Eric Biddines scans the magazine rack at a Boca Raton Barnes and Noble.
He points out the May issue of Respect magazine with a black-and-white headshot of Cash Money's CEO Baby on the cover; he mentions a hobby one might consider odd for a 27-year-old man: collecting the covers.
"I have bins full of them," says Biddines. "It's a great way
to see how music has changed throughout the years. Seeing who and what was hot
then and now."
Biddines sites examples of such heads as the 50 Cent, Eminem, and
Aftermath frenzy in the early 2000s, when they dominated headlines and XXL
covers, and in recent years, Lil Wayne gracing the cover of almost every
Like his hobby, this rapper's personality, creativity, and hustle are
anything but normal.
Dressed in a buttoned-up, short-sleeved shirt, khaki Dickies, what he says are $10 shoes, and a satchel, one would get the impression
of, well, a nerd.
But a closer look at his body reveals his first tattoo, an Old Engish "E," which looks like a "3E" on his right shoulder inked by a cousin
who learned the trade in jail. He has an "ELB" on his right forearm that stands for Eric
Lamar Biddines; there's one of a woman whom he calls Mother Nature and the Palm Beach area
His latest tattoo is a bumblebee on the left side of his
head above his ear. Taking into consideration their documented work ethic and
the fact people call him Eric B., it made perfect sense.
"Bees are the only flying thing that are not supposed to be
able to fly, but nobody knows why," says Biddines. "And they can't explain it
by speed or anything; it just don't match up. And I'm a fan of anything that
goes against the grain."
As he talks, flashes of gold appear in his mouth. Provided by Miami's Dr.
Kelly, Biddines sports six gold teeth on the top and two on the bottom with plans
of cementing four more to even up.
If these characteristics aren't enough to give you an idea about the man some believe is odd, superficially, at the least, then maybe his love of coffee will.
It was a fascination that started at
age 6. By studying his parents, young Biddines ended up making coffee
for himself and his mother. With the coffee came a personality Biddines was happy to
align himself with.
"You already know, 'Oh, this guy likes coffee. I can pretty
much get a take on his personality,'" says Biddines. "And the coffee
environment already has its own aura, so you know this is a calm dude. He's
relaxed. He could love reading. It's a whole portrait about it, and I respect
it, and it makes sense with who I am."
A student also of the music and industry, Biddines started at
age 14 when he first invested in studio time. He would have started sooner
if it weren't for this one significant factor: "We grew up as Jehovah Witnesses," says Biddines. "We wasn't
allowed to have rap at the house. So I didn't get into rap until the '90s.
Really, I grew up on a lot of Motown."
It was with a collection of rap tapes a cousin introduced him to Warren G, UGK, Outkast, Goodie Mob, and NWA. This is how Biddines received his fix.
"That's all I could find until I got my first job at
McDonalds," says Biddines. "At 15, I started buying my own stuff, and my first
one was Three 6 Mafia."
Twelve years later, the rapper is coming off his fourth solo
project, The Frozen Lake EP, which
was released over a month ago on iTunes and was celebrated with a release
party at Propaganda in Lake Worth, where the CD was handed out for free to
those who attended.
One person you may not see at the majority of his shows,
though, is his wife, who the rapper says attends about a quarter of his
performances. Biddines has known his wife, Ebony, the mother of his two sons, since she was 17, and the two will have been married for four years this coming
December. Keeping a balance between his personal life and musical life comes down to
one thing: not letting them cross paths with each other.
"By us building that wall of what I'm doing over here and
what I do for the family, she still has the best of both worlds," says
Biddines. "She still knows that her husband is out there doing music and he's
an artist and creative or whatever the case may be. But then she still knows
that she's got a husband and she's not dating a rapper or married to a rapper."
With a solid fan base and backing from those in Palm Beach,
Biddines has established himself as a heavyweight veteran in Palm Beach's
hip-hop community, giving him a position as an adviser to fellow artists.
"Makiin already knows what she should be doing, but she'll
still come to confirm what she's doing just to get a second opinion," says
Biddines. "Hot already knows what he's doing, but I may tell him some stuff to
make what he's doing better because I see value in stuff that people don't
The lack of notoriety of Palm Beach artists is a subject
Biddines is well aware of. Outside of himself, Biddines recognizes Will Brennan
as an artist who he believes has taken the right steps in his growth, crossing
county lines with recognition by doing shows in Fort Lauderdale and Miami with
artists from those surrounding areas.
The others, Biddines says, may be complacent with their
"Maybe a lot of these artists that are not networking in
these other areas to be seen, they got comfortable," says Biddines. "You get
caught up in the groupies. The local groupies are worse than the famous-people
groupies because they already feel like they might not have much so they're
willing to do anything. They make people feel like stars. They get caught up in
that, and it turns out to be limiting yourself. "
As for himself, Biddines isn't at all caught up in that, and he's spreading his songs. He's performing at an
upcoming Brown Bag Wednesday at Green Room in downtown Fort Lauderdale
in July and was just booked to perform at the A3C Hip-Hop Festival in
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Eric Biddines. 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, at Green Room, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro