If the team behind Roderick "Dolla" Burton is any indication of a promising music career, the Atlanta rapper is well on his way.

If the team behind Roderick "Dolla" Burton is any indication of a promising music career, the Atlanta rapper is well on his way.

The 20-year-old rapper -- who first caught the attention of rapper/producer Akon in 2000 as part of the rap group the Rascals (Dreamworks) -- last year signed a deal with Jive Records via Akon's Konvict Muzik.

As if Akon's assist wasn't enough, Dolla's entry single, "Who the F*ck Is That," features another big-wig, rapper/harmonizer T-Pain, who is also partially responsible for coming up with the song's concept.

"I'm 20-years-old but I look like I'm 17. So when I go out to the club with Akon and T-Pain, people always ask, 'Who's he?'" explains Dolla about the idea behind the DJ Mytek-produced track. "One time T-Pain and I were out, like, four days in a row and he caught wind of it. So, he came up with the hook."

Dolla's promotional single titled "Feelin' Myself," which was released early last year and will appear on "A Dolla and a Dream," is featured on the soundtrack to 2006's dance movie, "Step Up." Other producers on the album include Jazze Pha, Polow Da Don, Julian, Montey and Akon himself. Aside from T-Pain, the set features no guest appearances. "I want everybody to know me and who I am, about my story and my struggle," says Dolla about the decision.

As he alluded, things haven't always been this opportune for Dolla. On the intro to the album, Dolla raps about his father's suicide (which occurred when he was only five years old), being shot last year during an attempted robbery, dealing drugs at a young age, dropping out of high school, getting his GED and his sister's current incarceration. "1125," which references Dolla's birth date, is about his twin sister, who was born with an enlarged heart and died at birth. He also addresses teen pregnancy and the rising number of AIDS-infected inner city-dwellers on "Gon' Be Alright."

Although hardship is a recurrent theme throughout the set, Dolla plans on releasing a more upbeat follow-up track in coming weeks. "Maybe a heartfelt record, a song for the ladies, a street anthem or a club hit," he ponders.

Concurrently, Dolla has a growing modeling career and was recently part of Sean "Diddy" Combs Sean John clothing line ad campaign, among other opportunities. He also runs his own independent label, Gang Entertainment.

"Since 13 years old, I've been taking care of my family financially. Now, I have the potential to be wealthy and successful," says Dolla, who is on a country-wide promotional tour. "Now, all I can do is reminisce about the days when all I actually had was a dollar and a dream."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print