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Bobby Cheeks
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Anchorage, Alaska - To most people, success in the music industry means money, expensive cars and big homes. But to Elmendorf Airman Bobby Cheeks, who just released his first rap album, success is very different.

Cheeks says joining the military saved his life from the streets of New Jersey. Now his life is busy, as he balances his success and passion for music with his military career.

Twenty-six-year-old Bobby Cheeks grew up in Jersey City, N.J., but he is now in his fifth year and his second tour with the Air Force. Now at the Elmendorf Air Force Base, he has a job as a dental hygienist.

He freely admits that the military saved his life, providing a way out of the ghetto.

“When my father passed away, I was like, ‘Wow, you've gotta do something. You can’t just sit around doing nothing or you’re going to end up like the people you see go down,’” Cheeks says.

But even though the military helped open a path, it was music that drives him. He says rhyme and music have been in his head since he was a child.

“I know it was seventh grade ‘cause I used to write rhymes in seventh grade. I don't know where it actually came from. It's just love of the rap music, that's all,” Cheeks says.

Now, all of these years later, Cheeks has compiled a CD and has a successful military career. And his patients are just as excited about his success.

“I didn't really expect this, but I guess I'm lucky to have him,” Airman Joanne Potter says.

Cheeks’ CD is titled “A Soldier’s Story.” The title is not exactly what you think.

“‘A Soldier’s Story,’ back home, like we all in the hood, in the ghetto or urban America, we all call each other soldiers and this that and other, so we use that as a regular hood term,” Cheeks says.

Cheeks says all of the music on “A Soldier’s Story” comes from his heart.

“Everything I do is based on, actually most of it is, what I've seen, done or been around,” Cheeks said.

Including the title track, which is based on growing up with his alcoholic father.

“He was a good man, but he was an alcoholic. He had a Jekyll-and-Hyde character. When he didn’t drink, he was cool, and when he did drink, he was terrible,” Cheeks says.

Cheeks is humble in every aspect of his life, including his music. He says gangster rap isn't his style, after being influenced by his mother.

“‘Cause my mother was like, ‘I'm going to beat your butt. You can rhyme, but you better not be saying anything you’re not supposed to.’ So that just stuck with me,” Cheeks says.

That definitely translates to his music, like the track “Superstar.” It’s a rhyme that he says speaks to young kids, telling them that they don't have to be famous to be a superstar.

And that is what Airman Bobby Cheeks is all about -- a man dedicated to his job with a passion for music.

“What's more important to me?” Cheeks says. “It would be to be in the military ‘cause you gotta have a foundation. If you’re not happy at the ground level, you can’t build nothing off of that, and I'm happy with the military.”

For Cheeks, it's not about the money and fame, he says it's about the heart and sharing his talent with the audience.


Cheeks will perform tomorrow at 10 p.m. at the Kashim Club on Elmendorf Air Force Base. Elmendorf is allowing the public to attend tomorrow night’s concert. They say Elmendorf personnel can pick up a pass at the Susitna Club or Kashim Club and leave that pass at the gate to be picked up by the public.


Cheeks just re-enlisted for another four years, which means he'll be in the Air Force through 2008. As for long term, Cheeks says his primary focus is on his job as a dental hygienist and being a part of the Air Force.

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