Through expressive vocals and dynamic style, brothers, Milan Hightower and hip-hop trio the Gnarl3y Boyz, Jawara, Dash, and Jelani paused from their regular routines to relaunch their single called My Christmas List. “We out here, spreading the love and joy, and giving the toys out to all the little kids for Christmas," remarked Jawara.
Jelani also emphasized his brothers’ thoughts… “We’re here to spread joy, love and happiness at Christmas time because, its hard times, sometimes, and we want to do the Christmas List streaming on all platforms.”
The song is a lighthearted jingle opposite the traditional songs played during the holidays. “We just put our own sauces together. We want something that’s going to be timeless,” Milan explains the reasoning behind the song… “No more Rudolph,” joked Dash. The brothers said that they were tired of hearing the same Christmas jingles year after year, so it made sense to create something epic and classic that appealed to everyone.
Along with that, the faction did a Christmas giveback, which allowed them to sponsor families, while promoting their festive single for select schools in Charlotte, NC. Students submitted their own wish list, and in return Milan and his bros, sponsored a few of the children for Christmas. Recently, the group performed at North West School of the Arts as their kickoff for the #NUage Be Yourself Tour, where they emboldened students about self-love and positive attainment. Dope, right? This gave the group ample time to get things swinging so they could inspire while using their platform for good. Their intentions were solid. They did exactly what they set out to do by spreading joy and dope vibes for the holidays. Milan and his brothers were very lowkey, but their efforts were met with cheery success. Humanitarians need no reward. They receive gratification from helping, by standing behind the scenes, the light and camera lens, fading to the back by dimming their own spotlight out of consideration for others. Milan Hightower and the Narl3y Boyz accomplished that. They gave people hope. They, in that gesture, restored the very ideal of compassion. Although they didn’t drum up a whole lot of publicity, this giveback was special, and it’s something that they will cultivate and grow.
“We were brought up together. We’re basically best friends,” Milan replied when asked about the most inspiring part of this gnarly journey. “We want to share that [love and embrace] with everyone else. Family is everything and loyalty is everything. Without that bond, you can’t really go far without having people that really got your back. Everyone needs somebody and it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are. You’re stronger as a team than to be by yourself.”
Milan, Dash, Jelani and Jawara are writers, vocalist, fashion extraordinaire, and performers from Charlotte, NC. They were groomed for the music industry early. They performed for the Charlotte Bobcats when they were in elementary school in addition to Coca Cola: Nascar Speed Street. Milan says that they are cool enough where people can relate to them because they aren’t fake. “That’s how that came about, and it’s kind of how we’re doing the Christmas record. We’re tired of doing the same songs, tired of just being this perfect Christmas record. [We decided] Let’s make something that’s fun and relatable to everybody. It’ still edgy enough for the club but it’s still good enough where you can play it at your school and your church, and stuff like that.”
A couple years ago, the brothers booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, California, where they were dreamy-eyed and ready to launch their booming career. They hit a few slumps and found themselves homeless at one point. At the end of the day, they remained focused and steadfast. They learned lessons and kept pursuing. Things took off slowly, but that didn't stop the brothers from getting to where they are now.
“We went to LA for a convention called ‘Complex Con.’ So, just going out there the first few times, it was like a vibe. We checked it with our people that was out there, and the [big] connections we made while we were there,” Dash explained the reason they left the city of Charlotte to reshape their careers on the West Coast.
“You ever heard of a saying, a shark can only grow so big,” Jelani piggybacked off his brothers last statement. “We thought we made our impact on the city, but the city is only so big, and will support you but so much—We had to go somewhere where we had to live that. ‘Let’s go somewhere that’s huge so maybe its possible we can grow like a shark would grow in the ocean.”
The vocalist share an eclectic vibe, where they create dope buzzers together, or separately, and it bops, especially on the West Coast. They are a colorful and feral force in the arena of fashion and music. Milan is the eldest of his siblings, so his career took off a little sooner than his brothers. He's starred in stage plays and musicals. He said that he always loved music, though. In fact, his dad wrote the lyrics to his songs beforehand. He’s coexisted in several groups before launching a career as a soloist, that jams with his bros from time to time.
“Being in a group is dope,” said Dash. “It feels good when you go in the studio and you don’t have to sit there trying to figure it out. They [producers and engineers] play the beat and we just jump in and freestyle, and we play with it until we catch fire. The shows and performances that we put together are choreographed, and it looks professional. It’s on point. People love that. Back in the day, people told us to stop dancing, that we looked childish, but every time we perform, we get a crazy crowd supporting [us].”
“Our mom always told us, ‘You always want to stand out,” says Jelani, “and, give a good performance. You must keep the crowd engaged with your performance.”
The boys agree that they stepped out on spontaneous faith to broaden their careers when they relocated to Los Angeles. They’ve built a vast following just by being standout visionaries… “A lot of people focus on where they aren’t instead of where they are, and it messes them up over and over. Especially as an artist, when you’re a creative, we live in our heads a lot so you can think about multiple things at once and when you don’t feel like you hit a certain goal, it turns into depression, and you’re sad. If you start thinking about your goals, and the fact that you’ve accomplished that goal, that’s still accomplishing something and that’s growing better than what you did yesterday,” Milan talks about their growth as performers.
“That’s the most powerful thing that you gotta do,” Jawara concurred with Milan’s statement. “If you don’t notice the little things that you succeed at, you’re going to sit there and be static. You will sit there, sad, and you won’t realize that you made a foot ahead than where you were yesterday.”
Keeping their head on the swivel and focused on the wins while in LA, Milan Hightower and The Gnarl3y Boyz are doing major party promotions like their signature Sauce Gala .
“Coming next year, we got a whole bunch of stuff planned, but this year, we just wanted to focus on the city we are from," says Milan.
Jelani also said that they are working on other projects, and that people should be on the lookout for their album, Terrible But Good.
"No More" Milan Hightower (2018)
"Groupi3" Gnarl3y Boyz (2019)
SoundCloud/ Gnarl3 Boyz
Instagram/ Milan Hightower
SoundCloud/ Milan Hightower