September 27, 2006 - The lyrics paint the picture of a young man battling against all that life can throw at him.
"I'm ready to battle; you know what I'm fighting for."
The words that spill from mouth to microphone are as gruff and choppy as James Schow's stoic facade.
Life is about struggles for the Mountain View High School senior, whether it's belting out rhymes or lapping the competition on the cross country course.
"I don't think about the pain," said Schow, a runner by day and hip hop performer by night. "I learned when I was young to deal with the pain and not let it get to me, mentally and physically."
In this case, pain is a good thing and the product of hard work as Schow (pronounced "sk-ow") takes aim on the Class 5A Division II individual state title - the very same one that eluded the senior by 44-seconds, last November.
Like a rapper and his posse, Schow has a strong supporting cast around him at Mountain View. After finishing third as a team last year, the Mountain Lions are confident that the legs of Schow and his teammates can return them to the top of the podium.
Standing in the way of an individual state title this year, however, is Central High School's Sharles Simon, the only returning runner to finish faster than Schow at last year's state meet.
The two know each other well. Simon clocked a time of 16 minutes, 54.65 seconds to finish second and edge out Schow for third by 3.25 seconds at state last year. The two roomed together at last year's Border Wars, an annual cross country jaunt pinning the finest high school runners from Arizona and New Mexico against one another.
But that's all in the past now. This year, Schow is determined to clip his time down to around 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
"I'm not behind where I should be, but I'm behind where I want to be," said Schow.
Schow knows a thing or two about running and he doesn't have to look far for advice. Schow hails from a long lineage of runners. Both of his parents were runners at Flowing Wells High School. His cousin Andy Almdova also ran at Flowing Wells and earned state cross country titles in 1978 and 1979.
Starting as early as the second grade, Schow would run laps with father at the Canyon Del Oro High School track.
"He needs to understand that every time he goes out, he's running for his life," said Mountain View cross country coach Dennis Hansen about his No. 1 runner.
Western New Mexico University is looking at Schow to join the Mustang cross country team on scholarship. If he runs like he's capable, more scholarship offers are certain to pour in, said Hansen.
"That's the only way I'll be able to get scholarships," said Schow, who is also considering schools like Northern Arizona University.
After he is no longer able to run, Schow is in the early stages of what he hopes will be a lucrative contingency plan. Instead of using his legs, he'll use his mind.
Schow has been busting rhymes almost as long as he's been running. Early next year, the senior will release his debut album "The Lyrical Soldado," a collection of songs cut in his very own recording studio.
Even before the album is released, Schow has made a name for himself among the Tucson hip hop scene as "Deuce-L." On Sept. 24, he played a show at the Pima County Fairgrounds opening for Too Short, a rapper cut from the early 1990s Tupac-era.
It turns out that running and hip hop have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship. It's on runs where Schow gets some of his best thinking done.
"I think about a lot of things," said Schow. "Things that make me mad, gives me motivation and I also think about my music."
On Oct. 4, Schow will be back in action as Mountain View hosts its annual Rattler Invitational at Arthur Pack Park. A month later, on Nov. 4, Schow and Mountain View will head to the state meet at Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.