“Lightning in a bottle”…Is the term that best describes the multimedia artist Caktuz. A child prodigy with a vivid imagination, he was sketching human anatomy in crayon before he could write his own name. By 13, Caktuz became well known for throwing teen parties in his hometown of High Point North Carolina. The events gave him the opportunity to use all of his talents, from designing the flyers, to DJing, and even performing.
At 18 he wrote and illustrated his 1st graphic novel, Futprintz for The American Red Cross while homeless. It was during this time Caktuz became a street artist, spray painting murals on walls and box cars throughout North Carolina to Atlanta. The constant travelling allowed him to dive head first into the music industry, and he began selling his own mixtapes (with custom cover art) out of a family owned record store chain. At the door of signing a record contract, Caktuz was implicated for a crime he did not commit by a police informant, and sentenced to 8 years.
To escape the walls of his cell he would often draw pin up pictures of starlets and girlfriends missed. It wasn’t long before requests for family portraits and custom greeting cards began to pour in from inmates, and even correctional staff. His most requested work was erotic ‘fantasy pictorials’ for fellow inmates featuring their wives or girlfriends. The lucrative side hustle was enough to support himself in prison, as well as send money home to his family.
Between art jobs Caktuz often drew a crowd on the yard mentoring younger convicts, and winning rap battles for canteen. His status and influence among the inmates made him a target by prison officials, who harassed Cak with random strip searches, shake downs, extended hole time, transfers between maximum security facilities, and even confiscation of artwork the DOC (Dept. Of PCorrections) deemed ‘contraband’ for his entire 8 years stint. In addition, Caktuz was added to North Carolina’s STG list (Security Threat Group) without any provocation. A list usually reserved for violent criminals and gang members – not artists.
Cak’z entrance into commercial art would come when a few sketches in a letter to a fellow designer caught the attention of Marc Ecko. The Complex Networks & Ecko Untld. owner unprecedentedly hired Caktuz for his 1st job in the fashion design industry, while he was still serving time. After countless failed appeals Caktuz paroled out taking his talents and street hustler savvy north, quickly immersing himself into the ferociously competitive NYC scene.
By day he freelanced for various corporations such as Apple Bottoms, Rocawear, Shady Ltd.,Timberland, DC Comics, TBS, Pepsi, and Smirnoff. Networking eventually lead to commercial and commissioned work for celebrities such as Queen Latifah, Wendy Williams, and Chris Brown, as well as becoming a personal storyboard artist to Wesley Snipes (Gallow Walker, 2012).
After hours Caktuz began to weave live performance art into musical stage shows in NY nightclubs, setting him apart from other acts. This caught the attention of a rep for legendary blaxploitation filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles. Admiring his potential, Van Peebles added Caktuz and his performance art band, DRX, as a closing act to the last run of his Tony nominated Broadway play “Ain’t Supposed To Die A Natural Death”. The act was received with so much praise, Caktuz was invited to headline alongside UK hip hop stars Ed Sheehan, Akala, and Bashy for Soundcity Music Festival (Liverpool, England) as part of his A Summer In Paris tour.
The release of his early studio albums; ‘2 Hevi 4 Heaven’, ‘GOD*Z PORNO’, ‘How To Dress Well For Suicide’, and a string of mixtapes presented opportunities to work and feature on projects with; Akon, Kardinal Offishal, Bilal, dead prez, DJ Premiere, M.O.P., Boot Camp Clik, Sadat X, Young Guru, DJ Kool, award-winning actor Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) and many more.
Van Peebles would go on to take Caktuz under his wing, as the two worked closely together on Van Peebles’ last film Confessions OfA Ex Dufus Itchy Footed Mutha (YEAH Inc. 2008), with Cak directing the motion graphics, Designing the poster, and even illustrating the 72 page graphic novel adaption to the film (Akashic Books 2009). Caktuz went on to produce 2 comedic web series’, ThatsWhatsUp! and Sports Stoop, on Radio One’s digital network. The weekly exposure made him a bonafide web star holding the top rated spot on TheUrbanDaily.com for over 3yrs.
After taking on roles in indie projects such as The Adventures Of H The Great (TVNYC Nominated) and ‘The Eddie Black Story’ (starring Fredro Starr), Caktuz started his #AMASlife production company. With a growing demand for his visual style, Caktuz produced and directed his own visual album ‘W A N D E R L U S T: A Musical Noir’, several web series, music videos, and CRANK! (A documentary
Caktuz spent 3 years in Washington D.C.’s Go Go music scene touring and working alongside iconic bands such as E.U., Junkyard Band, and Rare Essence. A call from producers of VH1’s hip hop TV series, ‘The Breaks’, would lead to feature as the lead singer of a go go band paying homage to Washington D.C’s own legendary Junkyard Band (ep. #106 “Runaway” 1.13 million viewers on original air date) singing a cover of their hit “Sardines”.
Dubbed ,‘the Blues Traveler’, for his life on the road as an indie artist, these travels would make way for 2 UK tours, several endorsements (Hustle Gang, Trukfit, Rocksmith, Parish), 4 studio albums, and a co-sign from Billy Danze (of legendary duo M.O.P.) calling Caktuz’s sound; ‘stadium music for the new generation’.