Scooda Sease's story doesn't have an exact beginning, but the closest thing to a starting pistol going off in his life was a beloved family member. "My grandfather was actually a famous blues singer," says Sease, referring to Marvin Sease. The elder Sease was a gospel-voiced crooner best known for his soft soul tune "Ghetto Man" and the epic 10-minute ode to oral, "Candy Licker." As a kid, Scooda would be backstage at his grandfather's shows, watching the crowd cheer as he sang. "I guess you could say I'm following in his footsteps," says the younger Sease.
Sease kept music close throughout the years, but it wasn't until the end of high school that he began to take his first steps as a songwriter. "I started off writing my first song in 2008 — making beats, actually," says Sease. Six months later, he was deployed to Afghanistan. "I was making beats the whole time I was over there," he says. "Like, get to training, got some downtime, make some beats."
While he's still in the military, occasionally referencing it in his songs, Sease began to slowly make music more of a priority over time. "I started really writing and recording in 2011, but I didn't really take it seriously until about 2014, 2015," says Sease. And by "take it seriously," he means he started his own record label in 2014, known as Sease Fire Productions, and released two mixtapes and a number of singles in the following years.
Currently, Scooda is the only artist on his label, but he does search for other people to be a part of the team. "I really want an artist who's going to take music as seriously as I am, who will really want to push, who really wants the dream, who really wants to do it," he says. "Until then, I'm not really going to sign anybody."
Sease's time as a beatmaker carries into his music. He has a hand in almost every aspect of the recording process, occasionally producing his music, mixing, and mastering his work. In some ways, his ability to wear multiple hats came from him being an autodidact behind the scenes. "I had to learn a lot of it on my own. A lot of it's through messing up," says Sease.
His hardworking touch is seen in every aspect of his 2017 LP Undiscovered Underdog. The album's a complete club bumper. The arpeggiated synths sound like an alarm, the menacing chimes voice-lead, and the drum machine claps keep the heads nodding on lead single "Killem With Success."
"Who is Scooda Sease, what the people want to know/ Independent, unsigned, I make hits, though," he raps on "Fingers Itchin'." The song's a brag track announcement of who Scooda is and why people should pay attention.
Musically, Sease is heavily influenced by street and club rap, citing Ace Hood as his favorite rapper. "I look up to him as an artist," says Sease. "His way of music, his way of life, everything." Buried in his sound is also plenty of local flavor. "I grew up listening to Mistah Taylor, Marly Mar, those artists," he says. Much of the dark triumphant feel of Sease's music would have been right at home on Twin D1st Century Entertainment's role-call mixtape South Carolina Playaz, a place local celebs like Pacino Dino and Killa Skip called home.
Atlanta crunk and hardcore rapper Pastor Troy stops by to give his blessing on "Neva Neva." The two trade bars through quick hi-hat rolls and a switch-pitch synth attack. Stylistically, it fits the album's mold. The music Sease puts out has a pretty specific target audience for good reason. "If I can get the club and the radio, I'd have people's attention, then I can pretty much talk about whatever I want to and they're still going to listen," says Sease. "Then I can talk about life experiences. That's pretty much what I talk about — just stuff that I go through, stuff that I've seen, because it's all real. It's not like something's made up. That's why it's so easy for me to write it."
In the very near future, Sease plans to attack a few different markets and attempt to branch out as a songwriter. "I have a pop song I'm about to put out. It's a different lane. I'm pretty much targeting the downtown market," he says. It's all a part of his goal of showing his versatility. "I'm going to try to do both [genres]. I'd rather have both lanes," he says.
And, just as his story doesn't have a set beginning, it doesn't have a set end. Sease continues to produce material and work hard to support what he's got. A new chapter seems to unfold all the time.