The best way to be introduced to an artist is by being unsuspectingly slapped in the face with a great live show. That’s exactly what happened when I saw Fame at the Cold Winter Fest back in January. The 27-year-old controlled the stage like a seasoned veteran. His live band backed his sharp rhymes, and amid an evening stuffed with local talent, attendees left with one name on their minds: Fame.
Upon listening to his previous efforts, 2009’s Horns and Halos and 2010’s C’est La Vie and The Countdown, I heard a man who weaves tales of infidelity, aspirations, mistakes, family and success. Rap moniker aside, Fame is as unassuming as they come. And after meeting the Vegas transplant at the Slidin’ Thru Headquarters on Sunset Road for a burger and conversation, it was apparent that Fame’s appeal has less to do with chasing celebrity and more to do with living out your dreams
Born and raised in South Central, Calif., as William Wilson, he took his rap name from being voted “Most Likely To Be Famous” in high school. “Fame is the guy that came from stand-up, acting and modeling. He’s built from that lifestyle,” he says in between bites as he describes his teenage attempts to become a comedian, thespian or the next Tyson Beckford. Realizing the odds were against him, he relocated to Vegas and married his longtime girlfriend in 2005. With Hollywood in his rearview mirror, Fame put his aspirations on hold in order to pay bills and raise his children.
Although he never considered rapping as a career, Fame would always playfully involve himself in rhyme ciphers for sport. But his peers, who happened to be local rappers, urged him to give music a shot. With his wife as his biggest support system (“She was there back when we used her closet for a studio and rapped with her dresses in the background”), Fame took rap seriously in 2007, and his music quickly resonated with people throughout the Valley.
When questioned about his influences, Fame spills a bit of information that may catch any hip-hop fan off-guard: “I’ve never been to a hip-hop concert in my life,” he says. “I’ve watched rock bands like Korn perform, and that’s where I pull my influences from. My stage presence and the way I project my voice comes from my background in theater.”
Perhaps his unique listening preferences are what separates him from the glut of local talent in Las Vegas. Rather than try to mimic, Fame’s goal is to create. “I don’t want [hip-hop] to compromise the integrity of my work,” he says citing alternative rock and bluegrass as influences. “If I paint in pastels, I don’t want to walk into a gallery of pastels. I’d rather go to a graffiti gallery for inspiration.”
“The content of his music is easy to relate to,” says local promoter Tre’von Borders. “Fame expresses real-life situations, goals and dreams through his music, which is a breath of fresh air when you are used to mainstream B.S. we hear currently on the airwaves.”
Fame represents the struggle when the dream collides with real-life situations. He admits that he is having difficulties managing the two and those constant tribulations are what keeps him going. “Fame is that contrast of being a family man who is chasing dreams of being an entertainer,” he says. “That’s what I represent in my music.”