100,000 a day. That’s a low estimate of how many new songs are released to the world every 24 hours. With such a massive amount of music being released so consistently, it is harder now than ever for even the most talented artists to cut through the noise and make a name for themselves, in the music industry. Regardless, there are a few who find a way to do it. For this list, we interviewed ten artists in South Carolina that are doing just that.
Nestled humbly in the Grand Strand of South Carolina, the Arcadia Studios team has been providing industry-quality audio, visual, and marketing services to a diverse range of artists and businesses for decades. Today, they are leading the charge toward a sustainable model for artist independence in the rapid evolution of the music industry today. Their unique approach has contributed immensely to the success of many of the artists we’ll be discussing today. “For me, it’s never been about money. I know I could move and charge a hundred times more for my skills, easily. It’s about helping artists stay sane and keeping these kids off the streets. I think making my expertise available and affordable to them and seeing them come in and be here rather than somewhere else depressed or getting in trouble is far more valuable than any amount of money.” These are the words of Arcadia’s Owner and Chief Engineer, Darryl “DeeCee” Cherry. It’s a sentiment that is reflected by the rest of his team, also. Patrick Richardson, Arcadia’s Chief Visual Producer, said, “I could drive a few hours up the road and add a zero or two to the end of my price for a basic music video, but then I wouldn’t be a part of this mission. The mission is what matters to me. It’s what matters to all of us.” We interviewed the rest of the team to hear their thoughts. From Director of Marketing, Shawn “Khan” Anderson, to Artist Development Manager, Theo Johnson, and the rest of the audio production team, Kwesi “WYD” Jackson and Jonathan “12Gage” Ashton, the intent behind their work was the same. We deduced that, perhaps, that’s what makes Arcadia’s quality and impact so significant; however, we decided to let their artists speak for themselves.
SHAWN KHAN is a 24 year old artist from Greene County, Pennsylvania, currently residing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When asked why he makes music, he said, “Music was the only thing that kept me alive, at times, as a kid. Moreso, God speaking to me through music. Music isn’t just a concept to me. It’s something I feel like I can connect with and have an actual relationship with, no matter what form it takes. I want to use that connection to help others, now. I want to bring a sound to the earth we’ve never heard before. I don’t even know what it is yet, but I know it’s out there, waiting to be released on the earth. When I’m ready for it or when the world is ready for it, we’ll receive it, and I’ll be ready to play my part in delivering it.” Describing his own work simply as, “Powerful,” and, “Glorious,” Shawn’s uniqueness can be found in his artistic diversity and innovation. “I can do any genre. I love them all. Even the ‘weird’ ones. I always find something to appreciate. Mark my words, I’ll have an opera song playing in the club one day.” He says that he wants to “love people through music.” He wants his music to “… relate to peoples’ pain but, also, empower them to overcome it. I want them to know that love and power comes from God too.” We asked Him to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “It varies, depending on the energy and emotion I want to capture and how that balances with the message I want to communicate. Regardless, I never want the purpose of my music to be empty. Even if I make a song that is ‘empty’ and void of depth or meaning on the surface, it’s intentional. Everything I do, I do for a reason.” His message to the world is, “I was sent from another dimension to deliver a message with two words, in one name: ‘We overcome.” Signed, ‘Jesus.’”
“Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”
Cas is a 35 year old artist from Rhode Island, He has been residing in Myrtle Beach, SC, for the last nine years. When asked why he makes music, he said, “It’s in us all. It’s everything. It’s expression. There’s something about music that, the people who make it, hold carefully in the core of their being.” Describing his own work as, “A cosmic gumbo,” Cas’s uniqueness can be found in the fact that he wants his listeners to interpret his sound and story for themselves, and everyone may get something different. He says that he wants his music to make people feel free, inspired, and radiant. He shared with us that music has, “… always been a part of my life. It’s been my late night parties, solitude, and therapy.” We asked Cas to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “The music does it all. I try to capture the sound or how I interpret the vibe of it. It fuels how I approach the song. My cat is usually around. I’m sure that helps.” His message to the world is, “Be true to yourself and be kind to others.”
“ATM: All The Money.”
ATM Dollaz is a 29 year old artist from Myrtle Beach, SC. When asked why he makes music, he said, “I started making music, inspired from childhood and modern day occurrences throughout my life. (It was) a way for me to express myself and feel like my true self—an outlet to tell your story and have people all around the world relate to it.” He describes his own work as influenced by the likes of, “Lil Wayne, 2Pac, Luther Vandross, Micheal Jackson, and 50 Cent.” He says, “I would describe my sound as influential, with old and new school flows, cadence, and rhythm.” ATM tells that his uniqueness can be found in, “… being authentic. The true love of music is what keeps me going and the simplicity of being myself and not caring to be judged. I’ve always been a leader. It started with sports and led to me making my own story.” He says that he wants his music to, “… affect people in a positive way, give them energy and confidence to accomplish whatever they want in life, believe in self and the man above, stay consistent, and watch the results.” He shared with us, “When I didn’t have anyone to talk to or understand me, I put it into my music. Music is universal. There’s a song out there you can relate to, when you’re sad, happy, or feeling grumpy. Music was my escape—my happy place.” We asked ATM to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “What inspires me to write music is an instrumental with a nice bass and kick or even going through a real life experience and wanting to translate it through music.” His message to the world is that he is a, “Father before anything, and music is my passion but not who I am as a man. My brand—my name—is everything and what represents me for life.”
“It can get personal for me, to walk through life with music. While being the creator of that energy, it’s truly a surreal experience. Kind of like the zen we all search for.”
HiiiGHC is a 30 year old artist from the upper peninsula of Michigan. He is currently residing in Myrtle Beach, SC. When asked why he makes music, he said, “They say, ‘Try everything once.’ If you’re good at it, and you enjoy it, how do you stop?” Describing his own work as, “Clear and smooth with a bass and guitar rhythm,” He says his uniqueness can be found in his view that, “Most musicians are always proud to represent their city. I am too, but growing up and through my young adulthood and military career, I moved around a lot, spending equal time in most places. For these reasons, I feel I have obtained many different artist styles, ranging from Michigan, Chicago, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and California. I find the bass (south), implement a vibe (west), construct a rhythm with clear lyrics (east), and then I lay down some heavy hitting bars (north).” He told us, “There is just something on fire in me that would love to create a wave between street rap, hip-hop, club, and guitar-style music, with intents and hopes on generating a larger fan base from all different genre lovers which will bring more people together.” He shared with us that, for him, “The best part about music is there are many different types of it, so no matter where I have been in life, there has always been something to listen to that would help me either relate or cope with my surroundings.” We asked HiiiGHC to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “So it starts off with the beat selection, and I only choose beats to write to that I can shred a quick freestyle on. Whether it’s a quick 16 or 32, … once I decide on a path to travel, I may not finish a song for six months—start writing one day, come back and revise, then do it again twenty more times, or I may start and finish a whole track, front to back, in under an hour. It really depends on the story or the exact feeling I’m in during the moment. I’ll write a track and never even use it!” His message to the world is, “I just like to kick it up a notch, so I make my own salsa.”
MALO (Elnesto Valle)
MALO is a 35 year old artist from Florida. He grew up in Indiana, and is currently residing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When asked why he makes music, he said, “As an outlet that provides the means for a foundation.” Describing his own work as, “… emotional, melodic—Tupac meets Eminem,” MALO’s uniqueness can be found in the fact that his music is true, as He says. “Struggle, pain, heartache, and misery created the man I am today.” He says that he wants his music to inspire people. He shared with us that, for him, music has, “… helped to define him and find his purpose in life.” We asked MALO to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “Pain inspires me to write. I just turn a beat on and feel the instruments and wait to catch a vibe and go with whatever I’m feeling.” His message to the world is, “There is no victory without sacrifice, and it’s not about what you did. It’s about what you do.”
“A son never forgets.”
JiggieHendrix is a 31 year old artist from North Myrtle Beach, SC. When asked why he makes music, he said, “A prophet actually told me I’d change the music industry, when I was younger.” Describing his own work as, “… a little bit of everything,” Jiggie says, “I want to go as far as dropping some country, but the late Nipsey Hussle was very influential on my delivery and message of rapping, and I love to make music for the female audience.” He says, “What makes me unique is where I come from. I don’t look at myself as a ‘gangster rapper.’ I will protect what I love, but I want to spread a different message to the ones coming after me.” He says that he wants his music to let people, “… know they can be anything they put their minds to and to know you stand out more when you not trying to fit in.” Jiggie shared, “I want my music to actually teach minorities. It’s more than just trapping and gangbanging, and even if you’re caught in that lifestyle, you can always make a positive change, especially in your community.” He shared with us that, for him, music, “… helps me keep my focus, when everything else seems to be crashing down. I love to really tap in at the studio with my boys. Biggz and DeeCee really don’t let me put out anything we can’t all feel.” We asked Him to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “Honestly, I like the vibe to be right, have some tree, and see what the music makes us feel. A lot of my life experiences motivate me. When it comes to what I’m creating, I don’t want to be a ‘cap’ rapper.” His message to the world is, “I want everyone to know that I wouldn’t be anything or in this position, without God. I’m very blessed to be of sound mind and the age I’m at. A lot of my friends didn’t make it here or ended up locked up.”
“Time is Money.”
CashFlow KweeZy is a 30-year-old artist from Myrtle Beach, SC. When asked why he makes music, he said, “… when I hear that question, it’s like asking a fish why it swims or a dog why it’s barking. Music has just always been a part of my life and probably one of the few consistent things in my life, especially Hip-Hop. Growing up, in the 90s, I had young parents who were dabbling in the streets a little bit and also in the club lifestyle, like a lot of people. That trickled down to me in a lot of ways and had a lot of influence on my love for music. I had both my father in my life, before he went to prison, and my stepfather. Both of them sold drugs and were ‘street dudes,’ but my stepfather was also a DJ. Living in the household with him and my mom, I still remember the large collection of mixtapes, albums, and vinyls sitting around the house, music blasting loud, you know, the grown-up house parties and cookouts. I can remember freestyling or, at least, trying to rap as a young kid, probably six or seven years old. It seems like music was much more a part of our lives back then, with music videos on TV and things like that. It wasn’t even a conscious decision to start making music. One day I looked up, and I was writing songs and rapping at a young age and battling at school. Really, I was just following the example of the greats who were using music as an outlet to cope with the struggles of life and paint a picture from their own personal perspective. Since then, no matter what I’ve been through in life, from the streets to prison or different relationships I’ve been in, I still make music with that outlook.”
When asked how he describes his own style, CashFlow said, “I have to shout out J. Cole as a forever ‘goated’ Carolina artist. His song ‘Middle Child’ perfectly explains where I feel like I land as a hip-hop fan and artist, being the middle child who understands the older sibling but also sympathizes with the younger one. Growing up in the 90’s, I was a fan of Pac, DMX, Eminem, and every other artist that made the 90’s and early 2000’s special. Also, I’m young enough to have grown up with Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane and grown through the late 2000’s phase with snap and trap music, and even later than that, when the melodies and flows started to change drastically. I feel like I grew up with everything and have been influenced by it. Being that I started creating music at a young age and fell in love with hip-hop early on, I was influenced, lyrically, by a lot of rappers at the time. As time went on and the south had its rise in hip hop, that helped carve my creativity and individuality away from being just a lyrical, bar-for-bar rapper which was more popular at a time. Overall, I’m just influenced by music, and it doesn’t always have to be rap.” He went on, then, to share what he believes makes him unique. “Being born and raised in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a, somewhat, unique experience in itself. Being a medium-sized, coastal resort city in a rural, poor state, the city was always more of a faster pace, compared to surrounding areas in South Carolina. What came with that is the drug activity and lifestyle. I had a few run-ins with the law over the years. In December, 2022, I finished a ten year sentence in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for trafficking cocaine. I was released, after eight and a half years in prison. With South Carolina being one of the most strict states when it comes to drug laws and punishments, I ended up serving 85% of the term without the possibility of parole or good behavior. Despite being incarcerated for almost 10 years, I did my best to stay afloat and stay connected so I wouldn’t be out of the loop when I was released. I read countless books and I wrote thousands of pages of notes to refer to, during my incarceration and after my release. I used smuggled contraband cell phones and spent literal years watching YouTube videos on different subjects—everything from history and philosophy to investing in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, in 2017, before bitcoin became a household name. I’m still a diehard crypto enthusiast and holder. I used those same smuggled cell phones to gain a large following on TikTok and millions of views on my videos showing prison content, all of which is still on my page after my release.
After just being released from prison in the last month of 2022, I’m looking at 2023 as a brand new slate and a platter of opportunity because, before this year, I was in prison, where there was very little opportunity but a surplus of violence and chaos. Despite being in prison for pretty much the entirety of my twenties, I still found ways to overcome and even thrive during the darkest period of my life. Now that I’ve been released from prison, I’m in the small percentile of men who have come home to a better situation than they left. For that, I’m thankful, but I also feel a duty to take it all the way and reach my goals for all the guys that are locked up and will never have the opportunity to reach their goals. Also, there’s a duty to make an example for the young person who has never been in prison and, hopefully, won’t go, but, instead, turn his hustle into something positive because of me.” CashFlow says that he wants his music to give listeners, “… that drive and that ambition because I know, firsthand, that, with the right mindset and the right drive, you can make any mission achievable. I’ve sat in prison cells with people you would call a kingpin or a drug lord, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month from prison. Sometimes, not even off of drugs, just prepaid cell phones, tobacco, lighters, cigars, and rolling papers. They take those items and find a way to get them into this high-demand market, and they capitalize. Once I saw that, I looked at life differently. I didn’t look at these guys like kingpins or drug lords. They were men, just like me. Most of them came to prison with nothing at all. If anything, they had a reputation but nothing of monetary value. The only difference is that they had a plan and the opportunity to go along with it. I never want any of my listeners to take my stories or my music or any of my art as glorification but, instead, as motivation—to say to themselves, ‘If this guy overcame his situation and thrived out of it, I can do the same thing, if not more. He’s a human just like me.’”
He shared with us that, for him, “Music is my life. I mean that wholeheartedly. I’ve created music, during every stage of my life and from every aspect. I’ve been a child struggling with feelings of helplessness and poverty. I have been a fully grown adult in prison writing songs about how I’m sending thousands of dollars home to my girl and my kids through my own means of ‘finessing’ and organizing schemes from prison. Now, I get the pleasure to explore what it’s like making music as a man freely released from prison. I’ve been everywhere, from the church as a kid in the choir to a jail cell writing raps in the dark when my cellmate is sleeping. As I said earlier, one of the few consistent things in my life has always been the music. If nothing or nobody was there for me to turn to, I always had the music.” We asked CashFlow to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “Well, my creative process usually starts with a little herbal therapy, if you know what I mean,” he joked. “Nah, in all seriousness, it’s about vibes—whatever I’m feeling or whatever is in the air. If we’re just playing instrumentals, it’s whatever the music is telling me or whatever it’s communicating to me. I try to let the vibes lead me because, sometimes, when you overthink something in music, it just doesn’t feel the same as when it just flows out.” His message to the world is, “843, South Carolina, we up next! There’s a lot of culture in our state, but especially on the coast. We are the direct descendants of slaves, living here, and a lot of our families still live on or near the lands that our ancestors were enslaved on. I feel like a lot of our younger generation either are ashamed or don’t have pride in this culture, so we’re losing a lot of our language, dialect, and history. I represent the Gullah Geechee Culture—Myrtle Beach all the way down to Charleston and beyond. Binyah! Outchea! If you know, you know!”
“My music is straightforward because I want to give people me and let them know they’re not alone in going through the things that they go through.” ~Juice Wrld
Ayeephill is a 22 year old artist from Maryland and currently residing in Myrtle Beach, SC. When asked why he makes music, he said, “I make music to speak about thoughts that constantly go through my mind and use my music to help others see that they’re not the only ones going through this journey we call life. After seeing my favorite artist Juice Wrld blow up and just keeping my music to myself, over these past 2 years, I started to release music and create a name for myself. I know that life gets hard, but my goal with my music is to, hopefully, bring healing to the world, ‘cause everyone needs love.” Describing his own work as, simply, “Hip-Hop and R&B,” his uniqueness, according to him, can be found in, “… my family’s past and everything I’ve been through, following the loss of my cousin, to the loss of one of my really close friends. This might not seem to crazy to anyone, considering we lose people everyday; however, both of these individuals, who I loved very deeply, committed suicide. My friend grew up making music. He had such a bright future ahead of him—nothing in the way. He just couldn’t shake what was taking over his head, and that’s why I feel so inspired and connected to music. It allows me to get out thoughts and feelings that I just bear to face in the world. I told my mom, when we used to sleep in my aunt’s attic with stink bugs, ‘I promise you, when I get older, you will have whatever you want. I won’t stop, ‘til I get it.’ It’s everything for my friends and family.” He says that he wants his music to make people, “… vibe and really take a deep listen to the words being said.” He shared with us that, for him, “Music has saved my life. I believe, without music, I don’t know where I would be with my life.” We asked Ayeephill to take us behind the curtain on his creative process. “I write from anywhere from 12AM to 5AM or other times when I just feel I have something to get off my chest.” His message to the world is, “I’m a loving, genuine guy, and my music is set out to bring love and positive energy to the world. I know not one person can make all that great of change in the world, but I’d be damned if I don’t take this opportunity to try and bring peace to the world again. I love everybody, and thank you for supporting me.”
The Future Is Bright
Those were just a handful of the artists we were able to speak to that are making waves, with the help of the Arcadia team. We also spoke to artists like Richie Milano, Streets Love, Primo, Prince Xarolina, NatureBoyy, and CHRISTIAN. Arcadia hasn’t only been helping artists, however. We spoke with “Lo,” Owner of MSG Management, who has been managing artists for over seven years. Arcadia Studios has been his go-to source of quality services for his portfolio of artists, such as Loyal GamJuice Lee, Cookie, Mocha Mula, Big Mantha, Trapstar Kev, and Jag, to name a few, for several years. “I genuinely believe in my artists, so I want the best for them, in everything. I invest a lot of time and money into them, and I’m always confident doing that with Arcadia. We’re trying to move and shake things around here and provide new opportunities for local artists, female artists, everyone that’s been overlooked in the past. Arcadia has the same mission. It shows through their work, and that’s why I’ve worked with them for so long.” Arcadia has spent time building relationships with more than just music professionals, though. They have an established reputation among local video producers, religious organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, making them more of a community resource than just a studio. Could they be innovating a new era for business models in the music and studio industries? Time will tell, but the future is bright.