Drevo Coolidge talks about his growing popularity, getting signed to a deal, struggles of life in Mississippi
Words by Carlton Wade
Emerging rap star Drevo Coolidge transfers the anger of never knowing his West Indian-born biological father into his sizzling Brooklyn Knight/Sony Records hit single “Bermuda.” In a start/stop, laidback delivery, Drevo testifies the torment over a mid-tempo track provided by production extraordinaire Big Head and accented by a paralyzing piano loop and perplexing drum track.
Those struggles began on the poverty-ridden streets of West Jackson, Miss. Born Courtney Moore to a single mother, his parents met as college students. His mother was a Jackson native, and his father was attending school as an exchange student. The young couple met, fell in love and had a son. But before the baby boy was old enough to walk, pops had returned home to his home in Bermuda. Young Courtney hadn’t laid eyes on him since.
Even without a positive male role model in the home early on and his mother scuffling to pay the bills working fast food jobs, Drevo dreamed of the perfect life— one with a house in the suburbs, white picket fence, a big backyard and a dog. However, those dreams were shattered quickly when his very first bike was stolen a week after Christmas.
And as time went on, times only got rougher for Drevo. In his early teens, he got jumped by a gang simply because he didn’t belong to one.
“I discovered what murder meant, what violence meant, what gangs meant,” he reveals. “In order to survive, I joined a gang. It was crazy from then on. I learned some harsh lessons in the street.”
Those lessons included an introduction into the drug game. He was paid by drug dealers to transport narcotics from one neighborhood to the other. “It was a quick route for me to get paper,” he admits.
By age 15, he had saved his money as a mule and started buying his own drugs to sell. Knowing his mother would disapprove, he kept his stash tucked away behind the cushions of the couch for safekeeping. That was until she stumbled on his big bag of weed one morning.
“I wake up and I’m hearing screaming,” he remembers. “The next thing I know, I’m seeing hands flying over my forehead, slapping me back and forth. ‘Get out of my house! Get out of my house right now!’ It crushed her heart.”
Refusing to let the drug game alone, he bounced around from house to house with friends and continued to stack his paper. His Tony Montana ambitions all came to an abrupt end one night when Drevo and his best friend DB got caught up in a drug deal gone bad.
“We were discussing whether we wanted to make the transaction or not. The guy took it as a threat, like we were planning to rob him or something,” Drevo recalls. “He took out his pistol and we ran, turned the corner and had to jump a tall, wooden fence. I was the first to go over. DB was second.”
But before DB made it over, shots rang out and he was hit in the back. “He died instantly,” says Drevo. “It could have gone either way. If I would not have been the first one to jump over the fence, I’d be dead right now.”
Before his sudden death, the last thing that DB told Drevo was to pursue music. The two boys spent countless hours freestyling with friends. And DB knew that Drevo had something special. After DB’s passing, Drevo started taking his craft seriously.
He adopted the moniker Igoon Dosha and in 2007, dropped his debut single “Silver Surfer.” It caught on instantly amongst the local market, playing at high school sporting events and affording the youngster paid shows.
“Music was the salvation for me to escape the drug life,” he admits. “If I never would have taken the music route, I’d be dead just like all of my friends, blood dripping down the street.”
Over the next few years, he worked behind the scenes in music, hosting his YouTube channel igoon tv, where he would interview other local artists. Drevo wouldn’t resurface as an artist himself until 2012. He changed his name to Coolidge and released mixtape Ink Life, hosted by DJ Ben Frank and DJ Young Shawn.
As his fans began grow, he again changed his moniker to Drevo Coolidge and came back two years later with follow-up mixtape Drevo Guapo Story, hosted by DJ Boss Chic. “My numbers went from 5,000 views for Ink Life on Livemixtapes to 15,000 views for Drevo Guapo Story,” says Drevo.
He kept his fan base growing with several iTunes singles including “Counting Towers,” “Bridges” and “She Murder,” a club-jumping jam from his 2015 album EsoDrevo that spread across Mid-South radio like wildfire.
But it was his recently released single “Bermuda” that had the major labels calling, prompting the major labels calling. “I was fathered by the streets,” says Drevo. “I tell my own stories and I tell the stories of the people around me. I put everyday life in my songs.”