The American Dream is a distant and ever fleeting ideal. For some the idea of the American Dream is merely a facade, a faraway notion that is only available for the upper-crest of society. Rarely, a man from the bottom is able to flip the status quo.
Some might say the American Dream is a fraud. A thing that died long ago, and was never truly accessible to minorities in the first place. Starlito defied all odds and cemented his place in Nashville history.
Starlito has been the centerpiece of Nashville’s rap scene for many years, ever since signing with CashMoney in the early 2000s. Nearly everyone in the city is aware of his music, via his collaborations with Kevin Gates, Young Jeezy, Don Trip, or Juicy J. This didn’t happen overnight.
Starlito discovered rapping in the same way as so many other rappers. As Starlito began freestyling and making beats in the halls of prestigious magnet school Hume-Fogg Academy, no one around him could have been aware of the impact he would go on to make.
He began to record at a small studio in Nashville, doing twenty-five dollar sessions with his friends, and not ever imagining that the music would make him his fortune. Jermaine Shute graduated HFA to enroll at Tennessee State University. He would go class to class selling his CDs, and one CD at a time took over a campus and shortly thereafter a city.
The definition of a hustler. Starlito is a man who came from nothing who blew up without the internet. Everything came off the muscle.
From selling CDs out of a bag, Lito’s mixtapes began to explode all across the southern scene. His music began to take hold in serious music circles, as his mixtapes and singles began to blow up and win SEA awards. Starlito saw his idols quickly turn to his peers, as major labels began bickering over their right to sign him.
His music wasn’t only catchy. He was the first artist to truly explicate the sentiments of daily life in Nashville and personify and verbalize the struggles of poverty and street-life where he called home. Another aspect of Starlito’s music and personality is his lack of greediness that demonized the rap industry for years. He continued to release music for the love of it, and never with the sole ambition of monetary gain.
Starlito and his frequent collaborator Don Trip both said that they were writers first and rappers second. This reflects through in every song, perfectly capturing the moods of situations from trapping, to being in the club, to romance, and more recently ballads of reflection on a life well lived.
He continued to toil, releasing nine mixtapes before finally settling in with Cash Money and a major label deal. Now, he has earned critical acclaim for both of his Step Brothers projects with Don Trip and just about every major hip-hop outlet in the world has lauded his talents.
He wasn’t supposed to be rich. He wasn’t supposed to be famous. He was supposed to be another statistic on the Nashville streets, but instead he took his talent and worked endlessly, until he had taken over the city and conquered the music scene.
Starlito is every common man’s dream. A poet who made riches and impacted thousands of people because of his ability to put pen to paper, and tell stories that others saw everyday in a vibrant, exciting way.
Not only is Starlito a rapper, but an entrepreneur. He has releasing clothing and taken part in many successful local business ventures, teaching the youth that a ball or a mic isn’t their only way out of a rough situation. He continues to interact with Nashville’s children as the owner of the Nashville Cardinals, a youth football program serving under privileged kids.
A man from nothing, built from the ashes. Starlito is not only a celebrity, but an inspiration to every child from our city who thinks that success is as far away as the stars, and teaches them that shooting for them isn’t as impossible as they could ever imagine.
Starlito recently released an album entitled, Hot Chicken, effectively serving as a lyrical love letter to the city of Nashville, and it is available on all streaming services.