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Virtuous & Victorious Vincent
By Zon D’Amour, Contributing Writer
Published April 5, 2017
Vincent Berry II (courtesy photo)

Vincent Berry II (courtesy photo)

You may not recognize the name Vincent Berry II, but you know his music. Berry is one of the songwriters behind Beyonce’s Grammy Award winning ballad, “Sandcastles” from her latest album “Lemonade”. Queen Bey captivated the audience when she performed the song during this year’s telecast. Berry’s diverse catalogue also includes sessions with Mary J. Blige, Big Sean and Maroon 5 to name a few. He’s also made headlines for being transparent about his journey which includes the ending of  a decade long relationship which was the inspiration behind “Sandcastles”, to his stint of homelessness prior to his big break. In an exclusive interview with the L.A. Sentinel, Berry gives insight into how he manages his time and makes decisions that are rooted in faith in order to sustain his new found fame.

 LAS: Many artists dream to be in a position where their work is associated with someone of Beyonce’s caliber. What are some of the things that have changed in your life as a result of being thrust into the spotlight?

Vincent Berry: Being associated with someone as big as Beyonce definitely causes people to act differently and that’s what I’m experiencing right now. It’s a blessing but it’s definitely a responsibility.

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There’s a weight that comes along with being “lit” as they say.

When the light is off, you have time to make adjustments without judgment. When the lights come on, there isn’t any room to make any errors. Errors look like unpreparedness, mistakes look like you aren’t ready and that you don’t want the moment. When the lights were off, I wish I would have been more intentional about learning every part of the business. I wish I would have walked into every studio session I’ve ever been in with “split sheets” where we’re not leaving the room until we understand who owns what on this song. My entire journey I’ve heard someone on some panel mention the importance of those documents and it’s true because oftentimes people get amnesia once we leave the room and relationships are ruined because people don’t want to do business the right way.

LAS: In a previous interview you mentioned that you turned down a publishing deal and you referred to it as a “high-interest loan”. Can you expound upon what that means for other artists who look at publishing deals as a means of securing further career opportunities?

VB: Publishers aren’t necessarily bad once you look at them like a bankand banks aren’t bad, you just have to do business with them in a certain way. [Publishers] front loan you money against future earnings and future royalties, there isn’t a whole lot of speculation added to the number they’re going to offer you as far as how much money they want to give you up front against what they think you’re going to do–  it’s based on what you’ve already placed. After these companies saw that I had secured placements with Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, as well as Nico & Vinz, then they wanted to give me money but to me, that’s not what song writing is about. When I was homeless, you should have acknowledged  that I had great songs. Why would I let you stand up and claim that you found me as a writer when you didn’t. I placed the records myself, they didn’t introduce me to anyone.

I have friends who are writers tell me that the person that signed them to their publishing deal left or retired from the company so they don’t even get calls anymore. I hadn’t even looked that far into the deal that ten years from now, the guy that signs me may not want to work there any more. So all of the sudden there’s no more excitement around my catalogue and they’re off to find the ‘new Vincent Berry’ who can write the “new ‘Sandcastles’.”

I didn’t want to listen to the hype, I didn’t need people to validate me.

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The main thing I would tell aspiring songwriters: you’re not just making a song, you’re creating an intellectual property that has revenue generating potential for 120 years if you write it right. This one song can feed the whole hood. I’m healing people with my music and I have the ability to make more money than any drug dealer. It’s an incredible opportunity to build wealth for my family and teach others how to build wealth as well.

Vincent Berry II (courtesy photo)

Vincent Berry II (courtesy photo)

LAS: When you got to a point of homelessness, how did you remain resilient in the pursuit of your goals? How do you know when to continue to make sacrifices or simply move on?

VB: There’s a voice within us all that’s there to lead us and guide us which I believe is the voice of the most high. I learned to start looking for that voice within people and myself so I hear things that bear witness within my soul and things that are in harmony with my vibrations. If my energy doesn’t balance with the room or my vibe isn’t in harmony with what’s happening, I immediately leave or move away. I’ve always followed my heart. So it’s important to make sure your heart is void of bitterness, rage, resentment, frustration, unforgiveness and lust. We’re never going to get it perfectly right but we need to search our hearts to make sure that they’re pure which is the point in which everything starts to move. I believe your whole life is a collective journey leading you to your destiny.

Follow the signs of your life. I believe that the most high speaks through the people around you and gives us direction. You know the areas you should be focused on, that you’re most gifted in and the things that come the most naturally to you.

I was a very accomplished football player in my neighborhood. I stepped onto the field in 9th grade and was all state every year. I loved football, it was probably the only thing I loved as much as music but that wasn’t in my destiny. It was what I saw for myself but it wasn’t what the Most High saw for me. I gave a lot of my time to studying football playbooks but if I would have had the insight I would have spent more time on the piano.

Decide what you want to do as early as you can so that you can spend time mastering the gifts you need to be successful.

To be homeless chasing my dreams was a luxury, it didn’t feel like it but it was a luxury because so many people are doing things that have nothing to do with their dreams.

LAS: How do you turn your trials and tribulations into a hit song?

VB: It’s important that we manage what we feed ourselves about our purpose, that’s how you control your thoughts. If you can control your thoughts, you can control your world so it’s important that we’re feeding ourselves information that’s conducive to what we’re trying to do.

When my girlfriend of nearly a decade walked away, of course it was difficult in that moment but I lost my dad when I was 13-years-old and twenty-five other family members in the next twelve years after that. Every six months someone was dying. Loss taught me the value of time.

The faster you can learn how valuable your time is; the quicker you can cut out all of the BS. All of my life worked together for this moment.

Someone once told me that your today is a combination of the past five years of your life and the books you’ve read and the relationships you’ve built over those years. So when I learned that, I looked at my life and it wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I started building the relationships and reading the books. Today as I’ve reached this place, my dreams and desires are still evolving. This is just the beginning for me.

Some people had their moment as teenagers, meanwhile, my first Grammy Award was at 31-years-old. Kanye West is 39 with 21 Grammy’s.

The Most High for whatever reason wanted me to get a lot of information before he let me in the door. And now I understand why. There aren’t a lot of writers who can say they own their music from the day that they stepped into the building.

To learn more about Vincent’s journey follow him on social media, @vincentberry2

Categories: Entertainment | Exclusive (Entertainment) | Music
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