Because he changes things everywhere he goes, that’s why.
When first I met Marcus Parker nearly eight years ago, he was already a successful hard-working neophyte-type businessman with a book of business rider to match. I wanted to interview him for an article because his profile seemed to be that of a man on his way to A-list greatness.
After the article that I wrote was published and reprinted in “a whole bunch” of news media outlets, in Marcus’ words to me, “I blew up.” That’s the way it was called when the article went to the digital press in 2005 and spread like wildfire.
I was in awe, but not totally surprised. He had talent written all over him; and if it touched my heart, all hearts were open to possibility.
He related his own calling in life as that of a growth process likened to Simba in The Lion King. He vividly recalled the way Rafiki hit Simba upside the head with a rap and told him, in so many words, “I am a monkey’s uncle, and you are the son of a king.” In one symbolic action, Rafiki rolled back and gave Simba room for his destiny in life. Marcus sensed at the time that the powers-that-be had also cleared the way for him to take his place at the head of the pack.
The first rap rhyme I heard from his collection of recordings blew me away. The only thing I could call it was the cleanest and most beat-driven rap rhyme since Tupac Shakur started working to clean up his act a little bit. It was called Product of Adversity and it was easy and clear to hear, easy to catch the beat, and had one of the most powerful and positive messages I’d heard since ‘Pac sold me on rap after recording Dear Mama. Plus, a free book for my review came with it.
It turned out that the book of the same name was a page-turner, and anyone who knows me well knows that I am the type who will put a good read down if the first couple of sentences (I might give it a paragraph in some cases) don’t draw me in immediately. Over the years, I became highly sensitized to excellent writing from Pulitzer prize winners and the classics, and this one rang out as something that needed to be heard and rocked far and wide.
Marcus came wrapped with a message that was not slated to be highly popular with the hardcore inner-city and pop rap crowds (hip-hopsters) – his message was majorly spiritually-oriented and authoritative, and was meant to inspire and encourage, not to tear down, demean, or radicalize the masses into mad hysteria over things over which they had no control.
Shortly after “blowing up,” as he called it, he went on to record many of the best-selling positive-rap CD singles and mp3s in the spiritual and encouragement media, including “Be Yourself,” “What the P for?,” and “Long Time Coming.”
Speaking of “Long Time Coming,” the rhyme of this extraordinary piece comes after a hardship in which Marcus became a classic “rags to riches back to rags” story.
To make a long story short, he got off light after a trial for a real estate wire fraud claim in which he could have gotten more than 20 years in prison. However, Marcus did not become market-successful after his hard times, he was already successful when it happened. It’s called “the past has come back to haunt you, sir.”
Marcus ended up with house arrest, three years on probation, and half-a-mill in restitution … small-change sentencing compared to the seriousness of the charge and what the others involved in the house-flipping scam got.
In Marcus’ case, many minorities across the nation would be well-served to remember that it wasn’t just rich white guys on Wall Street who took out the housing economy. They also used young black men and women banking on making good money in the real estate industry like corporate moguls often use street runners and gang-bangers to deal their drugs.
Marcus got caught in the middle of the scam by throwing good legitimately-made money after bad money, hoping that his personal advisers were right when they told him to invest in real estate. It was good advice, but it went to bad people.
Fortunately, the judge took into consideration that Marcus walked away from the deal after he realized the real estate investors were shady, with their inflated appraisals, straw buyers, equity-usurping, and all.
For him, the drawback was too little too late, but the judge also took into consideration that he was already out and about on the music, speaking and book circuit making good on his internalized personal commitment to uplift and bootstrap disadvantaged youths around his community and the country; and he was hitting it hard.
So hard that he met quite a few of the highest A-level celebrities in the business on his dream pathway to the now-retired Oprah Show. It was actually American Urban Radio Network personality Bev Smith who came within a couple of booty-scoots of getting Marcus a gig on Oprah just before tragedy struck, including the death of his father in a car accident in Port Arthur, Texas. Talk about the proper use of the words “the devil is busy.”
As an aside, megastar musician Prince (yes, ‘Rogers Nelson’) once said with regard to a press conference about his very publicly-acclaimed 1990s celebrity “music battle” with Michael Jackson, “Let’s just wait it out … sooner or later, everybody has to come home.”
Marcus, too, had to put his ever-growing Dallas-based career on the back burner to go home to help his family with the funeral arrangements. He repeats the words of a longtime mentor, Tunde Obazee of KNON’s syndicated show Empowerment Radio, when he says “The hardest lessons in life go to the best students.”
Always a student while he teaches, he has lived an exemplary and distinctive life on his climb upward.
He finished school, then joined the military, where he was trained to work with semiconductors. After leaving the military, he worked for companies like Texas Instruments, and also began his real estate ventures by legally buying and living in a couple of homes before renting them out and upgrading to a newer and larger one. He also invested in tech stocks and that is when the big bucks started rolling in. He attempted to diversify those stock returns by joining up with the housing market just before it, too, crashed.
After “blowing up” in the motivational rap industry, Marcus was eventually invited to the spirit-filled big time, T.D. Jakes’ church, The Potter’s House in Dallas, to perform. During his travels, he met Chris Flow, Rickey Smiley, and Les Brown, and many other celebrities, and he also made extremely good money on the speaker’s circuit at the market rate of $3,000-a-pop, some more or less. But more important than the quickly-rising celebrity status were the young people he served.
He has consistently received and continues to receive accolades from the young people that he influenced along the way, most of whom thanked him profusely for changing their lives and making them think twice about walking down the wrong road. Without knowing Parker’s little “backdoor secret” that he thought was long behind him, they looked up to him as “the right way to do this thing” … how to make good money, achieve fame, and have the highest desires in life without hurt or harm to others.
But as Marcus would soon discover the hard way, the highest desires in life should never be centered and focused exclusively on making money. “I found that money is only a tool for leverage, never the ultimate goal.” For him, the sound words “the best things in life are free” materialized and came packaged with a vengeance.
Because of the one-time financial indiscretion that nearly cost him his freedom, his life, and his career, as well as his home and his (now ex-)wife, Marcus was sentenced by a probation officer to the life of a call center worker at the slave wage rate of $10 an hour. He bootstrapped himself from that job rag into a certificate in AC repair, which he did for about nine months. He was eventually rehired as a contract semi-conductor worker for a company that he worked for in the past. He also did a short stint on unemployment during this transitioning process.
After all of the travails, when asked the question, “Marcus, how did you know when you passed the test?” He said “When I stopped asking questions and started answering them.”
For Marcus Parker, the test of Solomon’s proverbial wisdom was in knowing that every situation in life eventually takes care of itself.
He acknowledged that he worried about the wrong things, counting the change in his pocket like an emperor locking himself in a vault for weeks at a time with nothing more than bathroom breaks to make sure every dime was still there. The fear of losing it all was embedded in reality.
“I had that aching feeling all along that my past dealings in real estate would catch up to me, and it materialized at the worst possible time that it could come.”
On hindsight, Maya Angelou uses the now-cliche-driven words “And Still I Rise,” to describe people like Marcus, but as my pastor said this past Easter Sunday, “objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear.” The pastor referred to the fact that death itself could not contain the Messiah when the Lord had a mission for him that was bigger than mankind could afford to stop. And so it is, in essence, with Marcus Parker.
After growing up in poverty, experiencing phenomenal success and then a series of devastating tragedies, he has recovered like a Phoenix rising from the ashes and is well on his way to the fulfillment of that mission and calling in life.
What is most important, however, and far more important than the notoriety or the acclaim, is the fact that everyone and their children and their children’s children can look forward to the best in motivational rap artists as Marcus continues to use his life and his inherent talents to inspire everyone to rise up and keep it moving.
For more information, Marcus’ website is called Motivational Rap University and is located at http://motivationalrap.com/. You can reach him at BookMarcusParker (at) gmail (dot) com.