Marc 2Ray Combats Disinformation With No Metronome.
Marc 2Ray is one of the realest artists I’ve come across in the DMV scene. His motives and intentions are transparent and teeming with authenticity; not surprisingly, his music reflects this truth. Marc’s family has a rich history that’s made him a student of the subject. A student and a teacher determined to use his platform to help assure that we don’t make the same egregious mistakes twice. Peep our exchange:
Every hero has an origin story. Tell me yours:
I was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up just outside the city in Bethesda, MD. As a kid, I loved (still love) video games, mountain biking, and good movies, but my favorite pastime became music. I was exposed to great music at a very young age and grew up with an appreciation for all genres. But around the late ‘90s, I fell in love with Hip Hop: The wordplay, the boom bap beats, the melody; I wanted to be able to make my own sounds similar to what I was hearing.
Your music is a testament to the rich history of both sides of your family. Please elaborate for those who don’t know:
On my mother’s side, my grandfather, and great grandmother were survivors of The Armenian Genocide, which took place in 1915. Over 1.5 million Armenians, as well as other minority groups, were systematically killed by the Ottoman Empire (now modern-day Turkey) under the cover of WWI. The Turkish government has been denying this crime against humanity for 105 years. That prompted to me create my song “1915” which tells the story of The Armenian Genocide and serves as a rallying cry for recognition. Despite coming to America as a refugee with nothing, my grandfather, Vahe Kupelian, went to MIT, became a rocket scientist, and worked for Goodyear Aviation and the Defense Department. He actually designed the F2-G Super Corsair which was an advanced airplane fighter during WWII.
My father’s side has another major legacy as well. My great grandfather, Pastor Pierre Charles Toureille, saved several hundred Jewish lives during WWII by providing false documents and smuggling them out of occupied France. He has his name on the wall of Righteous Gentiles at The Holocaust Museum and a tree planted in his honor at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Needless to say, I have big shoes to fill on both sides of my family.
I would have to agree, but you’re off to a pretty good start…Your music made curriculum in schools! Tell me about the genesis of that and if you have even loftier goals pertaining to the role of your music in the classroom.
So, I actually have a background in education, working as a therapist for children with autism. I’ve been in the field for 12 years, and I’m currently working out of The Floortime Center in Bethesda, MD. That background helped me get “1915” in the multiple high school and college curricula and my most recent single “Dear America” into Montgomery College. The link between my music and education really started in 2015 when I dropped “1915” because my goal for that song was to help educate as many people as possible about The Armenian Genocide. That lead my team, Verzatyle Entertainment, and I to create teaching tools and actively work to get the song into schools. It had a bit of a snowball effect, and I quickly saw the potential for Hip Hop as a medium for education. The kids identify with it since it’s in a medium they gravitate towards, and they‘re getting a good history lesson in a matter of just 3 or 4 minutes. I’ve also given speaking presentations, live performances, and screenings, at schools. I would love to continue building this platform and to get these songs used in more public schools on a county or state-wide level.
This is ever the loaded question, but why is seemingly everything so polarizing today? Why do you think we’re divided to such an extent?
I think on a lot of levels we have always been very polarized. It’s just now that these topics are coming to the fore in sports, the news, and social media. Just like how my song “1915” talks about how Turkey has not come to terms with its past of genocide against Armenians, America in a lot of ways has not come to terms with its past of genocide against the Native Americans, or its slavery and oppression of African Americans. My most recent song “Dear America”, featuring Allison Balanc, really goes deep into that topic.
I think in a lot of ways, the Civil War didn’t end with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. We are still fighting it today. When the allies won WWII, they had a military presence after the war for a few years and outlawed The Nazi Party, and limited Germany’s military, while providing Germany other, peaceful ways of building its economy back up so they could be part of the world community again.
Shifting gears from globally to locally, strengths and weaknesses of the DMV scene?
I would say some of the biggest strengths would be the historical culture of the DC music scene, the wealth of talented artists here, and some dope venues. The one real weaknesses for me would be some of these great and historic venues closing due to gentrification.
Favorite artists in the DMV scene:
I’ve been listening to a lot of IDk, YBN Cordae, and Logic recently. But I definitely rock with so many of the artists from this area that it is hard to give a top 5 or even a top 10. I will say that I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of these dope artists including Brain Rapp (editor’s note: shoutout Brain Rapp) and JusPaul.
Are there any Armenian or French artists you admire? Dope emcees from either place that you can put us onto? Aside from topically, is there an influence these regions play upon you stylistically, linguistically?
So, I’m not super plugged into the French Hip Hop scene, but I can definitely put you to a another dope Armenian-American artist — R-Mean. R-Mean is based out in LA and also has a very powerful song about the Genocide, entitled “Open Wounds”. He’s on Wu-Tang’s “The Saga Continues” album and has put out a wealth of dope projects himself. I had the honor to open for him last time he came to DC. Definitely a true emcee.
I’m a big admirer of both Armenian Folk and Classical music. A lot of instruments sounds are found exclusively these genres. There some new records I’m working on which utilize these styles a bit.
I was also honored to be featured on “Wake Up” by famed Armenian composer Eduard Hambartsoumian. That song incorporates a symphony orchestra style arrangement with an opera singer.
I’m dedicated to making music that will educate, empower, and (hopefully) help others.
Tell me about your stage show. How does it differ from the recorded product?
For my live sets I try to include as many live elements as possible. Depending on the venue, that could be a live DJ cutting the records with me, a drummer, vocalists, or even a full backing band. Those shows are always a good time.
I also like to take the audience on a journey with my sets. Even if it’s a 15 minute set, I choose my track list carefully so it has a story arc to the content and leaves the listener with something to think about.
Here’s something you wouldn’t have time to think about…Jay-Z is in the same elevator as you. Sell him on Marc 2Ray in one sentence:
I’m dedicated to making music that will educate, empower, and (hopefully) help others.
Where are you in a year? In five years? What’s your ultimate goal in this shit?
In one year, I would like to be at the point where I can do music full time. In 5 years, I would like to have a few more projects that can add to my body of work being used in schools, as well as some collaborations with iconic artists. I see my musical path as both an artist and an educator, so speaking at schools and designing songs to be used in curriculum will remain very important to me.
I can relate…Biggest influences and 5 desert island albums you can’t go without:
Biggest influences would be: Biggie, Wu-Tang, Rage Against The Machine, The Beatles, and OutKast.
Top five albums I can’t go without would be:
- Biggie’s “Ready To Die”
- 2. GirlTalk’s “All Day”
- 3. Nas’s “Illmatic”
- 4. Rage Against The Machine’s “Renegades”
- 5. Wu-Tang’s “36 Chambers”
I’m gonna give that GirlTalk album a go now…Let’s close this the literary way. Name something that best symbolizes you:
I would say, a Lego mini-figure. They are detailed, versatile, and good for growing minds. I try to make my music follow those trends.
I appreciate you, good sir. That’s the finest answer to that question that I’ve had to date. Please tell the people where to find you and whatever else you want them to know:
Check out the latest visual from Marc 2Ray here!!
I’m your friendly neighborhood MC Bravado; many thanks for reading. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or your favorite place to grab music. Please remember to be kind to one another and that “Michael Jordan is the GOAT” is a fact and not an opinion.