High School: Fuquay-Varina High School
Attending: Wake Technical Community College online
Inspired by: Friends and fellow creators Kyler Lundy, Juhgah Kay, and Jahad Barrow
Biggest cheerleader: His mom, who passes out keychains and buttons with QR codes that link to his music
2020 was a pivotal year for most of us, but for Mo’Zari Bagley, the pandemic shutdown charted a course to a new future that includes record deals, viral videos, and plenty of hometown support.
A native of Fuquay-Varina, Mo’Zari, who goes by Mo, was an outstanding athlete growing up. He started Fuquay-Varina High School playing basketball, football and running track.
Also a member of National Honor Society, Bagley was selected by Principal Terrance McCotter and FVHS staff to the WCPSS Superintendent Student Leadership Council.
“Mo’Zari was recognized based on many factors to include his high academic achievement and commitment to learning, his strong leadership qualities, and his ability to advocate for a dynamic educational experience for himself and his peers,” says McCotter.
Then schools closed in March 2020, effectively halting Mo’s club involvements and sports endeavors.
“At that point I was just sitting at home,” says Mo. “I started making music. It was just a hobby pre-Covid.”
Mo recorded his first song using an iPhone and Apple AirPods.
“I liked it. My friends liked it. I’m going to continue it and see where it goes,” he recalls.
Next came an equipment upgrade with a laptop, “real” headphones, and a studio microphone.
“I still record like that,” says Mo. “I mix and rap and do everything on my laptop.”
In January, Mo posted an original song called “Band Man” on TikTok.
“It started getting plays and traction, and I got an audience — first tens of thousands of views, then hundreds of thousands of views. At that point I thought, ‘I could actually do this.’”
As a musician, Mo goes by the name FinEsseMo, and the songs he creates are rap and hip-hop tunes with — be forewarned — often explicit lyrics. When working on a new song, first he listens to beats or crafts melodies in his head, then starts getting words on paper.
“I used to write poems. That’s made it easier to turn poems into songs,” he says.
“I know some of the things I say in my songs may not be friendly. I understand that I have to play a character and sell that character.”
Mo amassed a following of 20,000 on TikTok, and some of his videos have millions of views.
In May, Mo received a direct message from the vice president of Quality Control, a record label based in Atlanta that is known for developing emerging artists. Some back-and-forth negotiations between Mo, his parents, and Quality Control ultimately resulted in a record deal with the label and SoundCloud, a music streaming and distribution platform.
“It’s crazy to think nowadays that it could be one video you upload that could really change your path,” says Mo.
Mo attributes much of his burgeoning success to consistent action.
“If you don’t actually do something every day to get closer to your goal, then it’s never going to come. Just wanting it bad enough isn’t gonna help you get it; you have to actually do something.
“My fi rst attempt wasn’t working. I kept posting. As long as you are consistent and work toward your goal once every day, eventually you’ll reach it,” he says.
Mo plans to attend Wake Technical Community College online, while pursuing his music career.
“I’m focusing on artist development and building my social media right now,” he says, as he navigates the early stages of what a record deal entails.
Despite his rapid rise to stardom — “I’ll be out at the grocery store or gas station and people will say what’s up to me and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t know you, but what’s up’”— Mo would rather be remembered as the positive, funny guy at school who made everybody’s day feel lighter.
“It’s better to help someone else’s day get a little bit better.”
Listen to FinEsseMo on SoundCloud soundcloud.com/mobagley
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