Much like the hip-hop culture he represents, ascending emcee Dwayne Dennis, aka C Murph, was born in Jamaica. Dennis eventually moved with his family to Miami where he was raised, and a few years ago arrived in the Alamo City at the request of Florida underground hip-hop legend Slykat, who had a string of performances in Texas. Originally Slykat’s hype man, C Murph ultimately found his artistic voice in San Antonio, where his latest single, “Ya Digg,” is getting regular spins on 98.5 the Beat, the city’s last standing hip-hop station. Not bad for someone who originally planned on just passing through.
“When I came to the city I didn’t come to the city with any intentions of even staying,” admits C Murph. “The city just grew on me, and so many good people inspired me and just thought that I had something else to showcase. If it wasn’t for the city and me being here, I would not be doing music, I tell you that much.”
It was in San Anto that C Murph stepped into the booth for the first time to build a hook. Although he has been rapping for just a little more than two years, two of his more infectious singles have received local commercial-radio play. His first cut, “Not About U,” garnered spins on the now-defunct Power 106 just before it folded, and “Ya Digg” is on its way to becoming a San Antonio anthem. In his most recent Alamo City performance, Murph opened up for Paul Wall and had a packed Club Antro chanting “Ya Digg.”
Growing up in Miami, a young Dwayne Dennis was equally influenced by a host of the city’s booty-rap acts and the Cuban sounds of Gloria Estefan. The first CD he ever bought was the Notorious B.I.G.’s classic Ready To Die, and his rap moniker comes from his frenetic personality, which bears some resemblance to Charlie Murphy, Eddie’s older brother, circa the Chapelle Show years. Although Murph credits Slykat for bringing him to SA, it’s through his constant, determined grinding that he’s making noise.
“The crazy thing is I never intended on actually being a rapper or an artist, in the sense, in my own right,” C Murph says. “Before that point I never wrote a song … in my life. I had no idea where to go. Even though I was with Slykat for so many years, he never sat me down and showed me how to write or record anything, so it was like a baby fending for himself.”
On the mic, C Murph is confident beyond his years, albeit still a little rough around the edges. “Ya Digg” succeeds in large part due to the sparse yet alluring production of San Antonio duo the Innovators, which although somewhat simple, complements Murph’s delivery perfectly. To his credit, C Murph delivers a convincing swag song in which he takes ownership of the key phrase much more smoothly than say, Young Jeezy, in a dirtier South kind of way. To get a full range of his skills, the stark track “Pain” is a must-listen, in which he breaks down hood life in Miami with matter-of-fact references to hunger, poverty, robberies, and homicide.
With a pair of solid commercial, radio-friendly singles under his belt, Murph’s mission is simple: Secure a major record-label deal by focusing on crafting hit singles and eschewing overexposure via mix tapes. At its core, “Ya Digg” succeeds because, much like most of Outkast’s Stankonia, it balances futuristic, albeit synthy production with a distinct personality. It’s been almost 10 years since the Stankonia flag was planted in popular culture and the rest of the music world appears to be finally catching up.
Four years ago, the Wu Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah publicly bemoaned the success of D4L’s bare-bones track “Laffy Taffy,” but when it comes to corporate radio, this is where we still are. Depending on who you talk to, real hip-hop is dead, and thanks to commercial radio, ringtone rap is alive and well. It’s nice to see a San Antonio emcee putting swag into perspective by tempering it with real-life family issues.
“God has been very good to me,” says C Murph. “I get up every day and I pray. It’s been a blessing. My grandmother is gone right now, and she’s been the most influential person in my life. I know she’s walking with me because I feel her presence every day.” •
We’re sad to say this is Solis’s final All City column. We need a new columnist to cover the SA hip hop scene. Please send résumés and writings samples to Jeremy Martin at email@example.com.