At the tender age of 13, puberty robbed Charles "Base Yung" Mtawali II of becoming the next singing sensation.
The consistent melodies which once flowed from Base's golden voice were replaced by lots of cracking noises. So the talented young man quit singing.
But you'd never know any of this from listening to his free new EP, "Childish Dreams Take Flight," since the singer-turned-rapper has developed a much deeper voice than his younger days, which is why he chose the name "Base" — although the spelling of his name refers to a foundation instead of low-frequency sounds like the other word "bass".
Base, 21, of Middletown, who's currently a junior studying media design at Wilmington University, spoke of the hurdles he leaped over to deliver "Childish Dreams," which he dropped during the summer.
Q How've you grown as an emcee and person since releasing your first mixtape, "From TZ to DE," to your latest project, "Childish Dreams Take Flight"?
A "From TZ" [released in 2010] was basically me transitioning into the new life out here in America, because I'm originally from Tanzania in Africa. Basically it was me talking about my experiences back there and my new experiences here. I really had a culture shock because it was pretty different. It was two different worlds, because I came up here around January of 2010 and I was 18, so I pretty much lived my whole life in Africa. It was a whole different world in America, so I kind of started from there and started rapping. I got to the point where every three months I dropped another mixtape. Then I dropped my full-length project, which is "Childish Dreams Take Flight." The project is inspirational music and I wanted to draw a different crowd and wanted it to have a full-length concept. I wanted to just reassure people that they should pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they were going through. When I was going through the early stages of making "Childish Dreams Take Flight," I really had a plan: I wanted to let my fellow college [peers], or anybody who was going through a lot in their life, to know that regardless of what you're doing you should just pursue your dreams because anything can happen with God's help.
Q From listening to "Childish Dreams" it would've been hard to detect you had a culture shock after coming to America, since you're rhyming about playing video games with your girlfriend and other things that are typical for young American adults. So what was the shock you experienced after arriving here?
A It wasn't a culture shock, really. It was the little things, the things that Americans go through like finding a job, because in Africa you can't get a job if you're in high school or you'd have to wait until you graduated from college. Or like a social security number — we never had things like that. You have to pay taxes here. When I was in Africa I used to be a person who hung around in the clubs; I was like 18. But when I came here I was 18 and they told me I had to be 21, and I was like "What? Are you serious?" Certain aspects like that had me so confused and it took me a longtime to get it through my brain that: "Oh yeah, I couldn't do that anymore."
Page 2 of 2 - Q Though "Childish Dreams" includes inspirational songs — overall it feels more like a party album. Do you feel making party music is your strength?
A To tell you the truth, that wasn't even really the plan. I just work around a lot of producers that like party beats, and I wanted to show that I can do whatever on any beat. You can put a highly influential message in any type of beat; it could be a party beat or a hip-hop hardcore beat or rock beat. So that's what I wanted to showcase in this project.
Q What inspired you to become serious about rap?
A The main reason is like I said, I just wanted to inspire people. I'm an epileptic, so basically I get seizures. I definitely need to stay on top of my medication; I need to take medication in the morning and evening just to [function] to study … my hands start to shake without my medicine. Basically I said to myself there's people that have this disease and they think the world is over and they think they can't do anything. But I want to show them that even though they do have this disease, you can still prosper and succeed.