Shogun stories: Kadena sergeant pursues music career
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- For many, life is like a sheet of music. The piece begins with a tone, a key and a pace, usually dependent on nearby influences.
However, as time goes on, the tune changes, the tempo may slow or quicken, and before long, the song may have become something else entirely.
For one rapping NCO at the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, his rhythm altered the day he took the Oath of Enlistment and set himself on a road far different than the dangerous one that became so familiar.
"I joined at 18, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me ... It saved my life," Tech. Sgt. Williamson, 733rd AMS hydraulics technician, said. "I was heading down the wrong path. I made a lot of mistakes as a kid and moved around a lot. I've seen a lot of different places, and I've seen just the way different people are. I never looked back."
"I take pride in my work; I like aircraft maintenance," he said. "The Air Force has opened so many opportunities. I've gotten to work with so many great people, and there are great people that I work with now at the 733rd, and they support me - whole-heartedly support me."
Though his lifestyle shifted drastically, it didn't change him completely.
As a kid, Williamson soaked up the traits that he would carry with him as he traveled from New Mexico to England to Okinawa, including a hard work ethic he learned from his mother and brother.
"I'd have to say my mom and my brother were the biggest influences in my life," he explained. "My brother and my mom are both hard workers since I was little. When I was 14 years old, I went out to live with my brother, and he was working on an oil rig in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
"I'm out there with him," he continued, "and he's like, 'hey listen ... you need to go out there and you've got to get a job. I know you're 14, but you're eating all my groceries, and you've got to do something; you've got to get a job.'
"I walked around for a couple miles one day after school and found this oil rig company, and I asked to be a hand," he said. "It actually worked out; I got a job at 14."
While his work ethic has propelled him through the military ranks so far, another ability would eventually catch up to him a little more than a decade into his military career: his talent for rap and hip hop.
"Really about a year ago I started doing this music, and it's been taking off; it's going really well," he said. "I used to 'bat' a little bit here and there and do some things like that, but now it's to the point where I'm taking it seriously and trying to do more artist development and take myself from being an indie artist to a performing artist and recording artist."
Williamson first decided to devote a part of himself to his music and take a more serious approach two years ago.
His father, Gene, was a bassist and vocalist for a variety of musical genres who became a key inspiration that set Williamson's lyrical wheels in motion.
"I love music, and I love hip hop," Williamson said. "It got to the point where I got more involved with the culture of hip hop and the good that it brings. The last two years I've really been thinking about it, and I was like, 'why don't I start campaigning and really put my heart into this,' because my father played in a band. Every time I'd go see my father, I would just love watching him rehearse."
It was when Williamson began to dabble with music that his father expressed his belief in him and his talent.
But in light of recent tragedy, Williamson said he has a promise to keep.
"I buried him last summer," he spoke about his father, "and before they closed that casket, I whispered in his ear and told him what I was going to do, and I'm not looking back ... I'm just going to do it."
Though his musical career takes hold in his personal life, Williamson said he wouldn't be where he is now without the Air Force.
"The Air Force gave me discipline," he said. "Whatever anyone says, if I hadn't joined the Air Force when I did, I probably would've been dead or in jail ... that's real. If I had been working in the states, I wouldn't have met the people that I've met now that put me on that level. That work ethic was instilled - I had that from my family - but of course the Air Force helped me develop that. I'm grateful for everyone that I've worked with in the military."
As his success continues to grow, Williamson imparted some advice on anyone with a passion.
"If you want something, you've got to take it; do the best you can do at anything."