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Sitting at home as a bored teen in the middle of summer, in the middle of Nowhere USA, he began creating rap beats and told himself: “I’m going to do the DJ Khaled thing, where I make dope songs and put them out on MySpace… looking back now those beats were shitty.”
But they must have improved quickly, because less than two years later, after heavy practicing, Carnage reached out in a MySpace message to songwriter and producer Niles “Cyranizzy” Hollowell-Dhar, best known as one-half of LA-based, hip-hop/indie duo The Cataracs. Carnage remembers “rarely keeping in contact” with Niles (which he understood as being politely brushed off), until one day posting a song Niles liked that subsequently rekindled their talks of collaborating. “‘The song wasn’t that great, but I love your personality,'” he remembers Niles telling him.
To take his musical aspirations to the next level, Carnage knew this was the opportunity to get his foot in the door. After meeting his now manager, Mark, during CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, Carnage decided to drop out of high school his sophomore year to get his GED, which his mother didn’t take so lightly. “She basically disowned me,” he exclaims, taking a giant personal risk at the time. “In Latino families, if you drop out of school you’re a flop.”
In order to bounce back, not only into his family’s good graces, but as a serious producer in the music industry, he took a leap of faith and moved where all dreams go to live, or die: Los Angeles.
Many people’s expectations of LA deteriorate after this relocation, discovering it’s nothing like a staged MTV reality show. And Carnage’s own leap started with a definite crash to earth when it turned out that he’d be sleeping on The Cataracs’ couch for the next four months in the midst of their “Like A G6” fame.
Surrounded by all their success, Carnage was ready to hit it big next, and stick it out to become an in-demand rap and pop producer. But instead, he says with a wry smile, “nothing happened.” With success nowhere on the horizon, his stint in LA lasted about as long as this paragraph.
With his musical hopes at an all time low, Carnage returned home at 20-years-old to pursue getting his high school diploma (you have until age 21), but procrastinated doing so knowing that’s not where his heart was. It seems his intuition was spot on, because soon after the mega-success of A$AP Rocky’s track “Big Spender,” Carnage’s remix of the record landed itself on Brooklyn rapper Theophilus London’s 2012 mixtape Rose Island Vol. 1, becoming a viral hit online.
But even this brush with success wasn’t enough to prove to his mom that he didn’t need a diploma. Finishing up high school via night classes, he moved back to Los Angeles to try to build the momentum behind his music.
After landing a minor publishing deal, he ditched sleeping on the couch and had enough money to pay rent on an apartment for six months. With time ticking by quicker than the hour glass in a game of Pictionary, the lease on his apartment was soon up, and so was his time to potentially create another big record – even if he’d had a track included on Tiësto’s “Club Life” radio show.