"Fuck George Bush I want my homies back/ I'll go to war with anybody if they can give your boy dat/ Then to top it all off when Katrina popped off/ I was in the military with no days off."
Those "Real Life" lyrics (from the recent album So Southern N da West) were written by former Camp Pendleton Marine Dominique Duncan (a.k.a. Yung Sip). He and the three other soldiers in hip-hop group SouthuNoyz share six Combat Action ribbons and four Global War on Terrorism medals. Each man has served two eight-month stints in Iraq, yet Duncan is the only one who's ever taken a bullet.
"I got shot in the back with a .38," says Duncan. "It was in my gang-banging days. I decided to join the Marines to get away from the troubles. Where I'm from [Hattiesburg, Mississippi] there aren't too many opportunities. You can work in a kitchen somewhere, or you can hustle."
All four members of SouthuNoyz are from different towns in the South. They were a group for a few months before being asked in 2005 to appear at the "Rockin' the Corps" concert that featured Kiss, Ted Nugent, and Destiny's Child. SouthuNoyz's first CD, Mason-Dixon Movement, which had been sold on base, drew the attention of the show's producers.
"We had only played one show before, and here we are in front of 60,000," says Sgt. Maurice Collins (a.k.a. 3-Thirds). "We got to backup Ja Rule." Although Southunoyz is interviewed on the Rockin' the Corps DVD, their performance segment with Ja Rule isn't featured.
"I heard they had some legal problems, that they didn't get legal clearance to use [Ja Rule's song] 'New York,' " says Collins. "Originally, Ludacris was supposed to play, but he was banned from military bases for cursing. Then it was supposed to be Nelly, but something happened with him. Then Ja Rule got in the mix. It would have been better for us if it had been Ludacris or Nelly, since they are from the South."
Kerry Pless ("7-K") was honorably discharged a year ago. Corporal Brian Thomas ("Noyz") and Collins will be in the Corps until 2009. Collins will soon be deployed overseas for a third time.