Interview: Carnage

Carnage (Minneapolis)
By Kandis Knight

In the Twin Cities there are few hip-hop artists who truly defy the racial divide that exists there. Few can get down with anyone from the organic, old school hip-hop circles to the hood rappers in North Minneapolis.

Carnage born Terrell Woods is one such an artist. He has worked with an extensive list of Twin Cities and national artists that includes your most ghetto fabulous hood-hop stars to the uptown yuppy types. Carnage even does rock and roll.

I am sure the fact that he grew up on Chicago’s infamous southside has something to do with his drive to go beyond boundaries.

“I lived with my mother for more than half my life. She lost custody of my sisters and I when I was 12. I saw her boyfriend abuse her. This made her turn to alcohol then later drugs,” explains the overly personable Carnage. “I grew up with hope and kept my head on straight. I saw lots of ill shit. Life was hard growing up.”

Because home life was unstable, Carnage learned early to adapt. Carnage’s life was a constant cycle of moving from apartment to apartment, then shelter to shelter. When Carnage was four years old his family moved to St. Paul. But the moving and adjusting didn’t stop there. He moved around through high school. This definitely explains Carnage’s popularity in many circles.

“I grew up with gang-bangers, the REAL ones, who were fresh out of Chicago, I saw people sell and take drugs. My mom was a crackhead for a while, as well as an alcoholic and a prostitute, and so were my aunts. I saw drugs and alcohol ruin many lives.”

Although most people see Carnage as an extremely happy, well-adjusted artist, he has a dark side many of us will never quite grasp. “Wondering where the next meal was gonna come from at times was scary. My mother’s lifestyle caused us to get evicted from three or more apartments and live in shelters, which we also got kicked out of. I was forced to grow up fast, and I was very mature for my age.”

Despite being raised in a children’s shelter, foster homes and a group home during his adolescence, Carnage still came out a champion. Carnage graduated from Bloomington Kennedy High School. After high school he was accepted at Hamline University and earned a degree in psychology in 1997.

Carnage’s music career has been a slow yet steady progression and demonstrates his ability to persevere.

As far as advice for new emcees, Carnage has some. “Quit giving undeserved props. Tell people who need to elevate to do so, don’t be nice cause they are your friends, and quit hating, help others out when you got connections if they are worthy of it,” says Carnage.

Carnage plans to capitalize on this and expects to be releasing 5 different projects this year. A few live albums as well as new projects with Eyedea, Cheap Cologne, and some works with label mates Hecatomb. And finally a solo album, his first full solo album. “I spent all this time, all these years, trying to make a perfect album. And I just realized you can't do that, nothing is perfect. You have to grow with each project.”
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