. There were 9 tracks, one track for each of the deadly sins (pride, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, and wrath) and an intro and outro. The intro remains my favorite track funny enough. Here it is:
The SHGP crew reunited with the addition of MLov to create Eastcoast Anarchy, which was our rap group name for a long while. We put out a couple mixtapes and collaborated on many songs together. They were some of my most treasured recording sessions – we had hella fun and I find myself missing the deep collaborative experience of not only creating with fellow songwriters, but best friends.
The Age of Aquarius was the first album where I began making my own beats. I was living with two seriously dope hip hop heads at the time. One was a beat maker who went by Skechy, then later, Ethics. He taught me everything he knew about sampling and beat production. Then as I became more versed at the piano, I began moving away from sampling. The other was a brilliant emcee by the name Free Money. Just the act of trying to be able to box with him on the mic grew me as lyricist in ways that I never would have otherwise.
I wrote Lyrical Seduction and AQ & Bach while living near Nashville in my final years of college. AQ & Bach was my second concept album I created and began my movement back towards more conscious hip hop, as I grappled with a lot of my dissatisfaction with the world. All the beats I made for that album were samples from the infamous classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Here are a few tracks from the album:
Street Signs to the World Forgotten was written and recorded during my year and a half residency in Brooklyn, NY and was the first time that I really actually tried to bring my music forward in a real way. Before then, I never really performed outside of three random performances. Stage fright was a huge crippling fear of mine for a long time until I took a class on public speaking. However, a few botched performances after Street Signs was released scared me right back off the stage until the release of The Night Sea Journey where I forced myself to brave it once again.
I had a very poignant spiritual awakening the year before I wrote Street Signs. This album was written during the honeymoon phase of the new spiritual path that was unfolding in my life. Here are a few of my favorite tracks from that album, also.
As you can see, I was very consistent with releasing new albums at least once a year.
Then in 2011, I stopped.
I lost it. I had no idea what to write. I hit a huge wall. My life was changing and who I was was changing and I was losing touch with how hip-hop fit within it all. It’s hard to dredge up just how much it hurt that that whole part of me just got lost in the shuffle. It was heartbreaking. (Read more about this here)
So, for 6-7 years I didn’t write any hip hop. I would make some beats here and there, but never got around to writing to any of them. I dove into instrumental music and actually created a huge guided meditation program, where I created all the music for it and recorded the guided meditations over top of them.
For some time I thought that this new passion might replace hip hop. But, I was only fooling myself. The loss of my inner lyricist fueled a powerful internal movement towards rediscovering who I am and, for those 6 years, my spiritual path dragged into the depths of my shadow to reconcile with all the pain, anger, shame, and grief I had carried since my earlier depression.
I had been engaging with my dreaming life since 2005 and my dreams offered me quite the roadmap during this time, even drawing me deeper into greater discoveries.
But this dark night of the soul spiraled and in 2017 I hit rock bottom.
I lost everything.
Yet, found myself.
That’s the slim and easy version of that story. But, there was definitely nothing slim and easy about it. Yet, through that death, a truer me was able to be reborn. And my dreams began to offer me inspiration for new music to help carry me out of the rubble into a new life.
My dreams showed me the way to breathing life back into the lyricist and pushed me every step of the way to write these songs, to perform them, and to record them. I named the album, The Night Sea Journey, a term coined by Carl Jung about passages like the one I was going through.
Then in the summer of 2018, the dreams began again – promoting a new album. Offering me even more dream guidance and inspiration than with NSJ. I finished writing it two months ago (June 2019) and I’m hoping to have it recorded and released by the end of this year (2019).
It’ll be called Hip Hop Needs Healers and will be my 20th album release in 20 years of writing music! I’m very excited about it, its a deeply felt, heart-centered album. Continuing to reconnect deeper with my inner lyricist over the last year has erupted the rediscovery of the Lover archetype, as well. The Lover energy being expressed as my passion for the Lyricist.
The Night Sea Journey was me resurrecting myself. Hip Hop Needs Healers is my heart unleashing.
Also, around the time I finished writing HHNH, I changed my rap name again. I wanted to continue to honor the Aquarius moniker, but was needing a way of standing out amongst the plethora of Aquarius everything out there. Even as Aquarius, I always went by AQ (pron. A-Q). The DreamWalker addition honors this whole new process of my dreams providing me so beautifully with all this new music that is so true to the depth of music I’ve always wanted to write, because it is offered from that deep place that has no name.
Stay tuned, I hope you join me on this continuous journey! Things just keep getting more exciting as I brave more of the road ahead.
With deep honor,