All it takes is a nudge from the right person to change your life. Five years ago, Morray was recording music at his friends’ houses in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. Unfortunately, he wasn’t really a fan of his own music at the time. Morray felt it didn’t have much substance and didn’t feel real coming from him. Seeing the kind of flashy rap that was (and still is) taking off in hip-hop, Morray thought he needed to emulate that style in order to gain popularity. That was until one revelatory night.
Earlier this year, Morray played a few of his songs for his wife. She told Morray that she liked the songs because he made them, but then she admitted that they weren’t up to par because they didn’t reflect who he was or his life in Fayetteville. The aspiring artist took that to heart and wrote his breakthrough single “Quicksand” in January of 2020, before officially releasing it on DSPs in late October.
“Quicksand” features Morray singing about surviving the streets, growing up being poor, having beef with friends and other aspects of his earlier years. “Since a jit, stood tall with a kickstand/Thinking of a plan to get quick bands/Falling in deep with the quicksand/Flag out my ass, no quick brand,” he delivers over a guitar-driven beat produced by Ant Chamberlain and Hagan.
What’s really striking about Morray is his singing voice, which was honed during his childhood as a kid in the church choir. The song, coupled with a video showing off Morray’s block and his friends, took off fast, hitting nearly 10 million views in a month. Now, the song has over 4 million Spotify streams.
Currently signed to Pick Six Records and managed by Moe Shalizi of The Shalizi Group, who also manages lauded DJ Marshmello, Morray has created a lot of noise for himself this year based off his hit song. He got onto the radar of hometown rap superstar J. Cole, who praised “Quicksand” on Instagram, and even Jay-Z, who added the track to his 2020 Vision COVID-19 playlist on TIDAL.
Since “Quicksand” arrived in October, Morray has released three more songs: “Switched Up,” “Low Key” and “Dreamland.” All three tracks are seeing success on YouTube with the latter creeping up on a million views—”Switched Up” sits at over 2 million views while “Low Key” has over 1 million. As far streams, “Switched Up” is nearing 900,000 on Spotify.
In late December, Morray got on the phone with XXL to discuss his journey so far, and his mindset as he takes each new step. Get to know Morray in XXL‘s The Break.
Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.
My style’s been compared to: “I get a lot of comparisons. I’m honored that people listen to it. So, I got comparisons of like, of course Rod Wave, Roddy Ricch, Mo3, who else? Shit, I got [a] CeeLo Green comparison, which was fucking amazing. If you’re taking the time to listen to me, you can compare me to who you want to compare me to, long as you’re listening, and I appreciate that.”
I’m going to blow up because: “Well, the first time I realized that it was good was when I got hit up by Moe [Shalizi of The Shalizi Group]. I had put the song out, but it wasn’t really doing well at all. So, I didn’t really think of nothing. It got 1,000 views, if that. And when you get a random call from somebody like, ‘Yo, your song is fire and I want to talk to you about maybe pushing your career,’ that’s when you know you have something. When someone calls you, you don’t know who they are, but they believe in you. And that’s when I felt like, You know what? I really might have something different.”
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: “I don’t feel like everything is being slept on, because I feel like every song up is up to people’s opinions. So I think ‘Switched Up’ is probably one of those songs where it got overshadowed by ‘Low Key,’ but it still gets love. People still might be like, ‘Oh, ‘Quicksand’ is my favorite, but I like ‘Low Key,’ or, ”Low Key’ is my favorite but I like…” But I feel like ‘Switched Up’ gets lost in the middle. But this new single that’s coming, too, ‘Low Key’ may get lost as well, too, but it’s supposed to be that way. I’m supposed to have songs where people say, ‘That last song was dope, but this song is better.'”
My standout records to date have been: “I think because when I wrote the song [‘Quicksand’], I really was just telling a story, and the story is so relatable. When you got a story that everybody feel like, ‘Oh, shit, I had them kind of clothes,’ or ‘I made this bad decision,’ or ‘I really was going through this,’ you have something that resonates with somebody’s heart. I’m learning that now. You got to make shit that people can just understand.
“I was so fricking surprised. I was shocked out my goddamn mind when I saw these crazy views. I didn’t think the truth was going to sell. Everybody want to hear like, ‘Oh, I got big jewels. I got big cars,’ and I don’t, you feel me? So, I didn’t know if they were going to accept the fact that I’m telling you stories of how I came up and how I still live, rather than tell you, show, sell you the fantasy.”
My standout moments to date have been: “The biggest moment, I can say my first 100,000 views. I ain’t going to lie to you, a million is dope, but when I first got the 100,000, I really… It hit me like, Oh, shit, I may actually have something. Because you don’t get a 100,000 views in my hood. Most of them get 20,000, if that. So when I got 100,000 views, I was sitting with my team, we were just hanging out, and I got, I low-key broke down. Like, damn, the Lord is really blessing me to the point where 50,000 pairs of eyes have just seen my video. I ain’t got a better word because I was flabbergasted. I mean I swear to God, I was tripping.”
Most people don’t know: “I write screenplays. It’s weird. I like to write scripts because I really like acting and shit. I want to act one day. So, I really be really focusing on characters and making up characters and making up scenes. And I actually was in a short film [Something’s Got to Give]. I did it a couple of years ago in Spring Lake in North Carolina. We had just shot a little something-something. I don’t want to just be a musician. I want people to see what I can do and be like, ‘Yo, he really keeps me entertained.’ People don’t see it as the people that are listening to your music. Your fans, they your boss. So, when you step out into your job, you got to impress your boss every time.”
I’m going to be the next: “Positive influence in the hood. It may not be that big of a deal to everybody else, but I really want niggas to know you can smile in the hood. You ain’t got to kill everybody, you ain’t got to gang bang. Nigga, be happy. I hate that shit. I hate that the hood is seen as this grimy, evil place where you got to sag your pants and put a gun at niggas’ heads. No, we have barbecues, cookouts, basketball tournaments. It’s fun in the hood sometimes. Niggas got to see that part, too.”
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