Sir JefFREEy 5D's Hustle & Flow: Former A.S. director chases musical dream
For the average Santa Monica College student, focusing on schoolwork and transferring to a four-year university is the goal. However, for some people leading an average life is not a path to their liking. This is true for former SMC student and previous Associated Students Director of Instructional Support, Jeffrey Lewis, who follows some wise words from Will Smith, "Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity."
Lewis, who left SMC last semester to pursue his dream of becoming a music artist, is not satisfied with living the conventional life of a student.
"I've always had this belief if you have a dream you should stick to it no matter what, and I have to practice what I preach," says Lewis.
SMC didn't have the specific music program he was looking for so he chose film classes so he could learn to direct his own music videos.
Since he left SMC, Lewis is experiencing the highs and lows of being an aspiring recording artist. The highs are getting to do what he loves but the lows are sometimes having to be what he describes as a "starving artist."
He currently works at a restaurant and this is his main source of income until he can start making money with his music. Doing the exact opposite, his sisters all have degrees from prestigious universities to hopefully secure their futures.
"Sometimes I kick myself thinking would it be different if I stayed in school and just continued on with a film degree then go to law school?" Lewis says, "But then the right side of my brain starts screaming and just reminds me that I'm out here for a reason and that my love for music will transcend all other options."
Lewis wouldn't feel as confident about his decision to pursue music if it wasn't for the support of his parents. He hopes to call his mother one day and tell her that she never has to work again.
While growing up in the rough streets of Detroit, he drew his passion from his experiences. He describes gritty tales of getting into fights, his family being robbed, having cars, stolen. "I have so much passion about the the things in my music because I've actually experienced them," says Lewis.
While remaining true to who he is, Lewis hopes to leave his past behind and tour in Europe, living suitcase to suitcase. Hopefully, his debut album that he's working on, "The Sacred Covenant," will set him on that path.
His debut album will release on July 20, his birthday, along with an EP, "Not Stoppin' 4 Nothin'," as a nice birthday celebration. "This is why I'm spending every day of my summer behind doors," Lewis says, explaining that he's a huge introvert.
Lewis says he's lucky to be able to work with a producer that's a close friend. He records a track to send to his producer, Mike, who then constructs a beat around his voice and matches the tone. "It's rare, I feel, to find a producer who's willing to work with your voice and your vision like that," Lewis says.
Mike agrees by saying, "It's funny because me and 'J' live on different coasts but we're always on the same wavelength." They believe in keeping their collaborations within the family for now so that they can focus on the craft.
Lewis' influences range from oldies like Marvin Gaye, Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, to Kid Cudi and Jimi Hendrix.
Playing music all his life, Lewis can't imagine anything going differently. His excitement is reminiscent of that Christmas Eve feeling, "It's like a little kid who still believes in Santa Claus every time I record."
Lewis hopes to change the face of music, full of saturation and auto-tune, but he will have to continue to dream big.
Once again, Lewis references Smith, "There is a certain delusional quality that all successful people have to have," and this is what drives him.