FLINT, Michigan -- A 13-year-old student in the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village’s Antidote Studio asked RushDee Williams a straightforward question -- when did he know he wanted to work in music?
RushDee, a Billboard-charting producer who has worked with performers like Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube, Nipsey Hussle, Meek Mill, and more, couldn’t really pinpoint the exact moment.
“It was in me when I was your age, and I didn’t even know it yet,” RushDee said.
That’s where the Antidote Studio comes in. During a visit this week, RushDee talked with students about the importance of understanding how vital it is that they have access to a space that includes recording and editing equipment and software, lighting supplies, musical instruments, and other tools designed to teach them about the many career paths available in music.
“It’s really important for kids, especially really in that 10-17 age group, to discover these resources and technology and what we provide,” said Nygee Gant, lead engineer at The Antidote Studio. “The quicker they can get access to resources, the quicker we can open their minds to new ideas and opportunities that are out there.”
Many kids grow up dreaming of being star musicians. The Antidote Studio helps them expand their imagination, though. Performers are only a small part of career opportunities available in music, and Gant and RushDee are both great examples of other ways to break into the business. As a sound engineer, Gant, a Flint native, has worked with musicians like Juvenile, Meek Mill, Wale, and Justine Skye.
RushDee is multi-skilled -- he's a musician, he writes, makes beats, and also manages other musicians. In addition to working with superstar artists, he has worked on movie soundtracks including the Spiderman and Fast and the Furious franchises. He’s also getting into video game soundtrack work.
“A lot of kids, and even adults, don’t realize how many opportunities there are to be involved in music,” Gant said. “You may be an excellent performer but not strong at writing, so you can perform and get someone to write for you, or vice versa, write and get someone to perform it for you. You can be on the business side of things, you can be an executive. There’s a lot of skills and education that goes into housing talent. These kids are 100 steps ahead of people my age at getting to the information. That’s the most important thing for us, to inform them and educate them on all the different avenues to make money.”
Nygee Gant, lead engineer at The Antidote Studio, plays a track as RushDee listens with students.
RushDee, 33, is a Saginaw native. He was in Flint for two days this week, did an interview with 98.9 The Beat
, and participated in several activities at SBEV, including a Q and A session and workshops with young students who use the studio space.
“Just being able to have something to give back to the community, it’s liberating,” RushDee said. “Everything around me has inspired me to do what I’m doing and keep on going. It’s honestly indescribable to be able to give back.”
Every student in the class asked questions, and the group impressed with their knowledge -- although there was a bit of a generational divide when RushDee referenced legendary musician and producer Babyface and the kids assumed he was talking about young rapper Babyface Ray. But one student interested in being a producer wowed the adults in the room with his taste by referencing Jermaine Dupri, another legendary musician, songwriter, and producer, as an idol.
“I’m super proud (of the questions they asked) because it shows that when we talk to them, they’re listening,” Gant said. “They’re not only listening, they’re applying and absorbing the information. They’re kids, so they want to be cool and don’t want to show the teacher too much leniency, but I’m super proud of them and how they conducted themselves and I’m just looking forward to working with them even more.”
RushDee talked with them about the importance of developing varied skill sets and networking.
“My goal is to be able to bring value to any room that I walk into,” he told them. “When I started to combine that with networking, everything changed for me.”
RushDeel talks with a group of Flint kids in The Antidote Studio at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village.
Many of the kids have similar dreams of successful careers in music and the ability to work with famous artists that they admire.
“I used to ask the same question they were asking me -- “how do I get on?” -- and everyone told me the same things,” RushDee said. “Don’t give up, stay focused, believe in yourself. I hated that, I wanted the real gems -- come on, give me something! But now, I realize and understand those are the only
gems to succeeding. I didn’t realize it until I got to where I am now, and then it made sense.”
For the students growing up in Flint right now, they are also witnessing a Renaissance of rap and Hip Hop music
in the city, with stars like Jon Connor
, YN Jay, RMC Mike, BFD Da Packman, Rio Da Yung OG, Louie Ray
, King Ca$hes
, Jada Ali
, Cam Howe
, Ace Gabbana
, and many more all experiencing varying levels of success nationally and regionally. RushDee said that he’s been paying attention to the music scene in Flint, and is inspired by the hope it brings here and beyond.
RushDee poses for phots with students and staff from The Antidote Studio.
“My impression of Flint music is that it’s like a phoenix that just rose from the ashes,” he said. “We’re all familiar with the disparities and the things that have happened in Flint that have affected everyone. To see that there’s still hope and creativity in Flint and people dedicated to giving platforms and bridging that gap, I’m originally from Saginaw, and Flint is like our first cousin, so it’s beyond inspiring to see.”
For more information about RushDee, follow him on Instagram or Twitter. For information about The Antidote Studio, follow them on Instagram or visit the SBEV website.