The Maroon

Rapper finds support, inspiration in relationships

Mike+Hazel+performs+at+%22We+Are+Fest%22+at+The+Fly+on+May+26.+%28Elijah+LeNoir%29
Mike Hazel performs at

Mike Hazel performs at "We Are Fest" at The Fly on May 26. (Elijah LeNoir)

Mike Hazel performs at "We Are Fest" at The Fly on May 26. (Elijah LeNoir)

Jamal Melancon

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Hailing from Oxon Hill, Maryland, music industry senior Michael Duckworth came to New Orleans to further his education in music and visual art, but first and foremost to start his trek into becoming a successful rap artist in a new city.

Duckworth is known as “Mike Hazel,” due to his eye color, and he originally came to New Orleans seeking a boom-bap, jazz and lounge sound to rap over. Duckworth prohibited cursing in his lyrics, and around 2012 he said he mainly sounded monotone.

“Now, this is a little more active,” Duckworth said. “I’m actively involved in my lyrics.”

He said there is distinction in being known in New Orleans as Mike Hazel first, even when he only had a few songs his freshman year. With the university providing Duckworth’s immediate peers and potential audience members, he said he knew that if the Loyola community started coming to his shows, he would know that he was gaining momentum.

They give me their endless support,” Duckworth said.

In spring 2016, Duckworth said he felt a real change because an event he played at The Willow Bar called Beshigh Fest attracted a large crowd, stirred conversation afterwards and allowed him to further connections with others in the city. On Aug. 4, Duckworth oversaw the first event he organized at The Dragon’s Den downtown.

The event featured a list of rap performances and art vendors, combining Duckworth’s two passions. He said he was able to make progress in 2016 by staying in New Orleans over the summer for the first time, capitalizing on connections with people he knew were staying in the city.

The transition from Duckworth roaming the Washington metropolitan area back home to venturing through the smaller pond that is New Orleans and Loyola’s campus helped teach him time management. He learned to devote more time to himself and to be weary of the large social groups that form on the university grounds, from what he calls “the Loyola linger.”

“I learned that I had to stay in a lot to grow.”

Inspired by the Jesuit spirit and devotion to help others, Duckworth explained that a summer back home with family in 2015 allowed him to realize that he needed more conviction in following his own path, especially if he wanted to help family and friends in his own way.

“At the end of the day, you cannot do that if you’re not a man rooted for yourself first,” Duckworth reflected.

Duckworth said this geographically smaller space to live in and work in has given him pressure to maintain relationships with others that he cares about, especially because he might see people more often rather than not at all, like in Maryland.

Music industry junior Ayotemi Adediwura, who Duckworth calls one of the first major supporters of his brand, said these potential encounters with people call for maintaining one’s reverence for others.

“I’m always glad that I went through something,” Duckworth said.

Since he was in the city for the summer, Duckworth feels more comfortable entering another semester on campus. His calendar continues to be filled with music performances in the fall, and showgoers can catch him next at an event he organized at The Dragon’s Den on Sept. 1 or at the Euphorbia Kava Bar to see him perform on Sept. 6.

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About the Writer
Jamal Melancon, Senior Staff Writer

Jamal is a mass communication senior with a focus in journalism. Before serving on The Maroon as the Senior Staff Writer, Jamal worked as the Worldview Editor, Life and Times Editor, Religion Editor, Assistant News Editor and a Staff Writer. In his free time, he likes to read comic books.

Contact: [email protected] or @Jam_M_Mel

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Rapper finds support, inspiration in relationships