C. Struggs is not Dallas’ Biggie Smalls, but it's a tempting comparison. Struggs came from a tough background, dragged himself out of it, and got sucked back in. A proud father and a hip-hop artist for a decade, Struggs’ life has been marked by tragedy. But he keeps making music at a furious pace, determined that nothing will stop him from a successful musical career.
“I’m a heavyset cat and I do my own thing,” Struggs says. “But I’m just somebody from a struggle trying to make it.” He has released five mixtapes and did a lot of grinding to put physical copies in shops and make sure they appeared on websites.
These days, Struggs is working on number six and constantly dropping music videos. “BSB” was just released on May 26 and it already has nearly 6,000 views. From Oak Cliff, Struggs is an hour away from shooting a scene for his next video at Polk and Camp Wisdom.
“I’m just trying to build my buzz up,” says Struggs. He has a loud voice that seems perfectly proportionate with his physical size. He is astutely aware that the days of fans buying albums and listening to them for months are all but gone. “It’s like applying pressure. Nowadays, everybody’s soaking this stuff up fast. They are taking music in fast and letting it go just as fast.”
A contemporary of hip-hop artists like Trapboy Freddy and Fat Pimp, C. Struggs loves Dallas, rarely leaves Oak Cliff and wants to make sure the city is on display in his videos. Aimed at clubs, Struggs has a rugged, Southern-based sound with trap tendencies, reminiscent of Scarface and T.I. This is reality rap. “It’s gritty, it’s grimy, it’s basically my life,” Struggs says. His delivery is that of someone getting in your face and telling you who they are and where they come from.
With his lyrics, Struggs gets specific about how he parties, but also his struggles. He does not try to glorify anything about selling drugs or risking his life out on the streets. But with those experiences in his past, he sometimes offers a brutally honest look at a lifestyle that was anything but fun. Growing up surrounded by drug addiction and drug dealers, he knew little else for a long time.
“There’s nothing fun about that,” Struggs says. “It’s nothing to brag about.” When he references the topics, the purpose is to inform and drive others. “When people listen to my music, I want it to make them want to better themselves and rise up out of this. I try to let them know that this is not the only path you can take in life.” People have done the same for him.
At Carter High, he thrived as a football player. His skills as an athlete earned him a scholarship, but as a sophomore he walked away from college. With no money and his first child on the way, Struggs returned to the streets to sell drugs. As ridiculous as the decision seems to him now, he immediately needed money for his family and that was the only way he knew how to make it.
“The streets will suck you in in a matter of days,” Struggs says. “And then they’ll chew you up and spit you out.” Watching people get arrested and killed on a regular basis with three children ultimately turned him away. But he remembers friends who did stay in college — and went on to be lawyers, preachers, and football players — coming around to tell him there was another way to live.
In love with music, he walked away from that life and started working as a security guard in his mid-20s. With a renewed focus on music and an insistence on it being positive, he started recording every week and quickly matured as an artist.
“If you live a life that is immature and irresponsible, that’s what your lyrics are going to be,” says Struggs, who is now 30. “I wake up every day trying to be better, small step or big step. I love being a father. I grew up without one and I am so lucky to have the chance to be one.”
But as driven as he was by a troubled past, losing his 7-year-old son, Torey, in an accident back in 2014 makes him push even harder. “That’s what really drives me to keep going,” Struggs says. He wrote a song about his son, but hasn’t been able to release it yet. The pain of this loss is enough to keep him pushing forward, but it still hurts too much for him to go back to that place by addressing it with music. “My son, he’s my gas. He really loved my music. He could rap most of my lyrics. I’m not going to stop doing this.”