From the small streets of Delaware, a young artist who was hooked on the sounds of such artists as Mobb Deep, Nas and Rakim, decided that hip hop was his way out of the hood. Some of the product was old, but his ear was just getting in tune with these artists. Today, looking back on that era, Custo, the CEO of Fortress Empire, recalls, “They just seemed to be real street dudes with a purpose, that’s what I liked, that was the environment I was in, that’s how I saw myself growing up.”

Enthused by these artists, Custo wound up going into the studio when he was in his late teens, where he perfected his craft in a friend’s house. “The first time I went into the studio was 1999, on a serious note. Me and a couple of people started recording in my boy’s room rapping over a couple of beats. It just exploded, so we started with rapping over people’s beats on a karoke machine. Until we went into the studio. We put out a couple of albums, I was in a group first, but everyone wasn’t on the same page, so I went solo. I put out 5 albums/mixtapes myself.”

Recently, Custo dropped his latest mixtape, “Most Valuable Hustler,” which is a follow up to his album “Academic Street Hustler,” a purposeful album which was filled with gems. “In the streets, most Black dudes don’t make it to 25. I’m past 25; I was tested and I passed the test.”

His goal is to make Delaware a dominant force in the music business. “I know so many artists. DE is so small that no one has gotten out, but there’s at least 100 artist’s doing similar things that I’m doing are on R&B, hip hop. We have to do it on our own.”

Custo’s mixtape features the single “Untaxed Currency,” with a beat by Grammy-nominated producer Drumma Boy. The two initially hooked up on Twitter in an unusual way. “I sent him several messages thru Twitter, but him being Drumma Boy, he doesn’t necessarily pay attention to people he doesn’t know. Me thinking Drumma Boy is from the hood and he’s coming from the same struggle that I am coming from; I’m trying to come from the bottom to the top. I wanted to find out what his cost was, so I left several messages. Finally I said, ‘I understand, you’re too big to respond to a little guy like me, I’m trying to get out of the struggle and get to the position that you’re in, but I understand. I don’t expect you to answer me because I’m not a big name that you know.

“I included my phone number and said, ‘If you decide that you want to give me a beat, call my phone and sure enough, a couple of days later he called and said, yo, this is Drumma. I told him, ‘you are a real ass nigga for doing that. For you to do that shows your character in this industry to remember where you came from.” He said, Yo,man, I’m never gonna be fake!” I’m in the industry but I’m not industry!”

Letting the beat marinate for a number of days, Custo began to create his rhymes. The lyrics from “Untaxed Currency,” evolved as he mentally replayed the struggle that people in the hood are having these days due to lack of legal employment.

“People in streets getting money illegally, they don’t know any better, that’s what they know, until we are shown another way (it’s political and street). That’s all we know. That’s why people are on welfare or EBT, because this is what we are reduced to. So when I heard the beat, I listened to it and got the feel for it, and I just started talking about when I get money I’m going to flash money because this is all we know. I didn’t have nothing because I didn’t grow up with nothing.”

Currently, Custo is in the process of recording music for his latest CD and he continues to perform around the northeast and southern regions of the United States, spreading his message and dropping jewels of knowledge to his captive audience. The most valuable hustler stays on his grind.

CUSTO – “Street Life”



  1. Yo hommy this is junior trudys husband,Im from the west coast.And from being from the East coast your music sound good.i need to get some of your cds so i can bump that in my system in North East,MD.Thank you.

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