Traveling down the red-line on Jackson, I have never heard such unique sounds. His message echoed in each person’s ears. The tiny hairs in the back of our ears stood erect from hearing such a soulful voice. Is it possible for one man to be so many things? Isaiah Murphy sings with a voice that sounds of old school soul. Without a doubt Sam Cooke must have inspired the man, because in each note I can hear an eerie reminder of the slain Chicago native. He also raps in his act with lyrical style and content similar to Nas and Mos Def. His aggressive flow and raspy voice only add to the words of desperation he speaks.
Isaiah Murphy grew up in the Southside neighborhood of Roseland. His mother died of cancer when he was young, so it was up to him and his father to make ends meet. At an early age Isaiah’s father exposed him to the sounds of Sam Cooke and from that point Isaiah became enthralled with the music legend. He studied and designed his vocal style to be similar to the late great Mr. Cooke. Isaiah’s musical pursuits began in 2002, when he started at Columbia College Chicago. He had dreams of becoming a music producer, but he soon put that to the side after meeting and collaborating with the ecclectic mix of artists at Columbia. Armed with previous gospel singing experience, his dreams shifted to his own act. From this point he met a group of emcees called Pale Green Messiah that would give him all the help to perfect his microphone skills. From that point on he began to merge the two genres to create songs like Nation Burning, Martyrs Mission, and Sweetie.
Words have the power to encourage a whirlwind of change whether positive or negative. Isaiah Murphy has put his feet down for many causes such as the Chicago Immigration March on May 1, 2007 and the Chicago March in the name of ending violence on the Southside. Isaiah Murphy has injected his political ideals and ambitions in each line of his music with the hope of change. For years Isaiah Murphy has shown genuine support for the Latino community. He has worked with several artists of all races and creeds. His Mexican Producer Simon Miles regularly uses samples from Mambo and Bachata music. Isaiah finds a sense of unity when working with artists from all over the globe. So far his musical map has taken him to collaborations with artists from South Africa, England, Mexico, Italy, and the Philippines. So far his performance credits include Gallery Cabaret, The Spot, U.S. Beer Company, and Ontourage. Without a doubt this is an artist to watch. I had a chance to chat with Mr. Murphy a bit and this is what he had to say.
Who in music inspires you the most?
A lot of what I do is modeled after Sam Cooke. When I was a kid I loved Sam Cooke so much because he wore so many hats. He was one of the first black people to have his own record company. He wasn’t just an entertainer. He was behind the scenes guy too. He produced, recorded, wrote for many artists. He was businessman, that’s what I want to be.
How Important has Chicago been in your musical Journey?
Since I was born and raised in Chicago it’s been very important, in a lot of ways it has impacted me positively and negatively. In Chicago you have to learn to sink or swim in the music game. In Chicago it’s harder to find people willing to help you. Chicago is very different from many other places in the country when it comes to music. In the South its much easier to network but in Chicago you are required to pay your dues. Chicago once was the music capital of the world. Now it seems Chicago has been taken back to its musical infancy. I’ve seen a lot of dynamite artists come out of Chicago. We may have very few mainstream artists in the industry but the ones that are out there are very special. In Chicago many artists are still looking for their own voice, and in that way we make something unique. Chicago’s music scene is the place to look for new groundbreaking artist.
What other projects are you involved in?
I have my hands in many cookie jars right now. I do music videos, I direct, film and edit. I started doing videos because I couldn’t find anyone to shoot my videos. The video process is a very interesting process; it allows you to mold the perspective of the listener and the artist. Everything matters…every word, every note. A scene can be seen in each sound, so attention to detail matters. I learned a lot about creating the characters in videos by watching pro wrestling. They know how to manipulate facial expressions to get a crowd on their side. I watched Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock wow audiences with only facial expressions and body language. This proved to be valuable information. The camera picks up everything: every nuance, every eye movement, and every twitch. So it’s my job to make people look good on camera. Music videos are a powerful tool to have as they have the power to control the way people look at an artist. With film you can make someone look more grand than they are, it’s all about creating the illusion. In some ways I’m a magician and creating an illusion of grandeur.
How would you describe your music?
Classic Soul, Hip-Hop, and on occasions Hard Rock and Folk.
Tell me about your album.
It’s called Monsta Under the Bed. The name stands for all the evils in America that are hiding right under your nose. It’s on itunes and on my website so go check it out.
As a politically driven musician why do you support 1 MILLION Strong AGAINST the Arizona Immigration Law SB1070?
Because the law is formulated in such a way that it sets precedent. We have racial profiling as a law now. It allows police to take shortcuts and they no longer have to do actual good old fashion police work. I can relate as a black man, my father was involved in the civil rights movement. He said there was once a term they used in the civil rights movement, and they called it “he fits the description.” Now the Latinos are the new person to pick on. Now kids are being traumatized after seeing mom and dad being stretched out on the car patted down. It’s a hurtful thing to go through. This is a formula for disaster and sooner or later people are going to get fed up and resort to violent means, like in the civil rights movement. Basically old school America refuses to move along with this new school America. People are disgruntled that Obama is in power and they’ll use any tactic to find someone else to bully. To me it seems like a new form of undercover racism.
Is there anything you have to add?
Just want to talk about a list of my favorites this always makes for good conversation.
Movies: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Malcolm X, Orsen Welles’ The Trial
Albums: Sam Cooke Live at the Copa
TV Show: WWE RAW, Pawn Stars
Isaiah is currently looking to put together a summer tour of the Midwest and is still looking for artists to work with on the road. His album can be found on itunes “Monsta Under tha Bed”. It also can be purchased at a lower price on his website www.thepgm.com.