When Marshawn Johnson was little, he often would listen to a song on the radio and wonder who was responsible for the production behind the beats. His best friend, Damarquez Mitchell, was similarly intrigued by music at a young age – first exploring with a Yamaha keyboard his parents got for him as a present. But it wasn’t until the two of them were messing around in the basement of Johnson’s house one day that the notion of pursuing music professionally became a full-fledged reality.

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Today the two make up the duo Red Dolla Quez and Marshawn Hitz. Their decade-long collaboration has produced a handful of successful singles and mixtapes, and now they’re ready to release their first EP, which they’re calling “Red River.” It’s a project that they say is named both for the river that flows near their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, and for the metaphor represented by that river’s reputation of a strong “angry” current.