Jorge Rendon, known as Morning Star on wax, has a notable duality about him. With a moniker that comes with references in the Bible to both Jesus and the Devil as the "morning star," it seems as though he embraces both characters.
On one hand he is a proud Mexican, dedicated to bringing his people out of poverty and into the running for the American dream. He wants to use his platform in music to speak on the realities of immigration, living below the poverty line and the success that is possible with hard work. "I don't want to glorify gang banging," he says. "It's not cool."
On the other side, he is a straight out of the box commercial rapper who came up on the streets, caught cases as a kid and strives to succeed in a world where success is defined by chains, cars and brand names.
Rendon came to the United States from Northern Mexico with his family when he was eight years old. After living in a car and taking showers at a local rec center to stay clean, his family got a modest apartment in Five Points. While they had a roof over their heads, they didn't have it easy, and he soon succumbed to the teenage pressures of living poor and wanting a better life.
"When I was a kid," he recalls, "they had me in a program to keep me off drugs. I couldn't even walk through 29th and Welton."
Despite what he was doing in the streets, his parents took pride in living honestly and were passionate about music; his father was a bass player and his mother was a singer. Looking back, it was his musical bloodline that saved him. "In my family, as a boy, you had to play an instrument," he notes. "When it came time for me to learn, I dipped, but I want to say the music was in me."
While he denied his family's wishes for another traditional musician, he was inspired a few years later by a teacher who challenged him to put his energy into music. " He was in a hip-hop/rock band and told me I should rap," Rendon remembers. "But when I showed him, he said I was wack. So I started battle rapping."
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And thus was born a stubborn rapper learning English as a second language, graduating from one of the schools he didn't get kicked out of and making music that he says makes him unique. "I want people to understand where I come from," he says. " I don't know anybody who does what I do like I do."
As it stands, what he does is eight projects deep, starting in 2001 with The Outcome, his solo LP and ending with his most recent mixtape, Eastside Story. He's currently working on his next tape, Good Morning, due out in August.
Whether or not Morning Star will be the rose that grows out of the concrete remains to be seen. The mere idea that the streets might know him as Jorge or Morning Star is worth more to him than anything. "I came from nothing," he points out. "I don't think people really grasp the poverty. Besides the rap, I feel like I have accomplished something."