Though most of us probably take it for granted, freedom of speech is something fundamentally American. We may not have invented the concept (the original ideology dates back to Ancient Greece), but we are perhaps the most well-known in the modern world for it.
In America, the idea behind freedom of speech was first added to our constitution via the Bill of Rights way back in 1791. Back then, the interpretation was much more narrow. As the 1900s progressed, especially with the help of FDR’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom was expanded to what we know it as today.
While many of us use this essential freedom on social media or day-to-day conversations, some of us use it in our careers — and a musician is no different.
This is where local rapper Trap Beckham comes into play. Born and raised in Duval county, Travis Cave said he always wanted to do something revolving around music.
At the age of just 8, he was already writing his own music — drawing inspiration from genre legends like Kanye and T-Pain or others like Prince and Michael Jackson. He began recording at 12 and by the time he reached college, he earned the nickname, “The Golden Boy of the Hood.”
“I listened to a lot of Kanye, and I’d say someone who inspired me to go different places with my sound was T-Pain,” Travis said. “I’d say he was a major inspiration to how I put my songs together.”
This year, Travis was signed to Def Jam Recordings, and is most known for his song, “Birthday Chick” that reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
To him, the purpose of being a rapper is intricately tied into freedom of speech, using the given liberty to express himself artistically and share his talent with the world.
Outside the U.S., people like Travis could be fined or even imprisoned for their lyricism and expression. To him, this is what sets America apart from other countries when it comes to music and art.
“I’m proud to be an American and express my freedom of speech — being able to cuss and get rachet on my records,” Travis said. “If you can’t express your feelings in your song, I mean what is it? Music is all about how people feel, and I’m glad to have freedom of speech. God bless America.”
Through his music, Travis isn’t trying to change the world or dramatically affect people’s political views or outlooks on society, but that doesn’t mean what he’s doing isn’t important. To him, Travis helps people take their minds off the flaws in life, the downs and times of intense struggle.
While many focus on the negatives in the world, Travis wants to embrace the good and impact people positively through his words.
A photo posted by Trap Beckham (@trapbeckham) on
During the interview, Travis was asked specifically if he felt as though some of his fellow Americans took the First Amendment for granted, not realizing the repercussions their words or actions could have if they didn’t live in the U.S.
“No. I don’t feel people take freedom of speech for granted. There’s plenty of people out now, plenty of celebrities who are using their freedom of speech to address the problems in America today. I don’t think people are taking it for granted, I think people are actually stretching their right of freedom of speech. Let’s take Colin Kaepernick, he is a big figure and he is taking a knee just to bring awareness to police brutality, so its like things like that — people on big platforms. Once you push that button, people will take notice because you have that platform.”
After signing to a major label and working in Los Angeles for a few months, Travis most certainly has that platform. Having never even flown on a plane before the signing, the experience has been life-changing for the young rapper.
Despite his recent successes, Travis remains a grounded individual, not letting the flashes of fame jade his point of view or goals. He hopes to continue to make music in the future as he expands into other markets and moves up — never losing sight of who he is and where he came from.
With freedom of speech comes much risk, especially when someone has a platform with so many eyes watching them at all times. It is important to remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Take a page out of Travis’ book and never forget how your actions and words can affect those around you for the better or worse — that decision is up to you.