Lil Mike and Funny Bone are, almost certainly, Oklahoma City's only on-call, full-time, American Indian, little people, Christian hip-hop artists.
But they're anything but a novelty act.
The brothers, respectively - have spent years making the rounds of clubs, churches, arenas, children's birthday parties and retirement homes while developing their skills as beat-makers and rappers in a series of independently produced recordings.
Some songs have found radio play on Radio stations, including KOKF 91FM, Power 103.5FM & More. Others have appeared solely on albums with titles such as "Doin Big Thangz " and "Durty South Native Style" Their most popular CD titled "Crunk Nativez," features a remix of their hit song ........Rain Dance.
Lil Mike and Funny Bone have won talent contests, opened for big-name acts such as Wine-O, Bobby Valentino, Lil Troy & more. Plus played gigs in penitentiaries and been mobbed by screaming teens in Arkansas.
Getting to that point hasn't been easy. From homelessness to gang violence to "size-ist" discrimination, the brothers have hustled and flowed their way from nothing to something - even if they still have a long way to go.
The brothers are members of the Pawnee tribe, their faith in God gives them both the courage to stand tall in the spotlight - despite being only about 4 feet 9 inches tall.
"Call us short," Funny Bone said. "We're not legally midgets or dwarves. We're short."
From gangs to gospel?
When he was about 10, Lil Mike said, he joined the North Side Piru Bloods, an ........Oklahoma City branch of a ........Los Angeles gang.
By that point, the boy had already suffered more than most kids his age. Lil Mike said he was abused, endured bouts of depression and threatened suicide. Being small and poor didn't help.
He didn't care about school, where he eventually ended up in special education classes. But he did care about the gangsters, who encouraged his violent temper by calling him Young Fighter.
One day in 1989 or 1990 - he can't remember which - Lil Mike witnessed a gang shooting. The image stuck with him.
When he tried to break free of the gang, he said, the others attacked him, kicking him in the back and pummeling him repeatedly. Scars on his forehead, he said, date back to that attack.
The incident drove him from the streets and into a Baptist church. Over the next few years, he heard the testimony of the Gospel Gangsters, a Christian rap group, and was awed by the Power Team, bodybuilders who praise God and break bricks.
"I was already a Christian," Lil Mike said. "But seeing them just made me rededicate myself."
Lil Mike realized he had a message to share, too. He could help other kids avoid gangs. He could show them that no matter how many obstacles you face, God can help you through them.
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 poem 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 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 1993, when their mother won a home computer from a bank.
At first, they didn't quite know what to do with the computer.
Now, the brothers write, produce and record their own albums in a professional recording studio. They remember recording 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 book their own gigs, design covers and they're willing to preform just about anywhere.
"It's not hard to book us," 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 Mom pay the bills."
Their highest paying gig was writing a commercail song for a online company, which paid $1000. They said they've received the star treatment a few times, twice when they opened for nationally known Christian artists in ........Atlanta ........Florida 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, clubs 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 album.
"Our mom loves what we do," Funny Bone said. "The last time she was crying, it was because we did a love song for her. When she heard the song (we love you), she started crying. 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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