Ask Pronghorns men's basketball guard Terrence Blake who he looks to emulate and Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo won't be on the list. No, Blake is more likely to drop names such as Lil Wayne, Drake and Akon, because as much as basketball is his game, music is his passion.
"Music started for me when I was in junior high," says Blake, who just recently hit the urban rap charts with his first single, Ima Get Paid. "I've always written, done poetry, and I started turning it into music in high school. From there it's just been a passion I've had and continued on with – it'll probably never stop."
In fact this could just be the start for Blake, who literally came out of nowhere to stun the rap world. Working with his team, Evrlove Music (Corey F and Artafacts), he'd had a number of singles mixed and produced locally. But if the fourth-year marketing major has learned anything during his studies in the Faculty of Management, it's how to promote himself.
"I've been blessed in a way," he says. "Through networking and just talking to people I got my demos out and really I was just looking for feedback. As an artist, I just wanted to learn about the business but within 24 hours of getting my music into the hands of the right person, I was flown out to Los Angeles and started in the studio."
Working with Larry Dee Entertainment (www.larrydeeentertainment.biz) and Grammy Award winning producer Bob Horn (Brandy, Akon), they put Ima Get Paid into the mainstream and it hit big.
"It's still getting a lot of rotation on record stations down in the States," says Blake, who's single is available on iTunes. "The first few weeks it got a lot of buzz and ended up on the Rickett's chart based out of New Jersey. I actually was the only non-signed artist to a major label who made the chart."
He says he draws his inspiration from everywhere, and by simply observing people.
"You could say I'm inspired by Lil Wayne, I admire his talent and most of all how he built something from nothing. He is not only an artist but a businessman as well," says Blake.
Ima Get Paid can be taken literally as a song about making money and Blake says that's fine if people connect with it that way, but to him, it's so much more.
"My intention on this song was the idea that in life we all chase dreams and have aspirations," he says. "This song was more like an anthem stating that I will get my goal, I will make it, I will live the way I want to, Ima get paid."
An Edmonton native, Blake was highly recruited out of high school and spent two seasons at the University of Calgary before suffering a devastating ankle injury. After recuperating, he looked south to the U of L, joining the Horns this past fall when good friend Dominyc Coward moved across the river from the Lethbridge College program.
"The atmosphere around here is great, there's a ton of support, I've noticed it's a pretty tight knit community and I've enjoyed it a lot," he says, admitting there was a phase of culture shock moving to a smaller city.
"It's been a positive adjustment though because I've found more time for myself. There's less things to distract you around here so you kind of focus a little more. I think it's definitely helped me with my schooling."
Blake is considered a valuable role player with the club, and played an integral role in the team achieving its best regular season in 12 years. He's earned the respect of his teammates and his coach.
"He's a guy that's mature and had a lot of things that have happened in his life to bring him to this point," says Horns head coach Dave Adams. "The thing I love about Terrence is that he always has a perspective and always brings something into the program that's good for everybody."
As far as his off-court activities, Adams pleads ignorance.
"As a 54-year-old white guy who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, (the non-demographic for his music) I really have no comment on his music," he laughs. "I have no idea whether it's good or bad but they tell me it's very good."
How good remains to be seen – and heard. Blake will likely see some touring opportunities this summer, opening for bigger acts in California, Ohio and the southern U.S.
"I want to just keep creating buzz and following my passion, and maybe it'll lead to a co-sign or a sign with a label, just a chance to keep doing what I'm doing."
After that, he intends to get back on the court and help the Horns return to the Canada West playoffs. Whether his future is in music or business, he's confident he's setting himself up well either way.
"If I'm not signed by the time I graduate, I'm looking to do some public relations work or some direct marketing, maybe point of sales," says Blake. "I love marketing, really all aspects of business. I love to talk in front of people, so hopefully if I'm not in front of the microphone, I'm in front of a crowd doing something with that."
This story first appeared in the April 2012 issue of the Legend. To view the entire issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.