Growing up in Austin, Wrex Washington used to stare out of his window and imagine he was a superhero endowed with the power to stop nuclear bombs or rescue his family from the self-hatred that accompanies poverty.
Now, as a 24-year-old rapper living in Fort Worth, the man born Therron Coleman doesn't necessarily wear a cape and fight crime, but he does raise his voice for change, both as a solo artist and as a founding member of local rap collective Mount Olympus.
"I just want to change the way things have always been taught," says Washington, who recently released his new solo album, The Wrex Files. "I want to wreck the old way of doing things."
So he sounds off on everything from WikiLeaks and weed to basketball and black power.
"It's all me," he says.
And it's a long way from where he started.
In high school and college, Washington's rap was rooted in the hardships of his youth and the bad influences surrounding him. Eventually, he looked objectively at his life path and thought: "This can't be it. This can't be how it's supposed to be," he says. "I wasn't being true to myself at all."
He quit school and moved to Fort Worth, where his grandparents live. And he began to delve into books such as The Power of Now. He started meditating and quieting his mind to still the chaos of the world. "In the calmness of not having to run from my brain," he says. "I found peace."
He also found a new vision and recommitted himself to expressing it through rap lyricism.
EyeJay the Boy, a former Fort Worth-based collaborator who has since relocated to Los Angeles, produced Washington's 2011 album The 22nd, which addresses Washington's transformation.
Over the past few years, he has broadened his focus to include world politics. And he started Mount Olympus with area artists Big Cliff and Dru B Shinin'. Collaborating with his older and more experienced friends has helped him learn how to be more confident behind the microphone.
His message on The Wrex Files is his most focused and forceful to date.
Rarely reliant on aggression, the album's introspection naturally draws listeners' ears. Part of its charm is its authenticity.
"I can articulate what I'm feeling now," he says. "I am more completely in my voice."
Over the past several months, Washington funneled his perceptions into the eight spacey-sounding, trip-hop-inclined songs on The Wrex Files. He switches subject matter seamlessly. He includes a wide variety of topics, from author Russell Simmons to American foreign policy. He collaborated with producer Anthony "4D tha OG" Cavanaugh and engineer Paul "Giggy" Gordon, who operates local audio production company Global One (G1) Music, during the recording process.
The somewhat psychedelic sound bites can be trance-inducing. Listeners can either mellow and groove to the rhythms or jump into his stream of consciousness and chew on deeper themes.
No matter the topic, Washington does have one unifying premise:
"I want to help everyone understand that we're all the same.... I want to bring that awareness to everyone. If I can give people every side of me, then you can relate to me somehow, or I can relate to you somehow."