After Successful Educational CDs, Rapper Now Dreams of Major Music Deal
“One times one equals one, one times two equals two, one times three equals three” and so it continues against a hip-hop inspired beat to make learning math easier and more enjoyable for children. It is known as “Multiplication Hip-Hop.”
Everett Roundtree and his uncle, David Printis, are the masterminds behind reciting multiplication tables and other topics to the beat of hip-hop music. Roundtree, also known as E One Letter, is an aspiring rapper and the voice behind the popular “Multiplication Hip-Hop” compact disc.
“I try to motivate people,” said the 24-year-old, whose overall message as an artist is progress.
Roundtree explains his stage name, E One Letter, came from people shortening his first name by calling him “E,” which is only one letter. “One day my cousin said, ‘you should call yourself E One Letter, and it stuck,” Roundtree recalled. “It felt natural and real. That’s who I am — one of a kind, E One Letter.”
In 1999, Roundtree and Prentis founded De-U Records Inc. in Fort Washington, Md. Besides rapping, Roundtree also assisted with the production, promotion and selling of the CDs.
On “Multiplication Hip-Hop,” Roundtree repeats each lesson four times, allowing children to recite the tables with him. The CD also includes an interactive test and final review of the times tables from one through 12.
They hit the streets in the early stages of the project, Roundtree explained, and eventually sold about 150,000 CDs over the years. They also created a DVD called “Multiplication Hip-Hop in Concert,” a stage play that features four cartoon characters who are Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian.
“School and education are very important,” Roundtree said. “It’s also the main platform to succeed in life. Although I didn’t finish college, I would recommend school for everyone. Education is priceless.”
Roundtree says reaction to the CDs has been “awesome.” Students love them and so do teachers, he adds.
“Some teachers tell us they play them everyday for their students, and the Washington Post did a story on it and found out we got 70 percent of the children’s test scores up in math,” he explained. “The CDs really work, and the kids enjoy them at the same time, so it’s a win, win.”
Roundtree hopes to break out into the music world with a deal from a major record company. Before going solo, he also performed with “The Family,” a group of 10 that included some of his cousins and his uncle.
“I’m different than most artists, because a lot come up from selling drugs on the street,” Roundtree explained. “I sold educational CDs that we made and sold as a company, and I’ve been doing this since ’99. So while most people talk about what they do, I live it.”
As a solo artist, Roundtree has created an extended play disc (EP) that he sells on the Internet at www.cdbaby.com/eoneletter. An EP has more than one song, but not enough songs for an album. Roundtree explained that many artists come out with EPs before releasing an album. His EP consists of four songs and is titled “You Talk It; I Walk It.”
“The title of my EP is ‘You Talk It; I Walk It,’ because that’s how I feel about what I do,” he explained. “Whatever I rap about, I’ve seen it done or seen someone else go through it.”
He has friends who are in jail right now as well as friends who make good money from hustling.
“I’ve done it myself, but I just realized it wasn’t for me,” Roundtree admitted. “I made a choice to stop while some of my friends didn’t.”
“I represent the hungry and motivated people in life.”
Roundtree says he gets a “natural high” when people achieve. “I love to see people succeed,” he said.
After landing a music deal, he wants to put out an album out within six months. “Once the album is out, it is time to open my own label,” he said.
“Hip-hop is a platform to do many things,” Roundtree continued. “I also want to get into acting — not because everyone tries to transition into it, but I want to do it because I have a passion for it.”
Prentis’ son, David Junior, is confident that Roundtree will meet his goals, after co-producing his EP as well as the educational hip-hop CDs. “He’s extremely determined and gifted,” the recording engineer says of his cousin. “He won’t take no for an answer.”
The younger Prentis, also a group member of The Family, notes that Roundtree financed his EP himself. “He was the first to come out with a project of his own.”
Roundtree’s message for aspiring artists is simple and the same one that he follows: “Go for your dreams!”