Class of 2017: First-gen senior develops passion for music at Clayton State
By Kelin Bryan
Damien Braswell may strike you as a low-key, quiet student, but the graduating senior is far from that.
The communications and media studies major will graduate as a first-generation college student and plans to make his mark in the music and entertainment industry.
“It’s the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next,” Braswell says. “It’s a bittersweet feeling.”
Growing up was tough for Braswell. A native of Macon, Georgia, he said where he lived was not safe and it was just one reason for him to get serious about leaving.
“People try to hold you down [in Macon],” he says. “If you go to school and come back, people there think you’re better than them or you got money, which isn’t true.”
Living in Atlanta and attending Clayton State University offered Braswell a change of pace from Macon. He became an active student, serving as a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society since freshman year.
As a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, which honors superior academic achievement, he was the only African American male during his freshman year inducted into the 2013 class of the organization, which he says is his one of his greatest achievements.
His other great achievement? Winning the first-ever Mr. Junior of Clayton State.
Clayton State also taught Braswell to appreciate diversity.
“They’re just like me,” he says of all the different people he has met since attending the University. “They’re just from somewhere else.”
From the beginning, Braswell has always had goals of breaking into the music industry and following his passion for rap. Braswell chose to major in communications just to get closer to the world he wanted to be in.
“Even if I don’t achieve my goal of being a rapper, at least I can help others with the knowledge I have gained,” he says.
Braswell’s passion for music runs deep. He first fell in love with hip-hop as a kid, writing his first rap in the second grade.
“I wasn’t allowed to watch BET or listen to rap on the radio. I was writing raps before my parents even let me hear it,” he says.
Braswell says it was his mother who broke down and let him listen to her favorite rap artist in her car. There was no turning back.
Braswell started his own record label, BeWell Records, after being inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of other students on campus who had their own businesses, like clothing and fashion design.
“I wanted my own thing. My claim to fame,” he recalls.
The name BeWell comes from his cousin, whose idea it was to start the label.
“It’s supposed to represent the family name and also tell people to be well in life,” he says.
He feels he can do just about any style of music. He says “I appreciate 2017 music the same way I appreciate 70s music. I could probably make 70s music with the right equipment.”
As for his future in the music business, Braswell wants to save up, promote his music and perform as much as possible.
“I really just want to work,” he says.
He does have big aspirations to become a multi-millionaire in the next 10 years and give back to the community by opening a tutoring center for African-American students.
“I’m not a materialistic person,” Braswell says. “I just want to invest in myself and see how big I can become.”