When both Lamar Riddick and Nicholas Feemster found themselves auditioning for the United States Army’s Field Band as the first hip hop musicians ever, they were in awe of the opportunity.

It was a “surreal moment,” Feemster said, excitement in his voice. “We’re excited for this opportunity to be pioneers, not just for the genre, but for the nation, for our culture.”

Feemster said there are “so many barriers that will be broken.”

Both musicians will go to basic training starting in January and, beforehand, they plan on participating in several speaking engagements at WVU.

Riddick and Feemster are determined musicians and businessmen that mesh as performers at venues like Hip Hop on High Street and strive to walk together in their faith, which Feemster described as “Still something I’m searching for on my own.”

Both musicians emphasized the responsibility to “just be honest” and trust God’s plan.

“Because God gave me this gift, I have no choice but to be humble,” Riddick said, describing how he and Feemster signed over 30 personal thank you notes to contributors who attended their show the night before. “Rap is a team sport; success is a team result. As long as you’re putting people before yourself, you’re doing good.”

However, things weren’t always on the up-and-coming. Riddick and Feemster both described the need to accept failure in their careers in order to appreciate their success.

It’s hard to imagine embracing a sense of unapologetic optimism, but that’s a quality of these men you can’t forget. It only takes a single listen of Riddick’s hit “Nothing to Prove,” to know that these musicians embody what they preach.

Riddick produced “Nothing to Prove” in response to losing another competition. He was coming from a place of frustration, ready to “put out some heat.” Yet, despite these feelings, he emphasized that anger is never a tool one can use to succeed.

“The biggest hindrances in life are our perceptions of what people think of us,” Riddick said. He has “nothing to prove” to them.

Riddick continued, “Likes don’t equal value. The quicker you understand that you have nothing to prove but to God, man, you just live free.”

While both men have experienced loss, their success was no fluke, Riddick said. “My work ethic surpasses many. That’s credited to a lot of losses. What’s going to make you work harder than losing?”

Despite their busy schedules, Riddick and Feemster’s musical ambitions are still in full swing.

Feemster is currently working on his second studio album, entitled “PTSD.” Riddick is working on an upcoming release entitled “Nightlight.”

“It’s talking about being a light in the darkness everywhere you go,” Riddick said, describing the upcoming EP.

The musicians also gave their advice to aspiring artists.

“Broaden yourself and be an entrepreneur. Don’t give up. That is my biggest advice. Don’t have a timeline for yourself. Your talent will make room for you,” Riddick said.