Fairfield-based rapper Corey “Ice Meez” Birdsong lost a lot of weight, but never lost focus on being the best father he could be to his 10-year-old daughter, paying the bills with a 9-to-5 job, and carving out time for his music.
It’s a sometimes crazy juggling act, sure, Birdsong hints. But the 32-year-old rapper realized years ago he didn’t need to push people out of the way to get to the top of the mountain.
“There are shortcuts to everything in life,” Birdsong said. “There are ways you can skip the line musically — if you had a famous friend or crazy amount of money to be put in these places.”
However, the San Francisco native emphasized, “everything that’s easy isn’t worth it. People do take the easy route and no disrespect. But I’ve built (a career) brick by brick to build a following and have been able to perfect my craft. If it came easy, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate it as much. I feel like I’ve learned a lot by taking the longer route, taking the bumps and bruises to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”
Birdsong hopes an Aug. 7 performance at Journey Downtown in Vacaville works. He’s presenting Grammy-nominated Mystikal and other acts at the 600-seat venue.
Birdsong said he’s bringing in other shows to downtown Vacaville, including blues, R&B and comedy.
“We’re starting out with this one,” he said. “I’ve done things in other places and that’s cool, but I feel that it’s important for the people who have seen me grow up and supported me.”
Birdsong is solidifying his place in the rap food chain via a song in Katt Williams’ film, “American Bad Boy” for Lionsgate, as well as a tune for a national commercial for car-detailing product, “Shining Monkey.”
Birdsong’s late 2020 music video, “Watchu Mad Fo” has 100,770 views, and his music video of “Back in the Day” includes a clip of Vallejo rap legend E-40.
Rapping is a passion he throws his creativity into.
“Learning to juggle everything and still be a father at the same time, it’s a process,” he said. “The one thing that keeps me going is the music. I think it benefits my daughter in the long run.”
Of parenthood, “being an example for another human is a task on its own,” Birdsong said. “None of us is perfect. I have to be mindful of things like that. Time management is hard. In the field I’m trying to pursue, I have to be concise in making an effort to make time for my child. I think I’m doing a pretty good job.”
Birdsong acknowledged that he had his own problems of youthful improprieties.
“Nobody’s perfect. I went through some things as a kid I’m definitely not proud of,” he said. “Me and my mom had strained relations. And I may not have verbally done it, but I’ve apologized with my actions and the way I’ve changed my life.”
Early on, Birdsong said his mom didn’t see what he saw in his rapping.
“My mom thought the music stuff was a pipe dream. She said it would be like hitting the lotto. Now she sees my dreams coming to fruition,” Birdsong said.
“Now my mom supports everything I do,” Birdsong said. “I’ve changed everything about the way I do things. She says how proud of me she is.”
Birdsong believes he excels at his music because of his passion for it.
“I’m not an overly cocky individual. I won’t say I’m the best,” he said.
Still, he’s expanded his talents far beyond performing. He learned how to direct his own videos, how to edit, how to engineer and do graphics. And he learned the business end — the downfall of many artists.
“I learned about every aspect. I’m good at what I do,” he said.
His Black Lives Matter music video has been especially well-received, with Birdsong performing it live in various cities, including Vallejo. The video includes clips of George Floyd’s death and other police-related incidents.
“I picked the clips (and the final product) was just a crazy thing to see,” Birdsong said. “I thought it was important it was in the video. With some people, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Some think it’s not going on. I was going to put it (police incidents with Black citizens) in people’s faces.”
Granted, “all my music isn’t for the Disney Channel,” Birdsong acknowledges. “But all of it has a message. It’s the medicine in the candy.”
Birdsong declines to commercialize his BLM video, making it available for free.
“I didn’t want people to think I was capitalizing on police brutality,” he said. “Putting a shining light on it was the whole purpose of the song. Singing and doing it has made a huge impact.”
While Birdsong is becoming big in the music world, he’s no longer huge physically, dropping 110 pounds, after burdening his scale at 315 pounds. Instead of a mirror, he merely had to look at his daughter and ponder his future health.
“I want to be around for my child,” Birdsong said. “I’ve made healthier choices, becoming a health nut a little bit.”
Dropping down to around 190 only helps his live performance, Birdsong said.
“Nobody likes a boring performance, be it in a music video or stage presence. You’ve got to be able to move on a set. Running back and forth on stage, it’s a workout. If you’re heavy you might get winded,” he said. “You want to be the best version of yourself.”
Though obviously aware of his physical insecurities, “it wasn’t like I felt terrible” being overweight, Birdsong says.
“Music always gave me confidence,” he said. “Everybody would gravitate to it and that made me feel better about myself.”
It’s about respecting each other, Birdsong believes.
“I don’t like it when people treat each other ‘less than’ for whatever reason. That makes me angry,” he said. “I don’t agree with belittling people. People have the cards that they’re dealt. I feel you should give everybody a chance.”
Make that a second chance.
“Some things aren’t forgivable and I understand that,” Birdsong said. “But we all make mistakes. I think people deserve a second chance for redemption.”
And his daughter? Not quite in a rebellious stage — yet, at least when it comes to her dad’s music.
“She loves it,” Birdsong said. “She’s real proud. She goes to school and tells her friends I’m her dad. She brags about me a lot.”
While his daughter isn’t a musician, she draws and works with clay.
“She’s turned into quite an artist,” Birdsong said.
Bosses Table Entertainment and Brothers from Another (BFA) present Mystikal and Ice Meez, Journey Downtown, 1020 Main St., Vacaville. For tickets: www.eventbrite.com/e/the-bosses-bash-tickets-160164738043