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Christmas ‘about unity’, says music producer

Positive message: music producer Williams believes God has put him in the industry to influence young people within hip hop

Rian “Eight Track’ Williams is making a name for himself as a music producer in Atlanta.

Ask him about the Christmas holidays however, and he’ll tell you there’s no greater place than home.

“Christmas feels really different for me when I am back home in Bermuda,” he said.

“When I was younger we would go away and, of course, I was more concerned with the snow and things like that.

“But now that I’m older there is nothing like being home in Bermuda where family is around you.

“In the United States, it seems like not everyone in your circle can be together due to financial reasons or distance, but in Bermuda you’re never too far from the people you love.”

The 31-year-old said Christmas had a special place in his heart because of its religious significance.

“Christmas time to me is about togetherness and unity,” he explained. “For me it’s important to keep the righteous meaning at the forefront.

“After all, that’s the whole purpose, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Mr Williams said he was introduced to Christ at an early age — his grandparents took him to the West Pembroke Pentecostal Assembly as a youngster.

His faith started to become even more real when he was preparing to pursue his dreams in music in 2012 and it’s been a huge source of encouragement for him in the years since.

At one point he was bouncing around each week staying on different friend’s couches just to get by. “All I had was God,” he explained. “I didn’t have any cash in my pocket and all my support system, my close friends, were in Bermuda.

“I felt like God was testing me to see how much I really believed in Him.

“Because it’s one thing when someone who is rich says they have faith but what’s your real test if you have never had to struggle or be in a position to rely fully on God for your next meal or to keep you safe?”

Mr Williams doesn’t think he would have made it this far in his career without God’s help.

When he first learned he was signed to Atlanta-based label Street Execs Management he didn’t even know if he had the cash to get there.

He prayed and moments later the phone rang. It was his mother and sister — they’d bought him a plane ticket.

These days, Mr Williams has created beats for big names in the urban music scene like 2 Chains and 50 Cent.

He feels God has put him in this industry as a way to affect positive change within hip hop.

“When I actually got signed last year I thanked God and said, ‘Now I am ready to be in a position to make change’,” Mr Williams said.

“It’s funny because I never asked God to [help me] be a producer. What I asked God for ten years ago was to put me in a place to make change and that’s why I feel like my role in music is bigger than me. It’s bigger than this because now I am inspiring people with my work and the things I talk to people about.

“For me it’s not even about music. It’s about believing in myself and believing that whatever I want to do it’s only going to get accomplished if I take God with me.”

He believes his career is also giving him a platform to impact the younger generation.

“A lot of young people see someone in a suit and tie, but if you come to them with an appeal that’s interesting to them and then speak truth into their lives, they can relate to it a little more,” he said.

“You have to be genuine first to get people’s attention.

“With this music journey God is helping me to accomplish what I want with my position.

“But He is also using my accomplishments to influence people because when you do so many things then you automatically get people’s attention. I plan to use that to give back. I don’t agree with using your success to boast about things.”

Mr Williams said it’s common to find materialistic people in his line of work.

However, he has made an effort not to compromise on his beliefs. “I don’t do anything just because it’s money,” he said. “It has to feel good for me. I have chosen not to work with certain artists who I felt I didn’t vibe with — and that comes from me standing for something and not compromising on who I am. “That’s important to me at the end of the day because I’d rather get my success solely being me and know that along the way God has shaped me into the man I needed to be.

“I am trying to reach people. Even just by me being polite and respectful and having a regular conversation with people they are so amazed.

“I don’t take any credit for that. I’ve come to see that I’m nothing without God.”

<p>Advice to grow your faith</p>

1. Be careful of the company you keep

Rian Williams said it was important for him to be around people who thought like him and had the same morals and integrity. He said: “If I am a young person that wants to walk righteously and my friend’s aren’t like that it’s going to be hard.

“The first thing I would do is talk to them about the positive changes God has brought about in my life. The good ones will likely gravitate towards that and those are the ones that you need to keep around. The other ones you have to let them go, no matter how long you have known them for.”

He’s learned it’s better to have three genuine, righteous friends in his corner, than to have 20 people around him. “When you are looking for popularity that’s when you end up having relationships with no substance,” he said.

2. Make an effort to talk to God daily

Mr Wiliams said his relationship with God grew deeper when he started speaking to him as a friend and involving Him in regular life situations.

“Talk to Him because He is your friend, too,” he said. “He will reveal the answers to you. Believing in God and loving Him isn’t corny or something that makes you a punk. At the end of the day He is in control of everything. When you are relying on God you’re on the right team.”

3. Choose positive activities

He said young people should get involved with positive organisations in their spare time. If they fill their calendar with sports, arts or other positive hobbies, then there’s less temptation to get involved with negative things.

4. Find an older mentor

“You don’t have to just spend time with your peers,” Mr Williams said. “Sometimes people that are older than you, like a Big Brother or a mentor, can have a really positive impact on your life.

“Those are the kinds of people you should seek as young people because they are going to inspire you and take time to get to know who you are and your story.

“That’s one thing I did from young. Whenever I encountered people I admired growing up I made sure that I took the opportunity to speak with them.”