UNL student uses rapping as a therapeutic release
Colton Maag was 17 when he found himself at a crossroads. He had gotten in trouble with the law for drug use and, after failing multiple drug tests for marijuana while on probation, he faced the threat of being sent to a juvenile detention center in Kearney, Nebraska. To remain free with his family and friends in Lincoln, his only other option was to become drug free.
“That woke me up in a good way,” Maag said about his decision to get clean and pursue sobriety. “And that’s when I started doing music.”
Maag, now 22, has been writing, recording and releasing rap music under the moniker Prince Kommotion since that turning point. While most of his friends continued to do the things that had gotten him in trouble, music became his therapy while trying to get sober.
“For a whole year, I turned to music for my meditation instead of smoking with my buddies or self-medicating after school,” he said. “It helped me get through all the struggles and it prevailed me. So I stuck with it.”
When he had achieved his goal of being drug free, Maag set a new goal: to pursue music as a career. Though he didn’t need to use music as a release anymore, he found that it held him accountable and was compelled to do it as often as possible.
“I’d compare it to a religious person that forgets to pray,” he said. “I personally feel bad if I don’t do music. Now, even as a senior in college, if I don’t make a song for a couple of weeks, I feel like something in my life is going wrong.”
Maag’s songwriting process requires a lot of reflection – both on past personal experiences and what he does day to day. Once he’s happy with the lyrics, he lays the rap over a beat, made by one of his good friends, Cole Brown.
Brown and Maag had been friends since middle school, but only got closer when they started collaborating on music. The two work together to make a product that they’re both happy with.
“I’m there to give him honest feedback and suggestions for his music and we have conversations about his music several times throughout the week,” Brown said. “Also going to his shows is a great way to show support.”
Maag has had about 10 concerts in Lincoln since he began rapping. All of them have been organized after he was referred to a venue or a booking agent contacted him. Networking, he says, has been the biggest asset in getting his name out there.
Many times, this has come in the form of getting into contact with other rappers after they hear his music on SoundCloud. Maag has collaborated with artists everywhere from Miami, Florida, to South Korea because of the social nature of the site. His songs have over 500,000 plays.
“It’s really dope,” he said. “I like getting those random messages because it’s a reminder that someone likes what I’m doing.”
After he graduates from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a marketing degree in May, Maag hopes to move to Los Angeles with Brown to further his career by meeting more people and producing more music.
“But I think he will have a great future regardless if music involved,” Brown said. “He’s always been a good student and handles his responsibilities head on.”
This responsibility to himself is what has kept Maag motivated to reach his goals.
“Sometimes I feel bad that the reason I started was because I was in trouble with drugs,” he said. “But you can learn a lot from the stuff you did and that doesn’t shape who you are as a person. It’s very inspiring to know I’ve succeeded in some way and a lot of that comes from reflection.”