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Memphis Flyer Making Tracks

Does rapper Miscellaneous have what it takes to be more than just miscellaneous?

By Ashley Fantz

MAY 8, 2000:  Turning a Memphis thug life into a benjie-yielding Memphis-thug-life record works -- sometimes. Three 6 Mafia recorded rough tracks on a boom box that made up their first CD The End. They peddled the audio tapes to local record stores, which, in turn, sold them to more than 25,000 street-rap hungry Memphians. Sony's roaming corporate eyeball noticed the city's burgeoning underground urban scene, swooped in and offered Three 6 a deal. Like Tela, MLG, and Eightball, the granddaddies who showed dirty South is a contender with Coastal boasting, a lot of young, aspiring rhymers are bouncing to the same elementary beat box, shoot 'em down, pass the joint around, ghettoized sounds. They are all hoping, hands and Glocks to the sky, for a similar big-label blessing.

Enter Miscellaneous, an imposing guy in jeans that seem to rest like a tarmac on his thighs. His Iceberg white shirt, equally loose, airbrushed in blue is not winning a contest for attention with a heavy silver chain and hand-size dragon around his neck. A matching blue fedora turned sideways is cocked a little to the right, meeting the arch in his thick eyebrows. Yes, he's thugged out. He's got some ice -- read: jewelry -- on his pinkie and wrist, but this 19-year-old does have an obvious desire to get out of the neighborhood he was beat up in, stolen from, knocked around, and formally and typically inducted into the Gangster Disciples.

"Look, I'm going to tell you what I've done in my songs," he explains in a sound room at the radio station Hot 107.1. His manager, DJ Milly Mills, sits nearby. "I was raised in Black I mean Whitehaven. There were guys trying to start beef with me, you know what I'm say'n? And it was like, yo I wasn't for that. Should I pop them? I was violent and there was some retaliation. I was shot at."

Finish the story for him, because he has some trouble telling every detail. His voice grows meek and drifts. It goes something like what you might imagine. Miscellaneous dodged bullets with these guys, fellow high schoolers, and was eventually shot. He told his grandparents a different story of how that bullet hole wound up on his car. In the middle of all those years of trying to prove himself while also trying to watch his back, he forgot that he loved dancing, singing, and rapping most.

He began singing with a group that performed at Precious Cargo's Amateur Night. Milly Mills was working sound and hosting the event. She remembers the group in their matching outfits a la Boyz II Men, but didn't recall Miscellaneous personally. Months later when Miscellaneous broke with the group and approached Mills to be his manager, she did her best to avoid him. Mills was officially out of the managing business. She had four bands under her managerial belt and none had been pleasurable experiences.

"Too stressful, too much money, too much time," the radio personality says. "But when I heard Miscellaneous rap, I was like, 'whoa.' This guy has some talent."

The demo Mills played at 107.1's studio, "My Adversaries," is a bouncing, dancetronic single that sounds like a club hit waiting to happen. Station program director Lee Cagle was on the phone talking long-distance, but asked Milly to bring that sound a little closer to his office. He put his friend on hold and within a few weeks "My Adversaries" was souped-up for play with the help of John Wilhite, a producer known for cutting hits with Slicse T. Within weeks, "My Adversaries" was a common feature on the station's local music show Down Home Flavor.

The song itself does not have a definite hook, and continues in a free-flowing but controlled repetitive beat. A hint of synthesizer and a dash of electronic dance music slides in between the lyrics that recall Bone Thugs, Three 6, and Gangster Black. "I'm thugged out with the union, they dangerous, I've thugging since the day I was born, Popa wasn't around, Mama taught me how to tote a chrone; I was raised by thugs and schooled by killas, I learned my mathematics skills from real drug dealers, plus I'm a hustling ass thug from the projects, making loot, screaming thugged out with the union when I shout."

Though his lyrics aren't anything new, Miscellaneous does have a possible success on his hands because the song is danceable. Popular rapper Gangster Black noticed the teenager's talent at a recent performance at the Cook Convention Center. Black asked him to open for him in Hernando, Mississippi, after which Miscellaneous received, "much love."

"I was so blown away, you know, that I could get love from people who weren't in my hometown," he says. "I just want to do this. I'm feeling it. I just want to do a little poetry and get me and my little brother out of the hell hole where we grew up."

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