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“I love music. The best thing of doing music is the people you get to meet and the opportunities you get to have to help people out. I’m grateful that we are able to do something that can benefit others.” These are the words of Simeon Lawrence, Jr. (“Young Sim”) talking about his Record Label Feel Good Music Coalition.
Feel Good Music Coalition, is a unique record label that tries to make a difference in regards to its music and production. In a personal interview, we had the pleasure to speak with Simeon, the CEO, Founder and Artist of the record label. Young Sim talked to us and gave us an inside look into his music production, the values and mission of the record label, along with some insight into the rest of the members forming the project.
At the beginning of the interview he told us about his background and roots. Young Sim was born in 1984 in Monrovia, Liberia. At the young age of 4, Simeon and his family left Liberia due to the civil war and ended up moving to United States. When asked about how this experience affected him as a person Simeon responded, “That is probably one of the most poignant experiences in my life as you know my character concerned.”
He explained how he and his family ended up moving to the US to seek political asylum. The Lawrence family found roots in Upper Darby (West Philadelphia), PA and restarted their whole life over from nothing. “Growing up as an urban kid and all of that just instilled me with the confidence that you can make something out of anything out of nothing,” Simeon said. “That was a very poignant experience in my life that shaped me as far as the man I am today.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Young Sim fell in love with music and sounds. At the age of 7 while at Stonehurst Hills Elementary, Simeon began playing the Viola and continued until he graduated high school. “I don’t even know why I picked the Viola,” he said. “I just liked the sound and kept playing until I graduated. That really shaped my mind with how sounds are concerned. I fell in love with how sounds can set your emotions.” A lot of people don’t know that Simeon can still play the viola today. His label mates try to get him to pick it back up, but I have a feeling we won’t be seeing Young Sim with the viola in any videos any time soon. Listen to any of Young Sim’s tracks and you will hear his passion for music and different sounds and you’ll feel his emotion through your speakers.
When asked about the relation of his music and emotions Simeon replied, “For me music has the ability to take me to specific time periods. It has the ability to take me to specific settings. My beats are like the soundtrack of my life. How I feel is one of the first things I tackle in order to write a song.” Simeon’s passion for music and urban environment led him to the ever evolving world of hip hop.
“I was a victim of my circumstances,” he said chuckling. “When we came to the United States, we moved to West Philadelphia, and that’s a hot bed for hip hop. I grew up listening to Will Smith, DJ Jazzy Jeff and all the pioneers. And that was just the voice for our culture.” Simeon’s experiences, love of music and frustration with the corporate structure of the music industry led him to start his own label. “I was 17 when the idea came up,” Simeon said.
“I was frustrated that a lot of my friends were making good music, and they were being asked to cater to the executives, who think they know the culture and know what people want to hear. I am a big fan of putting the power right back in the hands of the people, and so the only way to do that is to do it from the ground up, revolutionary style. So I just figured, I am going to set my guidelines and how I feel about music, and anyone that wants to join me can”.
Once Young Sim went full steam ahead, he created the record label and decided to name it Feel Good Music Coalition. When asked about how the name came about, he laughs. “That’s a good question,” he said. “In hind sight, it came from the emotion of the music. People used to come up and say I can really feel what you’re saying in your music and it makes me feel good. Then I just started saying we make that feel good music. And then coalition is just because I am trying to build it into something bigger than myself. I want this movement entertainment company to outlive me.”
Feel Good Music Coalition is a unique hip hop record label and is not willing to stray from their definition of good music. They also differ from other hip-hop labels in the sense that they don’t curse or use sexual innuendo in any of the lyrics. “It is just something I am uncomfortable with,” Simeon said. “I got a mother who wouldn’t listen to my music if it was like that. I got a grandmother and I just take the responsibility as a person that feels responsible for his actions. I just refuse to do something that I wouldn’t feel comfortable having them listen to.” Some may think that being based in Utah, Feel Good Music would have a difficult time being embraced by the community, but that would be a misconception. Simeon told us, “The community has been great in embracing us. They appreciate good music. And the hip hop community in Utah itself can hold their own against any city in the United States.”
The team at Feel Good Music Coalition is large and growing. Simeon refers to them just as one big family that loves music. “We are always looking to add to the label. Right now we are focused on a lot of individual projects, but we are looking to put a compilation album for everyone to get to know the label.”
For those of you not familiar with Feel Good Music Coalition, you can check out their song “Teach Me How to Jimmer” track, which went viral a day after being released. “That was crazy,” Young Sim said. “That song definitely got us a lot of buzz here in Utah. Definit approached me to do the chorus. And it actually sat in my in box for a day. After I listened to it, I thought it had some potential. So I did the chorus and added a verse and the very next day we put it out and it went crazy.” I highly recommend picking up a copy of Young Sim’s “Audio Diary” available on iTunes.
There you will get a look into the label and some of his label mates such as Definit, another younger talent with an interesting story. So far, Feel Good Music has experienced some success but is has all come from hard work. Anyone that knows Simeon knows that he is really low key, but a workaholic. He is ether in the Studio, shooting a video or doing an interview every day.
Young Sim has a very positive outlook on life and knows it’s take a lot of hard work to be successful. He lives his life with the motto, “Progress is a process, period.” He believes life is supposed to be hard and it’s supposed to be fun. “I feel like take the opportunities that you have to succeed and don’t live for yourself. Don’t be selfish. Do what you can to help others, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable life.”
His main message would be if you have a dream, focus and do what you can independent what other say.” You check out Feel Good Music Coalition’s tracks, projects, events and upcoming shows on their site anytime: www.feelgoodmusiccoalition.com.