Nestled deep in the heart of southwest Atlanta, stood a little house, comfortably worn by the use of the families that spent their lives there. Just behind the house was a creek. It was in that soulful little house that Antione Rogers became Bobby Creekwater.
The house, which was owned by Creek’s grandmother, was a haven of sorts for him as a child. It was in that house that he not only fought with his cousins, nursed scraped knees and yearned for the smell of his grandmother’s cooking—but it was where he fell in love with music. Fittingly, the house is also the source of his moniker.
“Bobby came from my grandfather, God rest his soul,” the 27 year-old rapper says, his baritone deep with memory. “He was an old hustler and a lot of the young hustlers looked up to him. Creek means longevity. There was a creek behind my grandmother’s house. The house was torn down, but the creek remains.”
Bobby Creekwater possesses that same tenacity as the body of water that came to define his grandma’s old home. He’s been signed to three major labels, but has yet to release an album. He’s been affiliated with some of the biggest names in music, including Eminem and Dr. Dre, but still has a sense of humility that extends beyond any contract or stage. Like the creek that he named himself after, the rapper’s resiliency is what keeps him flowing.
Ever since he was just a kid, dancing for his uncles at their frequent late night basement parties, Creek has wanted to be noticed.
“Early on I had an addiction for that type of attention,” he remembers, with a chuckle, recalling his Kid N’ Play routines. “I always feel like I gotta let people know that I’m in the room, even if it’s in a subtle way.”
The attention that he constantly craved would carry him far. By the time he hit high school, his relationship with music, and hip-hop in particular, had grown from a shallow past time to full blown love. He says that by 14 he’d already made up his mind— he was going to be a rapper, or nothing at all.
Creek quickly affiliated himself with the hip-hop movements that were sprouting up in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood—namely the Dungeon Family and later, the Attic Crew. Although Creek was considered a youngster, the impact that the groundbreaking artists would have on his sound and writing was as profound as the influence that artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson had on him. Even early on, Creek was a step above his peers.
“My identity was very important to me,” he says. “I wanted to let people know how I saw the world and what was going on in my hood and in my household; music was a release for me.”
So, in the 10th grade, he formed a group, called Jatis, with a childhood friend, Charlie Hustle and Atlanta producer, Sol Messiah. Defined by Sol’s story-telling production and Creek’s quick lyricism and perception, it wasn’t long before the group signed with Steve Rifkind’s label, Loud Records in 2000.
While the deal only last a year and a half, because the label folded, the relationship would prove fruitful and the group soon signed to Columbia Records. However, that deal would also be short-lived.
“For one they didn’t know what to do with us,” Creek says, adding that the deal was inked before the south really blew up.
Add that to the issues that began to surface between him, Charlie Hustle and Sol, and it was clear that something had to give.
“I learned a lot of patience and gained an understanding about how important it is to handle your business,” he says of his time spent in the group.
After breaking from Jatis, Creek had to make a decision. He could either give up, or re-group and keep it moving. He chose the latter, and spent the summer of 2004 holed up a friend’s house, learning how to produce music for himself.
“I had some me time,” he remembers, somberly. “I had spent so much time trying to please other people; I had to find out who Bobby Creekwater was.”
That summer, he emerged not only a better artist, but a better man. After appearing on a song with Aasim, the track eventually ended up in Eminem’s hands, and in 2005 Creek found himself on the phone with Em himself, accepting a deal to sign to Shady/Aftermath/Interscope. It was of course, a turning point in his life.
“[My deal with Shady] showed me the other side [of things],” he says, adding that he moved to New York for a year in 2005—a decision that forever altered his perception. “Most artists don’t get to witness the other side. But these artists were actually rich, and I got to see big shit. Once you see that, it’s hard to go back.”
However, as fate would have it, things didn’t work out the way Creek had envisioned. While his buzz was growing to a near fever pitch, aided by his appearance on the compilation, Eminem Presents: the Re-Up (featuring the standout track, “There He Is”) and his stellar, lyrically ambitious mixtapes,Anthem to the Streets 1 and 2 hosted by Don Cannon, the music industry was taking a serious downturn.
Interscope, one of the biggest rap labels in the business soon fell victim to hard economic times, and thus, turned to its cash cows to help it get back into the black. Creek found himself taking a backseat as acts like 50 Cent and Eminem were called to duty. Even though he still hadn’t released an album, in 2009 he finally decided that enough was enough. He amicably split with the label and decided to go it on his own.
“It can be frustrating at times, knowing that I still haven’t released a debut album,” he admits. “But on the other hand, overall, it hasn’t been frustrating because God still has his plan too. I just keep working and hopefully our plans will meet and we’ll be on the same page at the same time. Then it will be bigger than I ever imagined.”
Since the split, he’s released a few standout projects, including The B.C. Era,The B.C. Era Deuce, Back to Briefcase with DJ Infamous, The Day It All Made $ense, Back 2 Briefcase 2, Back 2 Briefcase 2:The B-Side, and Not Now But Right Now hosted by DJ Funky & The Coalition DJ’s through his independent imprint, BGOV. Defined by gritty, soulful production (primarily courtesy of Creek and producers D.Focis and Junior Varsity) and Creek’s elevated pen game, tracks like the raw, stirring, “Miss Atlanta” featuring Mykel and the soul-searching “Spotlight” featuring old label-mate, Stat Quo on the hook, have placed Creek head and shoulders above the majority of emerging emcees.
“Right now I’m on my Bobby Creek shit,” he says with an edge of intensity. “I’m taking everything that I’ve learned and applying it now for the benefit for BGOV. I want to give my fans and the world the best music that I could possibly give them.”
With The Birth of A Dictator on the horizon and a consistent performance schedule, including a recent tour in Japan, Creek is moving closer and closer to fully manifesting his musical vision. Like the creek that ran behind his grandmother’s old house, he won’t stop, no matter what the odds.
“You can’t showcase growth if you don’t plan to have longevity,“ he says.
He pauses, gathering his thoughts.
“It’s exciting to be able to grow and give the people the unexpected.”