HOT 97 touched down in North Carolina this weekend and it was nothing short of amazing.
North Carolina-raised & Grammy Award-winning artist J. Cole and his Dreamville team kicked off their second Dreamville Festival April 2nd and April 3rd in Raleigh while welcoming 80,000 total attendees from across the globe and creating a multi-million dollar economic impact for the state of North Carolina.
While we were there we had the opportunity to chat with Fayetteville native Morray who, since entering the scene in 2020, has instantly became one of the hottest acts today. Morray found breakout success thanks to his soulful, gritty record “Quicksand”, which highlights the lowest points of his life. By chance, he was discovered by artist manager Moe Shalizi which led to widespread exposure and cosigns from J-Cole, Jay Z and Da Baby. While the co-signs helped to propel much of the success for Morray's debut mixtape, Street Sermons, it is the genre-bending, story-telling content to which fans revered.
We spoke with him an hour or two before his performance on the Shine stage.
[Niani]: How is performing in North Carolina different from performing at other venues in other states?
[Morray]: To get the love from the people that you live with is amazing. You can get love from other cities because they don’t see you everyday. There is real music out here, there is hip hop, there is blues, they understand the bullsh*t.
[Niani]: What advice would you give to the HOT 97 listener who is starting out their music career and is feeling hopeless and doubtful about their career taking off?
[Morray]: STUDY. If you want to be a real artist and not make some trendy shit. STUDY. Study the greats who’ve already made it. Create yourself to be who you want to be ten years from now. Don’t wait for a hit because you don’t know what a hit is until it comes out. Make good music. Be sure of your craft. Spend money on yourself. And don’t be afraid of a “no”.
[Niani]: “Still Here”. Instant classic. You could’ve collaborated with any artist to make that song come together. What was it about Cordae that made the song complete?
[Morray]: I aint gon’ lie. Cordae and I were talking about linking in the studio for a long time. We were actually in the same studio and didn’t even know it. I said “What studio you at?”, he said “Larrabee”. I said, ‘what room you in?’. He said, ‘B’. I said ‘A’. I said ‘Let’s link and do a song!’. We sat there, listened to two beats, and then maybe ‘Still Here’. It was so genuine to be with an artist who is so intelligent. There were no bullsh*t bars. It was intimate. It was sentimental.
[Niani]: For the album, “Street Sermons”, you told a very raw and unfiltered story of your life. For the new album that you are working on will you be following that same theme or are you taking a new creative direction?
[Morray]: My music has always been my life and reality. I can’t give you bullsh*t. I can’t give you a lie. All I can give you is who I am, what I’ve been going through, and hopefully people can learn from it. Street Sermons was a mixtape to make people feel something. No matter what album I make, I want people to feel, whether that is happy, sad, or miserable or whatever it is, you gotta feel that sh*t to get past whatever it is you are going through. You may not like me after my album but when you cry and get over it, you’ll be like ‘Morray, you did something’, no cap.
[Niani]: Last year you were on the line up for Summer Jam for the Festival stage. Even though you didn’t perform because of the weather, what did being on a Summer Jam line-up mean to you?
[Morray]: CRAZY! It’s HOT 97. It ain’t HOT if it aint 97. It’s amazing. No cap. Anytime I get to be on a stage anywhere. I just show so much love and I give it my all because I don’t have to be here.
[Niani]: From the outside looking in, you’ve been on a streak of wins. Obviously the J.Cole co-sign was huge, but you were also on Jay-Z’s playlist; you were on the Off-Season Tour, you hold the key to the city, and you are going to the Grammy’s tomorrow as a nominated artist. Has the success settled in yet or does it feel foreign to you?
[Morray]: It should never settle in. If this sh*t settles in, then you are a crazy person. This sh*t blows my mind everyday. There is always a new phone call or next text, and I am like ‘this is happening right now?!’. If you are used to this, then you probably don’t care anymore. But I care about this sh*t a lot. Everything is new. I am not supposed to be here, but I am here. I am going to love my life (music, my real life, whatever it is) and just go for the gusto everytime.