The cultivation of one’s mind is the most powerful form of aesthetic. It leads to a greater perspective and knowledge of the world around us, shaping our perspective. Perspective is the weapon of choice for change, a weapon that is not tangible, but it can motivate us in the way we feel about each other, change the way society operates, infiltrate the systemic issues of people and culture. Perspective can offer resolve. It’s a weapon that can be more damning than a scream and more brutal than a gun.
But it’s the same weapon that leaves the beholder open to self-doubt, self-intimation, and even tragic silence. Eric Flemings possesses this weapon. It is his super power; it is akin to a lightning bolt thrown by the mighty Zeus or the super human strength and flight of Clark Kent. But his Achilles heel is no longer self-doubt. He found a way to use that, too. He found a way to get better at his strengths and work on his weaknesses.
Eric Flemings didn’t mean to become a rapper. He didn’t even know he could rap until his junior year at The University of Bridgeport in Connecticut while he was freestyling with some friends. They were stunned that he could rap. Turns out so was Eric. He was there to get his Biology degree, which he did, but he uncovered something else in the process; his unbelievable aesthetic for words. An aesthetic that he has turned into a genuine perspective and one that is intensely deep with understanding. Much more than his 23 years would indicate.
Once Eric realized his passion for writing bars he did what he always does; studies. He studied rap hard, hitting the books on style, history, scheme, approach, cadence, and hooks. He consumed, memorized, theorized, and over thought every line from Talib Kweli, Kendrick Lamar, and so many other greats. “I’m good at memorization and critical thinking”, he says speaking of his love of science. “It’s critical thinking and rap will always be a part of me.”
His days of sounding like Kendrick Lamar were numbered. As emulation turned to influence he quickly started developing his own style. He practiced his craft and melded it to his life in science, cross referencing his true love of rap with his cognitive intelligence to become a doctor. “I’ve written a song about the cardiovascular system. I can write an album about all the body systems”, he jokes.
The current rap on the radio wasn’t enough for him. It was catchy and fun but it didn’t hold the weight of words in which Eric thought true rap was supposed to. He knew that hip hop culture was much more than selling sneakers and albums. His genuine thirst and curiosity brought him to other rappers and artists that came before his time. His head bobbed, his mind exploded. These guys had it all; rhythm, intelligence, and perspective. Before he knew it he was waking up early, like back in his high school days, just to write a few bars.
Eric grew up in Stockton California. He got himself out of bed every morning at 4:30am to catch the bus, get to school, and make it to his sports practices after school. “I have always been independent, even at a young age”. At 16 he moved to the east coast, in with his Aunt in New Jersey where he would finish school taking mostly AP courses. He was ready for the next step, ready for college, ready for more learning, ready to be part of something bigger than himself. Eric saw the value, opportunity and future in medicine. “My philosophy is to go where the opportunity is”, he quips.
Eric felt moved to rhyme about the nation’s current status and about the unequal undertones surrounding the election and urban culture. The clip was reposted by Save Hip Hop Culture on Instagram and Eric was suddenly thrust onto the scene. He speaks about inequality with fearsome passion, yet calmly and quietly highlights his points with a scholarly wit and the professional collection of a skilled orator. He supports Black Lives Matter but believes that the systemic undercurrent has been built into our culture. “You don’t just wake up tomorrow and decide to enslave this person.” He says about our early ancestry. “In order to sell the idea you have to have the population agree with it. You have to make this black person something less than us.”
Eric talks of changing the approach to something more long term. In order to change perspective the systemic cultural undercurrent needs to be altered. Protests during the Civil Rights Movement changed the laws, but protests now are not able to change the perspective. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X paved the way for equal access to resources, now it’s time to use aesthetic to change everyone’s perspective to engaging in equality. ““Imagine if MLK had social media?” Eric says.
He does not feel the need to feed the negativity, but rather sees plenty of room for positive change in his community and communities elsewhere. “It’s time to build up our own community, the police will be coming from our own community”, he says quietly. Eric sees everything in a very positive light, commenting that he thinks most people are not inherently bad, most people are not racist, and most people are willing to help. Conversations with him make you feel uplifted and empowered, determined to make positive change, to relinquish self-doubt and become energized.
A full length album is up coming. He is still putting it together, practicing his craft and getting the word out. His talent cannot be hidden any longer, and neither can his excitement. But, “With talent comes doubt”, he says about his constant overthinking. But he won’t let the attention get to his head. “Your narcissistic bubble gets popped and you have to recalibrate and come back at it again. I go through those phases all the time.”
Mr. Flemings has only just started on a path that will never leave us doubting.
Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.
He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband