Magic's Kingdom: Phoenix Rapper MC Magic's Lucrative Brand

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Magic was left to his own devices while his mom worked almost all the time. Having three older sisters meant not having to assume the authoritative male role in the house. When his older sisters weren't watching out for him, they were ordering him around.

"Since [my mother] was away so much, I had to raise myself in a lot of ways," he says. "But when it came to my music, all my sisters [said was], 'Turn that damn music down,' because I was heavy into music even at 10."

At 13, he was introduced to a drum machine, and he also saw something that would change the course of his life and career.

"I came out one day and I saw my neighbor beating the crap out of his wife," he says. "This older Mexican dude had a white wife, and every time he hit her, [there was] blood red. That traumatized me. I thought, 'That's what drugs do to people, that's what drinking Budweiser does to people. I want none of it.'"

At that moment, he decided he would live a clean lifestyle, which he's done since, avoiding his scene's late-night parties, alcohol, and drugs. Though he doesn't condone all that, he doesn't intend to turn a blind eye to it, either.

"Our people do party and smoke," he says. "I mean, have you ever been to a quinceañera where someone didn't get drunk? It's part of our culture, and [Mobfam] represents that other section of our culture that I don't care to really play around with."

At the end of the day, it's all about keeping it real; from his perch as an artist and an insider, he understands the natural evolution of hip-hop and the music industry. But society's infatuation with the fast life, and artists' infatuation with drug-laced lyrics — what he calls "hard-drug promoting" — still leaves Magic cold.

"That really bothers me because I have kids," he says. "Of course, music has always promoted drugs, don't get me wrong. But because I'm a parent and because I have children, some of those lyrics just don't sit too well.

"I heard someone on the radio station say music's in a real dark cloud right now. But it's a reflection of society, and if society didn't purchase it, download it, or play it a million times on YouTube, then it wouldn't be successful."

His hardcore stance against drug promotion would seem to conflict with his color of choice.

"One of the reasons that I rock 'cocaine white' so much is because my label once told me, 'You're a Mexican rapper; if you come to California, you can't wear red and you can't wear blue,'" referring to the colors' association with the black gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. "So I chose my color and it was white."

His manager is the one who dubbed it "cocaine white," but Magic readily adopted it for its shock value. "It grabs your attention, like when Britney Spears says, 'It's Britney, bitch.'"

But he attributes his continued relevance to rapping about love and relationships; for him, love is the "thread that holds everybody together." "Lost in Love" has staying power because new fans can always relate.

These days, Magic does a lot of his relating online. He's got about 90,000 Twitter followers, and he follows 20,000 more, many of whom regularly ask him for birthday wishes (frequently granted) or a shout-out or just a follow-back.

But he also maintains a close connection to fans he meets on the road. "I always fight to meet my fans," he says. "I've built them one at a time, so when I meet a fan, it's more like a family reunion."

Though he is grateful for the fan base he's cultivated and the success he has enjoyed, it hasn't translated to worldwide acclaim yet.

"If we're not growing, if we're staying in the same spot, then what are we doing?" Magic asks. "That's why my latest single, 'Eres Reina,' really is a step in a new direction for me. I'd like to get more mass appeal on an international level. I want to start doing shows in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

"I'm a vintage artist; I get inspiration from old songs," he says. "Any day of the week you can hear Jose Jose playing on my iPod, but I also really like pop music. I like what will.i. am is doing. It's popular, of course, but one of the reasons I like it is because I've done well all of this time here in the states, but what he does conquers other nations. What Pitbull has done conquers other nations. And I think that's what my next step should be."

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Anthony Sandoval
Contact: Anthony Sandoval