Updated: Sep 13, 2019
PG County is back in the house, and this time we're highlighting an exceptional power duo! From performing on many well-known stages, such as the Kennedy Center, AFRAM music festival, and more...to catching the attention of Netflix, Essence Magazine, and AfroPunk; the DMV AUX presents to you, the remarkable vibrant Urban-Soul musical group, BlaqueStone.
BlaqueStone primarily consists of singer/rapper duo Marcus and Cortney, with the accompaniment of their outstanding talented bandmates B.Mills, Sean Davy, and Dean Moon. [As seen pictured above]
Marcus and Cortney were both raised in the same neighborhood in PG County, Maryland. Ironically, Cortney’s stepbrother and Marcus became friends and bonded over music and video games. Eventually, that friendship led to Marcus and Cortney meeting and seeing each other often. “Marcus always tells the sweet short story, but the truth is, I couldn’t stand him,” Cortney admitted and laughed.
Not only is this duo a great blend musically, but they just tied the knot a year and three months ago! Which led me to ask them, “What has been the best part of marriage?” Marcus then answered, “After five years of dating, we permanently moved in together, so for me, that was the best part; I love having our own space.” Cortney then agreed.
As our conversation advances, we spoke about their start in music. Beginning with Cortney, like many, she got her introduction into music by singing in the church choir and her grandmother. "I liked it [singing], but I didn’t want to sing, people would be mad back then, because I also didn’t want to do solos,” she stated and laughed. Soon after, Cortney’s grandmother enrolled her into Washington’s Performing Arts School in the district. Although she attended, Cortney didn’t truly follow her calling until she found herself rekindling with Marcus at the age of 19/20. “I then realized that singing is truly something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she stated.
On the other hand, Marcus start in music began at an early age as well. Back in the day, Marcus would spend the summer at his grandmother’s house, along with his uncle. “My uncle would allow me to play on a beat pad for drummers, soon after realizing I was into it, he ended up buying me a drum set,” Marcus stated.
However, it didn’t last for long, his mother ended up not very fond of the noise level. Therefore, he took on a different hobby and started playing the piano at the age of 8. “When I started playing the piano, I knew [music] was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he stated.
Marcus was also a part of the choir and used his voice frequently singing solos. He admits that during that time in his life, he was quite shy, and sometimes would begin to cry. As time progressed and his voice matured, in middle school/high school, Marcus would eventually become a member of the notorious Go-Go band, XIB.
As their lives merged, many more opportunities arose as a musical group. For instance, BlaqueStone’s astonishing viral single “11:59”, was a featured song on the Netflix original film “Dude” in 2018. Like many, I wanted to know how this great opportunity came about, and in one word, patience.
It was a period where Cortney was extremely focused on building their brand, and she was reaching out to many people. “One day on LinkedIn, I messaged this lady asking for opportunities she may have had. I wasn't thinking too much into it, but three months later, she emailed me with an opportunity because she loved our music, and there it happened,” Cortney shared.
Despite the fact that BlaqueStone has had many successes and recognition, there were points of downfalls as well. One of the biggest challenges Cortney admitted was self-doubt and
self-sabotage. “If results didn’t happen quickly, I would think and tell myself, I’m doing something wrong; I’m my biggest challenge, however, I just need to allow myself to go along my journey.”
For Marcus, it has been a challenge to balance music strategically and enjoying his craft fully. “I’m very calculated with everything, so it becomes an immense math problem; After dealing with that for so long, the process becomes a bit less fun.”
Musically BlaqueStone is inspired by Robert Glasper, Common, Erykah Badu, several neo-soul artists from the late 90s, as well as, Travis Scott and the late Mac Miller. “It varies, we play instruments, but we also love the electronic sound as well,” Marcus stated. When it comes to their musical style, BlaqueStone differs from others because of their instrumentation and skill to create from their life experiences with authenticity and love.
In light of the DMV music scene, they both shared different perspectives. “I love it, I enjoy a lot of the artists from our local areas such as Cramer, Odd MOJO, and many more." In contrast, Marcus wishes that people were more creative and took different routes, rather than the traditional way. Cortney stated, “I love it too, but it’s hard for me to go to certain events because they're still a disconnect; someone always has to be better than the next.”
Aside from music, Marcus is passionate about building the community, homelessness, and providing an outlet for teenagers to express themselves. “My drive to help others comes from growing up in middle-class America, I wasn’t the cool kid or loner, but I didn’t know how to express myself until I started participating in open mics; There is healing in expression,” he shared.
Alternatively, Cortney is passionate about the arts as a whole, whether it’s musically, painting, performance, etc. “Anything with colors, or pulls out the inner child in a person, I want to highlight.” She also enjoys when others document their lives and show a different perspective from the usual.
Two years from now, BlaqueStone aims to have their very own studio, become completely self-sufficient/full-time artists, having a team, funding, many more events, and more! “I’m super excited!” Cortney stated.
When it comes to advice for aspiring artists, BlaqueStone gave out excellent pointers! Marcus would tell them to be encouraged! “Be encouraged, and know that you’re not the only one, and don’t isolate yourself because you feel like no one understands you. Those around you struggle as you struggle." Also, Cortney stated to follow your heart. “No matter the type of art, and if it feels good in your heart, just do it.” Lastly and most importantly, don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Read more about BlaqueStone with a closer look below.
Who would survive longer in a zombie apocalypse?
Marcus: Me because Cortney would probably go outside and accidentally get eaten by one.
Cortney: I don’t want to go outside! I want a secret compartment, where they can’t find us.
Marcus: Ok, well, she might survive.
After meeting again, what were your second first impressions of each other?
Marcus: We didn’t talk about much, but I felt like Cortney was very easy to talk to; I feel like I can tell her anything.
Cortney: I was coming home from work, and we reconnected on the train. Since Marcus had a long train ride home from Bethesda, he would change carts at every stop so that it’s easier to ride.
One day, he hopped on my cart, and it felt like a scene out of a movie; We locked eyes; I thought to myself, wow, he’s a grown up now; He’s actually cool!
What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
Cortney: My biggest pet peeve deals with fake people, just be yourself! If your a nerd, be a nerd. If your cool, just be cool.
Marcus: My biggest pet peeve deals with individuals who try to force things. We don’t have to have a full conversation for hours; If we said, what we had to say, let’s be done.
I’m a very easy person, but sometimes you just have to stop [forcing a conversation].
What’s one thing you wish you didn’t have to pay for?
Cortney: Food; I would be such a minimalist if I didn’t have to pay for food.
Fun fact: Cortney cooks hibachi pretty often in their household!
Marcus: Water; I get really upset when I have to pay for water; I think it’s the biggest rip-off.
Would you rather Win $50,000 or let your best friend win $500,000?
Marcus: I would let my homie win $500,000; I take care of my friends, and they do the same for me.
The first thing I would do is build a studio; it’s one of the largest expenses, but it’s also the most essential.
Cortney: Initially, I’ll overthink the things I could do with $50,000, but I’ll let my best friend win the money.
The first thing I would do is breakdown the money for us, family, friends, our backpack drive, and more!
Would you rather be an extreme couponer or an antique hoarder?
Cortney: An extreme couponer because I’ll be saving money.
Marcus: I would be an antique hoarder, I would like some old things.
[Cortney then changes her mind, but Marcus tells her that it’s too late! haha]
Magnified Topic of the Week: BlaqueStone’s recently released album “Full Circle”
Every time Cortney comes across word(s) that would sound great as a title, she types it down in her Iphone notes, along with 200 + words she has listed overtime. In that list, the words Full Circle was listed.
She shared that Marcus was the one who used it in a past conversation. As she thought about the saying and reflected on their journey, it became the perfect piece to their puzzle and the title of a tracklist filled with positive and lively songs!
Full Circle is a collection of improv songs BlaqueStone has been performing over the years. Marcus’s favorite “Not the only one” being the oldest single featured! In contrast, “Freedom”and “Peace of Mind” being the newest and Cortney’s favorite. Expect a wave of energy and live recordings with their talented band!
Check out Full Circle on all streaming platforms and click play to listen/watch the video for 11:59 below! You won’t be disappointed!