THE road to success is not paved with gold.
According to rising rap star Sam Ratumaitavuki better known as Fortafy, the only way to the top is through hard work and sacrifice.
To emphasise the point, the hip hop star has a mantra - Pain is temporary, Pride is forever - tattooed across the back of both hands.
Born in New Zealand and currently residing in Brisbane Australia, the Fijian chart topping rap star is all too familiar with the struggles and challenges of turning a passion into a paying career.
In the space of four years, the Australia-based Fijian hip-hop artist has made a name for himself and gained respect as an artist in the dog-eat-dog music business Down Under.
Juggling a full-time music career with a keen interest in body building while maintaining his commitment to a charity called Pacific Smiles, Fortafy has not deviated from his vision of making the big time.
"Who knows what I'll be doing in 20 years time? Right now music is my creative platform but this could change to producing movies or something else. The most important thing to remember is being true to yourself and making use of the time that you have. We have a very limited time on this planet. Everybody's got the same 24 hours to do what they have to do. It's how you utilise that time to achieve your objective that is important," he shared.
Speaking to The Fiji Times in preparation to his first ever Fiji tour in February, the Moturiki Lomaiviti lad said he was looking forward to reaching a wider audience in Fiji and winning over new fans.
Apart from spreading his hip-hop gospel, the 25 year old will be visiting communities devastated by Tropical Cyclone Evan and handing out stationery packs.
"Giving back is our duty as humans especially when you have a more powerful voice that people will listen to. I feel it is my duty as a person to give back when and where I can and especially because I'm half Fijian I have a very close connection with the people and want to let disadvantaged kids know that anything is possible if you really focus and put your mind to it," he explained.
Speaking from personal experience, Fortafy's mantra about keeping focus and staying committed has seen the hip-hop artist emerge out of relative obscurity to amassing more than 3 million views on You Tube. Along the way the Lomai lad has recorded collaborations with some of the Pacific's finest lyrical twisters including Scribe and 360 and scored a New Zealand Top 10 hit with renowned rhythm and blues artist Donell Lewis titled Missing My Love last year.
While some mainstream hip-hop artists in the Pacific have swayed to the American gangster rap tunes focussed on fast cars and scantily clad women, Fortafy's music is inspirational and reflective.
He spits out the challenges faced by Pacific people with strong traditional ties, beliefs and customs trying to eke out a living in developed countries. Strong cultural and religious beliefs and a defined sense of community find it hard to fit in in a world where the pursuit of career at any cost is encouraged.
One of his first radio-friendly tracks - Where I'm From - a collaboration with Papua New Guinea urban reggae artist Jargarizzar, touches on this theme and also speaks of the hidden realities in island paradise.
Fortafy alludes to the irony of the Pacific, a traditional playground and holiday escape for tourists, where workers at glamorous resorts and hotels live in relative poverty.
"People only know what they see in postcards and this track was basically saying that while I was born in New Zealand, I have roots in Fiji and there's a lot more happening in the islands apart from the sandy beaches," he said.
When quizzed about why he chose to be known as 'Fortafy', Ratumaitavuki said it was a play on fortify.
"Fortify means to strengthen and to have a solid foundation. I feel that it is important to have a solid base. And this is something I want to share with upcoming artists. You have to have a name that means something and reflects what you stand for or who you are," he shared.
Fortafy will be appearing for the first time ever at the Ice Bar in Nadi on February 22 and at the Down Under pub on February 23.