Yirim Seck's grandfather sold firewood from a corner lot that he ran for 25 years in Seattle's Central District. Between granddad and another relative or two who might have had work at any given time, the family got by when Seck was a kid, but just barely.
He's 29 now and recalls his mother telling him that pursuing a career in hip-hop would lead to poverty, but, of course, he had to find out for himself. In his late teens, he booked his shows and worked two jobs cooking and hefting freight, and still couldn't afford a place to live. He spent two years sleeping on friends' couches or under the trees of Capitol Hill's Cal Anderson Park.
Seck hasn't given up on his dream, but everything is different now, he says: He has a partner, a three-year-old daughter, rent, child care