Daniel Meredith wasn’t the average high schooler. While the other students of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy enjoyed their daily school lunches, Meredith skipped on food so he could save up his lunch money to buy a Maschine, a tool that can be used to make beats and loops based on drum and synth samples.
And thus, the third-year in computer science began working toward his rap career.
Meredith grew up in a Cleveland suburb listening to Christian music, but he was drawn to rap. He began working with music by recording radio hip-hop on cassettes. Today he follows modern artists like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar.
“It was the rebellious thing to do. Our parents didn’t approve,” he said, laughing.
Meredith admitted that sometimes he struggles with the thought of being a rapper, knowing that many of the musicians he looks up to have come from very different backgrounds than himself.
However, he said that listening to Childish Gambino, a rapper who works to promote the message of loving one’s self, has helped him overcome his self-doubt and realize that breaking molds can be a good thing.
“To rap, I have to be very comfortable with myself and love myself,” he said.
Meredith has honed in on his skills by being a part of the Student Talent Agency Experience, a student-run organization founded in Spring 2014 by the group’s president, Michael Inman, a third-year in marketing.
“Our goal is to help talented students thrive on campus and provide all members an understanding of the industry,” Inman said.
In addition to being a hub for students interested in the entertainment business, STAE also provides students the opportunity to provide marketing and creative services for the talent. Although Inman has only gotten to know Meredith’s artistic side recently, he said that he has “never been unimpressed” by Meredith’s content.
While Meredith said he isn’t sure if being a professional rapper is his path in life, the self-described “music nerd” does know that music will always be a part of his life, stating that he would like to help with stage design for small-time artists.
“I definitely want to be involved with music in my career. I’m really interested in stage design and what you can do with projectors and light to create an interesting experience for the crowd,” Meredith said.
Helping people is a regular occurrence for Meredith, who is also a member of Design for America, a group that helps students who are undecided in their major figure out their path.
He was homeschooled until his seventh year, and admitted that he felt “lost” after being put into a traditional schooling system. Understanding how overwhelming a transition like that can be has driven Meredith to help fellow students find their way.
“I want to help people figure out what the f— they want to do,” he said.
Meredith is also interested in special effects and innovative companies like IDEO, a nonprofit organization that works toward using human-centered designs to alleviate poverty. But for now he is focusing on being a student and everything that comes with it.
“Honestly, I just want to get my loans paid off,” he said.