Filed under: Counter Strike - The Unkut Mixtape,Killa Queens,Newest Latest,Not Your Average,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
You might know Meyhem from his work with J-Love, as he’s hosted the majority of his mixtapes and appeared on all of J’s street CD’s, and is also a member of The Outdoorsman crew. Not to mention his outstanding contribution to the Counter Strike tape (‘Animal Science’ feat. Roc Marciano) and numerous dope songs he’s been leaking as he prepares to release several solo projects in 2010. I recently took a minute out to build with this Queens representative on the rise…
Robbie: When did you start working with J-Love?
Meyhem: I knew J from before I rhymed. We’re from the same neighborhood and we had mutual friends. I started doing my thing with the music and he was already ‘J-Love’ by then, and one day I just went up to him like, ‘J, I need some beats’. And he’s like, ‘What are you talkin’ about? Beats?’ He didn’t even know I rhymed, and we kinda took it from there.
Plus you both collected Polo gear, right?
That’s actually how we got cool in the first place. We know the same people and we were the two Polo heads out the group – tradin’ items, dealin’, switchin’ all that – this is when we were younger, but that definitely built our friendship.
What age did your ‘Lo addiction start?
Junior high school, like twelve, thirteen. Just stuck with me forever, you know? I used to be into graffiti a lot when I was younger – I used to write – and through graff, fashion comes with it. People used to rock a lot of Polo and North Face, and we used to boost paint to go bombin’ and then we met people boostin’ ‘Lo. I had a lotta friends from Brooklyn, they went and put me on, and the team that I repped – it’s an honor to rep – the Brooklyn Lo-Life’s, they’re the original ‘Lo team comin’ outta Brooklyn. A lot did it, but if you really do the knowledge and really ask about who started it and who really put it down to make Polo blow to the extent that it did? It was them. That’s who I run with – my man Thirstin Howl III, FI-LO, Bar, Disco – all the originals over there.
Back when thirty or forty dudes would walk into a store and just start grabbing shit?
Sometimes it might be a hundred! This is obviously in the past, but I’m still in it for the fashion. If it’s not broken don’t fix it – Ralph hasn’t let me down yet! I’m a Nike head – Air Max 95 or Jordan’s or Air Force 1’s – and I rock Gucci kicks and shit, but ‘Lo is the main focus. I might put a little North Face in the mix or some old Gortex, but for the most part I’m a simple guy. If it’s not Polo or one of those brands it’s like no brand! You might see me in a white t-shirt or a army jacket, something regular. But I’m pretty loyal to Polo for the most part.
When did you catch the bug to start rhyming seriously?
I’d say about 2003. That’s when I first started working with J-Love on a major level. I didn’t even know how to write bars at that point – I just knew how to rhyme, and I had to mold myself, develop myself and develop my style.
Who were your main influences?
I can definitely say the Wu as a whole, Tragedy…Kool G Rap is probably my favorite MC. G Rap in his prime is untouchable. 4,5,6 is like my bible – ‘Blowin’ Up In The World’ was like my theme music in high school. M.O.P, Jay-Z too. Queens as a whole – Nas, ‘Mega – all that. That’s what I came up on.
How many songs would you say you’ve recorded so far?
Roughly two hundred.
How do you manage to maintain that kind of pace? There was a time when all you’d need was an album every year and some remixes.
This generation in general has such a short attention span you get forgotten quickly, and at the same time if you’re an up-and-coming artist you have to really get the people’s attention. If you’re established and you have that fan-base and you sold ‘x’ amount of records, you can come out once a year, once every two years. But someone in my position? You’ve gotta let ‘em see you’re hungry and keep reminding them that you’re relevant. The worse thing that you can do in the game – no matter who you are – is stop being relevant. And the only way you can do that is stop working. So I gotta let the world know I’m here.
But what about doing a freestyle a day for a month on YouTube?
That’s a little excessive to me. When you do things like that, you deplete your value. I feel you have to maintain a balance, ‘cos if you throw a new song out every week you’re gonna have songs that get over-looked, you’re gonna use all your material and then it’s like, ‘Who cares about this song?’, ‘cos there’s gonna be another one next week, so people don’t really get a chance to hold on and really savor that song. Sometimes when you do too much it’s almost like doing nothing at all.
Can you break down what you have planned for 2010?
I’m doing the mixtape thing first, starting in July, and the next is Self-Induced Illness, which is a street album. It’s actually gonna be a double album, ‘cos I have a lot of material. Between the mixtape and Self-Induced… I’m really hittin’ the people with a good sixty joints just in the first half of the year, so I don’t try and cheat the people! I’m working on another LP – which I’m viewing as my first LP – and the production line-up’s crazy. I’m featuring Ayatollah, getting a beat from Just Blaze for that project, J-Love’s producing a lot of it. I’m gonna get a beat from Large [Pro] for that project, so it’s really gonna be crazy. But that’s not dropping ‘till next year, so I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
Is it still possible to actually sell mixtapes now?
Things might not sell as much as they did, but if you put quality music out there, people will still buy it. For an artist in my position, I’m using them more as a promotional tool. I just want to be heard at this point. Believe me – J has a good following, he makes decent money off mixtapes still, despite everything going on with them. If you have a steady fan-base and you give the fans what they want, then they will support you. Not everyone will just download.
What do you in your down-time when you’re not doing music?
I recently got back in the gym…I’m kinda boring, honestly. I don’t drink like that – I drink on occasion – I don’t smoke, I don’t go out, parties…if it’s not music or working-out, I’m just chillin’, figuring out the next step. Really, my life is music, truthfully – and still fashion. If I’m not doing music, I’m buying gear. If I’m not buying gear, I’m doing music…or I’m eating out! I’m into fine dining. I’m all about culinary arts. My brother is a chef and my man Action [Bronson] – his family owns a restaurant too. I’ve been cooking since I was young. I’m always trying new recipes and eating-out places. That’s one of my favorite pastimes.
Speaking of food, have you heard of the Reef and Beef?
No, I haven’t.
It’s a steak with prawns and lobster on top of it.
Wow, that definitely sounds like something I wanna marry. I definitely want a serious relationship with that steak!
Meyhem Lauren – ‘True Confessions Freestyle’
Meyhem Lauren – ‘Sound Boy Buriel Freestyle’
Meyhem Lauren – ‘The Bigger Picture’
Meyhem Lauren – ‘Bout 2 Win Again’
J-Love & Meyhem Lauren feat.Thirstin Howl III – ‘Stay Sharp’
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