Student by day and hip-hop artist and music producer by night. Western senior Cougar Holliman takes solace in his music.
Since the age of 14, Cougar Holliman has been competing in rap battles and exploring his talent as a hip-hop artist. During his early years, he said he was still developing his skills and did not quite understand the structure of how to write a song.
Holliman, began truly establishing himself as a hip-hop artist when he worked in a studio of his own for the first time.
Alpha Cat, Holliman’s stage name, is the nickname his former colleagues at Mount Baker gave him. Combining his first name, Cougar, with a play on alpha dog, his friends dubbed him ‘Alpha Cat’ and the name stuck with him ever since.
Holliman had many reasons for wanting pursue a career in the music industry, but he began to look to music as a way to stay out of trouble.
“I have a lot of friends and people I used to do music with that are either in jail, prison, dead, life is not going well or junkies,” Holliman said.
“I think the main thing for me is that I wanted something for us to all focus on, that is why I got my butt in school so that I could utilize my education and secondary knowledge of the music industry.”
Alpha Cat has been performing shows around Bellingham for several years now, he said. He has performed at venues such as GLOW, Ferndale Bar and Grill, as well as house parties and other large events.
Since establishing himself as a local hip-hop artist, Alpha Cat has since began a business recording and producing music for other music artists when he was 19 years old. Fo N A Dub Records, a name he created when he was 14 years old and just beginning his hip-hop career. Fo N A Dub Records is a music production, management and DJ service that Holliman created from the ground up.
Alpha Cat and other artists at Fo N A Dub Records are dedicated to their work and make practicing a priority, getting together at least once a week, sometimes twice, Holliman said.
Holliman is not just looking for money with Fo N A Dub Records though, rather, he wants to uplift the people around him. The business not only produces music, but Holliman uses it to help people be successful in their own careers.
“Helping educate others that are in less fortunate spots or don’t want to go through the academia system has been my main goal,” Holliman said.
Unlike some artists who simply stand and sing on the stage, Alpha Cat makes sure that he interacts with the audience, Holliman said. “You feel like you got your money’s worth when the artist is willing to move around and actually interact with the crowd,” Holliman continues.
Alpha Cat does not auto tune his voice when he performs, which is unique to hip-hop artists. He moves around the stage, pumping up the audience and converses with the audience after his performance.
“I want it to be personable; I want you to see that I am a human being,” Holliman said.
Will Young, a Bellingham-based hip-hop artist recently worked with Holliman. The two worked together in producing his most recent album, titled “AKA Wasted Will”, which was released on Dec. 15, 2015. Young, previously known by his stage name Wasted Will, has opened up for groups such as Lauren Hill and Tech9.
Young and Holliman write music together from time to time. “We both bounce our styles off of each other,” Young said on his collaborations with Holliman.
“I respect him as a person and an artist,” Young said when reflecting on his and Holliman’s time together.
Another hip-hop artist and friend of Holliman, Jared Somerville, also known as his stage name, Blacknificent, works with Holliman in producing music. They first met at a party when Somerville was beatboxing as Holliman performed lyrics.
Somerville looked to Holliman as not only a musician he works with, but also a mentor and big brother. he said.
As a student, businessman and hip-hop artist, Holliman has a full schedule.
“Being a student and trying to build a business, is not an easy thing,” Holliman said. “I prioritize. I identify what needs to be done with the highest priority.”
However, Holliman always makes time for himself on the weekends. Holliman reserves the weekends for reading, studying for school, spending time with friends and family and one of his favorite activities, snowboarding.
While people strive to follow their dreams, it is often difficult to achieve them, Holliman said.
“Take small baby steps every day, as long as you are going forward toward your goal, not backwards. We are all going to have steps that push us back and challenge us,” Holliman said. “There will be obstacles to hurdle, but as long as you are taking small, little steps every day you will see that eventually, you will get a big step in.”
Holliman’s new album being released on March 3, featuring 13 tracks.
“Just follow whatever you are passionate about. Don’t settle. If you are passionate about cooking, then go be the best chef you can be or open your own restaurant and really show your art or appreciation of what you do,” Holliman said. With every business venture, attending school and working, Holliman continues to pursue his dreams and advises others to do the same, he said.