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FOCUS

Heno.

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FOCUS is a reflective & pensive record that comes right from the heart and holds no punches. Healing has been, and will continue to be, a lifelong journey filled with unlearning & relearning. Part of that healing comes with looking back on how things have played out, learning right from wrong, and moving forward with the hope of ultimately progressing. Looking back on everything that started in Takoma Park, Maryland, I was just an ambitious kid who was curious about the world & eager to prove myself. But sometimes that eagerness to prove yourself is really just you looking for acceptance. To simply fit in. And doing almost whatever the circumstances may yield for that very acceptance. But as a first generation Ethiopian/Eritrean I never really fit in anywhere. I’ve always had a sense of duality growing up that came from being academically gifted (in honors classes) but also being from the projects. Being the only black person in a classroom getting judged versus being one of many on the block being judged in a different way; in the real world. I was starting to become numb to all the things I was exposed to on my own while my parents worked very hard 5-6 days a week. Getting in the mix & understanding my predisposition early on prepared me for how cold the world can really be. But my mother would often remind me to continue to move with love despite how cold the world can be; to not let the world turn me bitter. FOCUS is a reminder to stay cool during the pressure but also pat myself on the back for continuing to persevere despite everything I’ve overcome. From seeing a dead body as a child, dealing with law enforcement heavily, to friends and family being incarcerated, to substance abuse, grieving loss, being in the trenches, and everything in between. I really do believe everything happens for a reason and I think God plays a big role in how I’ve been able to pivot from learning rigid lessons to discover hidden blessings. Questioning everything that was truly normalized around me and actively changing for the better despite my upbringing were decisions that I had to make and I’m grateful I’ve always followed my intuition. It all comes from looking within & letting go of what cannot be changed, but that ultimately requires FOCUS. This record was also co-produced by Nafets.

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