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. In 2011, while in 11th grade, Edmond was at home with his cousin when his father came in. “We was 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 in the documentary, his thoughts tumble out in a multilayered river of words. “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 issues with 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…I just — it was — 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 in the future 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, you know, the fraternities, the guys 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, too. You know what I’m saying? But fair enough, I did wing my way through college, but that’s neither here nor there.” (As someone who took a film 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.”
“But,” he cautions, ” it wasn’t big enough.”
What he was about to accomplish, though, would be bigger than anything he had ever imagined.