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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA rapper looks to spread messages of hope through music

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    For Perris Howard, a physiology sophomore, “making music was inevitable.”

    As a child, Howard loved music, listening to and admiring Nas, Tupac, The Cool Kids and Pac Div. Inspired by his father, Howard began to rap while in high school. Along the way, as his talents deepened and his confidence grew, he played his father his songs, and in return, his father gave him encouragement and helped him realize that music should have a point, Howard said.

    But in May of 2012, Howard’s father, died from sickle-cell anemia at the age of 39. That summer, Howard said, something inside of him changed.

    “It was a very unexpected death and was the first real hard thing that I’ve ever had to deal with. It really shook me up,” Howard said. “Being in that position for the first time made me realize that there are other people going through hardships too.

    Understanding that level of pain has not only made me want to help other people get out of it too, but it has shown me that with music, I can do a lot.”

    When Howard became a Christian that same summer, he began to view music in a different light. He was going through a lot of emotions that he couldn’t express in any other way, he said. As he grew more serious about perfecting his sound, he established himself as Perr!s. His music, described by Howard as “hip hop, conscious and devotional,” is inspired by his religious beliefs.

    “My religion drives my music,” Howard said. “I [take] the themes from Christian music and [mix] that with the sounds of the music I listened to growing up.”

    This past Easter, Howard released his second mix tape, titled LFTD.

    The name has two meanings, he said.

    “The acronym stands for ‘Life For The Dead.’ I used to be very spiritually dead, and I have been given life,” he said. “It could also stand for being above the normal mindset and being in a higher state of mind. I feel like we are fed so many things and we are blind to a lot of things that we choose not to look at. LFTD is about finding the solutions through all the problems.”

    Andrew Franz, a film senior at Arizona State University, works closely with Howard to make high-quality music videos. He has filmed videos for both “Shades of Light,” featuring Xavier, and “Dreamstate.”

    “I shoot a lot of music videos because I love music, so I’m really immersed in it, especially rap,” Franz said. “Perris’ stuff really stands out from everyone else’s. He has something to say. A lot of people don’t have anything to say and they are kind of just rhyming and seeking attention, but Perris has something to say and he wants everyone to hear it.”

    Howard said he is grateful for his family and friends’ support and unwavering honesty.

    “They all love it and they really support me,” he said. “They also give me hard criticism that helps me improve, rather than just telling me that I am the best. They are really honest with me and I love it.”

    Susan Marotta, Howard’s mother, said she has always known that he was a born leader and couldn’t be more proud of him for his fearless messages.

    “I am super proud of the things that he talks about and how he is not afraid to voice his spirituality,” Marotta said. “Religion is not something that everybody talks about a lot, so I just think it is really inspiring. It is art. He is not afraid to go against the grain, and I love that about him.”

    Peter Gonzales, a criminal justice sophomore and friend of Howard’s, spoke about Howard’s improvement since his journey with music began.

    “I am very impressed by the growth that he has had since his last mix tape,” Gonzales said. “This new mix tape helps me to keep on track with my life and my mind on the things I am supposed to be doing.”

    In terms of the future, Howard said, “Whatever happens, happens.”
    Not driven by fame or fortune, Howard simply wants to “share his view of the world and inspire” those who need it most.

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