Memphis rapper Kevo Muney helped put a fresh smile on some South Memphis students’ faces Friday.
Muney, 22, in collaboration with Dr. Marrio “Smiles” Thomas, provided 40 fifth-graders at Memphis Delta Prep a free dental cleaning.
“It was something different and… me having a relationship I have with Dr. Marrio, it just made sense,” Muney said. “It really just puts two dots together because I know he be putting the work in the community on his own… I know if we came together, he would have helped make everything come true.”
Born Kevione Austin, Muney is the youngest of eight siblings, and he said growing up he didn’t have access to dental care. Muney became Thomas’ patient in 2018, and the two have been connected ever since.
Thomas, who is also from South Memphis, has been practicing dentistry in Memphis for 25 years. He often does community outreach to not only spread awareness and offer assistance about dental hygiene but also to encourage children from his community to explore a career path in health care.
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“I always make sure.. because growing up in South Memphis, I had no clue what was in our city. I knew what was in my immediate surroundings because that’s where you live and what you saw every day. But I always try to let them know if you want to go into medicine, we have a medical school right here in our city,” Thomas said. “So they’re gonna be a lot of things I want to try to push around getting kids into the health industry.”
Thomas said he was proud of his patient’s accomplishments, noting how excited students were to meet Muney and rap along to his songs.
“They are always happy to see that there’s somebody coming to see them talk about something,” Thomas said.
In addition to sharing the importance of dental hygiene, Muney and Thomas both imparted the lesson of self-belief no matter where you come from or where you want to go.
“‘I come from minutes away from y’all,” Muney told the students. “So just also letting them know like they can do it. No matter where they at. No matter what neighborhood they in, no matter what predicament they in, they can do it.”
In 2019, Muney signed to Atlantic Records and earned success with his RIAA gold-certified song “Leave Some Day” with more than 175 million worldwide streams and top chart placement across Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Shazam.
Astrid Kayembe covers South Memphis, Whitehaven and Westwood. She can be reached at email@example.com, (901) 304-7929 or on Twitter @astridkayembe_.