Recent Billboard magazine Rap Charts have prominentlylisted an artist from an unexpected source.
Working and writing outside hip-hop's traditional Los Angeles and New York strongholds, 20-year-oldMiracle draws his inspiration from his hometown of Augusta.
Miracle's first single, Bounce, has spent 16 weeks on the rap charts, peaking at No. 3 andcurrently No. 6. His self-titled album was released May 9 on Universal Records.
Miracle will headline the annual Mayfest concert Saturday at May Park.
His full name is Akira La-Miracle Evans. He was so named because doctors said it would be a miracle ifhe survived a life-threatening coma during infancy.
Marked by a strident, high-energydelivery, Miracle's style recalls rap pioneers KRS-One and Public Enemy's Chuck D., but Miracle claimsinspiration from a man whose music provided hip-hop its rhythmic roots.
"I'm from Augusta, lived there for 19 years, so I listened to James Brown," Miracle said. "InAugusta we listen to James Brown, so in Augusta we know how to rock."
While much of his current good fortune can be credited to the surprise success of Bounce,Miracle said the song's message is more important to him than the praise he may garner from it.
"Bounce is about freedom," he explained. "Most dances have set moves, but they all start withpeople bouncing. With Bounce, you can do anything you want. Bounce up, down, to the side - itdon't matter."
It is a positive message that Miracle, who grew up in the Barton Village area and attended Glenn HillsHigh School, hopes to convey in a variety of Augusta projects apart from music. These include creatinga clothing line, a sans-silverware restaurant called Fingers and Thumbs and a variety of communitygathering places. He said that by giving back to the neighborhoods he grew up in, he hopes to make adifference and give people an alternative to the street life he was a part of.
"The reason a lot of people get themselves in trouble is they don't have anything to do," he said."We folks spend all day sitting on the porch bored. That's when they get into trouble."
It is that innate understanding of the streets that has fueled much of Miracle's album. While not theguns-and-glory Gangsta rap that peaked with Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre and other acts, Miracle's lifeand occasional run-ins with local law enforcement have provided material for songs like We Fittento Do This and Smoka'. A marked departure from the album's rowdy feel, however, is asmooth, mellow groove dedicated to and detailing his relationship with his mother, appropriatelytitled Momma.
Miracle said he understands that breaking out from the Augusta music scene is something of a rarityand hopes that his success will focus some attention on markets that have not traditionally beenscouted by record labels.
"There's a lot of good things going on that just aren't being heard because they aren't happening inNew York or L.A. or somewhere like that," he said. "But I think the time is coming for people thatdo stuff in places like Augusta."
As for himself, Miracle said that he has his eye on the crown currently held by Augusta's most famousmusical export.
"Yeah, James Brown is the Godfather of Soul," he said. "I'm the Son of Soul."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 firstname.lastname@example.org.