Mario Street might seem like an unlikely person to rap about goodness and peace since his past tells a totally different story.
"I was in jail and I asked God...I said, 'Look...I don't want to live anymore. Either you have to give me a purpose, a reason to be here,
a reason to help others ...because I've hurt so many people. You gotta do that or there's no point.' So you know like in the movies
how it spreads open. It was just clear to me. Music, man," said Street.
Street doesn't curse or degrade women in his music. The only mention of drugs is how it can ruin your life.
"My goal is to empower people and to give them the knowledge I finally found-to realize that I can do anything I want to. My dreams can become reality
and it's all up to me," said Street.
That's why Street started I.M.P.A.C.T Recordz, a music label with black artists who defy the odds and the stereotype. If you want to understand where Street is going with his music, you need to understand where he's been.
"My Mom had no clue what my father was. He would come pick her up in three piece suits, in a limo and he said, 'I'm a business man.' She didn't know was moving a lot of drugs and that he was a kingpin. So when she found out, she gave him the choice...me or that. That was the last time she seen him," said Street.
The absence of a father was what Street said sent him to the streets looking for acceptance and a role model. It's also what brought him to La Crosse for all the wrong reasons.
"My two oldest children, her mom, picked me up in Madison. I came and yeah, I was offered an option that I couldn't get where I was at in a negative
way and I took it and then I went to jail six months later," said Street.
Today, Street is going on eight years clean and sober and his record label is getting noticed.
The label attracted Zanny Noble, a rocker with a unique sound. "I learned a lot from listening to blues. I learned a lot listening to rock and I just kind of mashed it all together and came up with my own thing," said Noble.
Like street, Noble leaves a rough life back in Chicago. "I didn't get to go outside and play like the rest of the kids. I didn't get to go to school. My mom was partying out in the living room," said Noble.
Noble says music way his escape.
"My stepdad bought me my first acoustic guitar and she smashed it against the wall for whatever reason why she was mad at him," said Noble.
Noble was in a gang and after nearly being stabbed to death he knew it was time to leave Chicago. It was in Winona that he started to realize he could find a life in Wisconsin.
"I hadn't played guitar in seven years. I gave it up. I just believed what my mom said. I believed what kids in high school said, you're not gonna make it like the rock dudes. You know you just ain't gonna do it. I started playing KISS songs right away and everyone in the room just looked at me like what was that," said Noble.
Today Street and Noble put on shows together. Street a hip hop/rapper and Noble a rocker. Fans say their sound is unique and catchy.
To see Street and Zanny perform follow I.M.P.A.C.T Recordz on Facebook for a list of performances.