Carolyn Rodriguez: From Selling Crack to Prescribing "Medicine" for the Soul

One of the first things Carolyn Rodriguez, the Houston-based female singer and rap artist by way of Arkansas, by way of North Carolina, said to us is that she doesn't like bios. "When you make a bio you have to keep it politically correct," she tells Rocks Off. "You can't tell the real story."

She's right. By looking at her bio on her MySpace page, it keeps things really pretty. But come on, if Rocks Off hadn't had an in-depth conversation with her, how could we have known that the first time she came to Texas was to come buy cheap crack in Port Arthur, so she could mark it up eight times its value and slang it on the streets of Arkansas?

How could we have known that the first time she heard DJ Screw was not in Texas but in Oklahoma during another drug run and that she was smoking syrup-laced weed when the chopped and screwed first hit her pretty little ears?

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Today, Carolyn is known as the Medicine Girl. You'd think it was a clever name that associates her with her drug-dealing days or the Houston rap mascot, Purple Drank, which is often nicknamed "medicine" on the streets (which makes no sense because that's essentially what it is). But it isn't a play on words. At 30 years old, Carolyn's full-time job is selling her music, not drugs. As for the reference to medicine, well, we'll let her explain.

"The theme is medicine for your soul," she says. "Any kind of mood that you're in, there's a remedy for that. There's medicine for the painful times, the struggling times, and the thing you had to overcome to get to a better place. My music is about what went on in my life and is more of a representation of me."

Yeah, Carolyn's story is somewhat of a cultural roller-coaster that starts off pleasant, gets real gutter and then turns into a tale of inspiration and hustle. Born in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and raised in Fayetteville, Carolyn was the daughter of two Spanish teachers. Her father is a native of Spain and her mother is Anglo and taught on the Fort Bragg military base "where there were people from all over the world."

"I was exposed to so much as a little girl," says Carolyn. "I never experienced any kind of racism. What people grow up with and have to deal with in Texas and the Southern states, I really didn't have to deal with that as a child."

Every other summer in Spain, road trips with the family... for all intents and purposes, Carolyn was to live out her upbringing tip-toeing through life for the North Carolina State Ballet Company, shooting hoops for the school basketball team and impressing with solos in the school choir.

But like all divorces, they have the potential of impacting kids negatively and that's where this story goes from re-runs of The Brady Bunch to HBO's The Wire. With Carolyn's mother's family in Fort Smith, Ark., they'd uproot and settle there, and soon the cold reality of diversity not being the most embraced thing in certain parts of America would hit her in the face.


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