MINOT, N.D. -- DaMarcus Lamons' hip-hop story is about as improbable as it is colorful.
An E4 (senior airman) in the U.S. Air Force, Lamons actually kicked off his career -- and landed the unlikely moniker "Bottle Poppin' Pap" -- at his first duty installation: the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
His stock took off at the next stop along the way -- the Kunsan Air Base in Korea -- where he and some of his fellow airmen recorded a pair of well-received videos. Now he's back in the States at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, ready to see where his now buzzed-about talent will take him.
"My fan base really took off in Korea, after we did the videos," Lamons, an Albany native, said. "I was actually contacted by a guy in Philly who wanted to manage my career once I got back home. He's planning to fly me to weekend shows on the East Coast, and I have another connect in South Florida who's looking to hook me up there.
"My plan now is to work with a manager to continue making music and then promote it non-stop. I'm just happy to have a chance to do what I really love."
Lamons and his cousin, Desmond Graham, started "playing around" with the rap music that was a constant growing up on the west side of Albany, and by the time the duo enrolled at Monroe High School it had become apparent to all who knew them that they were getting pretty good at the music that defined their region.
"I think you'd have to say I had raw talent at that time," the rapper said.
Shortly after graduating Monroe, Lamons made a decision that he now says saved his life. In February 2007, he joined the U.S. Air Force.
"If I hadn't gone into the Air Force, I knew I was headed for a trap," he said. "The path I was heading down was leading toward death or jail. I decided I wanted something else in my life. (The Air Force) seemed the best choice for me at the time, and it's turned out to be the right choice."
While stationed at Ramstein, Lamons started looking for something to do in his spare time. He used the money he'd saved to buy recording equipment and started writing and recording rhymes. The response by his fellow airmen convinced him to take his act to local clubs. It was at one German nightspot that he earned a nickname that he's since recorded under.
"The clubs in Germany are kind of rough; there's always a lot of fighting," Lamons said, laughing during a phone conversation. "They're serious about gun control in Germany, and the only people who carry them out are security and police. Well, I'm a little guy, a skinny guy, so when I'd go into a club I'd put a bottle in my pocket, just in case. If something happened, I was prepared.
"One of my friends noticed the bottle one night, and he started joking around about it. He called me 'Bottle Poppin' Pap,' and it just stuck."
Lamons recorded his first mix tape, "The King Lives On," at Ramstein, and it became a regional hit.
When Lamons, who specializes in aircraft maintenance, was transferred to Kunsan, he discovered there were others at the installation with the same passion for music. He hooked up with Aaron Grace and Lavaar Plummer, who recorded and engineered videos for his song "Can't Knock My Throne" and for "Two Words," a collaboration with fellow airman Bobby Seale.
"Throne" is one of the songs on Lamons' latest musical collection, "Where Do I Sign?," which was released in Korea last November.
"I guess the most important thing I learned about making music while serving in the military is that if you want to be successful you've got to be willing to lose some sleep," Lamons said. "It wasn't a big change going from Germany to Korea except my fan base was much larger.
"I'm excited about where things will go now."
North Dakota is a long way from Albany and Southwest Georgia, but Lamons at least now is in the same country with his "support system": parents Antonio and Michelle Lamons; brothers Sean Goodman and DeAndre Lamons; girlfriend Talandra Woods; Graham, and musical partners in his Crown Royale Entertainment Co. Christopher Johnson and Kenny Lilly.
And he's putting together a game plan for the U.S. leg of his world tour.
"I'm going to continue to constantly write and record music, and I expect to release some singles (on the Web) in late February or early March," Lamons said. "Maybe getting a music deal is a long-term goal, but I'll remain an independent artist for now. As long as I'm making music, I'm happy.
"I think I've connected with people because the lyrics I write are authentic; these are things I've been through, things I'm close to. Like 'Can't Knock My Throne' speaks to how people didn't believe in me, but I kept striving because what others said didn't matter."
Lamons has two more years before his six-year Air Force obligation is finished. After that, when it comes to his music, the sky's the limit.