Rapper Marc Mighty had everything all set up.
While finishing his new EP “The Iliad,” he planned release shows in his hometown, photography sessions and even new recordings.
Covid-19 destroyed all of those plans.
But he chose to release the EP on time anyway.
The Haitian-born rapper, real name Marc Duqueney, is a senior communication and sociology major at UB. In the wake of Covid-19, he relocated back to his home in Queens and decided to release the EP regardless.
And since returning home to one of the hardest-hit areas and seeing subversive reactions to the pandemic, he believes releasing it in this era of social distancing makes more sense than ever.
“I think choosing to write about my struggles was perfect timing,” Duqueney said. “The release was planned way before everything got in the way it did, but it seems like these two events were fated to interact. … If everyone is inside social distancing, then there’s not much [else] they can do. Since streaming has taken over, it makes sense to give them some streamable content.”
“The Iliad” gets its namesake from the Greek epic poem written by Homer.
“The [poem] is about war and struggle,” Duqueney said. “I wanted to take that motif and apply it to my life. Instead of war over a place, my ‘war’ is concerning various points and topics in my life.”
Sankara Daly, Duqueney’s friend and ‘19 UB alum, believes this concept is perfect for Duqueney, noting his talent for being personal on tracks.
“I think as a child of parents who never really had it all, his songs tell a lot about his personality,” Daly said. “I’ve honestly learned more about him through [his music] than from our conversations.”
Since moving back to Queens, Duqueney saw Covid-19 escalating throughout his home burrough and throughout NYC. As of April 18, the city has reached 123,146 cases and 12,199 deaths. But he has been trying to take it in stride.
“So far, being home hasn’t affected me as much as I thought it would,” Duqueney said. “I’ve stayed home since I returned and plan to do so until everything is under control.”
Being home has also given Duqueney an opportunity to focus on new music. While he hasn’t written any new tracks, he’s planning for the future.
“I’ve been teaching myself a bit of the guitar,” he said. “ I plan to make my own beats in the future and I thought knowing a couple instruments might help.”
Despite his own adherence to social distancing, Duqueney has noticed the city’s general reaction to Covid-19 to be different from his own.
“[My family and I] Lysol-spray everything and wash our hands vehemently,” he said. “The city though, seems divided and morale is down. There are some people who are ignoring the quarantine and others who are critiquing them for being careless. I’ve also witnessed people trying to stay positive but feel like the whole situation has robbed them of a meaningful end to college.”
“Keep Faith,” the fifth song on the EP, seems to serve as a message for these troubled times. “Times get hard, it don’t matter though,” Mighty adlibs on the chorus of the track, “This too shall pass.”
New York City-based producer Brian Hills, who produced “Keep Faith” was surprised with the direction of Duqueney’s verses on the track.
“When I made the beat, I wasn’t exactly sure what type of message would come out of it,” Hills said. “But I think Marc’s verses matched the vibe perfectly.”
In hindsight, Duqueney believes it’s become a sort of anthem of strength in the middle of this global pandemic.
“It almost seems destined,” Duqueney said. “It helps serve as a reminder that we as people are resilient. Even if things seem bleak, if we keep faith and have hope, that’ll go a long way.”
Alex Whetham is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alexo774
Alex Whetham is an asst. arts editor for The Spectrum.