Now known as the home of barbecue, the “poor Aggies” and the chain saw massacre, it might not be long before people also recognize Texas as the home of the Kentucky Boulevard Boys.
Despite sharing Texan roots, all members of KBB, one of MU’s more unique rap groups, share status as Missouri football players. “The Boys” include tight end Michael Egnew, tailback Marcus Murphy, linebacker Zaviar Gooden, wide receiver Jerrell Jackson, lineman Jacquies Smith and defensive back Kip Edwards.
What started as freestyle rapping in a freshman’s room in South Hall turned into the formation of an organized ensemble. The group title comes from the name of the street where their former residence hall is located -— Kentucky Boulevard.
Although KBB has exclusive rules for membership, the group recently welcomed Murphy, a freshman.
“They’d been here, but I hooked up with them because they’re all from Texas,” Murphy said.
Smith said even though he lacks musical experience, he and his fellow KBB members had no trouble developing original raps and beats.
“We basically just started rapping when we got here my freshman year,” Smith said. “I love music, and it’s a big, big influence in my life. Ever since I was a baby I’ve listened to all different types of music.”
KBB members have a lot in common, but their responses vary when discussing their musical influences. The group is original and only influenced by the members, Egnew said. However, Smith cited a few celebrities as inspiration.
“Young Money and Lil Wayne,” Smith said. “Those are pretty much our big influences.”
And, since their home state is a determining factor for membership in the group, it’s also a controlling influence in its musical style.
“Even though we’re up here in the North, we bring our Southern drawl to it,” Murphy said. “We have the Southern feel.”
As far as the range of topics covered in their songs, the boys say anything goes.
“We just come to the studio with our minds open to ideas, and we just rap whatever it’s going to be,” Murphy said.
Because KBB has to balance rehearsal time with a jam-packed football schedule, rapping takes a backseat when the members have less time to rhyme into microphones in their residence hall studio and more obligations to review game plans.
“We have our set days where we catch up and do what we do,” Smith said. “It’s a fun, interactive activity for us. After the games we unwind (by rapping).”
Although a live performance by the group during Homecoming is much anticipated, KBB has yet to be seen on a public stage.
“But we’re looking for opportunities,” Edwards said.
Balancing the life of a football player and star rapper can be tough, but the members of KBB find more benefits than detriments in what they do. Murphy said he has already learned the best part of being a member of KBB.
“The ladies,” Murphy said with a laugh.