Arts & Entertainment

Grandview rapper representing the 5-0-9

One artist from the Valley is striving to put the 509 side of Washington on the map.

The 27-year-old rapper from Grandview boasts he has a style unlike any other, but knows his talent will go to waste if he doesn't perform at home.

"If you ain't going to make it here locally, then I don't know because it starts at home," said Dante Martinez, aka Michael Dante.

"A lot of people need to realize that there's talent and we're not going to make it unless they help us. Instead of bumping everybody's music from the East Coast, West Coast and down south, it needs to start here first and people need to realize we got music they can dance to and cruise to."

Martinez, who changed his stage name from Dante Kid to Michael Dante a couple years back, got started in music when he was 12 years old, listening to music with his best friend.

"It was like we were born for it, or that's what we felt," he said. "There's a lot of people who do it as a hobby; I don't do it as a hobby, this is my life. God didn't bless me with a 6-foot-2-inch frame. I ain't going to play pro basketball or baseball. He blessed me with the talent and I'm going to use it to the fullest."

After 15 years of being off and on with music, Martinez spotted an ad in the paper for a label looking for songwriters. Thinking it was a scam, he crumpled it up and tossed it aside.

"I was kind of struggling, going through some life things about my music," he said. "Someone submitted my music to the label and I got presented with a contract on May 23. I'm going to be the first hip-hop R&B artist signed under that label, so I'll be breaking ground."

Martinez signed with NuJourney Music of Utah, and has recorded two albums that are due out this month.

While his music isn't producing a steady income, Martinez believes his work will pay off.

"I've got three reasons why I'm not going to give up and those are my kids," he said. "Even if I don't make a major impact, at least my kids will have that opportunity where I put the first step for them. My passion comes from my kids."

Along with taking Eastern Washington hip-hop to the streets, Martinez literally will be performing in the streets at 8 p.m. July 10 in Yakima. He will perform during an MMA cage fighting event along with Fontray, Jae swagga, and Young T of Bonaphied, a Yakima hip-hop group. Cost for the event is $25.

"Everyone's going to have a comment and opinion," Martinez said. "Let 'em. I turned my passion into lyrics instead of anger. There's a lot of talent here in the 509. I think it's time for Washington state to wake up and realize it."

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