“Drive On (Tribute To The Troops)” by 1223
May 6, 2007
[UPDATE 5/7/2007] I talked to Adrian today and he asked that I post another song off of their CD for our readers to listen to, so at the end of the story, you now have 2 songs by 1223 to enjoy!
The latest in our Tunes For The Troops series is a band out of San Antonio, Texas, who have dedicated their entire CD to all of the Soldiers serving in the US Military. This is a very special pair of young men and they have a message to share with the world, a message that sets them apart and above any other Hip Hop artists out there. But that’s not the only reason that they’re special…
Full Circle CD Cover
I spent 3 hours this afternoon with two very talented young men, one who’s an active duty soldier and his best friend, who together comprise the Hip Hop Group 1223. They’re not the typical Hip Hop group, who fills their music with reference to streetlife, gang banging, hoes and drugs. Instead each one of their songs, has a real life message for their listeners. The other day, I read a MySpace bulletin about their music that someone had posted and decided that I would contact them to see if we could feature their song Drive On (Tribute To The Troops), from their album Full Circle, here at ASM. I noticed that they were in nearby San Antonio. Almost immediately, I received a message back from Mr. Sylk who in his military life, is known as SSG Adrian Taylor. Adrian is also the proud single father of 4 beautiful children. Not only did Mr. Sylk agree to an interview, but said he and his fellow 1223 member, John John, better known as John Kirk, would come up from San Antonio and we’d do the interview in person. John is single but in a relationship and is the proud surrogate father to Adrian’s 4 children. John has always been supportive not only of Adrian’s chosen career, but of everyone in the military.
Both Adrian and John are San Antonio natives and have been best friends for most of their lives. Living in San Antonio, which is home to Fort Sam Houston, both were exposed to the military growing up. After graduating High School, both Adrian and John signed up for the military. John had signed up under the delayed entry program. Shortly before having to leave for basic, he was offered a basket ball scholarship. After speaking to his recruiter, he was allowed to accept the scholarship and ended up not going into the military. Adrian continued with his plans in the military and is currently stationed at Fort Sam Houston, as a instructor for combat medics. His military career took him to Hawaii, Colorado and 2 tours in Iraq, before bringing him back home “full-circle” to his roots in San Antonio. That “full-circle” inspired the naming of their CD.
Adrian is a soldier through an through and that was obvious from the first hello. His comment to me was that his soldiers come first and he’s all about taking care of his soldiers. He’s very proud of being able to call himself a soldier, and very proud of the accomplishments he’s made during his 10 year career in the US Army. While visiting with them, we realized that we had a common bond that neither of us knew about at first. During his first deployment to Iraq, Adrian was then serving with 3rd ACR as a combat medic. 3rd ACR was then based out of Fort Carson, Colorado. This was during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. At the time I was actively participating in AdoptaPlatoon Soldier Support program and was the Platoon Mom for a 3rd ACR medic unit…. the same unit that Adrian was serving in. Neither one of us realized until we started talking, that I was the Platoon Mom who had the pleasure of spoiling them during that entire deployment! It was great to find out that he was one of my “AdoptaPlatoon kids.” Talk about a small world! We spent some time visiting about different soldiers from that Medic unit, who we both know. So, as the title of their CD attests, life has indeed came “full circle, and it was awesome to be able to meet yet another of my “Colorado Kids.” Adrian’s goal is to one day take their music on tour to the troops and do something that very few musical artists or celebrities do, and that is to visit each and every FOB, LSA, base and camp in Iraq and Afghanistan, in order to get their message out to the troops, that 1223 supports them. In most instances, artists will only visit the larger FOBs and bases in the warzones.
Mr. Sylk (Adrian), Me and John John (John)
I asked Adrian and John how Drive On (Tribute To The Troops) came about. John was going through some beats one day and came across one that he felt had a distinct military feel about it. Part of it, was almost like a cadence. So, he had Adrian listen to the beat and Drive On evolved. Each verse is about a different branch of the military with a distinct message about PTSD. Others have felt that message as well. Their music will be featured in an 8 part documentary on PTSD. They been asked to write music for each part of the series. Both Adrian and John are dedicated to writing music about “real life” issues, but also very dedicated in their support of the troops. Both Adrian and John feel that they’re music is about to break out and hit the music scene full-force. Both are very confident that Full Circle is an album that will be talked about and that 1223 will be known world-wide for the powerful messages their music has. I asked Adrian what he felt about people saying that they support the troops but not the war.
Adrian said, “I don’t have a problem with that, with people not supporting the war. That’s afterall what we’re fighting for, to give them that right.”
“I know soldiers who don’t necessarily support the war, but they’re dedicated to doing their jobs and will do that to the best of their ability, regardless of their feelings about the war. To me and to most soldiers it’s not about whether the war is right or wrong, but making sure that your fellow soldiers come back home. ‘Drive On’ not only addresses PTSD, but also addresses the issue of some of the people who don’t support the troops.”
Adrian talked about how appreciative the people in Iraq were on both of his tours there. He shared about his first tour in Iraq and the distinct difference in the landscape between Iraq and Kuwait. He talked of how in Kuwait everything was green and lush, but as they crossed the border into Iraq, that scenery changed to a barren and dry wasteland. Adrian attributes this to the fact that Saddam had destroyed the infrastructure of the Iraq and things like running water and electricity were not available to the citizens of the country. Adrian said that on his second deployment, that was different, with the countryside in Iraq is becoming more lush and green, as coalition forces help to rebuild the infrastructure. He emphasized that our troops ARE making a difference and unlike what some would have us believe, the majority of Iraqis are glad that our troops are there.
I’m going to share Adrian and John’s bios with you, as well as the blurb on their myspace page about the evolution of 1223.
MR. SYLK BIO - 1223
This versatile lyricist was born in Ft. Worth, TX and raised in the inner city of San Antonio, TX. Sylk started rapping at 13 years old and became a founding member of 1223 at 15 years old. At the age of 17 the rapper learned he would be a father and immediately made a commitment to be â€œthe best father possible.â€ In order to fulfill this mission, Sylk left a promising rap career, married his girlfriend at the time, and joined the U.S. Army to support his family. Sylk soon realized that the U.S. Army was one of â€œthe best things that ever happened to him.â€ As his commitment to the Army grew, so did his desire to continue his rap career. Sylk found ways to express his creative ability at every one of his duty stationsâ€”Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, and finally settling into his current home base of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The Army Sergeant, highly respected by his peers, brings a unique military perspective to the group and reaches a major fan-baseâ€”the U.S. Military Soldiers.
Known for his versatility, Mr. Sylk has the uncanny ability to evolve and flow to any beat, giving each song a fresh and unique feel. Sylkâ€™s passion for his music is reflective in his innovative and heart-cutting lyrics. During his two separate tours in Iraq, Sylk lost two Soldiers and number of friends. It was these personal experiences that prompted the group to dedicate their album to all Soldiers of the U.S. Military.JOHN-JOHN BIO - 1223
The â€œrapper’s rapperâ€ was born and raised in the inner city streets of San Antonio, where, in the words of Biggie Smalls, â€œYou either slangin’ crack rock or got a wicked jump shot.â€ Fortunately for John-John, he had a wicked jump shot. When John wasn’t playing basketball he was rapping. He wrote his first full-length solo at the age of 12 and became a founding member of 1223 at 15 years old. At the age of 19, he was offered a basketball scholarship by Chaminade University of Honolulu where he went on to become a two-year Co-Captain during his four years of eligibility. John-John continued rapping during his college campaign, appearing in a series of mixed-tapes in Hawaii. Understanding the value of education, John-John took advantage of the opportunity by completing his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and his Master of Business Administration in Finance. He accomplished all of this by the age of 25 becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. After spending six years in Honolulu, John-John returned to his hometown of San Antonio to pursue a professional career in the finance field. John-Johnâ€™s professional career soon became a valuable tool that would provide the financial means to pursue his first love of music.
John-John’s rap style is a rare combination of thought provoking lyrics that are street credible and addictive. In the words of Sylk, â€œJohn does of great job of expressing his philosophies on life and it’s contagious. It’s like, when he rapsâ€¦you just want him to keep going and going.â€ John-John credits his educational and cross-cultural background for his unique rap style. â€œMy rhymes are a direct reflection of my experiences and the people I’ve met.â€HISTORY OF 1223
The roots of 1223 can be traced back to three San Antonio, TX high school students with a love for rap and basketball. At the time, all three guys played for the Holmes High School basketball team and their summer league jersey numbers became the inspiration for the name of their rap group. Mr. Sylk sported number 12, Spade was number 20, and John-John was number 3. Always being creative, the three guys decided to call themselves 1223 (pronounced â€œTwelve-Twenty-Threeâ€).
The group honed their techniques by dominating rap sessions in the school cafeteria and battled anyone that challenged their skills. From there, the group organized songs and routines that were performed at school pep rallies, talent shows, and special events. It wasn’t long before the surrounding high schools in the district took notice of their talent.
The next considerable step for the group took place when a fellow group member Spade (currently Breze) competed in a weekly local San Antonio radio rap contest (on 96.1 F.M.) called the â€œThursday Night Main Event.â€ Spade was crowned â€œKing of the Ringâ€ and was retired from the show after his undefeated 7-week winning streak. John-John entered the contest the following week and was also crowned â€œKing of the Ringâ€ after winning seven weeks in a row; it was contest-policy to retire a contestant after winning seven consecutive weeks. Being that the two rappers were from the same rap group (1223), the radio show offered 1223 the opportunity to open for the next major rap concert scheduled to come to San Antonio, which was OutKast.
At the time, OutKast was an up and coming group with an album hit throughout the South called â€œPlayers Ball.â€ The members of 1223 were definitely big fans of OutKast, as they credit the group as being one of their largest musical influences. This opportunity gave 1223 exposure to San Antonio fans that had grown to love them during their run on 96.1F.Mâ€™s â€œThursday Night Main Event.â€ 1223 went on to open for OutKast, and, even as high school students, they stunned the crowd of about 10,000 people with their wordplay, confidence, and infectious enthusiasm. Instead of this being the event that would propel 1223 to stardom, it became one of the last performances that the three founding members would perform together as a group.
1996 was a turning point for the group as Mr. Sylk, at the age of 17, found out that he was going to be a father, John-John had plans for college, and Spade still had one more year to complete high school. The world would have to wait at least another 10 years before 1223 would come full circle and make an official effort at completing an album.
Fast forward to 2006, all three members of 1223 are back in their hometown of San Antonio with a wealth of life experiences and a burning desire to complete the album that eluded them as teenagers. This time 1223 would speak with a mature, creative flare that would propel a different sound than the current rap scene. Sadly, a few months into the development process of their first album, 1223 faced its first major obstacle when one of the founding members of the group, Spade (Currently Breze), was unable to commit to the project and ultimately left the group. Mr. Sylk and John-John became the sole members of 1223. â€œThe hardest thing we had to do was move on without Spade…and we’ll always have love for him,â€ a statement shared by John-John and Mr. Sylk.
In August 2007, 1223 continued the journey of completing the dream that had been brewing since high school. By December 2006, 1223 had created a plethora of songs, and in January of 2007 began recording their first album. 1223 declared their album complete on February 25, 2007 and created an introductory MySpace page (www.myspace.com/1223music) to get the word out to the world about their music.
Mr. Sylk and John-John established their own record label, Countdown City Enterprizes (CCE), so that they could have full control of their music careers. â€œFull Circleâ€ by 1223 would be the first official album released under the CCE label. The group decided to title the album â€œFull Circleâ€ because it symbolizes their life experiences in route to fulfilling their dream of creating the album.1223 Music: Message
1223 promises to display a genuine love and appreciation for music that will one day be mentioned along side other great artists in the music history books. Without ever meeting the two young men, one is able to connect with their music in a way that makes you feel like you know them. Their message, expressed through their music, is relatable to any member of society. All ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, as well as genders will find a reflection of themselves in most songs on the album. Being Co-Owners of CCE, Mr. Sylk and John-John were able to stay true to themselves without compromising their music. In this album, â€œFull Circleâ€, you are not entertained with popular fads and trends of hip-hop such as Candy Paint Cars, Gold or Platinum Grillz, gangbangin, riding on big rims, â€œpimpinâ€™ hoes,â€ etc.. Instead, you can expect to be entertained, inspired, challenged, and enlightened by creative artists that allow you to move your feet, your mind, and your soul.
You sit in the presence of two young men, humble in their perceptions and expectation of reality, looking to do nothing more than make great music, take care of their family and friends, and provide a unique voice originating from San Antonio’s hip-hop community. You are welcomed to join 1223, as they make their mark in the modern hip-hop nation. God Bless!
John and Adrian are working closely with the mother of a fallen soldier, one of Adrian’s soldiers whom he lost in Iraq to develop the Corporal Jeffrey Allen Williams scholarship fund. $3.00 from the sale of each CD will be donated to the scholarship fund. According to Adrian, Cpl. Williams goal was to become a doctor, until his life was cut short, fighting for our country in Iraq. Several different scholarship categories will be available, with one being awarded to worthy students whos’ dream is to go into the medical field. In this way, Cpl. Williams legacy will live on. Please consider purchasing their CD. Not only will you be gaining an awesome CD, but you’ll be contributing to a very worthy cause as well.
To hear more of the music these talented musicians music, please visit their page. You may also purchase their CD, through CD Baby. The song, Drive On, is available as a free download on their MySpace page. If you’re in Texas and would like to see 1223 perform, their scheduled appearances are listed on their MySpace website. REMEMBER, if you purchase one of their CD’s, not only will you be supporting these fantastic artists, but you’ll be supporting a wonderful charity as well, as $3.00 from each CD, will be going to the Corporal Jeffrey Allen Willams scholarship fund.
Drive On (Tribute To The Troops)
Wish I Knew