Dreams and success are subjective and have many definitions. Many don’t know what they want to do for a career if or when they reach college and even at that point, it’s a crapshoot on where they’ll ultimately end up in life.
Chukwuemeka Nnamdi Onyejekwe, known musically as Mekka Don, initially came to fame in athletics as a football player at Ohio State. After graduating from OSU with a law degree, the former DeSales High student became an associate attorney in New York making more than $150,000 yearly.
It was music, however, that was always in Mekka Don’s heart and would ultimately become his career focus.
“A lot of people knew me from Ohio before I moved to New York but not many knew me as an artist because I wasn’t able to pursue it full-time,” Mekka Don said. “People knew me because I played football or because I threw parties but didn’t really know me necessarily as an artist.”
As Mekka’s music career progressed in New York, receiving press from publications like XXL, HipHopDX and MTV, his hometown took note and a phone call from OSU president Gordon Gee followed.
“President Gee heard about all the things I was doing in New York and he was like, ‘We need to get you involved with Ohio State.’”
Mekka subsequently became one of the few rappers officially licensed by a university. At its outer core it seemed like an interesting business move, but for hip-hop as a musical genre, joining with the institution of higher education creates even more meaning.
“It’s huge because of how people view hip-hop; it’s a dangerous thing to do. If I get a gun charge or a DUI, drug charge, now the university has to defend having a licensing deal with somebody like that because they’re an academic institution first and foremost,” he said.
Now Mekka Don is preparing to finally release his debut studio album, The Dream Goes On — a fitting title to the hard work and risk Mekka has taken ever since passing the bar.
“I left a six-figure job in New York to pursue my dream, and that’s hip-hop,” Mekka said. “That is the dream I’m talking about with The Dream Goes On.”
Mekka Don’s debut features 10 tracks detailing the Columbus rapper’s journey from a young age, and fans have had a large hand in funding the album’s production. Mekka created a crowd funding campaign on Jan. 20 and has since raised more than $21,000 via more than 200 donors to help fund all elements of the project’s creation.
“To see that that many people are supporting and interested in the project, that’s huge,” he said. “I think everybody wants that ‘I told you so’ moment in no matter what it is that they do especially if they have a lot of opposition. I think I’ve kind of had that moment, not to say that I’ve made it but I feel like certain things that we’ve done couldn’t have been done without a certain amount of talent.”