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Name: Adam Bernard
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Megaciph Is Putting His Marine Life On Record
Thursday, July 31, 2014

During hip-hop artist Megaciph’s time in the Marines he saw places most kids from Brooklyn only dream about. Being stationed everywhere from Japan to Cuba, he came to some unique realizations about the world. Now he’s ready to tell all with a new project.

Megaciph’s Marine Corps story started when he was just 12 years old. “I walked into a recruiting office with my mom, on Flatbush Avenue,” he remembers, “and I said, ‘I’ll be back.’”

True to his word, at age 17 Megaciph returned, although he notes, “I graduated high school with a 1.9 GPA. I didn’t get into any schools, so my choice was pretty much made for me.”

It was a choice his mother wasn’t thrilled with, and it didn’t take long for Megaciph to start to have his own doubts about his decision. “I told my mom after boot camp that the military had stolen my childhood.”

His childhood wasn’t the only thing taken away from him. After a particularly brutal 20 mile “hump,” which is a hike where soldiers carry a load on their back that can exceed 100 pounds, Megaciph found he’d suffered stress fractures in both of his feet during the journey. To add insult to injury, his assignment after the hump changed in a most unwelcome way. “I had a guarantee to go to Hawaii,” he remembers, “and I lost that Hawaii spot while I was healing, and I ended up being sent to Cuba.”

While stationed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Megaciph admits, “There was a bit of, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’”

“I saw some really bad things, some really awful things, in Cuba,” he says of his experience there, but he does note that on the plus side, “I made some really good friends.”

One of the friends he made during his time in the military was a rapper named I.Q., who became a hip-hop mentor, of sorts, to Megaciph. “He was in the same unit as me, different platoon, but the same battalion, and he had been writing raps, and performing, for a couple years before he joined. We clicked immediately. I thought I was already writing raps, and I started sharing my stuff with him. He showed me how to format my rhymes, basically, so I learned how to write bars rather than just write free form and try to stick it on a beat.”

Now, with 15 years of writing rhymes under his belt, Megaciph is finally ready to tell the military part of his life story, with his upcoming album, CIVIL.i.AM, which is currently in its crowdfunding stage of development.

CIVIL.i.AM will focus on Megaciph’s time in the Marines, and the years immediately following. He describes the project, saying, “There are stories that you’ll hear about me, and about my childhood, and about my early days in the military, that I’ve never told anybody.”

The main reason he’s taken so long to put pen to paper to write about those experiences is because, in his words, “I wasn’t ready.” Megaciph became ready when he found inspiration in his year and a half old son. “A big part of everything in my life at this point is what kind of legacy am I leaving for my child,” he explains, “what kind of messages am I sending him, and what kind of impression is my life gonna make on his life.”

While putting that legacy, and his time in the Marines, into words, Megaciph came to some realizations about the military. “I would never let my son do it,” he states, “and if we taught kids differently, if we raised our kids differently, then we wouldn’t really have a need for it.”

The latter is part of a bigger epiphany for Megaciph, as he explains, “We don’t realize at a young age, and we don’t even realize if we’ve never been there, if we’ve never been in the military, that it’s not really a necessary piece of global society. We’re indoctrinated to believe that it is, but it’s definitely no more necessary than an education system, and we fund it more than we fund education.”

With these ideas as part of the backbone of the project, Megaciph sought to find a like-minded organization to which he could donate the proceeds from album sales. “The project is about how our impact in the world betters it, or worsens it,” he explains, “so I really thought it would be relevant to make a donation.” He found the perfect partner in Veterans For Peace.

“When I found Veterans For Peace, and I realized they’re international, they have over 140 offices around the world, and they really have a global approach to peace, then I thought they were the right ones to reach out to.” He adds that what attracted him most to the organization is, “They’re more about bringing awareness. They’re more about letting people know that there are bad things in the military, and perhaps we don’t need a military at all. They advocate for veterans because they feel like the military doesn’t.”

People who visit Megaciph’s crowdfunding page will notice he has a secondary goal of winning a Grammy. He admits that’s shooting for the stars, but notes, “If I don’t make the Grammy, and fall a little bit lower, that’s not a bad thing either.”

Megaciph’s time in the military ended with an “other than honorable” discharge after he was caught smoking marijuana. An award of any kind would be a complete antithesis of that, and a far more fitting culmination of his work.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:50 PM  
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