“I don’t speak for the streets,” says New England-based musician P. Goods, clearing a hurdle he believes has partly confined hip-hop and rap artists for decades. “I speak for human beings, and I speak from a perspective of life.”
Goods, 26, last week released Unfinished Business, what he refers to as his first ‘project.’ The record, which is now available on Audiomack, is “not your average hip-hop,” he explains. “I look to push outside a hip-hop mode, more like a music mode.”
Throughout his career, Goods (whose off-stage name is Garvey Ducheine) has set his sights high. “I’m looking to be one of people who have touched a large population of people,” he says.
Most predominantly hip-hop/rap artists can rattle off a laundry list of predictable inspirations, from N.W.A. to Nas, but when asked whose music most galvanized his passion for performing, Goods attributes much to some key musicians outside of that genre.
“The influence of people like Michael Jackson, the Beatles and Elvis Presley, the influence that they had on people, is what truly inspires me to go above and beyond hip-hop and R&B,” he says. “My music doesn’t really fit inside the box.”
Instead, Goods notes that his career goals are right in his name.
“The ‘P’ stands for ‘plenty,’” he says. “And that’s what I feel like I have to offer to the world and to music: plenty of goods. I have all sorts of versatility.”
Unfinished Business will feature 11 tracks, including the inspirational anthem “My Destiny” and speculative “What If,” which ponders a reality unmarred by racism and hatred, referencing the results of the last presidential elections and the death of Eric Garner, among other ripped-from-the-headlines events.
“Each song has a different sound and channel of energy,” says Goods. “The project is not your average hip-hop and R&B… There’s a lot of the same messages being conveyed in the music out there today, and some of the things you would expect from an average hip-hop/R&B artist I don’t think you can really expect from me.”
Goods dislikes the idea of making music for a niche audience.
“Whether you play sports or do track and field, you’re an artist, you’re a journalist, doesn’t matter, as long as you’re someone who has a passion wants to bring their dreams and their goals to fruition, it’s the record for you,” he says of Unfinished Business.
Listeners can also expect Goods’ project to steer away from glorifying violence, drugs, alcohol and other trademarks of the ‘gangster life’ stereotype perpetuated by some other mainstream rappers.
“I can still bring aggression and passion” without spreading negative messages like those found elsewhere in the genre, he says. “The last thing I want to do is lead someone down a road where they won’t be able to turn back.”
Growing up in Boston surrounded by older cousins, Goods was introduced to hip-hop and rap, including artists with particularly aggressive lyrics, “long before I probably should have been listening to that kind of music,” he admits with a laugh.
At the age of 9, he wrote and performed his first rap, a love story about the painting Mona Lisa. “I fell in love with the fact that I was able to motivate and enable and receive all kinds of support and attention from my talent,” the musician recalls.
Before long, though, Goods found himself enamored with more dangerous ideas of rappers’ extravagant, extreme lifestyle. “The hip-hop and R&B culture had a lot to do with how I carried myself and how I acted,” he notes of his younger years.
“I was very influenced by the lights, the smoke and mirrors of the industry, the lifestyle of being an artist, which came with a lot of showing off and money,” he remembers.
As such, before adopting P. Goods, he went by a variety of stage names that leaned more noticeably into the type of hip-hop and rap he had observed. “One of the first names I had was Pay Me,” Goods says, chuckling.
“It went from that to Alpo, which was a notorious gangster from New York… That was a time when my music definitely conveyed a message which was much more aggressive and violent,” Goods explains. “It came at a time when I was still in the process of finding myself and my place in the genre.”
The rapper’s most prominent, pre-Goods nom de guerre was Point Blank. It was with that pseudonym that he was able to open for a number of big acts and start building an audience for himself. Still, Goods says he doesn’t look back fondly on his time using that name.
“That was an era where I was trying to convey and depict a message that was more conscious, more urban conscious rap, but how I was actually living and who I actually was did not match up with the music,” he says.
“I was speaking a lot about doing things the right way even though at that time I wasn’t doing things the right way,” Goods recalls. “I guess I was being a pretty big hypocrite – I was speaking about ‘let’s have peace’ but I was doing a lot of things in the neighborhood and in the city… I was definitely making a hypocritical statement.”
Goods remembers feeling like “one of those lost souls” as he witnessed and became embroiled in gang activity.
“As far as some of the stuff I was going through, I was in the streets,” says Goods. “I don’t know what I thought I was. I was homeless for a time. I was definitely indulged in a lot of activities – there was drug-dealing and I was around a lot of gangbangers, there was a lot of recklessness, things I watched some of my closest friends never come back from whether that means they are deceased now or they’re in jail.”
Goods eventually realized he was heading down the wrong path. “It took for so much to happen for me to say, ‘For me to make it out of this and that is a miracle, for me to still be here is a miracle…’” The rapper explained. “I took that as a sign, the only sign I needed to keep pushing forward and becoming more of a positive influence to those who are listening to my music, provide at least a better route, or an alternative route for them to take, versus what the rest of the industry has to offer.”
Goods partly credits his faith with helping him break away. “Music is my religion, because that’s what I practice every day, but I was called to build a greater relationship with the higher power of God and Jesus, and I feel like that’s been opening my heart up to the kind of music I’ve been releasing,” he says.
Today, Goods feels that he has finally found a way forward by prioritizing music that aims to encourage people to dream bigger and work hard for what they want in life. “With the name P. Goods, I now know in which way I’m growing,” he says.
One of Goods’ biggest hopes is that he can serve as a role model for kids who, like him, are growing up in a time when the radio is flooded with aggressive music. “I do have a responsibility to influence people in a positive light, to think twice about what I’m saying,” he says.
“I’ve been making music for a very long time… been through a lot of ups and downs,” Goods admits. “It’s hard to really remember that you can be an inspiration for others and also for yourself.”
In keeping with that mindset, Goods sees his stage name not just as an assurance to listeners but as a personal vow – a reminder that, no matter what obstacles he may face, he has much to offer, and he won’t let himself be dragged down by anything that would prevent him from pursuing his one true passion.
On the event of his first major project’s release, Goods feels both eager and excited. “After this project, I really feel like I’ll be on another level,” he says. Feedback has been overwhelming positive, and Unfinished Business seems set to further energize his career.
Still, Goods emphasizes that he still has a lot of work to do, and he hopes to communicate that through the project title.
“My manager made a great point,” he says. “She told me, ‘Why don’t you drop the record as Unfinished Business. Because, the way she perceived it, it’s like you’re almost done, you’re not right where you need to be yet but you’re almost there.”
Goods is confident that nothing will stand between him and making it big in the music business. “My drive, my hunger for this,” he says, “grows every day. I’ve got so much energy to put into making my own way.”
And with every passing day, as he writes new tracks and performs old records, Good says that he remains inspired by his own progress, by his faith and by the people around him.
“My mom always says that life looks at you the way you look at it, so that definitely opened my eyes to think positive and to think bigger and be more idealistic,” he notes. “Because life will mirror it.”
“Unfinished Business” is now available on Audiomack. Goods plans to launch a website, iampgoods.com, this September.