Lo­cal artist signed to record la­bel

Alaze brings unique style to On the Grind

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Jenny Thompson

Mau­rice Murray, who per­forms and records un­der the name “Alaze,” thinks 2008 will be his year to shine.

In ad­di­tion to open­ing and per­form­ing with well-known hip-hop artists and man­ag­ing an At­lanta up-and-comer, Murray and his wife Rhonda have launched their busi­ness So Unique Mu­sic Inc.

“The artist can be a CEO and mogul as well,” Murray said.

Raised in Chicago by his grand­mother, Murray be­gan to cul­ti­vate his mu­si­cal abil­i­ties at an early age.

At the age of 9, a rap he made dur­ing a “Say No to Smok­ing” cam­paign at his school even- tu­ally be­came a Chicago-area pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ment.

“Since then, I’ve said I can do this,” Murray said.

In the mid-1990s his mu­sic ca­reer started to ac­cel­er­ate as he opened for per­form­ers such as Too Short, Good­ieMob, To­tal, De La Soul, Jay-Z, Bone Thugsn-Har­mony, Lox and Eve.

“The mu­sic in­dus­try was not like it is now, in that you had to worry about what side you were from — East or West Coast,” Murray said. “You can just make mu­sic now.”

He also per­formed at Spring Break Jam ’97 in San Diego.

“The big­gest thing that threw me for a loop was in ’98 when I did the half-time show at the Pro-Bowl in Hawaii,” Murray said.

Be­cause of his mus­cu­lar stature, fans thought he was a foot­ball player and de­spite telling them he was a rap­per, he still signed dozens of au­to­graphs.

Murray said he is not the av­er­age en­ter­tainer. In­spired by the ex­trav­a­gant live shows of bands such as Kiss and War­rant, he adopted a high en­ergy stage pres­ence.

“I saw how I wanted my en­ter­tain­ment to be,” Murray said. “When you can jump off of a speaker with a gui­tar and walk around in the au­di­ence and they’re in awe and not try­ing to hurt you — that’s awe­some.”

Murray has also opened at the af­ter party for the 2000 Bill­board Awards in Las Ve­gas, toured with Michael Henderson and Ray Parker Jr., and per­formed at the NOPI Races and the 2007 BET Hip Hop Awards pre-red car­pet event.

Re­cently, he par­tic­i­pated in a four-day com­mer­cial shoot for Chevro­let and NASCAR with T.I., Dale Earn­hardt Jr. and Jeff Gor­don.

He said he likes to mix reg­gae, R&B and rock in his mu­sic to ap­peal to a broader au­di­ence and be­cause he likes those gen­res as well.

Murray said his mu­sic is dif­fer­ent from other hip-hop artists’ be­cause it does not in­clude adult lan­guage or ad­vo­cate vi­o­lence.

“I do ra­dio-ready hip-hop,” Murray said.

His new­est sin­gle “The Itsy Bitsy Spi­der Dance” has been picked up by ring tone provider Thumb­play and has been do­ing well in down­loads. Ac­cord­ing to Murray, the sin­gle is gar­ner­ing the at­ten­tion of ma­jor dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies.

“Sin­gles are im­por­tant,” Murray said. “Sin­gles sell al­bums.”

Cur­rently he is look­ing for lo­ca­tions around Cov­ing­ton to shoot a video and has a few young peo­ple work­ing on chore­ograph­ing a dance for the song.

He said his abil­ity to free style leads him to song sub­ject mat­ter most oth­ers would never dream of cut­ting a track about.

Mi­ami-based record com­pany Slip and Slide Records — who rep­re­sent artists Plies, Rick Ross and Trina — has re­cently added Murray to their new artist la­bel On the Grind.

In ad­di­tion to his per­form­ing ca­reer, he and his wife — who is also his man­ager — have started So Unique Mu­sic Inc. and cur­rently rep­re­sent the upand-com­ing At­lanta artist, A.K. the Ra­zor­man.

“What we do for me,” Murray said, “I do for my artist.”

Murray said he strives to be like mu­sic moguls Barry Gordy, Jay-Z and Rus­sell Sim­mons.

“If you’re not try­ing to be like those guys,” Murray said, “you’re go­ing to get left in the dust.”

Be­cause of his am­bi­tion, Murray chooses not to drink al­co­hol or smoke.

“Peo­ple trip about it, but you don’t talk busi­ness in a club,” Murray said. “I’m just so high on life and be­ing able to do this.”

He ad­mits he re­searches the in­dus­try like it was his col­lege ma­jor.

Murray added he feels con­stantly sur­rounded by bless­ings. “God is good — he gave me the tal­ent and the fam­ily to be suc­cess­ful,” Murray said. “The fam­ily that prays to­gether, stays to­gether.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Unique: Hip-hop artist and en­tre­pre­neur Mau­rice Murray, who per­forms and records un­der the name Alaze, is plan­ning a video shoot for his new sin­gle “Itsy Bitsy Spi­der Dance.”

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