How this man with one arm is using tech-based music to bring communities together.

There are so many ways and reasons to make music.

Emman "Small Eyez" Twe loves music, but an obstacle has gotten in the way of him playing traditional instruments — he only has one arm.

Twe was born prematurely and never fully developed a left arm. It made a lot of things more difficult for him to accomplish, but that didn't mean his mother stopped pushing him to succeed.

"My mom always told me that you have to work 20 times harder than everybody else," Twe recalls.


Emman Twe. Image via Jarrett Heatherly/Digital Good Times.

He often turned to the music world to escape his frustrations and connect with his inner spirit, but he felt he couldn't contribute as much as he'd like to because of his disability.

That all changed when he discovered how technology made music totally accessible to him.

Twe playing a keyboard. Photo via State Farm.

Thanks to software advancements, Twe found he could do almost anything he wanted to in the music world. At the age of 14, he put his writing and freestyling skills to work and made his first eight-track CD demo. At age 22, he founded the label Mind Musik Records and was performing with artists like Talib Kweli and Dead Prez.

"When I was making music, that’s when I became me," Twe says.

Today, he's taking all his music tech know-how and sharing it with other underserved people via his podcast, "Digital Good Times."

He started the show with friends Jack Preston and Tristan Khavari, who also believe in the importance of bringing the power of music technology to disadvantaged communities.

Preston on the podcast. Photo via State Farm.

"We know the sacrifices that others made for us to have the opportunities that we have, so it only seems fair that we extend those resources to those who may not have that same opportunity," Preston explains.

But it's not just about empowering others through technology and music on-air. Digital Good Times brings communities together IRL too.

They host regular music-centric events that they hope are bridging the gap between communities while inspiring people using cutting-edge technology.

Fans at a Digital Good Times event. Photo via State Farm.

These events usually highlight major players in the music and tech industries that have something new and exciting to share.

"[They're] real-life examples of what it means to be the real deal," Twe says.

Through tech, community, and collaboration, Twe is helping to show struggling creatives there is a world of opportunity waiting for them.  

Of course his dad, who was a professor by day and a staple of community support at night, is brimming with pride.

Twe's dad. Photo via State Farm.

"If I can live up to half of [what he's done], then I’ll feel complete," Twe says.

Check out Twe's whole story here:

He was born premature with one arm, but he didn't let that stop him from making incredible music ... and helping others. #GoodNeighborDay

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, September 28, 2017
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