Life is eventful and constantly evolving for 20-year-old rapper and recording artist Cam Meekins, and with fall upon us and winter approaching, he’s feeling particularly creative.
“During the summer, there are so many distractions, but during the fall, I feel so focused,” Meekins said. “I’m ready to work on anything, always. I love the energy.”
The multi-talented, positive-thinking recording artist is a double threat, not only writing his own raps and singing his own hooks, but also producing the majority of his instrumentation. Meekins has carefully — yet authentically — curated a personal and reflective piano-laden sound that he calls “organic.”
Despite his undeniable drive and musical ability, limiting his strengths to just hip-hop would be unfair. The Boston-bred rapper is a young entrepreneur in the making.
Sitting atop bar stools inside one of the several Starbucks that line Commonwealth Avenue, Meekins quickly responds to several important messages and emails before turning his full attention toward me, never losing focus during a 20-minute interview. He answers questions with an excitement that, while subdued, is certainly present, and he has good reason to feel enthusiastic.
With a debut album available on iTunes called Lamp City and a secondary project, Peace, dropping this Tuesday for free download through Datpiff.com and for purchase via Apple’s music store, Meekins is keeping things moving. He hopes once more to tap the brevity and inspiration conveyed in his Mixed Emotions tape, a free album that preceded Lamp City.
“My music then was completely inspired by real events in my life,” Meekins said about Mixed Emotions. “I was like, ‘I don’t care about anything but conveying what is going on in my head and in my heart.’ That’s what I’m trying to recapture on Peace.”
Lamp City is a term Meekins and some friends conjured one night several years ago, and it has come to encompass an entire brand and record label in the making (as well as a beverage company in the works). Planning on bolstering talents with national potential without losing focus on artistic quality and honesty, Meekin’s goal is an admirable one.
“Of course, I want to make records that are hot, but I want artists to do it their way and see it come to fruition … As a lifestyle, doing everything organically and naturally is crucial for everything that I do,” Meekins said. “I admire the scene in Minnesota, with all that Rhymesayers [an indie label started by Atmosphere] has accomplished, and I think we can do the same in Boston.”
It is a time of transition for the local star who, in a few years time, just might ascend to the status of hometown hero. Meekins boasts one of the largest fan bases of any rapper rising in the city right now, and he has garnered some major recognition as of late.
This summer alone, Complex and XXL Magazine, two of hip-hop’s staple publications, highlighted his talents and role in Boston’s budding music scene. It was a major achievement for Meekins, perhaps the biggest yet of his young career.
But it was not always like this. Meekins, who took a psychology class at BU, recalled a time when his future was promising, much like it is today, but realising his dream was a transitional period that many college freshmen would find relatable when moving to a new school.
“Whether you’re going to school or going off to do some other work, you’re really on your own for the first time,” Meekins said. “I definitely struggled with that for awhile. I actually moved out to Los Angeles the September after I graduated high school, and I think that was good for me because I experienced the college transition in my own way. It was my own version of moving to a completely different area. I left my element, and I learned about the music industry.”
In retrospect, it appears to have been a good choice for Meekins, who passed on enrolling in Berklee College of Music to chase his dreams in rap.
Aside from viral music that reached teenagers across the country (Meekins’ video for “Rain” has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube), a key aspect of Meekins’ rise can be linked to touring.
Before this summer, he had performed at venues across New England and in New York City. Soon enough, a regional fan base began building with each new show.
To go along with his impressive media coverage over the last few months, Meekins has topped himself as a performer: He embarked on his first national tour as the lead opener for Schwayze.
“I don’t really know if you can picture what a situation like that is like until you go and do it,” he said. “I definitely had some expectations, but I never understood the physical taxation of doing a show every single night … You’re eating bad food and what not, but you’re running on so much adrenaline that you don’t even notice it.”
Following the release of Peace Sept. 24, Meekins’ will perform on Sept. 29 at Tommy Doyles, a venue located in Cambridge.
Here, he will join Alex Wiley, a special talent from Chicago who is close with Chance the Rapper, on the Boston stop of the “Club Wiley” tour.