“You should know me” is an ongoing column that is intended to introduce accomplished Bay Area artists and entertainers to the mainstream media.
I have the pleasure of introducing you to “iStevie.” He is an Oakland native and son of professional gospel singer Stevie Early. Like his father, iStevie is an accomplished singer and musician that plays the piano, drums and is extending his repertoire to include the bass and guitar. Since 2000, iStevie has produced 5 albums, music videos and performed on countless songs.If you have attended concerts in California, you may have noticed iStevie sharing the same stage with Patti Labelle, The Whispers, Confunkshun, Ginuwine, Tank, Carl Thomas, KRS 1, Too Short, E40, Scarface, Digital Underground, Ready for the World, Lil Moe and many others.
With this resume, many people would assume that the artist is not truly talented or has some personal issues that prevented a rise to mega star level. I presented some questions to iStevie and requested nothing but the uncut truth.
Who is the artist iStevie?
I am a husband and father that would never compromise the integrity of my family. I am the book cover and face of my legacy, which is why you never heard of me getting arrested or having problems on the street. I see myself as a humble person that uses my music to make people smile. I try to give unconditional support to all of the other artists. My music is my autobiography. I only write real music, things that really happened. The song that describes me best is “Crazy Love” which is on my Back to Love Album. I stay grounded because I am a barber by trade. You can see me at Cedric’s Barbershop on 88th and International Boulevard. I have been able to finance various projects and my family by being true to myself.
What are the common factors that prevent talented people from becoming mega stars?
Too often an artist will sit on a hit for too long. They have something that is fire, but they don’t put it out. I have seen people get in their own way by overthinking the situation. Instead of introducing the song to the public, they convince themselves that now is not the time to promote the song.
What really happens behind the curtain in the industry?
Today, there is no real major distinction between a major artist and an independent artist. With social media and the internet, you have the ability to gain millions of fans with the click of a few buttons. Many artists are now transitioning to using platforms like iTunes to distribute their own music. However, some principles remain constant. You reap what you sew. An artist is typically only rewarded for their hard work, effort and discipline that they put into the music. You have to invest money into your music.
How do you sustain a family and income?
My wife Irena Early understands the industry because she was a rapper. She supports my ambition, understands late night studio sessions and trusts that I will honor the family. I have been fortunate to own a couple of different companies over the years. I have “Stay Focused” clothing line, which actually was the birth of Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Mode Clothing. I also own a graphic design company named “iStevie Graphics” and a production company names “iStevie Muzik Land.” In addition, I rent out my music studio that provides another source of income. I get my drive from my mother Karen Cox and stepdad Mobil Cox, but I was truly blessed to have Roddie Wah as a mentor that taught me the industry and helped me develop in business.
What is your next move now that you are no longer a rookie?
I am currently working on a movie called “Open Mic.” The movie is providing true insight into the culture vultures and greed of Hollywood. I am also teaching graphic design to the younger generation at the West Oakland Youth Center. I plan to release my new music and videos by this fall. The newly released singles are “Take this Ride” and “Fuel to the Fire” with rising star Ty Astor.
I enjoyed writing this piece and only hope to introduce you to some of the finer people that the Bay Area has to offer. I encourage you to support I Stevie and judge him for yourself.
You can listen to iStevie on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/artist/3IbJFUV4ymdNEEIkqJaU5Q;YouTube at youtu.be/N58T_qgIgkw, Facebook,and Instagram at @isteviemuzik.