Robinson hall was bangin’ as IPR’s DIY 360 welcomed King Sandman (aka Onyx Johnson), a longstanding member of the IPR family, Instructor, Producer, and well known twin cities rapper. His appearance, fueled by skilled beats and a well-crafted lyrical message, offered students a strong reinforcement for their own desires to pursue careers in the music business.
Onyx was a graduate of the very first IPR class. Before IPR offered A.A.S Media Arts degree programs in Audio Production, Music Business, and Sound Design, technical diploma programs were the offering. An IPR television ad caught Onyx’s attention at a crucial point in his young career; he toured the school before IPR’s studios and classrooms were fully constructed and decided to enroll.
Hang tight, let’s put this story on rewind…
Onyx was surrounded by musical mentors from a very young age. At 11 years old his uncle took him to visit his first professional recording studio. This inspired him to begin writing his own raps.
For Christmas, age 13, he received a Yamaha PSR 520 keyboard and learned the value of holing away in his bedroom to create his own beats. Music became a permanent fixture in his life to the point where he released his first CD around 1998 then began to receive serious attention from peers and people in his neighborhood. As his artistic sphere of influence began to grow, he even became recognized as a skilled battle rapper.
After High school, Onyx attended college at Clark Atlanta University. Back when CD’s were still a primary source of artist and label income, he scored a record deal with an indie label. They put some advertising dollars behind him too: videos, commercials on BET, and worldwide distribution.
Onyx began networking with DJ Quik and almost ended up on Quik’s label. As often happens when artists work to propel their careers in a positive direction, Onyx’s label was the middle man on the deal and it never happened. In the end the distribution company with the label he was signed to went bankrupt. Through the process he learned some hard business lessons.
Which brings us back to IPR…
King Sandman may not be a worldwide rap superstar, but because he’s spent some time in the school of hard knocks and learned from some solid mentors, this week’s DIY host Walter Chancellor notwithstanding, he has discovered the DIY way of doing business is the smartest way to roll long term. He made it clear to IPR students that unless they embrace the skills their Instructors are passing on, the potential for failure will always be there.
If you missed this installment of DIY, check the IPRpresents YouTube channel to hear Onyx’s story, and watch him perform.
You can also learn more about King Sandman by visiting his web channels: