Imagine attending college with a slew of rap stars. Think it doesn’t happen? Ask rap newcomer bONE about his experience at Prairie View A&M University and he’ll admit it does. “You know Superstarr, the one that wrote ‘Halle Berry’?,” bONE continues, “Him, Dorrough [‘Ice Cream Paint Job’], and Party Boyz [‘Flex’], they all went to Prairie View.” The Texas native may have a full load of studies to tend to—he’s a senior majoring in history—but he’s set on following in the footsteps of his hip-hop peers.
Before hitting the books, bONE, 23, had a Fisher-Price karaoke machine and a dream. The rapper, who acquired his moniker from a sixth grade football coach when he began to call him “Hambone,” turned his audio into full-fledged raps once he could read and write. But that doesn’t mean what he initially came up with was golden. “I don’t remember what [my first song] was about, but I do know it was horribly wack,” he admits. “I wrote it when I was about six or seven.” Practice made perfect and by the time the young lyricist was 17, he was a force to be reckoned with in his neighborhood, releasing his first solo mixtape, The Come Up, Vol. 1.
With music not far from his mind, bONE, born DeMarcus Hamilton, began to focus on his education, splitting his downtime between studying and recording. Eventually, the avid PS3 player (“When I’m not at school, I’ll be hanging with my friends and hitting Madden”) caught the eye of influential Def Jam label head L.A. Reid. “When I first auditioned for L.A. Reid, he told me that he saw me two or three years down the line; that I had longevity and potential,” says bONE, who cites LL Cool J and Scarface as his inspirations.
bONE’s first order of business is his single “Homegurl (He Gotta)” and its remix featuring Bun B, Rick Ross, and The-Dream. Though the track has staying power, the content is undeniably on the risqué side. “When I first wrote it, I didn’t plan on it being that raunchy,” he reveals. “It’s really about when you meet a girl and she tells her friends all about you.” As for the second goal on his label to-do list: complete his debut album, The Undergrad. Though he’s purposely omitting talk of street life from his first effort, the tunes he plans to create with hitmaker Tricky Stewart and his own production company, Red Prodigy, will keep listeners engaged. “As far as being a rapper, I like telling stories,” bONE states. “I’m trying to create a scene and bring you into it like you’re watching a movie.”