Sean Falyon pimps his pen

Meet the college dropout who got his start in music by designing T-shirts for such rappers as Ludacris, Three Six Mafia and Will Smith. No, he's not another Kanye West. On the contrary, Sean Falyon is more likely to rap about rocking a Soupy Jones original than Louis Vuitton.

"A lot of mainstream music people can't really relate to because a lot of people ain't rich," the Philadelphia-born rapper says. "I make stuff that the average layman can understand."

His latest mixtape, Sean Falyon the Great (Mr. Falyon Meets SMKA), due in April proves his point. The follow-up to his fun '07 release (Sean Falyon the Great: Fashionably Dope Vol. 1) includes such escapist tracks as "Goin Away," featuring Joe Scudda and Bone Crusher, and "Big City Nights." The painter/graphic designer/rapper prefers making people forget their worries — if only for three minutes and 30 seconds.

"People don't have fun with the music anymore," says the MC whose sound conjures images of the classic rap act Digital Underground. "That's what I'm about."

After landing in Atlanta in 2004, Falyon hooked up with Bone Crusher, who he'd originally met and designed T-shirts for while attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Falyon initially eschewed the call to rap, considering it far more profitable to focus on clothing design with his Soupy Jones imprint. But after Crusher heard him spit, he convinced Falyon to pursue music full-time. The emerging artist eventually ended up touring alongside the giant-sized Bone Crusher.

"It was hard for people to understand that I'm an artist, like this is what I do," says the MC, recalling how people would refer to him as Soupy Jones instead of Falyon. "I had to almost force feed them the music."

While Falyon easily latched onto the so-called hipster rap movement pervading the city in early 2007, his marketing savvy has made him stand out among many. He plans to use the techniques that have made him one of the most recognizable faces in Atlanta to spread his name beyond.

"Branding is everything," he says. "If you're not branding yourself, you might as well just give up because it's not gonna work."