On a scorching Thursday afternoon, Kiddo Marv is oscillating between a phone interview with New Times and a Guitar Center associate helping him pick out a suitable microphone.
"I like black cause everyone has the silver one," he says before resuming the interview.
On the rise since his 2015 debut mixtape, Dying 2 Live, the North Miami native is used to going after what he wants. When asked about the title of his latest project, Unappreciated Blessing, Marv describes how his recording engineer was apprehensive to meet up for a session while the city was under quarantine restrictions. Instead of waiting for the shutdown to end, Marv assumed the duties behind the board as well as in the booth.
"I went to buy a whole studio for my house since all the studios closed," he admits. "I felt unappreciated, so I went on YouTube, and I called Major Nine, and he made me a template. My engineer — the one who kept making excuses — gave me a template, so I learned how to record myself and made the whole album. I just sent it to my engineer to mix it."
Born to Haitian immigrants, Marv split his time between Miami and Port-au-Prince, where the majority of his family still lives, until the age of five. It was during that time that one of his cousins introduced him to BET's 106 & Park and hip-hop music. He began rapping under a multitude of cliché aliases like Terminator and Lil Thug before landing on Kiddo Marv. (The name also served as an acronym for his two-part debut album in 2018-'19, Kingz in Denial Don't Overcome.)
As he got older and realized he didn't have access to proper recording equipment, Marv gravitated to hustling the streets of North Miami. At 13, a reformed Kiddo Marv picked up basketball as a tool to reach some semblance of success. In high school, things changed when he again picked up a mic, and MySpace provided a free platform to upload his music discreetly.
"When I got to my senior year, that's when I dropped my first video," he says. "But I really started taking it serious in 2015."
The dogged artist has amassed an impressive network of local and national rap acts. A studio session turned into a series of collaborations when he reached out to Major Nine (AKA Miami native and Cleveland Browns defensive end Chad Thomas) for a verse on his mixtape in 2015. Connections during his younger days and on social media led to songs with Tokyo Jetz, Denzel Curry, and City Girls. (He produced the tracks "Enough/Better" and "Jobs" for on the City Girl's most recent album, City On Lock.) His tenacity has placed him in rooms with music mentors like Trick Daddy, Sam Sneak, and one of his early influences, Wyclef Jean.
On his fouth album, Unappreciated Blessing, Kiddo Marv personifies his ambition on tracks like "It's Lit," a bravado banger that floats on a harrowing trap beat, and "On a Mission," a savage hustler's anthem shrouded in kompa-style guitars.
He slows things down to plead his case for a relationship gone awry on the Xscape-sampling "Understanding," and disclose his kryptonite on the sensual track "Last Night Drinking." Throughout the album, Marv seems comfortable in his role as a rising rapper from North Miami. He gives credence to the city's notorious scammers and — true to his signature — puts Haitian or "Zoe" pride on full display.
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"I got to tend to my people," Marv tells New Times. "I am speaking to the people. You got to talk about everything, and I still be in the hood. I'm always there. My people there."
Marv doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon. He has already begun working on his next album and has scored features from the likes of Rick Ross and Ice Billion Berg.
As he shops for more equipment to add to his home studio, Marv is also hooked on music production. He drifts into an inquiry about mics and stereo equipment with the store associate, who piques his interest with an explanation of the functionality of a particular apparatus.
"So I can add speakers if I want to?" Marv asks with a mix of wonder and concentration.