Rapping recruiters 'giving all' to share their Army story
FORT MEADE, Md. -- In case you missed it, U.S. Army Recruiting Command dropped its newest music video "Giving All I Got," beckoning all potential recruits to step up and help strengthen the Army team.
Sgts. 1st Class Arlondo Sutton and Jason Brenner Locke, who are assigned to the Atlanta and Houston recruiting battalions, respectively, wrote and produced the new single.
"We're trying to convey this positive message, [that] you can maintain your individuality and still be a Soldier," Locke said about producing music to support Army recruiting. "[Soldiers] have emotions, dreams, and aspirations, just like anybody else.
"We just decided to throw on a pair of boots, wear this uniform [to help] carry our nation and carry on our family name."
'ARMY CHANGED MY LIFE. GAVE ME A NEW CLOCK'
Starting with the track's hook -- "Giving all I got. I'm never going to stop. Army changed my life. Gave me a new clock" -- the song highlights the positive impact the Army had on both recruiters, Sutton said.
Sutton had a humbling start to his life while growing up in a single parent home in Norfolk, Virginia.
"Growing up in poverty is very difficult," he said. "I didn't know whose shoes I had on, I didn't know whose clothes I had on. I grew up staying with my grandmother … in one room, and sleeping at the edge of the bed."
On the cusp of going down the wrong path in life, his high school track coach, who was a retired Soldier, reached out to mentor him.
"My father figure: My coach. He [mentored me] when I was going through a hard time," Sutton said. "He was the one to actually notice my [athletic] talents. I joined the Army to better myself, [and] to follow in [his] footsteps."
It was long after joining the Army when Sutton realized he had some musical talent.
While deployed to Iraq as a young sergeant, he produced hip-hop tracks to help ease his mind.
A friend later convinced him to compete in a rap music competition and Sutton took third place. This evolved into his new passion and profession, Sutton said.
Similar to his partner, Locke also said he had a rough childhood as he grew up in a "not so great area" of Houston. And while Locke did not share much about his past, he remains focused on the positive in life.
"I just wanted to kind of change the lifestyle I was in. I knew that one of the ways of changing my life was to step outside the confines of comfort," he said. "It doesn't matter where I was at. What matters is what the Army did for me and where I'm going now."
Locke admitted hip-hop was not his first choice in music. During his early teenage years, Locke spent most of his time bouncing from band to band, or as he called it, "bandhopping."
"I was trying to find people that were as invested in music as I was. I never found them," Locke said.
Locke then turned to a friend for help, who explained to Locke how his talent was better suited for hip-hop. After some changes to his lyrics, Locke was hooked.
"It changed my perception of how to write [music]. It turned into a poetic ordeal and … an emotional outlet for me," he said.
"Giving All I Got" was created as a way to bridge the gap and speak the language of today's youth, according to both recruiters.
"I think it's easier to bend someone's ear when you throw it into a rhythmic pattern," Locke said. "You're going to be a little bit more inclined to listen."
While some may criticize their work, the duo keeps their eyes on the bigger picture.
"The main target audiences are not people that are in the Army," Locke said. "The main aim is the people that are not aware of the Army, and all the preconceived notions and … stereotypes [they have]. That's what we, as recruiters, are consistently having to overcome. That is what we're doing with this music."
In their music video, both recruiters can be seen singing and dancing in locations throughout Fort Benning, Georgia, and the streets of Atlanta. The video features a variety of Army career fields, to include military working dogs, infantry, snipers, and the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band.
Behind the scenes, Army visual information specialists helped put the video together. Moreover, Soldier stationed at Fort Benning assisted in bringing the video to life.
'WE JUST TRYIN' TO BE BETTER'
Recently, the Army identified 22 focus cities with growing populations, known to have minimal exposure to the Army. The new video aims to inspire highly-qualified 18- to 24-year-olds, as part of a larger USAREC led social media engagement effort.
In the end, reaching the Army's recruitment goals will require all recruiters and Soldiers to go that extra mile, Sutton said.
"There are going to be people out there that have a lot of good talent," Sutton said, commenting on his career and music success. "My talent is just outworking my competitors. We all could get up at the same time, but I choose to get up earlier."
Inspired by one of his role models, Sutton is determined to be the LeBron James of the Army, he said, smiling.
"If [James] went out there and said, 'Hey, I need 50 people to come and join,' people would join based on his character and his beliefs," Sutton said. "That's what I want to do for the Army."
Likewise, Locke is motivated to leave his mark on the Army, all while solidifying the idea that you can be both an individual and a Soldier.
"I want to be remembered as someone that made a difference," he said.