PITTSBURGH -- Brittney Chantele recalls feeling particularly vulnerable the day a Marine Corps recruiter approached her in the lunchroom at West Allegheny High School in North Fayette.
"He saw that I wasn't eating and asked why," she says. "I said I didn't have any lunch money, and he ended up buying me lunch and he also gave me a Marine Corps tracksuit."
She grew up in a military family, so she was open to talking with him.
"For me that was, 'Wow, these guys really take care of you.' That was the start of me really getting brainwashed."
Joining the Marine Corps JROTC program, she says, gave her a new sense of purpose.
"That was, like, the one thing in high school I was good at. I wasn't good at sports, I was good at JROTC. I was the most decorated cadet there. It was just very validating and reaffirming that I was good at something."
At 18, she took the next step and enlisted in the Army National Guard. Her experience over the next seven years is the subject of the Pittsburgh rapper's ambitious and sometimes harrowing new concept album, "A Golden Opportunity."
"This is Brittney's army 'Lemonade,'" she raps on "R.O.T.C.," "an album to remind you of the sour taste."
The 27-year-old biracial artist/activist with the curly blonde locks, blue bandanna and wire-rimmed glasses is a member of 1Hood Media, the local nonprofit founded by Jasiri X and Paradise Gray that guides young artists in Pittsburgh.