Cloud 9 and UM: a match made in heaven

To be successful, it’s not what you know, but who you know. In Miami, and in the music industry especially, getting ahead is all about contacts, contacts, contacts; and according to Danny Morris, Producer/Manager of the musical group Cloud 9 and the independent record label Hypnotic Beats, the University of Miami is a great place to make those contacts.

Morris, 31, is a UM alum with a degree in Jazz Piano/Performance from the School of Music, who along with his sister, Crissy Simone, 26, also a Music School graduate in Jazz Vocal Performance, started the band Cloud 9.

Through contacts the two made while studying at UM, they were able to form Cloud 9 as well as the record label.

Hypnotic Beats is a company that grew out of Morris and Simone’s hunger for music and the industry and also runs three other bands, which all employ UM students.

“Songwriting is something you do because you have to; it just jumps out at you. And right now is the time for independent labels,” Morris said.

According to Morris, major record labels can take up to 95 percent of profits from the band, or more. That means a band like Cloud 9 would have to sell a much larger amount of records to make the same kind of profit.

“If you sold one million records with a major label, you would only need to sell about 20,000 with an independent [to make the same amount],” Morris said.

Although Hypnotic Beats is a corporation, Morris and his associates focus on doing what they love and entertaining people in the process, especially during live performances.

Cloud 9’s sound is Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae with a composition comparable to The Black-Eyed Peas. The band includes three male performers, two rappers (K-Boy and Mickey Boston), a reggae singer, Message, and the female lead singer, Crissy Simone.

Message is K-Boy’s older brother, and despite the family ties, the two have completely different musical styles, as Message was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and K-Boy was raised here in Miami.

The groups started as Simone and Morris were writing songs for Simone, who is the more R&B side of the group. Wanting to create songs that were a little bit edgier, they decided to add rap to the mix and met K-Boy.

“Through him we met the other two [band members]. The more we worked together, the more we realized the four of us really came together and gelled,” Simone said.

Although Cloud 9 may share similarities with groups like The Black-Eyed Peas, the group members really resist comparison, because they offer something unique to music fans in the area – hip hop that is edgy and gritty, yet coupled with the laid-back attitude of reggae. More importantly, Cloud 9 offers an ingredient hip hop fans may not be used to – a live band (including drums, bass, keyboard and guitar).

“Our element that we really add is that we always work with a live band. That’s very different from a lot of hip hop groups that work with recorded music,” Simone said.

Cloud 9’s unique sound and outlook on entertaining was very much inspired by their Caribbean roots. All of the members have either a Jamaican or Bahamian heritage, but three of the four were raised in Miami, adding an American influence. Cloud 9 itself is somewhat of a microcosm of the multi-cultural Miami lifestyle.

“The way we tie [our cultures] in is the Miami thing; and that mix is in our music and our style – even in the way the guys dress. You know, like half-street, half-Macy’s,” Morris said.

As Cloud 9 grows in popularity, their focus is on slowly dominating the Miami music scene, then the state music scene and then even promoting themselves nationally and globally.

“We just want to get the news out there as much as possible. To get listened to on a global level,” said Simone.

Cloud 9 has a slew of performances coming up in the Miami area, including several on campus. On September 20th, Cloud 9 will be performing three shows on campus throughout the day with BET DJ NVS Styles and PM from Icon. Students will be able to sign up on a mailing list to receive information about upcoming shows including four upcoming shows promoting the release of their newest CD, Private Party, and several of Cloud 9’s upcoming performances will include promotions for UM students such as free admission and VIP status – it appears making contacts at UM really does have its benefits.

For more information on Cloud 9 or to join the mailing list or apply for jobs within the Hypnotic Beats Corporation, contact Danny Morris at

Danielle McNally may be contacted at