There’s one thing that anyone with an understanding of street culture will know and that’s the realness of the verses in a Mista Maeham song.
This is not a fairytale created to sell records. This is a look into the areas of America plagued by crime, drug abuse, violence and extreme poverty. A lot of it is ugly and hard to swallow but it’s as real as it could possibly get.
I recently spoke to Minneapolis hip-hop artist Mista Maeham after picking up his new album “Bacc 2 Business.” I was blown away by the grit, the delivery and authenticity oozing through the sound. With collaborations with Devin the Dude, Rich the Factor, Messy Marv and Reefa Ri the project is in fact “that deal.” His patience and serious grind has now caught national attention being picked up by Jamie Foxx’s XM Station Foxxhole as an “Artist to Watch.”
This is a crash course on the side of the Twin Cities one rarely gets to hear about directly from the source.
AS: When you were a homeless teen what was it that steered you to crime?
MM: I had to eat man. People say that to justify what they do but I literally was 13 years old on the street. I’m literally sleeping in the streets with the dope fiends, hustlers and the pushers. I’m starving. I had nowhere to go so I figured, “hey let me go and get involved in this lifestyle.” The dope fiends would get me weekly hotel rooms so I could whip it (drugs) and not have to be in the street. My mom was on drugs. I was able to do whatever I wanted to do running in the streets all night getting into mischief.
AS: You mentioned earlier that some of the things you talk about you aren’t proud of and that they are embarrassing. What did you mean?
MM: It’s embarrassing that I lost my mother while I was doing a prison bid and I couldn’t be there for my family and be at the wake. It’s embarrassing that I got involved with gangs as a youngster and things like that. I got my GED in jail. I’m not proud of that. I want to be remembered as someone that did positive things and made powerful moves as a respected person. While people glorify this lifestyle like it’s all fun and games and lie about it, it really isn’t.
AS: Prison is not a light thing. It gets thrown around like a badge of honor for those that glorify it and have never stepped foot inside. If there is anything you’d want people to know, what would you say?
MM: It’s your worst nightmare man. It’s not something that you would want to do with your life at all. It’s really modern day slavery. It’s the only place where it’s ok for you to work for way less than minimum wage. There’s people working for 12 cent(s) an hour. I’ve done more than one prison bid and now the prisons are packed. You are in this one little cell and now there’s two bunks in there. They’re making people sleep one on top of each other with a toilet in there and you have to smell another man. It’s the worst. You have to listen to someone to tell you what you need to do. Everything is horrible.
AS: When did you decide to make music your path?
MM: It’s crazy because it was when I was in prison man. Before, when I was 13 and 14 out on the block and running around we freestyled. When I had time to sit down I wrote my first song. I would go on the yard and everybody would go crazy (listening to my song) that’s when I realized this is what I’m going to do.
AS: What was the name of that first song?
MM: “132 Thoughts.” And it wasn’t no hook – I didn’t really know how to count my bars. It was just a long verse (laughs). But I was just spitting and tearing it up. The homies were like, “man you going in but you might want to split that up.”
AS: When you got out was there an opportunity waiting for you?
MM: I had to grind it out. You know, the homies knew that I had talent, I had a lot of homies with money, but they didn’t know what to do to mash with it. 50 Cent was getting down on the mixtapes rapping over other people’s beats so I said let’s go ahead and do that. We had “Banned from the Club” which was like the “In the Club (Remix).”
AS: Do you ever feel pressured to lighten up your music?
MM: I do. My DJ, Enferno, has been telling me, (I) have too much talent to corner it off and stick to one lane like that, but what I feel when I hear an instrumental and what comes to my heart that’s what I put down. I don’t like to force other stuff because I’ve tried that before and it won’t come out right. It don’t sound authentic. It just don’t sound like me. The underground is loyal to me. I cut different topics, it just always comes out Street.
AS: When you say “street” what does that mean?
MM: The struggle. The ghetto. The heartache. The hurt. The pain. The poverty. The fatherless children. The children that hurt and they don’t know why so it comes out sideways. That’s the music that I make. The people that sell dope, that’s all that they know at that point. I don’t try to make excuses, glorify and justify it, but it’s going on every day.
Mista Maeham’s new album “Bacc 2 Business” is available now at Electric Fetus, Cheapos, Urban Lights, Hood Goodies, Spotify and more.
Audiences can see him live with Mac Irv Friday, June 26 at The Cabooze, 917 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis.
Find out more information online at www.Mistamaeham.comule.com and on Twitter @MISTAMAEHA.