Longform

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

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To make that next jump in popularity, he knows he must make music that appeals to a mass audience. "Take 'Gangnam Style,' for instance. It's a one-hit wonder, but that guy made the Guinness Book of World Records [for most-liked YouTube video of all time]. He will never live up to that again, but he probably doesn't have to."

Magic's banking on his radio program helping to close the gap between his music and that international success. On weekday mornings from 6 to 10, he dishes on music and pop culture as host of Magic City Radio on Power 98.3 FM.

With Eli Fresh and DJ Class, he spins the hottest tracks and discusses everything from Rihanna and Chris Brown to Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne. He hopes the close proximity to the pop world will help translate to his own ascension.

"The radio show is one way to stay relevant," he says. "When it comes to social media, if that's your only way to stay relevant, you can get irritating. When you're constantly posting stuff, fans are going to eventually be like, 'All right, I'm going to un-follow you.'

"So we try not to become irritating, but still be persistent. There's a fine line between the two.

"And the radio show has presented another challenge for me, because I've had to learn how to operate a radio console, as opposed to an engineering board, and I've had to learn things like creative teasing. So the value of being in the public eye and knowing what tactics are used to maintain an audience — these are valuable things that I can use in my music. On top of that, they write me a check for it. You can't beat that."

It's been years since West Coast hip-hop had an entity that could compete with the likes of Jay Z or Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment. MC Magic sees the void, but he's not sure he wants to be the one to fill it.

"I think the biggest label that made noise in the West Coast was Death Row Records," he says, "but they were about a movement in an era where everyone wanted to be a gangster. 'Kill a mothafucka with my gat' sounded real good back then, and it inspired a lot of people to do that.

"My label was created to support me. So I don't see it like a Death Row at all. I see it more like a little gold mine that I'm leaving for my kids. In the end, you never know when you're going to go. My label's already set up; it's like clockwork. The checks just come in. That clockwork will be the treasure that I've left for my kids."

On top of all of his enterprising, Magic also works hard at his other passion, his relationship with his wife of 18 years, Lucy, his three sons, and his granddaughter, Zoe. His oldest son, Marco, has left the nest, so Lucy focuses on their two younger boys.

"I have a wonderful wife," he says. "Anytime I have a weekend off, my priority is to just be with the family, and we always have dinner together."

Although he's surrounded by adoring female followers, his wife takes it all in stride. "She takes a lot of pride in what I do, and she really knows I'm out there working for the family," he says. "We work as a team; it's a perfect situation."

He met Lucy at a swap meet on 27th Avenue when she was just 13 and he was 23.

"It was one of the first places where I sold my custom raps," he says. "I had no intentions of chasing this little girl, but she was just so beautiful. I left that swap meet and didn't see her again until she was 17. When I saw her again, I begged her to go out with me. She wouldn't for the longest time, but finally she said, 'I'm going to go out with you once just to get you off my back.'"

With his house in order and with checks continuing to roll in, Magic feels no need to party like a rock star. You may see him "all up in the music video, all on the records, dancing," as Death Row's Suge Knight once said, but you still won't catch him all up, as 50 cent rapped, "in da club."

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Anthony Sandoval
Contact: Anthony Sandoval