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Faith takes brothers from gangsta to gospel
Lil Mike and Funny Bone await their big break in unique niche as an Indian, Christian, hip-hop act.

Ken Raymond Published: April 29, 2006
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Inspired, Lil Mike joined a group called Intensity, which performed at elementary and middle schools. He recited his own poems and danced across the stage dressed as pop star Michael Jackson, whose dance moves he'd learned from watching videos over and over again in slow motion. He took part in skits designed to show gangs aren't cool.

At one show, Lil Mike recited verse as music played in the background. Afterward, someone complimented him on his ability to rap and a would-be hip-hop star was born.

Making beats in a bunk bed "This is the beatmaker right here, Lil Mike said, slapping his brother on the shoulder during an interview at The Oklahoman.

Funny Bone recoiled in his chair, his long hair swaying beneath a black baseball cap. A pair of pendants dangled from his neck: the letters F and B in shiny silver.

Funny Bone said his life has been relatively normal no thugs or drama.

"I'm like exactly the amount of years younger than him (Lil Mike) to just miss all of that stuff, he said.

He was the right age to idolize Lil Mike, though, and he wanted to perform, too. While still a child and with his older brother's help, Funny Bone adopted his new name and stage persona.

"I tried to be funny, he said. "I dressed all weird and was saying weird stuff on stage like, I like gummi bears. Put them in my underwear.' Stuff like that.

Soon, he was rapping as well as telling jokes. Initially, the brothers vocalized over professionally produced instrumental tracks. They didn't begin making their own music until about six years ago, when their mother won a home computer from a bank.

At first, they didn't quite know what to do with the computer.

They surfed the Internet. They used it to design posters for upcoming shows. Then they found music software online.

Now, the brothers write, produce and record their own albums in a minimalist recording studio in the home they share with their mother and two other siblings. The studio is set up on the lower level of a set of bunk beds and consists of the computer, the music program and a $5 microphone from the dollar store.

Trying to get our name out' For Lil Mike and Funny Bone, the music business is pretty much their only job and it doesn't pay well.

They spend weekends at the flea market, selling their own recordings and those of other local hip-hop artists at a booth called "405 Music. They have a manager, Connon "Congo Neal, who helps them book gigs, and they're willing to do just about anything for a chance to perform.

"They don't even have to really pay us as long as the drive ain't that far, Lil Mike said. "We're just trying to get our name out there, let everybody know we're good at what we do so we can make money and help Mama pay the bills.

Their highest paying gig was a talent contest they won, which paid $500 in prize money. They said they've received the star treatment a few times, twice when they opened for nationally known Christian artists in Atlanta and Houston and once in 2001 when they played at a large church in Fort Smith, Ark.

Before that gig, they were given a driver, were put up in a corporate apartment and were provided with any food they wanted. At the show, they were each assigned bodyguards.

"Funny Bone got bum rushed, Lil Mike said. "He took all my bodyguards. I didn't even need no bodyguards.

Mostly, though, it's private parties and church shows.

While they wait for their big break to come along, the brothers are writing and recording as many songs as they can including their first ever rock song.

"Our mom liked it, Funny Bone said. "The last time she was crying, it was because we did a love song for her. When she heard this rock 'n' roll song, she started crying, too. I asked her why she was crying. I was trying to figure it out.

"She just said we'd come a long way.

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