“A RAPPER CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE,” says local hip-hop hopeful, Mark Dwyer. “You just need to be talented and have a fan base behind you.” Dwyer is testing this theory in perhaps the most unlikely place to produce a rapper. The 24-year-old Jamaican, who goes by “M. Dwizzy” when on the mike, came to Nantucket with his family when he was 15. Back in Jamaica, Dwyer ran around Montego Bay in a rap crew, competing in pick-up rap battles with his friends and chanting lyrics of his hip-hop heroes. “I heard music everywhere I went,” he says. Yet it wasn’t until moving to the States that Mark Dwyer became M. Dwizzy, and he began producing rhymes of his own.
“Growing up in Jamaica made me aware of poverty, and moving to America has given me a shot at a better life for myself and my family,” he says. After finishing high school on Nantucket, Dwyer studied at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY and then went on to Stevenson College, where he helped their lacrosse team to a number-one ranking. Now back on the island, Dywer says, “Nantucket is my home away from home. I love how peaceful it is. It’s a great place to write an album.” The young man is polite, gracious, and genuine, traits that can often get lost in the egocentric swirl of the music industry.
Sixteen hundred miles away and apart, Jamaica is never far from Dwyer’s mind, or his lyrics for that matter. “I feel it’s my duty to tell Jamaica’s story to the world,” he says, “and bring a new Caribbean flavor to hip-hop.” This story, however, is not the carefree, “Three Little Birds” version of Jamaica, but one of poverty, police brutality, and killings. A number of Dwyer’s boyhood friends were shot and killed by corrupt police, and these hardships from the streets of Montego Bay haunt his lyrics. Take “Remember Days” from Dwyer’s upcoming album: “I remember days I didn’t have no money, walk around pockets empty, a sad cause, nothing funny…I remember days that I didn’t have no light, searching round the house for candles just to see at night…I remember days I didn’t have water, seen parents carrying buckets with their sons and daughters.”
By all appearances, Dwyer has what it takes to make a name for himself in hip-hop: style, swagger, and the capacity to weave rhymes effortlessly and on command. But the difference-maker might be his industriousness. Dwyer is a maestro of his own image and brand, Young n’ Fresh Entertainment, and has cultivated a substantial fan base through social media like Facebook and Twitter. The Internet is blanketed with M. Dwizzy music videos and interviews produced by Scott Capizzo of Surfside Productions. “Time waits for no man,” he says, “so if I want a career in music, then I have to do it now.” In March, M.Dwizzy performed at the qualifiers of the “Global Battle of the Bands, Hard Rock Rising,” and came in second— a noteworthy feat considering that the competition tends to favor rock and roll outfits.
With the help of local producers Vic Ferrantella of Garden Rock Studios and Jared Gonsalves of Hocus Pocus Productions, M. Dwizzy is dropping his first album this June, entitled “Shottaz Paradise.” He hopes to then make the island circuit, performing at the Bamboo, Muse and Box. “[Boston- based rapper] Sam Adams got a big chunk of his fan base from doing shows at the Bamboo, where college kids embraced him and spread his music,” Dwyer says. What distinguishes M. Dwizzy from growingly popular rappers like Sam Adams is that Dwyer actually has something to say, a story to tell. Many of rap’s greats earned fame and ultimate immortality not solely by their rhyming ability, but by distilling the trials of their lives into potent, impactful lyrics. Their music speaks to their community, while also revealing a side of America to a broader audience. So while Sam Adams produces tracks like “I Hate College,” M.Dwizzy draws from a life where going to college was a dream, in this case a dream come true.