DALLAS — Just recently, Erika Sodie is going on and on about her educational background.
Those who know her realize there are no filters with her.
“I had too much fame and so much pain,” Sodie explained during a recent interview with longtime journalist Andre Johnson.
So stagnant and dysfunctional Sodie had become with regards to academics that she ultimately sensed that bolting school unceremoniously was a popular trend.
Little did she know, however, her life would eventually seem as if it was on a downward spiral.
Consequently, the life of this then-teenager seemed on a constant tailspin, considering she endured what seemingly was endless chaos and turmoil.
At the youthful age of 18, her mother and stepfather were on the brink of divorce.
The home in which they lived was being foreclosed.
Her oldest — but young — sister had given birth to a fifth child, all while her youngest sister was trapped in the middle of it all, unsure how what apparently was a divided family would come to grips amid arguably its darkest, yet roughest times.
If that wasn’t enough to shake up what was a Christian-oriented family, Sodie had ultimately turned to the rugged, tumultuous streets, where she put her young life in harm’s way time and time again.
How could things have possibly come to this?
“I was motivated to hustle every day,” Sodie, an Austin, Texas native, explained. “Just to keep a roof over our heads was the focus. I couldn’t look at it any worse than it was. Seeing my family struggle and the uncertainty of what could happen next was heart-wrenching and debilitating. I was the one brave enough, bold enough, and strong enough to do whatever needed to be done to keep us going.”
To her credit, she had become quite resilient, extremely aggressive, of sorts, in that she had fought tirelessly to help keep her family afloat, even if it meant living in life’s dreaded fast lane.
That’s exactly what she did.
Then just like that, arguably her life’s grandest turning point had transpired in 1995, hitting her smack dab in the face like a Mack truck.
An up-and-coming rapper at the time who were just hours removed from having opened up for the renowned Master P and the No Limit Crew, Sodie had awaken only to discover that her mother, Doris Rogers, had passed away — a shocking occurrence that essentially brought even more heartache to a divided family that was already in dire need of a figurative heart transplant.
“Once again, everything changed,” she recalled.
Luckily for her, though, she sensed it was time to get her act together, sensed it was time to put life in its proper perspective, sensed the time had come that she steadfastly begin applying all of the life lessons about which her mother had taught her since her childhood days of growing on these dangerous Texas inner city streets.
Mama had transitioned to the other side of heaven, meaning it was time that her beloved daughter and the rest of family to carry on collectively but, most of all make her proud.
“Of course, death was always so close to home,” Sodie said. “I began engaging in things that I knew were wrong and contrary to my upbringing and the word of God. For the wages of sin is death and, once upon a time, I found myself living a very dangerous lifestyle. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when (I would die). The truth is, I can give you a million reasons or excuses why I did this or that, but the reality is it was all by choice, never by force. I owned up to it. It is so lonely at the top that you can think you’re at the bottom. Some people that are there, struggle with being there, and others are willing to lie, cheat, kill, and steal to get there.”
Still, Sodie knew all along — even before the untimely demise of her mother — that God had a divine purpose for her life.
As the 41-year-old Sodie tells it, the last thing she wanted to do was disappoint her Creator, especially with her mother looking down, high from above.
Today, Sodie is still a flourishing entertainer, mind you — one who also has evolved as a rising author.
A damn good one, too.
With a book entitled Game Changer that is currently in the works and scheduled to be released in the coming months, Sodie acknowledges that her primary objective moving forward is to fulfill and savor God’s plan and purpose for her life through ministry, music, public speaking, and sharing her life-changing testimony with the world.
By and large, Game Changer, as Sodie explained, is the journey of her life, one that is mired by an assortment of hard lessons, trials and tribulations, highs and lows and, as Sodie points out, “a host of characters known and well known — from the church to the streets, back to the church, but always gracing the stage of life.”
Fortunately for Sodie, her upcoming book is expected to sale in record numbers, considering she’s still deemed a household name in the secular industry.
Among the reasons is that she has been afforded the opportunities to share the same universal platform with such artists as Project Crew, MC Overlord, Simply Mackin, FloMob, Papa Chuck and Quince 1, Smackola, among others — all at the tender age of 16,
“I was 16 and in New York and Melly Mel passed me the mic,” Sodie said with a grin. “That was a moment, being in the presence of greatness had become a normal thing.”
That’s not all.
She also met and opened shows for such artists as Big Daddy Kane, KRS 1, Public Enemy, D.J. Quik, SPC, the 5th Ward Boys, Zro and, as she tells it, “everybody before, between, and a few after.”
“When you’re 16 and Bushwhick Bill (of the Geto Boys) comes to your show then takes your whole entourage for a night on the town in (Houston), you can’t complain to have had such encounters with great artists,” Sodie said. “Rappers like KRino and the entire South Park Coalition of H-Town showed the same love and became our H-Town family.”
This after weathering and journeying through life’s rocky, yet stormy last lane.
This after conquering life’s hard knocks.
That she managed to persevere and exemplify such resiliency in going back to school, earning her GED, advancing her education (Houston Community College, Walden University, and Allied Real Estate School) are amongst the grandest reasons Sodie is destined to keep chasing greatness.
Say what you want about her now.
But this game changer has changed the hard knocks game.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.