In a time where hip hop is becoming cliché, versatility is scarce. Artists are trapped in hit record mode, every album aimed at recapturing that first hit. Emerging from this lack of diversity is Sparkz – a lyricist who holds his own in any facet of hip hop and can perform in multiple genres. No matter the subcategory – from trap to snap, from gangster to dance – Sparkz can adapt. “To me, being a music artist is being able and willing to try other music, or step outside of your comfort zone,” he says.
With his highly anticipated June release “When Sparks Fly: The Party with Reality,” Sparkz showed his versatility as an artist and gave listeners insight to his outlook on life. Inspired by the rapper himself, the album title shows that while he is real hip hop in his heart, Sparkz knows you can’t be hard all the time. As one of his favorite comedians Katt Williams says, “You bangin’ on breakfast, nigga?” A southern boy hailing from Chattanooga, Tenn., Sparkz has seen and can relate to all sorts of lifestyles. “I’ve hung out with drug dealers, good ol’ boys, and millionaires,” he says. “It’s all the same. People want good things.”
Sparkz has always been interested in music. He was brought up in the Southern Baptist church, which he believes influences every genre of music. Seeing the congregations react to upbeat songs sparked his interest in music. As a kid, Sparkz wrote poetry, but mostly kept that to himself. Later, when he joined a dance group, he began freestyling with the members. “As I watched them, I saw the crowd reactions,” he says. “In private, I honed my vocal rhyming skills. When my confidence was up, a guy ran short on rhymes in a cipher and I jumped in, and it’s been on and popping ever since.”
Eventually, Sparkz compounded his church inspiration and affinity for words with the rush of performing in front of a crowd. “My involvement in sports taught me about grinding,” he says. “I always wanted to be the best and have people enjoy what I did. It was more for the fans than it was for me. It was like I was one with them and I didn’t want to let them down, whether it was hitting a shot, making a tackle, or catching the ball. The adrenaline of a sports game just translated into being on stage.”
The serious solo grind didn’t start for Sparkz until 2008. Before that, he was featured with other artists working with the label NBT. Then, at a party, formerly Milele Roots drummer Yattie Westfield was playing with Dagobah Militia and asked Sparkz to take the mic to freestyle. When he did, the crowd went wild. Sparkz continued doing shows with Westfield for the next year, making connections around town and eventually catching the attention of local label Valley Boy Entertainment. After recording a song with VBE, Sparkz caught the eye of CEO/artist Steve “The Instigator” Matherly. He began promoting Matherly’s shows and, in an interesting twist, Matherly put Sparkz in the opening lineup for southern rap group Nappy Roots when they performed in Chattanooga. One opportunity led to another, and Sparkz has since opened for multi-platinum recording artist Flo Rida and has hosted a show with Atlanta super group Crime Mobb.