At 9, Marion Esguerra seemed to have already “made it.” The Filipino American was living in Virginia Beach, Va., and was part of esteemed record producer Leon Sylvers III’s R&B child band, the EK System. He quickly fell in love with music. But in 1999, his family moved to Las Vegas, and dreams of being the next New Edition evaporated. That’s when he discovered hip-hop.
“I found one album that my uncle had, Nas’ I Am. My mom wouldn’t let me buy hip-hop records because of the cursing, so I just played that over and over again,” the 24-year-old reflects. Infatuated by Nas’ street poetry, Esguerra wrote his own lyrics and recited them over Nas’ vocals.
Donning the moniker Marion Write, the young MC went from the bedroom to participating in high school rap battles, and the hobby turned into a fledgling career. By 2008, Write released his first mixtape, Chikin Fingrz & Loud Music.
Taking cues from his time with Sylvers, Write studied hip-hop as a business. He’s been able to strike a unique balance, becoming radio-friendly without sacrificing artistic integrity. Write History (2010) is evidence of his ability to be socially conscious while rocking a crowd. “I’m going deep on records, but I want people who don’t really listen to lyrics to enjoy my music, too, because it sounds good,” he says.
Today, Write is not only an artist and producer but is the founder of Flo Deep Music Group. The collective includes local MCs Radio Ramone and Nique and producers J. Spence, DJ Finyl, Bhonstro and One. Understanding the strength in numbers approach, Flo Deep has cultivated a strong local following while building an presence on some of the Web’s top music blogs, including DJBooth.net. Keenly aware that the window of opportunity is a small one, Write looks to capitalize on his buzz with the release of his album Illustrated Example in early 2012. Looking to bend the genre with jazz, soul and hip-hop, Write anticipates that this will be the moment that defines him as an artist. “The only reason I’m selling it is because I want to see for myself who is really fucking with my music,” he says. “Do I really have fans?”
Regardless of whether the album sells 10,000 copies or 10, Write’s infatuation with the creative process won’t allow him to put down the microphone. This is what he was born to do, and this is what defines him as a human being. “This is it man, I don’t have anything else. It’s this, or I’m going to be a 9-to-5er who will retire at 65,” Write says. “This is all I want to do. It’s this or nothing.”