Charlotte rapper ‘Three’ offers hope to his hometown after protests: ‘If I win…my city wins’
For Charlotte rapper Renardo Perry, a.k.a ‘Three,’ the saying “third time is a charm” has real meaning.
The talented hip-hop star started his career with high hopes, earning his first record deal at the age of 18. He lost the deal, however, shortly after a violent shooting incident. His second record deal fell apart because of a label merger. ‘Three’ also experienced several run-ins with the law.
But he recently scored a comeback when he beat out 20,000 rap hopefuls to clinch the No. 1 spot on BET’s hip-hop reality competition “One Shot,” earning him a new record deal and a $100,000 cash prize. He has the support of rap notables such as RZA, King Crookxd, Remy Ma and Sway.
In an interview with theGrio.com, Three discusses his renewed faith in himself and God and why, after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, his city needs a story of redemption.
Tell us about the story of you surviving being shot and how that inspired your music.
I was signed to a deal with Russell Simmons’ music group with Island Def Jam back in 2006, and I was 18 years old, so I was doing what the average 18-year-old was doing… going out every night, in clubs, riding around in these expensive cars and buying jewelry and stuff.
So, a guy tried to rob me, and we end up fighting for the gun, and I end up getting shot six times in my leg. So after that obstacle, the deal just folded. [It was] nothing to do with me as an artist, my music, or what happened. But things just happened with these labels, and all the artists got dropped.
I went on to SONY around 2010 and got the same end of the stick with the label merging with RCA… So I ended up getting dropped again as an artist.
And just moving through those obstacles, it really built a testimony around me for me to be able to talk about. But I have no regrets, and I wouldn’t take nothing back.
What do you hope to do with your music that is different?
I want to motivate people. These titles of songs like chances and imagination and “It’s Gonna Pay Off” and “Pray for Me;” these are records that’s gonna inspire the people.
One thing I never did in my career is give up. Out of all the adversity I faced, I never gave up. So people will hear that through my music. They’ll hear the pain, the scars. I’m speaking to a lot of the ones that [don’t] have the cars, the glitz and the glamour, who can’t go to a concert and stuff. I’m speaking for those type of people.
A lot of people lack [faith.] They stop believing in God because of what they go through in life.
There’s always a way through. You just have to keep on grinding. Keep at it.
What’s your reaction to the turmoil in your hometown?
It was crazy for my hometown because I think they was used to seeing other cities, but when it trickled down to our own city, it made people want to stand up and protest and go at it.
But a week after that happened in my city was the “One Shot” finale… I think my performance was dedicated to that whole situation. I didn’t know somebody was going to get killed and riot, and people were going to get shot in my city. I shot that before it even happened but it was perfect timing.
And that’s God. All the situations that happen, we gotta win at the end of the day. Cause if I win, my city, North Carolina, South Carolina as a whole, we all win ’cause that’s what I represent for.
When you were in Charlotte did you ever have experiences of discrimination or you were treated with suspicion because you were a black man?
Yeah absolutely, with me going through obstacles with the law, I’ve been beat by the police and took into empty parking lots and they was talking about doing certain things to me… So I’ve dealt with that throughout my life.
I love all races. It makes me upset to see where the world is at but we go back to my music- that’s what I’m speaking to.
People are kind of making things divided now. Yeah I believe in Black Lives Matter and I stand up for that—but I want us to be equal as a whole.
These youth that’s coming up, they need to know that you can be equal and it’s about having peace in this world. It may not be right now, but things can change– and they will.