SINGAPORE - Once a shirt-and-tie wearing corporate executive, TheLionCityBoy is now representing Singapore on the global hip-hop stage.
Although he was comfortable with a steady paycheck, the rapper, whose real name is Kevin Lester, never regretted taking the plunge to pursue music as a full-time career.
Lester, 31, quit his job as a marketing manager in an information technology company in 2010.
He said on ST Sessions: "It's not just about the money. If I stick to this plan that I have, the money will come."
ST Sessions is a live music video series that aims to introduce to a wider audience popular local acts and bands, along with some international names that visit our shores.
In 2014, Lester became the first home-grown artist to sign on with BMBX, an artist development and brand marketing company headed by Apl.de.ap from popular American pop/hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas.
Apl.de.ap flew Lester to Los Angeles to work on his music. "I got to stay in his bachelor pad, it's so hip-hop driving around in an Escalade everywhere," he recalled.
Immersing himself in the "the adrenaline and energy" of the hip-hop scene in Los Angeles, Lester said that there was always the temptation to just ape and copy the lifestyle and the music there.
But he was focused on staying true to himself.
"You can easily lose yourself," he said of his time in Los Angeles with Apl.de.ap.
"But the more I stayed true to myself, the more I spoke, like me, like a Singaporean, the more interesting I was to these people."
He is proud of all things local, especially soccer.
In 2013, he released the single P.Y.C.O (The Legend Returns), a tribute to soccer legend Fandi Ahmad and the LionsXII team.
"I used to pretend to be Fandi Ahmad in this imaginary field in my living room," he reminisced.
"Meeting Fandi is one of the greatest milestones in my career."
And while he is working hard to put Singapore in the global hip-hop map, Lester is also on a mission to build a distinctively local hip-hop identity that people here can call their own.
"Hip-hop is like a borrowed culture in Singapore, and I feel if you don't have a strong identity, it's hard for the audience to relate to you, especially here, people don't get it... eh what is this Western music."
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