With a name like Blaze the Sky, it’s not hard to guess how far this local hip-hop duo wants to go.
The name of the group comes from the names of the two members, Benjamin “Azon Blaze” Ward and Mario “SkyBlew” Farrow. While the Apex-born, Durham-based Ward, 27, says he came up with his name in a dream, this is how Alabama-born, Chapel Hill resident Farrow, 24, describes how he got his name: “I don’t rap – I paint the sky blue.”
Um, what does that mean? “We’ll get into that later,” he responds.
Well, for the time being, let’s get into how these guys got together. They crossed paths three years ago, when, as Facebook friends, they finally met at a Food Lion and SkyBlew booked Blaze on a hip-hop show at the Berkeley Café. “He put my whole team up there – my group, my hip-hop group at the time, Spring Hill,” says Blaze. “He put us up there and ever since then, it’s just been a journey.”
Eventually, Blaze parted with his group, began working on solo material, and started collaborating with SkyBlew. “We got together, started doing songs together, decided to make a two-man group and, you know, put it on for the state of North Carolina,” he says. “You know, just come together and make some real music – some good hip-hop, positive hip-hop for the masses, for the world.”
Thus, Blaze the Sky was born. “He paints the sky blue,” says Blaze. “But, together, we blaze the sky.”
There we go again with the painting of the sky! Can we talk about what that means?
According to SkyBlew, he doesn’t consider himself an MC but rather than an artist who brings light to despondent hip-hop listeners. “When their sky was gray, when their mind was clouded with dark thoughts and stormy weather, you know, I come through with the sunshine for them,” says SkyBlew.
He also says his name is a reflection of his off-beat way of thinking. “I kinda go beyond words. I don’t write the first thing that comes to my head. I don’t like thinking normal thoughts. I like going out there. And there are a lot of times when you go out there too far, you know, you get that reality check, younowhamsayin? So, it’s like the sky blew me back here – that’s my name.”
Since joining forces, they’ve released a mixtape in 2010 called “The Right Brothers,” (not to be confused with Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa’s “The Wright Brothers,” mixtape, released the following year) and have been performing steadily around the Triangle. Friday night, they’ll be among the rappers performing at the album release party for Defacto Thezpian’s new album, “Adolescent Thoughts,” at the Pinhook in Durham.
Considering the childhood and adolescence each had, it’s quite an achievement that these guys have made it to this point. Both Blaze and SkyBlew admit to being drug dealers during their teenage years. Luckily, Blaze smartened up and attended N.C. A&T in Greensboro, for a couple of years, while SkyBlew knew he needed to change after the passing of his grandmother. “I used to be in and out of foster care a lot when I was younger because of abuse,” says SkyBlew. “And then, my grandma was the one who took me out of foster care. So, she was really my mom. So, when she died, that’s when it was like, OK, I need to do everything that she would want to do. ... I’m representing her and God. So, those are the two people that I’m worried about.”
Needless to say, Blaze the Sky is less about being about that down-and-dirty hood life and more about being positive. Heck, when these guys come together, they don’t even curse in their songs.
“When you come to the shows and you see Blaze the Sky, it’s all clean – and parents appreciate that,” says Blaze. “Every time we do a show, and parents have their kids there, they come to us and they’re like, ‘Thank you. We love your music,’ ” says SkyBlew, “Some people don’t even notice it until they think about it.”
But, as Blaze mentioned earlier, Blaze the Sky is mostly about representing North Carolina and entertaining the people of this state well enough that, someday, they’ll be known in the same, honored company as local hip-hop greats like Little Brother and 9th Wonder. “I guess we kind of feed off the energy of North Carolina – the feel, the energy, our surroundings,” says Blaze. “Little Brother is a great influence on us. At the same time, we want to show we can take it to another level.”
“In a way, we’re kinda like an OutKast – you know, we can stand alone,” says SkyBlew. “But, together, we’re even more powerful.”