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Shaker Rapper’s Road to the Top

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“Yeah, Kid Cudi went to my school!”

We’ve all done it.

We all love boasting the fact that our high school turned out one of the most talented rappers of the 21st century, even though he only attended Shaker his freshman and sophomore years. He graduated from Solon High School in 2002.

Despite the fame, Kid Cudi seems to have stayed true to Cleveland. Just last month he played a free concert at the Q for the Rock Hall induction.

Marquis “Lil’ Marv” Frazier, a former Shaker student, hopes to follow in Kid Cudi’s footsteps.

“I started [rapping] in eighth grade,” said Frazier. “Doing stuff in the basement, ‘Swagger Season,’ you know.”

“Swagger Season” is Lil’ Marv’s first mix tape, released in 2009. His second and most recent tape, “The Road to the Top,” was released in 2010, and continued the chill production and lyrics that “Swagger Season” featured.

“The Road to the Top” tells the story of Lil’ Marv’s life in Cleveland through feel-good beats and flow similar to Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, with flashes of Kid Cudi and a slight influence of hip-hop pioneers such as Notorious B.I.G. and Nas.

In the tape’s first track, Lil’ Marv shows off his Shaker roots: “I hit the seventh grade, I met my bro E; I’m talking Mr. Sears that was real history!”

Lil Marv’s “bro E” is senior Ethan Holmes, whom he met in seventh grade in Mike Sears’ history class at the middle school. The two bonded over skateboarding and music, and Holmes has since become Lil Marv’s manager.

But you don’t have to be a student of Mr. Sears to enjoy this tape; most of the songs have to do with partying, smoking and otherwise enjoying life as a Cleveland kid.

“My goal is really just to make good music for people,” said Frazier. “Uplift people, have fun, enjoy life.”

Senior Elijah “E-Wonder” Carter-Callahan produced a track, titled “Lifetime,” for Lil’ Marv’s most recent tape. “I’ve known [Frazier] since, like, seventh grade, and he’s a really chill person,” Carter-Callahan said. “But we really didn’t talk until like last year, and that’s when we linked up and started working together.”

Since dropping “The Road to the Top”, Lil’ Marv has opened up for rappers such as Hoodie Allen and XV at Cleveland Heights’ Grog Shop, as well as receiving recognition from Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller.

In addition to working with Shaker producers, Lil’ Marv made it clear that he wanted to stay true to his hood. “I want to make music for the Shaker kids, for those nights where I didn’t want to do my homework.”

And all these years later, the teacher who inspired Frazier still remembers him. “I always tell my students that we try to keep it real in Room 316,” Sears wrote in an email. “I’m touched that Marquis took that to heart and mentioned it in his song.”

 

Jokingly, Sears added, “If it becomes a big hit, maybe he’ll offer me a small percentage of the royalties.”

 

 

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Shaker Rapper’s Road to the Top