Money Talks

When Dwayne McKnight, aka Fast Money, meditates on his future in the rap game, there’s always a countdown ticking in the back of his mind. Sure, there are images of lounging on BET’s 106 & Park couch and talking up his latest release, but the countdown — local hip-hop parlance for San Antonio by way of its 210 area code — is right there.

“I got a saying in one of my rhymes: ‘All I needed was a chance to put us on the map/ open doors and advanced through/ with the city on my back.’ I’m all for San Antonio. I don’t care what side of town you’re from. Anything with San Antonio on it, that’s me.”

Much like listening to his music, talking with the 28-year-old rapper is a refreshing experience. It’s not everyday that you meet a complex artist who was born and raised in San Antonio, isn’t shackled by some type of inferiority complex, and is creating some banging hip-hop songs. Ever since Tupac Shakur survived five gunshots in a 1994 New York City robbery, getting shot, doing time, and living to tell about it has been a recurring theme in commercial rap. Heck, 50 Cent built a media empire out of it, compete with platinum-selling albums, a clothing line, feature films, and a video game. Despite being shot in the back of the head in 2004 and serving three years for trafficking narcotics, Money never romanticizes his time behind bars in his rhymes, and with good reason.

“I was in `Texas Department of Corrections` in ’01, ’02, and ’03 and it’s all bad,” Fast Money says. “I just feel sorry for the people who are sitting in there who are really innocent or people who had no choice to do what they did, maybe they had their backs against the wall. I think a lot of people in there deserve a second chance, you’ve just gotta get to know a person.

“There’s a lot of people that make first-time mistakes and they’re gone. I don’t want to be that type of person. There’s more to life than just being behind bars. It’s like your life is really being put on hold.”

Fast Money speaks matter-of-factly when discussing his three-year bid for freedom. For an individual who prides himself on exhibiting a strong personality and a solid amount of street knowledge, the harshest insult was being relegated to a mere number. He says he spent the bulk of his incarceration time brushing up on his writing and rhyme skills.

After serving his time, Fast Money says he soon faced another challenge when he was busted by a VIA officer for possession of marijuana. He insists that the arresting officer privately admitted to him that he was stopped because he was a young black man driving a nice car. This arrest led to a short stint in the county jail, one that he believes would have been much longer if not for a forgiving judge who saw potential in him.

  “It leaves me a much smarter person,” Fast Money says about his time in lock up. “Let me tell you for real, I’m not a bad person. I don’t get out there and do bad shit to people. I’m just not one of them people. My mother raised me right. It just happened that I chose the streets and grew up in that.

“You’ve gotta go through it to know and I’ve been there. That ain’t where I want to be. I’d rather kick my feet up somewhere else and watch my kids grow up because living life through letters and commissary, that ain’t for me.”

Growing up on the East Side, Fast Money was drawn to the streets and hip-hop at an early age. Much of his music reflects on these experiences, but with an optimism similar to Notorious B.I.G.’s classic “Juicy.” In commercial rap terms, Fast Money could very easily be the Alamo City equivalent of southern acts T.I., Young Jeezy, and Lil’ Wayne. Much like the players in the current dirty-south triumvirate, Money exudes confidence and is smooth on the mic. The lingering question is whether San Antonio’s small-market status — or its deceptively dangerous criminal element — will somehow hold him back.

Money is currently making moves with Starvin Artist Entertainment and PJ Productions through a slew of mix-tape appearances and shows at venues like Papa Ray’s. The elusive artist is working hard on becoming more accessible, building consistency through his music, and creating momentum for a forthcoming debut album, The South’s Newest Find Vol. 1. Now more than ever, Money is focused on making it in the rap game, honoring around-the-way mentors such as Mystic, Big Bruce, and Leon, and like many aspiring emcees, planning on bringing his hometown up with him.

“I feel like people will actually be proud of me to say, ‘If I wanted to put somebody in a lineup that can represent San Antonio, Fast Money would at least be in the top three.’ I want them to say, ‘The new cats that came out of the countdown city, them Texas boys, they came out of nowhere and they making a lot of noise.’ I’m rooted here. I came from here so that’s gonna feel good.” 


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