For North Carolina rapper Morray, music is an audible beacon of light. He first started singing in church at four years old and took to rapping years later after briefly moving from Fayetteville, North Carolina to Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Being kicked out of school for fighting led him to the streets and, eventually, back to the comfort of music. His first recorded song was a birthday post to his wife on Facebook in 2014, which proved to be his gateway to a serious music career. After six years of fine-tuning, his voice had become a precise instrument, one with the power of a gospel singer and the melodic finesse of a rapper.
On his debut project Street Sermons, that voice is complemented by a story both personal and universal. The album’s lead single “Quicksand” pairs Morray’s rapid-fire delivery with tales about his time in the streets, full of close-call shootings and desperation, and elevates the narrative with trills that breach the surface of Hagan and Ant Chamberlin’s warm production like a shark’s fin.
The song’s ethos—the struggle is real, but it doesn’t have to last forever—turns out to be a worthy thesis for an artist who’s gone from penning hit singles in his bathroom to co-signs from fellow North Carolinian J. Cole. Street Sermons is at its best when Morray shines a light on his darkest moments and traces his glow-up step-by-step. And even when he occasionally wades into generic territory, his vocals imbue each word with dimension and purpose.