Recruiting in the armed forces is all about communication, and an Atlanta-area recruiter is using his musical talents to attract future soldiers.
“Let me tell you a few reasons this is a better choice,” Sgt. 1st Class Arlondo Sutton raps of joining the Army in a new music video gaining popularity online. “You can earn a few degrees, you can gain a voice.”
Sutton released “Enlisted” under his rap name, Rookie Baby, on Sept. 24. Since then, the video — which stars the Lawrenceville, Ga., Army recruiting station commander and his team — has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on various social media platforms.
As Sutton raps about the benefits of joining the Army, his fellow soldiers stand at attention behind him, invoking the spirit and discipline of the service.
“This particular song was made to open younger generations’ eyes and show the parents that they can be successful, follow their dreams and get an education while still giving service to their country,” Sutton recently told Stars and Stripes in a telephone interview.
Sutton also has his own dream — to get “Enlisted” officially adopted by the Army.
“I’m working hard to try and turn this into a commercial,” he said. “If I can make this happen, then more people will see it and think, ‘Wow, if he can do it in the Army, then I can as well.’”
Sutton, who was raised by a single mother in Norfolk, Va., said his formative years living in poverty without many positive role models included many trials.
“My track coach was in the Army before he died, and he was the only father figure I had in my life, so I followed in his footsteps,” he said.
Sutton said he enlisted in February 2004 as a combat engineer. He deployed twice to Iraq and rapped during his unit’s downtime and to hone his skills.
“I was making music before I joined the Army, but they developed me professionally and gave me many skills such as time management and leadership that have refined my craft,” he said.
Eventually, Sutton left the battlefield for recruiting school, seeking the opportunity to share his story and inspire others to follow his lead, he said.
Sutton said high school students or potential recruits ask about life in the armed forces whenever they see him rap. They see his passion for music, and that it was not curtailed by service.
After nearly 10 months, Sutton’s station emerged as the No. 1 recruiting center in Georgia with a 25 percent increase in recruits, Sutton said. He attributes that success to the rap videos he creates to speak to the hearts of Georgia’s youth.
“This is how I know this style of video works,” he said. “It shows both kids and their parents they can chase their dreams regardless of what they may be while serving their country.”
Sutton said while his rap video has garnered plenty of positive feedback from both servicemembers and civilians, there are some who may view it negatively or as unprofessional. One comment left on his video through social media that stuck with Sutton said: “They continue to fail to meet recruitment numbers now they are turning to stupid videos.”
But some in the Army have expressed support.
“I think it could be really effective for recruiting,” Spc. Nick Vidro, 24, a public affairs specialist at the 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment at Fort Hood, Texas, told Stars and Stripes via telephone last week. “It’s trying to reach the 18- to 24-year-old demographic and is catchy enough to do it.”
Sutton said he will continue to pursue his passion and create music to motivate and inspire future recruits.
“I told myself if given the opportunity I will inspire as many as I can to do better,” he said. “As a father, that is my responsibility, and I also understand my social responsibilities to my community. This is who I am, and what I want to convey to the world.”
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