When Monroe County natives Chandler Riggs, Austin Shumpert and Molly Steed combined on the rap song, “MLK,” back in January, they had no idea of the relevance it would have when it was released nearly six months later.
“It was really crazy because on my verse, I really spoke from the perspective of my people, black people, at the time,” said Shumpert, who is originally from Smithville. “I was just saying what I felt like everybody else, and now that you look at it, people that hear it probably think that we recorded it two or three weeks ago. It was like we predicted the future. Even though we have been in these times, it wasn’t at the forefront, the main headline on the news. Our song just happened to have perfect timing.”
The three have been friends for years and are all pursuing music in different avenues on their own time.
Riggs, who is from Amory, originally had the idea for the collaboration. He became serious with pursuing music after the loss of his best friend in recent years.
“I wrote the song for what I had been going through at the time, and me and Shumpert had been in contact about working together,” Riggs said. “I said this would be the perfect song for us to work on. I texted Molly about it not long before we were going to record. I had been just playing around with my music a few years ago and quit, but I picked it back up and started taking it seriously. It’s about really chasing something if you want it.”
All three pursue their music careers on the side. Riggs works full time at Tackett Construction. Shumpert works for FL Crane & Sons in Fulton but has been working with his music since he was 21, performing in Atlanta and California and even once opening up for Nelly, Fat Joe and Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Steed, who is from Amory, has a musical background but works full time at Point Cuts.
“Music has always been a passion of mine and any time I get a chance to record and put my music out there, I am definitely going to take it,” she said.
Riggs, Shumpert and Steed each wrote their own parts in the song, and they recorded it separately with Riggs and Steed recording in Saltillo and Shumpert in Atlanta.
“I feel like everything happens for a reason. I wrote it because of what I was going through personally, but it turned into something major for what we are all going through right now,” Riggs said. “It just came out at the right time.”
The song, officially titled “MLK” by CP featuring Audi Banyo and Molly Sweatt, can be found on most any music platform, including Apple Music and iTunes and YouTube.
Shumpert hopes the music gets out the message of the seriousness of depression and mental illness.
“It’s real, and you might see that pain in one person and not in other,” he said. “It comes in different forms and fashions, and it just goes to show that you have to check on your people. If you really listen to the song, it should bring awareness. I played about 30 seconds of it on my Facebook Live one day, and people were like, ‘Whoa, that’s really going to be the one.’ It just confirmed what I already knew because I told Molly and Chandler that it was going to get a lot more love than you probably think.”
Steed and Riggs echoed that they received positive feedback from the song.
“Everybody loved it, and they were excited we were all getting back out there,” Steed said.
“I think the message that we put out there says to don’t ever let anyone stop what you believe in,” Riggs said. “And always believe in yourself.”