Created: 05/20/2014 10:46 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Folks who see Audra Blea on the street might make up their minds about her right away.
She's all tatted up -- piercings everywhere -- Blea's stage name is Lil Threat Loca; she's a major player in New Mexico's hip-hop scene.
But she has another life, too -- and it started with a kid named Tony.
"When I was 11 or 12, I started hanging with gang members," said Tony Silva.
Just like a lot of kids in the Valencia County desert, Tony grew up fast.
"Fighting," he said. "Drugs and other stuff gang members do."
Tony could be a 17-year-old statistic, just another kid with problems.
"I've been in and out of treatment centers from a young age," he said.
Tony lived at treatment centers for troubled kids off and on from the time he was five -- a gangster by 11.
"The staff thought I was the worst on the unit," he said.
But one day, Tony's treatment program hired new counseling staff.
Along came Audra Blea.
"Tony, Tony, Tony," she laughs.
With tattoos, and a signature braid down her back, Audra is Albuquerque rapper 'Lil Threat Loca.
"She walked up to me and she's like, 'What are you doing?'" said Tony. "Cause I was tagging the desk."
Tony and Audra faced off.
"He was rough," she said. I think he was one of the roughest kids I ever worked with."
"I kinda like mean-mugged her, like who's this chick?" said Tony.
Audra was a rough kid herself.
She grew up in some of Burque's toughest neighborhoods.
The uncle she adored as a child lived under an I-25 overpass.
When she was 12, her friends were growing up just as fast as Tony.
"I see their older brothers, their older sisters getting killed, on drugs, their moms living in hotels," said Audra.
"She knew exactly what was going on," said Tony "That's why she knew what to talk about."
For Tony, talking was something new.
"Not a lot of people do that," he said. "Not a lot of people just sit down and just listen to what kids have to say, or what kids think."
But Audra listened.
She asked Tony to start writing down those thoughts of his.
"That's when he started writing around me, when he was 12 years old," said Audra.
She told him to write about life.
Those were the rules.
"Pretend there's someone right in front of you -- worst enemy in the world," she told Tony during a recent recording session.
Now Tony's treatment center is this basement recording studio where Audra cuts her albums -- where words are more than words.
MC Lil Threat Loca and MC Tony Loco are recording a song called stay real for Threat's new album.
At a South Valley car show this weekend, they sang it for the first time.
For Tony, music is inspiration.
Since he started writing, he's well on his way to getting his GED.
It's much more than just making music.
"That's my way to get away from everything," he said.
For Audra, it's the key that set a little kid free.
"To tell somebody your story, you've got to feel confident in yourself," said Audra. "Sometimes the only way to feel confident is to pretend you're the only person in the world."
That's the power -- she says -- of writing your own story.
"You can't change yourself, how are you gonna change somebody else?" she said.
When you write your own story, you get to write the ending too.
"To be pursuing my dream it's an amazing thing, there's nothing like it," said Tony.
"One traumatic event -- it either makes you or it breaks you," said Audra. "It gives you that opportunity to be somebody or be nobody."
Audra's album, "By Tha People, For Tha People" comes out Wednesday, May 20.
It features Tony's song, "Stay Real."