Drafted March 2020 (updated March 26, 2022)
By Terrance Turner
He’s one of the biggest social media influencers in Houston. He generates thousands of views among more than 76,000 followers on Instagram. He hosts large-scale events at packed clubs. He lives in a luxury penthouse in Midtown Houston. But who is “Country Cowboyy”? In a revealing documentary short, directed by business partner Prinston Hicks, we get the answer.
Darrell Edmond, Jr. grew up in Houston. He loved to entertain people even from an early age. “I always wanted to entertain people using my personality — only because I had so much of it,” he recalls, describing himself as “energetic” and “captivating”. But his surroundings made that goal difficult. Growing up in “the hood” — Fondren and West Bellfort, in Houston’s Southwest side — made it hard to find a niche. “In the hood, if you’re not hood, you don’t feel like you fit in,” he says in the film. “I didn’t feel like I belonged there.”
As Edmond moved through high school, his sense of alienation was only compounded by a devastating loss that would change his life forever. Young Darrell was at home with his cousin when his father came in with news. “I’ll never forget, it happened when I was in the 11th grade; it was 2011. I got home Monday, it was me and my couin Samir — we were sittin’ in the back room, and my dad walked in. And he said: ‘Yo, I think Trey just got shot.’ So, in that moment, honestly, I saw a bunch of flashes and moments of me and my brother together.”
Edmond says he didn’t really know how to process the fact that his brother was gone. Even now, as he discusses the loss on film, his thoughts tumble out in a river of words. “It’s almost like, you get hit with news — and, you know, we all know that people can pass away. But it’s almost like: that moment when it’s on your doorstep, and it kind of just rains over you, so you really don’t know how to process it. My brother, actually — with everything that’s going on right now, and it’s just kinda crazy to say it — it’s still goin’ on to this day,” he says, referencing the ongoing police killings that have led to protests across the country. “Like, this was back in 2011; it’s 2020 now, you know what I’m saying? He was shot by the police. So it was one of those situations, like I said […] it just knocked at my door, like, ever so aggressively. I just remember the highlight reel — it was a highlight reel of all of our greatest moments. But one of the things that it forced me to do,” he says, “was to really make sure that I didn’t spend my time in the streets.”
Instead, he spent his time at THE Texas Southern University, located in Houston’s Third Ward. At TSU, D.J. (as he was known to classmates) worked his way to prominence. “What I did was I cut my way into every single social circle,” he says, “and what I mean by that is: literally, I taught myself how to cut hair in high school. So I took that same skill and I leveraged it up to the tops of different social circles. So all types of people, who did all types of different things […] I was able to barter my way up to the top of the, you know, the fraternities, the guys who was going to all of the parties,” he explains. “So I got an opportunity to see how they work, constructing business.”
“It was pretty cool because it was almost like a college lifestyle dream, you know I’m saying? Like the thing that you would imagine in your brain, like: ‘I’m going to college’. I actually lived that. And not only that, I got good grades, there, too. You know what I’m saying? But fair enough, I did wing my way through college, but that’s neither here nor there.” (AUTHOR’S NOTE: As someone who took a “Visual Storytelling” class with D.J., I can assure you: he was definitely “winging it”.)
“But I got an opportunity to meet some of the coolest people. Like, I didn’t cross or anything like that, but I knew all of the Greeks. I knew all of the fraternities. I knew all of the people in the band; I knew all of the football players. I knew all of the people that threw the parties. I knew all of the people in SGA, UPC — all of the top organizations. I was the go-to person for entertainment.”
“I really reached a level at this little university which opened my eyes,” Edmond says today. But,” he cautions, ” it wasn’t big enough.” What he was about to accomplish, though, would be bigger than anything he had ever imagined.
At Texas Southern University, he was determined to make his mark. “So, since I was a nobody, one of the things that I used to, like, infiltrate all of the different social circles — because I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any money; I wasn’t cool enough yet; Instagram barely was popular, so I didn’t really have a lot of Instagram followers — what I did was I cut my way into every single social circle.” This put hin in a position to meet the prime movers and shakers on campus, allowing him to make valuable connections. “I really reached the level, at this little university, which opened my eyes,” he says. “But it wasn’t big enough.”
Hungry for more, D.J. Edmond strove to network, as he explained in a 2016 video: “And who I’m trying to get to know? Everybody. So quit telling me, ‘DJ, you doing this for the girls. DJ, you doing this for this and that.’ I’m doing this for the “C,” you understand what I’m saying? and I’m not gangbanging. Connections!” he says. “Connections, connections, connections, connections. I might drop a soundtrack, ‘connections,’ you don’t understand what I’m saying? it’s connections. I ain’t never going to have no beef with nobody cuz I can’t connect with that n—a,” he says. “I want to connect. You got — what’s up? What can you bring to the table for me? Nothing? Nice to meet you.”
“I saw what was happening. But it’s like a million other universities; it’s got to be a million other cowboys.” He was becoming extremely popular on social media and there were already whispers about the name Country Cowboy. “So I want you to understand this: I’m in grad school, right? so what’s going on now is I’m having this greater realization because a lot of people go back to grad school — Realistically, I’m going to tell you why I went back, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who did this — ’cause I really didn’t have my life figured out. I just knew I was doing this already, so why not just kind of go back? Give me some time to bypass. But throughout this process is when I started learning,” he says. “I started learning more skills. but I was also becoming aware that I wanted to be larger than life. Do you get what I’m saying? So I was going to event after event after event after event after event, networking up to the top I had no goal in general honestly but I was just networking networking networking, and boom! I met my business partner.
His name was Princeton Hicks. “The reason why I think he and I kicked it off so well with very simple at the very beginning we instead of talking about how much money we could possibly make ‘cuz I think me and him did that s–t plenty of times to a bunch of people. Instead of talking about some recreational activity, instead of talking about the hoopla and who play, we went straight into the Law of Attraction. We went straight into spiritual talk. it was like a very deep connection. And then we kind of, months after deeply connecting with each other, it was like: ‘Why don’t we f–kin’ work on these projects together? We always talking about it; let’s go ahead and do it.”
And that’s exactly what they did. The two became a dynamic duo, which led them to build products, create podcasts, make short films, and even do music videos and commercials. okay, so we established that everything needs to be produced. So me and him get together and we go product, product, project, project […] failed after failed after failed project.”
He did have his victories like creating Snapchat Uncut, an adult entertainment company that at its highest had over 300,000 subscribers and employed over 300 employees. But after a drastic change to Snapchat, his entire empire crumbled. “It was a very humbling experience, because you watch so many people online talk about product selling; you watch so many people living this lavish lifestyle. You watch so many people behind the best cameras, behind the best cars,” he remembers.
“But I do remember that we created a product; it was called ‘Your Personal Barber,'” he says. At the beginning of this, we just needed a product, something that was already tangible, that was working. so I sat down with my business partners and they said, ‘We could just work on your barbershop,’ and I was like, ‘Why not?’ And you know, I’ll never forget — it was like it was yesterday — I’ll never forget, we used to have this ‘ping’ thing on my phone. So after I would get a client, it would ping on my phone and let me know you just made money.
“I was excited; I was super excited,” he says we have been creating products for so long and finally one of them cracked. It appeared that they had finally cracked the code: they had a product that was selling, and everything seemed to be looking up. But they had no idea what was right around the corner.
“We pumped up; we got all the information we need, we got all of the knowledge that we need, and got all the skills that we need. We got all the tools we need; we’re pumped, we’re ready to go. We’re ready to hit the world running. So we create this one product right after Your Personal Barber, and I’ll never forget it. The product was selling like crazy, because you got to understand: we had literally [taken] every single thing that we had learned and we trialed and errored on a personal barber website. We literally took all of that and we put it on our next product, which is a product called ‘Instagram Explosion.’ This product was literally designed to help people grow their social media, fast. People hopped on this product and I’m telling you right now, it skyrocketed past heights that I could have never imagined. It was our first six-figure product,” he says. “That was the first time I’ve ever seen six figures; I had never seen no s**t like that. Like I told you in the beginning, I’m from the hood. I’d never seen nothing like that. So it was one of those things that changed my whole entire perspective on everything.”
But the success was short-lived. “Country Cowboy” and his business partners took the most devastating loss in company history, losing over $50,000 in a single night in July 2019. “I’m calling people. I’m calling people; I’m like, ‘What? Your software doesn’t work? Your Instagram’s not working?’ All of my clients are rambling. They’re going in. They’re like, ‘This f**king sucks!’ ‘This sucks!’ ‘You suck.’ This, that, and the third. I’m like, ‘Whoa, wait, what’s going on?’ Instagram, like I told you, it’s a product. So Instagram had changed their server. So it didn’t allow multiple people to log into the same account at one time. So I had a software that was pretty much logging into people’s accounts and performing actions for them. It wasn’t no harm no foul there. But Instagram did not approve of two people, you know, getting on one account at one time,” he explains. “We took a $50,000 loss in one night. Everybody who was on subscription for our product left. They were gone. Because it didn’t work anymore, you know what I’m saying?”
“You got six figures coming in, [but] it’s not there anymore,” he says. “One day it’s there; the next day it’s gone. So imagine how we felt after all of the trial and error, after all the s**t that we had did, after all our previous sales that we had already taken. ‘Cause at this point, you couldn’t tell me that we wasn’t all the way rising up to the top. I remember going and looking at houses at that point,” he laughs.
If he and Hicks were going to survive, they would need to recover quickly. Though they were discouraged, they quickly formulated a plan. “I remember my energy being down,” Edmond recalls, “because it was the first thing that I had really nurtured that I really truly cared about. And once again so we hit the drawing board, hard, and we created another product called The Influencer.
‘The Influencer’ was specifically designed from all of the studying that we had done on prior influencers and celebrities, and all the little things that they knew and all the things that they used to touch millions and millions of people who knew this knowledge. and I was telling my business partners, I was like: ‘Yeah, these people know something that I don’t believe that the world understands.’
With a new mission, Country Cowboy dedicated himself to learning how influencers build massive fame online. All the great leaders share something in common for the next few months he would be determined to find out what it was. “I wanted to study all of the top influencers put together — something that could help the world understand what they knew and that’s what ‘The Influencer’ came from so everything was going good; we’re getting ready to release the product. My business partner at the time was — I don’t know how to explain it — he pretty much was taking money from us and using it for personal expenses, which eventually led me to getting a double eviction. I’m not even sure you can f**king get one of those but it happened. Like, it got ugly. I literally had to move back to my dad’s house.”
“It was the craziest thing ever. It was so humbling, but at the same time, it was unfortunate, because it was a situation out of my control — but I still am grateful for [it], simply because of the mindset that it put me in. And the lesson that I was taught at the time [is], I put too much trust into another person and it came back [to] bite me in my ass. And sometimes you got to look at the problem and say ‘It’s not — hey, it’s not always the other person.’ Sometimes you can look at yourself and say, ‘There’s something that you could have done to prevent that’.”
After another major setback, Edmond plotted on his next comeback. “You got to remember, my back is against the wall like this the last place I need to be my pop’s house I’m a grown-ass f–king man,” he says. “So I’m here in my pop’s house literally here, sitting here thinking, like: ‘I got to do something.’ You know what I thought? I said ‘F–k it.’ ‘Cause this is where I detached from money in all. I only have x amount of dollars because I don’t even think I told you yet, but that eviction that I brought up in the past — that cost me $15,000. That cost $15,000, on top of the $50,000 loss that we had just took right before that,” he recalls. “And not only that, I’m down to my last couple thousand dollars, okay? This is enough to get me by for the next couple of months and then I’m not going to have nothing else after that, if I don’t bust any type of move here. My back is already against the wall I’m at my pops right so we dumped the last bit of money that we have into the product and then lo and behold… boom!
Stay tuned for more about how Edmond rebounded from this latest setback to come back stronger than ever.