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Black Music Month: Adam Dollar$

Music has a way of bringing people together with its universal language speaking to anyone who is willing to listen. Through his music, Baton Rouge rapper Adam Dollar$ is hoping to merge the different sides of rap here in Baton Rouge, as well as bring the people of this great city together.
“There are two sides to rap music in Baton Rouge. There is one more catered toward the art per say and then one to the club scene,” said Adam. “The club style is cool, but it just isn’t what I am making. People here aren’t really aware of everyone’s music, and I felt there needed to be this median point. I feel  I am the middle ground because I am from here, but I make music that is not from here.”
Adam Dollar$’ style seems to have a little taste of that west coast and east coast flavor. It comes naturally as he grew up listening to rappers like A Tribe Called Quest . He says growing up in the 90’s the rap game was not really alive yet in Baton Rouge. So, he turned to the west and east coast rappers for inspiration.
The Belaire High School alum has always had music in his life in some form. “I think it’s so much of a cultural thing and what we grew up around, but it was always fascinating to me how people put things together,” said Adam.
It wasn’t until 2012 when Adam started really creating music. He was enrolled at McNeese State University at that time but soon realized that college was not the path for him and returned home to Baton Rouge. He says he went through a slight stage where he was trying to find himself and it was in this time he discovered that music was his passion. Rapping soon became the path life would lead him on.
“When I left school (McNeese), I came home, and you know I got into the same things all my other homeboys were doing. Them being around me was cool,” said Adam. “They told me that I couldn’t do this forever and out of all of us, I was probably the most talented. They knew I was really into rap and a lot of them told me, ‘You really need to try and do that.’ They pushed me.”
So, with the support of his friends and his brother, in March of 2012, he decided to go for it and host his first show. His first show was at a little Jamaican spot on Nicholson Drive called Club Culture. “I had just started making music and I told my brother, ‘Yo, I want to do a show. None of these rappers seem to do shows.’ My brother said, ‘There is no way anybody is going to book you. You just started making music.'” However, Adam wasn’t going to let that stop him so he decided to look for a place that would let them throw his own show.
“We went over to the club, and the owner let us do it,” said Adam. “That was my first time performing. It was horrible.” It was a small club, 30 people showed up to the show, and Adam Dollar$ wasn’t pleased with his performance.
“I am a perfectionist and I have high expectations for everything and my performance was bad because I had never performed before. I was holding the mic wrong and just all kind of stuff,” he said.
Determined not to give up, he decided to give it another try in May and he put on another show. This time people had the opportunity to learn that Adam was making music. And the second time around, the show was wall to wall of people and the following month he booked another performance downtown.
From there it has taken off for the rapper. In 2015 he released his first EP and decided to go full-time with his music. Since the first show back at Club Culture, he has headlined at popular performance venue The Varsity. Allowing a local rapper to perform at their mainstream venue is something unusual for The Varsity, a fact that was not lost on Adam.
“It felt really good because I think everyone knows The Varsity doesn’t book local rappers period. So, I think it was like a testament to myself. Allowing myself to know that I wasn’t just rapping but I was doing something that was changing the people’s views and perceptions,” he said. “When people hear about Baton Rouge rap they think about Boosie. Or they think about people killing each other, so it was really like okay, I am changing people’s opinions and that’s a good thing.”
How would one describe Adam Dollar$ music? He simply says it is realistic and seems to be relatable to both sides of the Baton Rouge hip-hop/rap scene. Just as his diverse fan base.
“I wouldn’t use the terms positive or uplifting. I just keep it real,” Adam Dollar$ said when describing his music. “I talk about things I go through and what people around me go through. It may be a situation where I didn’t make the best decision, but I don’t consider it bragging but enlightening you on it and showing you, it isn’t always the way to go.”
Adam Dollar$ recently signed his first record deal on June 1 and is working on his first mixtape. We got to sit down with the rapper to get a look into what makes him so different.

Where are some other places you have performed here in town?
The Varsity, Spanish Moon, this place that used to be open called Northgate Tavern. I also did a live Band Show at the Blues Room.
You hosted a pop-up concert last year. What was that about?
I came up with the concept because a lot of bigger cities and artists do stuff like that and I have never seen it here. So, I felt like I was getting a ton of support from people buying my music. I mean people were buying $15 to come to the show. So, I wanted to do something for them where they could come for free, enjoy themselves, and have food. It was a little appreciation for them.
Will you do it again?
I definitely think I would do it again but don’t know when. This year I plan to do another big show at The Varsity and maybe only have $1 tickets. You never know!
Who is your musical role model/inspiration?
Oh, musically I was definitely a Jay-Z fan. I liked Nas and it was a little before my time, but my cousins had me on A Tribe Called Quest. Those were the ones I listened to growing up and I was like, ‘Yo, this is tight.’ I think it was because what they were speaking about was relatable to me. They communicated it differently, like the dudes could talk about, ‘yo I went and made a drug deal,’ right, but Jay-z and those guys would communicate it in a way that was more the emotional side and the thinking behind it.
Outside of music, who has been your biggest motivator?
Definitely my dad. I grew up with my dad and it was just me and him. My parents split up when I was younger, and I chose to go with my dad. He wasn’t super hard on me, but he had the mindset like, ‘I’m going to tell you what to do, but you know you made that decision and you’re going to have to live with that. You’ll figure it out.’ You know, when you are younger, and you look at basketball players, saying ‘I want to be like that’, but then when you get to a certain age you start seeing what’s real? I’m like my dad is really that dude. Everyone else thinks he is the greatest person alive too.
How did you come up with your name?
The Dollar$ came because when I started out money was what I was all about. I’m not even that kind of guy now but at that point, it was all about getting money. And my homeboys said it was kind of tight, (laughing) and so it stuck.
How does performing here at home compare to performing in other places?
I have performed in Alabama, Chicago, DC, Houston, of course, New Orleans. The difference is, before signing with a record label, everything was done on my own. I go someplace and it’s not like everyone in the crowd knows you. Performing out of town you kind of give a little extra because you are trying to win people over, you know, but when you are home people kind of already know the music, they know the songs, they know you, so it feels like a closer relationship. It’s easier to put on a better show at home.
What is something Baton Rouge has taught you?
It has taught me that to live here you have to be a very strong person to become an individual because the culture here is very influential. There are people here I know that are from Chicago or New Jersey and after some years you would think they were from here. They get consumed here. It is a place that really has a hold on you. You have to remain an individual and stay true to what you believe in.
What’s one thing we should all understand about Baton Rouge?
Well first thing, it seems like on TV when they talk about Baton Rouge they show a banjo or a swamp. It’s not a swamp and it’s not very diverse. However, there are a lot of talented people here who just never really get the spotlight or the opportunity because we don’t have the market here. I would always tell people, there are no real record labels here, and yeah, they started shooting movies recently, but there are never really opportunities for actors here to get into that movie. The opportunities aren’t always presented but there is a ton of talent here. I mean every year we have people going to the NFL or NBA, and recently a lot of rappers have made their name known.
What do you like to do for fun in Baton Rouge?
Oh man probably the same thing as everyone else here, EAT! I like to go bowling, and I actually like to read. And I like to go and watch other artists perform and enjoy what they are doing.
Where is your favorite place to eat?
Right now, lately I have been hooked on Cheesecake Bistro. So that is the answer right now!
Favorite time of the year here in Baton Rouge?
It would have to be football season. I think ESPN listed us as number four as one of the best college football towns in America. So, it has to be football season.
What is your Louisiana staple food?
Hmm… I guess you got to go with the étouffée!
What advice would you tell upcoming artists here in Baton Rouge?
The biggest thing is to get out there! I think a lot of people feel like just because they can rap and sing that people are going to come beating down their door. And that’s where I see the difference in the different sides of rap music here. A lot of the guys that make the club music aren’t as talented as the guys that don’t. But they are willing to go out there and work and push their music. Some feel like if they are talented they don’t have to do as much. Like there is this entitlement. It’s really, just like, get out there, go to an up and coming artist’s show, just meet people, talk, have a conversation. Give away free stuff. That is the best thing you can do. It is a shameless promotion, but just be willing to do what it takes and know there is never a stopping point.
How does it make you feel to look out into the crowd and see the diversity?
It makes me feel good because, especially in today’s climate and society of the people can come together for the little two and half hours, then why not. The common interest that we can be here and have a good time and chill. I think I am the only rapper in Baton Rouge that has even dabbled in rap on a different level in the city, like to go in and deal with the different genres. I’m bringing it all together and introducing new music to different groups.
What is something people may not know about you?
I think because I am well-driven people from the outside think you are arrogant or better than them. But what people don’t know if I have done a lot of things for a lot of artist out here. I have given artists their first shows, their first performance, I have called in favors to give first shows, I have just done a lot for others not looking for anything in return. I am just paying it forward.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate black music month?
It is important to celebrate it because in the past a lot of black musicians created a lot of the form of art that led to what we have today, but never got the credit for it. As far as hip-hop and rap that is one thing that people knew for a fact that we (African Americans) did. But now it is being transformed.
You can look for Adam Dollar$’ mixtape to be released towards the end of July, and he is expecting a small tour by the end of the year. In the meantime, keep up with him on social media at @adamdollars and check out one of his latest videos Sugar and Spice. His EPs out now include “The Vapor$” and “$upreme Abdul-Jabbar” and “Analog Song.”
Check out our past Black Music Month features with local musicians: Justin Garner  Justin Rendell

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