FORT SILL, Okla. -- Some Soldiers relieve stress in the weight room, some unwind over meals and some write poetry or stories. But for Capt. Micah Ray, Headquarters and Headquarters battery commander, 214th Fires Brigade, and a native of Oklahoma City, he relieves his stress by rapping.
"You have to find away to release from what is going on at work and my escape route is music," Ray said.
Ray and members of D-Funk put on free rap shows 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent they may get about $50 to split between the eight members in the group. The main goal of D-Funk is to give back to the community.
Ray was a senior in college, focusing on being a teacher, before finding out what the Army was willing to offer him.
"When I first joined the Army I was only planning on doing four years and getting out," said Ray. "But I told myself, if I ever re-enlisted I was going to do 20 years."
Ray deployed to Iraq in 2003 and returned home in 2004. Once back stateside he took the Federal Bureau of Investigation test and passed it. Now, in his mind he was ready to apply to work for the FBI.
Ray started the process to get out of the Army, when his battery commander came up to him and said he needed to train his Soldiers for their next deployment.
That convinced Ray to stop the process of getting out of the Army and deploy with his unit.
"I stayed in because I like to work hard and I love being around fellow Soldiers," said Ray.
Aside from working with outstanding Soldiers, Ray has found joy in being around close friends -- his rap group that formed in 1995 that would later spawn his current group, D-Funk. The original name of the group was Dysfunctional, but the group shortened it to D-Funk.
Ray suprised his Soldiers when he won Fort Sill's karaoke contest in October and used the winnings to throw a party for his battery.
"I believe rapping is not a career, but an art," he said. "I enjoy making rap music clean, where the kids can get involved with it and to make the music fun," said Ray.
D-Funk has gained international fans through YouTube and independent CD sales.
Ray was invited to speak to young men at the Lawton Boys Group Home in September to inspire them and offer guidance.
The following month D-Funk visited the home and put on a free show. They also brought food, snacks and sat down to talk to them.
"We did that just to let them know that they may have got in trouble, but it is not the end of the road and that they can turn their life around," said Ray.
The group performed a show in December and was able to help by having the entrance fee into the show waived if people brought a new coat or unopened toy for kids.
The group raised more than $600 in their 2nd Annual 'When Rap Gives' toy drive. The donated coats and toys went to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
After retiring from the military, Ray has new plans to give back.
"I would like to be a school teacher, college professor or [give] it a shot at running for some congressional seat somewhere," said Ray. "I enjoy the political arena and studying on how policies work."
Ray said a major influence in his life was his college English professor who told him to avoid ignorance at all costs. He also said to leave a good name because you may want to return.
Those two pieces of advice are the way the Oklahoman tries to live his life.
"Anyone in the service that does this hard work needs to find something that is created from them when they leave work and go do that and enjoy it," said Ray.
"I believe if you find that something you like to do that it will make you a well-balanced person," said Ray.