MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines’ daily duties and tasks in the shop, out in the field and in the combat zone can be stressful and demanding. Many work long hours during the day and throughout the night. But most Marines find time to enjoy the things to help them get away from work and relax, such as families and hobbies.
In the combat zone, Marines find ways occupy their down time such as watching movies, playing cards, reading and sleeping. Another thing Marines do to pass the time and get their minds off work is write. Letters home and journals are common for Marines; but for Sgt. Harlan C. Black, Marine Air Control Squadron 1 air traffic controller, the aspiration to be a rap musician kept him busy writing music while deployed to Iraq in 2005.
Black, a Cleveland native, started writing and producing music in 1989. He was signed on two record labels from his hometown, but they eventually fell through. Black joined the Marine Corps in 2003 when he felt like the opportunity to fulfill his dream was gone.
However, while deployed in Iraq in 2005, Black began writing again and wrote nearly 70 songs during his seven month deployment.
“Being deployed gives you a whole new outlook on things,” said Black. “I wrote about everything that was going on out there as well as other ideas that I had. It also helped to pass the time.”
Black met Pfc. Michael J. Ciardi, MACS-1 switchboard operator, while in Iraq. Ciardi had already started his own record label and that’s what helped to motivate Black to start writing again. Black and Ciardi built a relationship while serving together and writing music.
“We wrote about what was on our minds,” said Ciardi. “Being in the combat zone definitely gives you more to write about and you write on a deeper level as to what we do as Marines.”
“It also helped to keep motivation up,” said Ciardi. “Writing lets you open up your imagination and gets your mind off everything around you.”
After returning Yuma, Black used the finances he earned while deployed to buy the equipment needed to produce the music he had written and start his own record label.
“I’ve been trying to do this for years,” said Black. “I have everything I need here in my barracks room to keep on making new music.”
Black will be deploying back to Iraq in February with MACS-1.
“The next album will include a few of the songs I wrote while I was in Iraq the first time,” said Black. “I’m sure I’ll have plenty more when I get back as well.”
Black released, “The Prophecy Chapter 1 the E.P.,” his first album under his own label, “Butchershop Entertainment,” June 9. It is available in some of the local record stores in Yuma.
“He’s talented and he has a different kind of hip-hop sound,” said Ciardi. “You see things from a different perspective after being in the Marine Corps and especially after being deployed. Those thoughts come out in the lyrics of some of the songs.”
Black’s future plans are to someday sign a record deal with a major record label. Until then, he plans on reenlisting when his first term is up.
“For now, I will just keep mixing and making new music,” said Black. “I am proud of what I’ve accomplished with my music and in the Marine Corps.”