The eastside of Indianapolis is loved by few and hated by many. An area where the sun doesn’t shine often. You become numb to the rainy days and makeshift memorials that frequent the neighborhoods just like liquor stores.
Some of the residents are predictable, they usually stick to the same routines day in and day out, they become comfortable with a mediocre lifestyle, and they fear the unknown. Now, let me be clear; this description isn’t meant to bash the city where I am from, but you don’t realize the effects of what’s going on around you, until you venture out and seek higher.
Some eastsiders are known to hang with the same group of people on their respective corners until the wee hours of the morning. Nobody is known by their government names and everybody has an alias. It’s the usual location for a homicide and the percentage is small for those who make it out. Yes, there are good days but sometimes in the hood, the bad experiences are so catastrophic that they outweigh the good ones. This war zone that I speak of is responsible for what you see today. That cloud can make or break you, it’s all about what you envision and the legacy you want to leave behind.
Damon Franklin, also known as 2uce Betta, is a product of the eastside of Indianapolis (42nd and Emerson). What’s the difference between 2uce and the others? He simply decided to change his forecast.
The rapper/writer/singer has been an independent artist for 10 years and decided that he wanted to get it how he lives. And that’s by hustling hard and grinding day in and day out. He took that same street mentality that we all grew accustomed to, the one that is old to me and new to you, and applied it to his passion.
“Music means the world to me. It’s like the universal language of the world. I feel like it’s what calms a lot of people down and it’s your ‘go to.’ It soothes your soul. Music is everything really, I couldn’t imagine what the world would be like without music,” said 2uce, who is more of a musician than just a rapper. He can write his own material, rap, sing, and he knows how to put on a show. 2uce can also play the trombone and the trumpet.
If that isn’t enough, he also taps into sales and distribution by pushing his own mixtapes on the streets to anyone who wants to purchase them, then Monday through Friday he works in Louisville, Kentucky where he resurfaces counter tops and bathtubs, finally he travels back to Nap on the weekends to spend time with his girlfriend and his three children.
“A man’s hustle you cannot knock it, he just wants the profit…”
Although 2uce always had a passion for music, it wasn’t until he started spending time with his older cousin Rashida, back in the early 2000s, that he began to embrace it and take it seriously. “Rashida got me rapping when Big Mama died. She used to come and get me on the weekends, she was smoking with me and sh*t and she had a Contour on some 15s [with some beat in the trunk]. I used to play video games with her and she really encouraged me,” 2uce recalls.
2uce is also the president of Official Music Group (aka OMG). OMG is an entertainment company based on old school family values and pure talent. Naptown native Dana “DH” Howard is the CEO of OMG and cousin to 2uce.
“OMG as a brand…I want it to be known as the first big company that didn’t f*ck nobody, that was straight positive…” explains DH, who feels that less is more. “Everybody can’t captivate the masses, so many people are afraid to be themselves. I think that’s the first thing, and you have to know your audience as well,” DH explains.
2uce refers to DH as his backbone. His pusha, his adviser, his right hand man. “He’s my eyes when I’m not there, and my feet when I can’t move around. He has OMG’s best interest wholeheartedly. Working with him is easy, anything we don’t agree on is cool. I really give him the freedom to make moves,” said 2uce.
“I try to just be the artist, sometimes that isn’t good. It’s a lot that you have to overcome. I feel like we’re really going to make it, he has the same drive as me, but he also pushes me ahead.”
On 2uce B’s latest project “Cloudy Days in the East,” he gives us meaningful lyrics, solid wordplay and even some unexpected harmony. Most artists who start off rapping cannot switch gears seamlessly and hit the R&B side of things, but 2uce takes a stab at it and succeeds on several tracks included on his new mixtape.
One of my personal favorites is “I Do Not Know.” 2uce B’s voice can be heard over a smooth beat, reflective of a lullaby. His delivery is noteworthy, and he lets his lyrics flow with a wealth of passion as he sings:
Eastside, these cloudy days, got a nigga pouring a little muddy up…
2uce B’s strip club banger titled “Body Bags” is produced by Penacho, this is another one of my favorite joints on his latest mixtape. The intro contains a cold beat that builds anticipation and paints a vivid picture of a stripper sliding down a pole, at your local night club. The climax in the song is the best part, as the beat slows down, 2uce B’s voice drops down a few notches as he narrates the story:
And now she bout to hit that stage to bring them ballers out, she bounce that a** all in my face looks like I’m falling out, take all my money goo goo eyed I am just adoring her, while she just caught another body call the coroner …
“…I never looked at myself as a one dimensional artist, but at first I strictly stuck to just rapping because I didn’t have the confidence to try to record myself singing. It’s completely different, I mean you have to have breathing control and harmonizing and all of that…” 2uce said it wasn’t until his close friend Shawn O, a tattoo artist from Indianapolis who relocated to Atlanta, told him if he can sing and he isn’t using that skill, then he’s doing a great detriment.
2uce B displays his versatility as he speeds up his flow a little bit on “Be Like,” a joint effort with Naptown’s own ILLHD, a videographer/rapper/photographer. The song was produced by BNice & Bam and DH wrote the hook.
“They wanna dress like, wanna sound like, wanna be like, ride like, get high like, keep it G like…the m*thafucking OMG got a problem with it. Smokin, choking on some OG…”
In 2uce B’s eyes the world is nothing but a place filled with a lot of followers with no direction. That concept is reflected in the lyrics of this song. The artist’s overall goal is to move forward as a nonconformist and continue to evolve.
They say sunshine brings brighter days, and I’m excited to see 2uce Betta and OMG light up the skies for the 3-1-7 and anyone else who has been affected by inclement weather.