by Sarad Davenport
Sometimes in the unlikeliest of scenarios, people meet and it seems like the encounter is much more than coincidental. This was the case with Miquel and Morris, the hip-hop duo that inevitably found their musical giftedness at the intersection of hardcore rap and their Christian faith. In the following, they talk about their personal stories and how the connection turned into a powerful musical collaboration.
“I grew up in the church,” said Miquel. “Music has always been a part of my life.” Growing up in Ruckersville, Miquel expressed how music was very much a part of his life for as long as he can remember. “My father wasn’t there,” he said in a reserved tone and discussed how music was able to fill a void in his life, a story that is all too common with young African-American males. Miquel talked about how his musical influences ranged from the sacred music he heard as a child growing up in the church to “Tupac, Nas, and Wu-Tang.” This combination made him know as early as 11-years old that music was going to be something that he pursued.
“I remember at the parties growing up, I used to just grab the mic,” said Miquel. He reminisced on a time when hip-hop was about the cypher (rappers standing in a circle and taking turns rapping) and freestyling. Freestyling is impromptu improvisational rapping without written or memorized lyrics. This came somewhat easy to Miquel because he said he ‘was a good student in English at school’ and he was able to transfer his skills with language into the music game.
The other half of the duo, Morris, began rapping at 12 years old when someone gave him some lyrics to recite. Morris has lived in several places in the Charlottesville area but calls Buckingham home. “I spit a verse that someone had written for me at a yard party,” said Morris, who by age 17 was performing at open mics and yard parties all across Central Virginia. But while Morris was trying to find his way in music and in life, he had one foot in the streets at the same time.
“I put a lot of stress on a lot of people,” Morris said, indicating that while he was trying to provide for his family he was taking a lot of chances. “It was a very risky time. By that time I was married with a son and a daughter, it was a very risky time,” he reiterated. He discussed how he put his family in some dangerous situations and how he wasn’t the best husband. That all changed when his wife became gravely ill.
“Either you are going to answer or ignore the call,” Morris said. And the illness of his wife came to him as a call from God to change his ways and get his life in order. It was around that time that Morris said that he became a changed man and gave his life to God.
In the midst of all of this transformation that was happening in Morris’ life, Miquel was a part of a hip-hop group called Black Odyssey. Even though Black Odyssey had street credibility, Miquel remembered that “I was raised up right. Doing the right things. When I talked about street life, it was always about showing the way out.” So even when Miquel was doing secular music, he was still spiritual.
I was raised up right. Doing the right things. When I talked about street life, it was always about showing the way out.
Also, like Morris, Miquel had his own struggles and demons to overcome. “I had a lot of addictions,” he said. Miquel talked about how alcohol took him on a downward spiral, so much so, that he said, “I didn’t even know who I was anymore.” The transformation of his life from a place where he struggled with alcoholism has been what he describes as “A blessing from God.” He went on to say that his God-given gift of music had in fact saved his life.
What started as a friendship between two fathers who met on their children’s school field trip appears to be something altogether deeper and higher. There appears to be a higher connection going on that neither Morris nor Miquel could fashion on their own. From admiring each other as artists, even back in their secular days and developing mutual respect for each other, it seemed inevitable and ordained that they would work together.
They recently performed in Atlanta back in early May and are pushing one of their newest singles “Big Stepping.” Although Morris and Miquel still have friends that are still struggling to escape the life of the streets and addiction, Morris says that he doesn’t judge anyone because he himself is still growing. Miquel added that those that are still struggling out there are the ones they “want to touch.”
In addition to the music, Miquel and Morris have cast a vision that includes mentoring, tutoring, and afterschool programs for area youth. They want what they are doing to be more than music. They want it to be a ministry—on a higher level.
Find out more and keep up with Miquel & Morris at www.akingsnation.com.