Orange County musician’s rap video about mom’s drug addiction nears 6 million Facebook views
Mark Henriquez found an escape at the same time his mom slipped back into drugs.
While she was out getting high, the then 11-year-old turned inward, listening to hip-hop in his room and drafting raps about his dreams of success.
Fourteen years later, their once divergent pursuits have come together in a compelling rap video they made about conquering addiction. “All for You” has been viewed nearly 6 million times on Facebook since May.
“My name is Ruby Lanz and I’ve been sober for 12 years,” Henriquez’s mom says in the video, wearing a black baseball cap that matches her son’s. “Because of my addiction I lost my job of 16 years, I lost my kids’ respect, I lost my apartment. I lost everything I ever worked for.”
Henriquez, 25, of Santa Ana raps about blaming himself, moving into “Grandma’s crib,” and how Lanz emerged a stronger person.
“Everybody wanted to find a buzz, I was trying to find the love,” he raps. “I just wanted my mom back, but now I got a better one.”
In a genre known for glorifying drug use, the celebration of recovery and reconciliation has attracted Henriquez’s largest online audience ever. He will perform the song during a show Friday, Aug. 18, at a club in Portland, Ore. In September, Lanz, 46, will join him when he raps their story at a women’s correctional facility in Bakersfield.
“It’s been something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time,” said Henriquez, whose stage name is Gremlin. “That for sure is the big component of my life and what gives me drive.
(Warning: Foul language in video) https://youtu.be/KznbzejaEI0
“I think it’s actually made me do better,” he added. “I’ve always worked super hard at everything because I have to break the cycle.”
Henriquez, a Costa Mesa High School graduate who works as a video editor, spent a couple of days in May writing the song, entirely in his head. He then filmed the performance at Lanz’s home in Orange. A friend later mixed the sound.
“I put myself back into when I was a kid and started from there,” he said. “Emotions came for sure.”
The video gained traction after Oklahoma rapper Matthew Harl, who performs as Young Verse, shared the song on his Facebook page, writing, “WOW…. You seriously have to watch this.”
Harl said he liked how real and relatable the rap was.
“He’s definitely got skills,” he said. “That’s why people love his videos.”
Delores Moreno, program manager of a 75-bed women’s correctional center in Bakersfield for inmates preparing for release, saw Henriquez’s video on Facebook one weekend at home.
She found it so powerful that she called him to ask if he would perform the song for the women, most of whom have struggled personally with drugs or alcohol, or dealt with it in their families.
“He shared the story of every inmate we have here,” Moreno said. “I was shocked that he called me back, but he did. It was a very moving testimony that he sang. He was able to articulate the hope that came out of that, the forgiveness that he has for his mother.”
She also invited Lanz so that other mothers could hear her story.
“Many of our women believe there’s things they won’t be able to turn around,” Moreno said. “It’s just not true. There is hope and they can have productive lives.”
Lanz started using PCP at 14. She quit while pregnant with each of her two sons. After Henriquez’s birth, she stayed clean until he was about 11. She started using meth and over the next three years, lost everything, including custody of her boys.
She felt like they hated her, she said, recalling how Henriquez refused to let her touch him.
“A lot of pain I caused them,” Lanz said, speaking through tears while sitting at her kitchen table last week with her son. “I’m sorry, Mark.”
Before Henriquez and his older brother moved in with their grandmother, Lanz sold the family’s TV and refrigerator for drug money. Once, they were playing video games at an arcade when a dealer threatened her with a gun.
“I distanced myself from her,” Henriquez said. “She was deteriorating and I didn’t want to see her.”
One day she attended a Narcotics Anonymous meeting where she received a list of detox centers. She started making calls. After a short stay in rehab, she moved into a sober living home.
It took her about two years to get reestablished with a job and an apartment. She married a man she met at NA and now works for his construction business. Over time, Henriquez said, she earned back his trust.
The rapper said his lyrics give him space to show emotions that he doesn’t reveal in face-to-face conversations.
He explores other relationships in his music, too, including dealing with his paternal grandfather’s stomach cancer.
“There’s still moments I wouldn’t want you to ever miss like when I have a kid or I’m gettin’ married,” he raps. “I don’t wanna have to tell you at the cemetery. I don’t wanna see you dead and buried, so you really need to fight it even if the road ahead is scary.”
“You meet me and I’m not tough,” Henriquez said. “I’m just a regular dude who knows how to rap. I didn’t want to be a tough guy. That’s never been my persona. I just care about expressing myself. I don’t care if people think I’m soft or corny.”
In the song about his mom’s addiction, he proclaims how proud he is of her.
“I learned that I inspired Mark not to give up,” Lanz said. “That makes me happy. Something good came out of something bad.”
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