Who do you want to be?
In BackBooth, a bar at downtown Orlando, FL, is where you needed to be. Arrive with a smile and be greeted with the same. The poorly lit, cozy venue houses the raw euphonies from local hiphop talents, and exuberant twenty-something-year-olds becoming one with the rhythm of the Friday night.


The 2nd floor balcony overlooks the stage that illuminates from towering spotlights dyed with lively neon colors. DJ Danenwhy tunes the treble of thundering speakers that dowse the crowd below as they drown their ‘9-to-5 woes’ with modest mixed drinks, inexpensive American beers, and rap from their generation such as Drake, Kendrick, Lil’ Uzi Vert, and Future.
Valente(98kb), Jome, and Miggs(98kb) keeping it 100 – Photo by Patrick Funom
Make your way to the back of the venue to a vintage photo booth. Its wooden panels are laden with stickers, and graffitied names assumedly created years (maybe mere minutes) ago. In front of the history stained booth stands the 2 Jamaican brothers of 98kb keeping it ‘100’ with their former group mate A.K.A Zae, and rapper Jome with an ear-to-ear grin revealing 3 gold teeth flickering from camera flashes.
Bria bathes in blue and blues. – photo by Patrick Funom
On the stage R&B singer Bria bathes in blue neon lights and Blues. Thereupon she sings a sunny tune “I want to feel your energy”, uplifting every ones’ soul; her emotional roller-coaster performance is tantamount to her relationship themed ballads.
“KING!” The looming speakers proclaim. “KING!” Again. The stage lights begin to bow. Arriving was an introspective voice,What if I told you rock bottom was beautiful? What if I told you we went through every struggle for a perfect reason?
Who was this? It continues,
…I remember when I was a janitor a couple years ago and thinking to myself ‘so much for the college degree, right?’ No one was hiring at that time and it was the quickest way of getting money to keep the dream alive…my name is iEKNOWS and I’m rolling with the punches.”

The 6’ 9’’ emcee strides on stage standing even taller from high spirits and lyrics that embody the same. He dances to the beat of his own drum, the crowd follows.
photo by Patrick Funom
iEKNOWS dances to the beat of his own drum. – photo by Patrick Funom
“…this was my first job when I was young…,”  explains IEKNOWS after performing his hit song Intermission 1998 to an audience wondering what was going on with the presumably mere props confined to the stage as well as to Francis Aihe’s past. The props are: A cherry red icebox, an orange/white traffic barricade, and a large white sign in bold black marker reads ‘Lemonade 50c’ taped to his DJ’s picnic tablecloth covered table. iEKNOWS reaches into the icebox and-voila´-like magic, a chilled can of lemonade. One can soars through the air, then another, and another-surely reminiscent of young ie’s basketball days at Auburn University. The citrus refreshments arrive at hands of individuals dabbed in a slight sweat and are greeted with delight.

“Thank you all for coming out, especially my relatives from Nigeria.” iEKNOWS speaks between deep breaths. His lovely mother stood at the back of the crowd, tall with pride, beaming with joy seeing who her boy had become. Any pain she may have felt disappears in that moment. iEKNOWS swims through applause to embrace the life boat that is his mother.

“I didn’t even know what I was gonna’ say when I got out there”-iEKNOWS said long after his headlining concert for TSA Showcase ended-“but I could tell it was going to be something…different.” ‘Different’ lingers like the memory of that concert.

Again, the question-Who do you want to be?

Now the answer-

Just be you.

Patrick Funom is the Editor In Chief of 8Pounds.com