When Derek Lyons, stage name Poozy Kush, released his debut solo mixtape F.I.N.A.O. 11:11 If You Don't Get it, You Don't Get it, on Feb. 1, he joined a long line of independent artists attempting to blaze their own path on the mainstream hip-hop scene.
But what separates Lyons from most "newcomers" is the fact that he's not new to the music business at all.
From creating hit radio singles to traveling across country on tour, Lyons (known to his friends as Pooh) has done it all, building a music career résumé that not many people his age can compete with.
As the former lead percussionist for Critical Condition Band (CCB), once one of the hottest bands in go-go music, Pooh helped produce original songs like "I'm Classy," and "My Phatty," both fan favorites that flooded local radio waves. The D.C. native served more than 10 years as a professional go-go percussionist, serving stints with the Original Fatal Attraction Band, the Ultimate Youngin's, including fill-in work with Uncalled 4 Band (UCB), Backyard Band and What? Band. Pooh developed into one of the premiere percussionists in the go-go business, but walked away from the game in 2008 for personal reasons.
Now he's ready to share his talent again, this time with a microphone in his hand and his scope set on a much broader audience.
"Music is my life, so when you listen to this music, you're going to hear a real reflection of what's going on in the every day life of my self, and everyone around me," said Lyons. "You're not going to hear me talk about shooting up the hood, robbing and killing folks because that's not what I do. But what you will hear is talk of real life situations and dilemmas that every day people from our culture have to deal with."
Lyons is confident music lovers will connect with his F.I.N.A.O. 11:11 mixtape once they hear it. He mentioned how the title of the mixtape alone symbolizes a lifestyle that everyone can relate to.
"F.I.N.A.O means failure is not an option, and 11:11 symbolizes four one's for one man, one heart, one love and one destiny," said Lyons, who expressed his personal creed on the track “Refuse to Fail.”
"This is the attitude we use to keep our family tight and focused on success. It's the attitude I've carried throughout life and it's brought me this far."
Pooh prides himself on creating motivating music that will inspire listeners to go after their dreams. But he also enjoys making tracks like “Soul Mate,” which illustrates his search for love and positivity.
"There's so much negativity in the world; everybody is looking for someone to hate or get hated on by," Lyons said. "But we don't want no hate over here. That's why I keep positive people around me and we keep our aim set on success. Failure is simply not an option for us."
Pooh said he also keeps a positive mind when it comes to working with other musicians and welcomes all serious artists to contact him on his Twitter, Twitter.com/FINAO1111.
"This is only the start," Lyons said, "I have a lot more music to make, and I can't wait for you to hear it."