I-Witness is an American hip hop duo based in Houston, TX. The group’s original musical style was a mixture of Conscious rap and G-Funk. Since then, however, funk, soul, pop, electronic music, and blues elements have been added to the group’s musical palette. The duo consists of Chicago native Marvin “Marv Skoni” Bernard and Houston, Texas born Sean “Madd Dogg C” Johnson.
The duo has had some regional success performing in the southern states, and coverage in local press with music reviews. Along with their regional success, I-Witness has maintained an experimental approach in their music and stress originality and artistic content.
Bernard and Johnson met while working at Arbitron TV Ratings, a company known for measuring TV viewer ship. Bernard moved to Houston, TX from Dallas, TX to pursue job opportunities. Meanwhile, Johnson had already been working with Arbitron for three years. Bernard and Johnson eventually teamed up and started rapping at work, after composing a song the group was formed. The duo initially debated about names, never finding a name that stuck. They decided to use the name “I-Witness” based on witnessing events in urban culture and reporting on them.
I-Witness formed their own imprint Militant Records in 1994, becoming independent artist on their own indie label. In 1994, they released their first single, “Modern Day Lynchin”. The song’s smooth style, much of it accomplished with keyboard synthesizer, was a hit with local audiences. “Modern Day Lynchin” was also successful on regional independent Rap Tracks charts.
Modern Day Lynchin EP
Their debut EP, Modern Day Lynchin, was issued in May of 1994. This initial effort is credited with laying the foundation for socially conscious hip hop in Houston TX. Every track on Modern Day Lynchin was produced by J Slash a then up and coming producer before Fat Pat (Tops Drop) fame. Follow-up singles included the title track “Don’t Do The Blow”, a politically charged collaboration with J Slash speaking on the ills of drug use.” On this early material, both Marv and Madd Dogg contrast lyrical content reflecting the lifestyles of civil rights activist, with politically conscious material commenting on the status of African Americans in the South.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
I-WITNESS: I-Witness is based out of Houston, TX. Marv Skoni was born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago. Madd Dogg C was born and raised in Houston, TX.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
I-WITNESS: Marv Skoni is a Writer and Madd Dogg C is a writer and producer. Madd Dogg has had some formal training in piano as a youth.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
I-WITNESS: We record and release music because we love the art form. We are purist who believe in musicianship and lyrical content.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
I-WITNESS: I-Witness song content is based on whatever we have witnessed with our own eyes and through media. Our new single “Can’t Get A Dime” talks about women trying to trade sex for money.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who is your fan base directed towards?
I-WITNESS: Our fan base is the traditional rap consumer between 19 to 34 years of age. Our fan base is racially, and culturally diverse, it is difficult to pinpoint one group that buys our music.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
I-WITNESS: We have been influenced from old and new school artist. Some of those are Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Rakim, Krs One, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Geto Boys, Jay Z , Notorious Big, Nas, Tupac, NWA, Ice Cube. We are pure enthusiast and historians of this art form.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
I-WITNESS: Our music can be described as pure, uncut and raw. The style is in your face, we don’t pull punches and we mean what we say.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
I-WITNESS: I think what sets us apart is our writing style. We make songs that are catchy and grab you but also have strong poetic and lyrical delivery. We are also entering our twilight years Marv Skoni is 51 and Madd Dogg is 44 years old. Age definitely sets us apart. We have been told rap is a young mans sport but we prefer to differ.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?
I-WITNESS: Currently we are working on our second studio album entitled “Witness Protection. We are in the process of shooting a video for the featured single “Can’t Get A Dime”.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I-WITNESS: I-Witness’s career goals are to become diamond selling, and Grammy award winning recording artist. We are trying to establish our imprint Militant Records. Ten years from now we should have a stable of artist that we executive produce through our label.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
I-WITNESS: I-Witness social networking sites are as follows:
Music Purchase Links:
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