At the young age of 16, Marquese Ford was homeless. During this difficult time he found refuge in music. To get by, Marquese sold beats he created, helped record artists, and opened for several local Milwaukee artists.
Before he knew it, he was found himself rapping and creating his own music. “I really see music being in my life for good because I really been through alot with it and it helped me stay sane,” Ford says.
In the process of creating his identity as an artist, choosing a name was not difficult. He knew he had to honor the point in his life that helped him get his career started — homelessness at 16. Thus, DJ Sixteen was born.
“People ask, ‘why 16?’ And I Tell them that at 16 I thought I was going to have the best 16 bars, and when I break your beat down you’re going to have the best 16 verse break down to rap on,” he explained.
Now 29, Ford won the 2015 Rap Artist of the Year at the Sixth annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards. Receiving this award has motivated him even more to continue doing the work has been doing because it shows him that the community supports him since he was selected by the people.
Unlike other mainstream rap artists, Ford uses his influence and talents to contribute to his community. Ford works with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club to teach youth how to record and put music together. Ford also mentors young artists who hope to follow his steps.
This year, DJ Sixteen is up again for the Madison Rap Artist of the Year award competing against other local artists like Brezzy Esco and Lucien Parker. As a past winner, he will also perform at the Madison Hip Hop Awards show tomorrow night. Trend N Topic, Keon Andre and Xclusive Movement will also perform.
The Seventh annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards will take place tomorrow night at the Barrymore Theatre. The red carpet event starts at 7 pm and the ceremony starts at 8pm and will be shown via live stream at https://hinckleyproductions.com/mhha/. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Half of the proceeds will support the East Madison Community Center break dancing program and the other half will benefit Urban Community Arts Network programming in 2017.