La-Brece Angelic's story has familiar origins: a gifted singer who fell in love with performing as a church choral member, then evolved into a precocious emcee who cut his teeth freestyling on the backs of buses and surrounded by friends at lunch, inevitably leading to a career behind a studio's mic. Unlike many of his small-city contemporaries, however, La-Brece was never satisfied with a successful mixtape series, or the undeniable "Best Rapper in Town" status that followed. Since prioritizing music as his sole focus in early 2011, Angelic's dedication, talent, and hard work have payed dividends. The young gun has dominated independent radio airwaves, cementing his local legend status as the first artist to perform alongside a major label signee (Tha Joker) in his city's history. Born Sauntavious La-Brece Wagers (10/23/92) in Richmond, Kentucky, "Saunty's" now obvious path to stardom wasn't always easily discernible. The oldest child (he has a biological sister and a half-brother) born to an African-American mother and a Caucasian father, familial issues plagued La-Brece's early childhood. As a bi-racial hooper-skateboarder, his first passion was basketball, an activity primarily shared with his father. Unfortunately, Sauntavious' father and mother filed for divorce while he was still in grade school, a fissure that ebbed his growing love for b-ball, pushing him deeper into the subversive local skate culture. As a certified shredder in middle school, the artist formerly known as KID Swag (Killing. Instrumentals. Daily.) was nothing if an enigma: the best rhymer in school without the title's trademark self aggrandizing braggadocio, the lover of Biggie, 'Pac, but also Michael Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass, and Marvin Gaye, a skater with dialed in kickflips and an untouchable mid-range floater, the long haired rebel from a broken home who seemed to fit in nowhere and everywhere all at once. Stylistic rebelliousness remained a staple of La-Brece's delivery throughout middle and high school. Those formative years saw an eager rhymer, influenced by the likes of Jay-Z, Prince, Talib Kweli, and Hot Boyz era Lil' Wayne beginning to construct his artistic DNA. Marrying smooth hooks, an old-school boom-bap sensibility, and unique, aurally arresting bars, Angelic pushed himself beyond hip-hop's established boundaries, receiving attention and adulation previously unheard of for a Richmond rhymer. Deeming his birth place too narrow a pond for such immense talent, La-Brece matriculated at the University of Kentucky. Bogged down by an insular art community and creatively stifled, Angelic decided to eschew expectancy; after a meeting with a counselor in which he was told, "School or Music," Sauntavious La-Brece Wagers made the boldest decision of his career, leaving school in the determined pursuit of his dreams. Newfound freedom begat artistic gains. Already a preternatural stage presence- with the gravitas of a budding Kanye and lyrical effortlessness of teenaged Q-Tip- Angelic now had the blueprint for a paradigm shifting assault on hip-hop normativity. The recipe, as it were: One part silky hook master, with Drake-ish range and pitch control, one part Big Sean, combining lyricism with jaw-dropping punch lines, one part Dr. Dre, with a masterfully discerning eye toward beat selection/production nuance, two parts confidence, and a dash of genius he'd been procuring on his own while rhyming all those years. Utilizing rebellious flows, creative bar arrangements, and spitting with a chip on his shoulder, La-Brece has created a niche all to his own. A genre defying wunderkind with fans from all walks, ages, and races, La-Brece Angelic is a phenom in the making. Doubt him if you dare - he's been silencing haters all his life.
By, Taylor Brian Deaton