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TO THE BONE: Native rappers Mike Bone’s latest album documents struggles, culture and faith

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Lil Mike and Funny Bone during a recent performance.
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Wherever they go, it’s impossible not to spot Lil Mike and Funny Bone in the crowd. The hip-hop duo, collectively known as Mike Bone, are regulars in the Oklahoma music scene, repping their Pawnee-Choctaw rhymes everywhere from local festivals to county pow-wows, morning news shows to a spotlight on America’s Got Talent, which brought their biggest jam, “Do the Rain Dance,” to the masses.

The past five years, however, have had more than a few setbacks for the guys, from closing their store to losing their transportation, as well as a few family issues getting in their way, but they said it is a strong work ethic and an unwavering faith that has gotten them through it all and it’s all reflected in Beat of the Drum, their latest musical release.

“This album has been a very moving experience for us,” Lil Mike said. “It came along at a very crucial point in our lives where it seemed like the enemy had been attacking us with direct hits, one thing after another, you know... It took five years to write, the longest we’ve taken to release an album and most of the songs reflect us going through these struggles but always prevailing. We have hope and want to give people hope. No matter what’s happening in life, God is still in control and he knows what’s up.”

Describing their music as “culture-based” and “faith-based,” Mike Bone said their “versatile” sound and “honest” lyrics completely come from their lives, bringing in fans from all genres and all ages that identify with the way they continually “keep it real.”

“We’re being real and never being someone we aren’t,” Lil Mike said. “We wear Wal-Mart shoes, we love God, we can party but we don’t drink and we don’t smoke, we don’t buy name brand clothing, we just keep it real with our culture. We don’t want to lie to anybody and say we do this when we actually do that. Our fans, especially the kids, see us wearing Wal-Mart shoes and they don’t feel they have to go out and blow all their money on expensive Nikes or something.”

Beat of the Drum continues on with that mission statement, with songs ranging from the joys of frybread and 808s to Indigenous resistance and the afterlife. That being said, expect to see the duo around town, always carrying copies of their album, ready to rock the mic on a moment’s notice.

“I don’t know where we would be without God. It’s all we got,” Funny Bone said. “If you ask me what these other artists are all about in their life, it would be the sex, the drugs or the partying, because that’s all they rap about, the stuff that they feel satisfies them. We don’t like being preachy with our music, but we do like being real and will be real; the satisfaction that we get is the knowledge that God is going to pull us through everytime and it really shows on Beat of the Drum.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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