Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
I am Jeremiah “Onaje'” McCormick from New Orleans, La. My artist name is Onaje’, which is an African name meaning “creative sensitive one”. I am a hip-hop artist and I have been writing rhymes since my youth.
I make music because of the power of influence it possesses and it is fun! I want to be remembered as an artist the changed or influenced someone’s life for the better. I want to be the one known in my family that accomplished my dream. I want to serve as an example that dreams can come true.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
A few qualities that make me different from the typical artist in the music industry is my ability to think outside of the box; but not far enough that I lose a connection with the average listener. In my music, my goal is to maintain a balance of my culture, hip hop culture, my values, my spiritual aspects, and common sense all in one.
My goal is also to connect with my listeners on a personal level, not being preachy or lackluster, but direct. I’m perfect with not being perfect, and I believe my listeners appreciate that.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
Unfortunately, I realized music is what I was called to do in a dark space in my life, the county jail. I always wanted to be a successful rapper in my thoughts, but in reality, I was doing so as a hobby. A huge part of this reason was that my attention was split between being a successful college student, lacking in finances, and overall uncertainty of what I really wanted to do with mine.
I was lost and confused at this time in my life and uncertain about my destiny. Ultimately, my non-focus and bad decision-making skills landed me in county Jail facing 10-25 years of incarceration. My bond was set at $1 million. No one in my family had that kind of money, and I would not want anyone to make such a huge sacrifice for me since I practically put myself in this predicament. I had no one to turn to or help me but God Himself.
One evening in the pod (community area outside of jail cells) a loud mouth inmate from Houston, Tx was bragging how well he rapped and that he can out rap anyone in the pod. He was so confident he offered a challenge. He made a wager that he would give four packs of Ramen Noodle soups to anyone in the pod who felt they were better.
If the challenger lost, they would have to give him four packs of soups. Ramen noodle soup may seem like a cheap unhealthy snack in the civilian world, but in county jail, it’s a gourmet meal! I remembered being so hungry my stomach hurt. I felt at this point I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, which was a meal. I had no commissary to put up, so another inmate put up the four soups for me. I was literally a starving artist! We battled for four rounds without a time limit.
Three rounds of written rhymes and the last round was off the dome. I easily won sweeping every round. By the of our showcase, a vote was conducted to determine a winner by crowd noise. Let’s say by the of the evening nearly every inmate knew my name and where I was from.
It was that very moment, presumptuously when every inmate making noise on my behalf, I knew what my purpose was; I felt like a celebrity, other inmates viewed me in awe. From that day, I picked up my pen and never stopped writing.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
The biggest challenge I have faced thus far is believing that my success in the music business can actually happen. It seems as though every time I’d learn something new about the business, I realize how much I actually do not know.
I started Groundbreakin’ Entertainment along with my brother Damani back in 2009. I always wanted to have an organic independent label. I listened and learned from Ray Charles and Master P about owning your master’s. I knew the road would be longer and more difficult, but I was willing to take that journey if it meant having financial control over my own creations.
The way I stayed motivated was by being open to constantly learning. I learned in life and in the music business, you have to be willing to pivot when necessary and change with the times as needed. Generally speaking, you have to stay on your toes. I watched countless YouTube videos and I have purchased several online courses which teach about promoting your music effectively online and how to utilize social media.
I have to admit, I am still learning something new every day, but I definitely know more than did when I started. With each small win or new gem I learn, it builds more confidence for me to keep pushing. Lastly and definitely not least, I constantly talk to God, and my relationship with HIM leads me in the right direction every time.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
I would like to meet Canibus. The reason I would like to meet Canibus is because of his steadfastness and resilience in this music business. I feel that Canibus is one of the most intricate minds in hip hop. The amount of wisdom and experience he can offer would sure add value to me as an artist. I think about the way the industry tried to blackball him and he comes back every time, not losing a step, and his lyrical skills are still out of this world.
I would like to meet 50 Cent. I admire the way 50 can still remain on top of his game even though music is no longer his number one priority. I am confident 50 has a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to maneuver and make profitable moves off music and other products. It would make sense if I could cross paths with 50, being that I have a background in acting as well.
I would like to meet Master P. Not only because he is a legend and an icon from my city. Master P has a business mind that has kept him living the lifestyle the music business created for him years ago. Master P has a wealth of knowledge and experience of what it takes to be successful in the music business and other business ventures as well.
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