Emcee Mayhem grew up in Roxbury, Boston Massachusetts. Part of EMS with Revalation and M-Dot, Mayhem has released numerous projects. We talk to him about his career and new album with Reckonize Real as well as working with Craig G.
Your family moved from Nigeria to live in the USA, how was that experience settling into a new country and culture?
My mom and pops moved here in the late ’70s before I was born. I’m actually the first out of their children born in the states. So really I’m Nigerian-American.
I’m sure their experience was mind-blowing. Especially the fact that they left their family and my older brother back in Nigeria. So they could lay down their roots and foundation to establish a better future for myself and all my siblings.
It’s been cool though I had the best of both worlds being a 1st generation Nigerian born in America. Those Nigerian parties were always fun lol.
You grew up in Boston, home of artists such as ED OG, Esoteric, 7L, and Big Shug to name a few. What was the Hip Hop scene like there for you growing up?
Man shot out to all the Beantown legends. They shaped and molded the sound and laid the foundation for myself and other artists representing the Bean.
The scene was really incredible growing up. I mean it was hard not to recognize what the likes of Guru, Ed O.G, Akro, Almighty RSO, Esoteric, 7L, and others were doing. I honestly felt growing up that our sound and artists really rivaled the greats in NY and their sound.
However I felt like the emcees coming out of my area of South End Roxbury were as dope as emcees coming out of Queens and Brooklyn.
Who were some of your musical influences and why?
My musical influences include Michael Jackson, James Brown, Fela Kuti,
Majek Fashek. A lot of Motown, all that good stuff my mom would bump when I was younger on the record player lol.
As far as hip hop influences on my style 2Pac, Nas, Talib Kweli, Common, Craig G, and Rah Digga. I’m sure there are more but those are a few to come off the top of my head at the moment.
How did you hook up with EMS Productions?
EMS started in like 2003 or 2004 in M-Dot’s dorm room in college. When we started it was me, Revalation and M-Dot. We worked on a few songs and then realised we got a dope sound and chemistry together.
We even put out 2 full-length projects back then ( Unwritten History, and Unwritten History 2). Then M-Dot transferred to another college and met Kore (an incredible all-around emcee/producer) and added him to the crew.
Further down the line Desco, Benefit, and Undu Kati (all incredible emcees) joined the crew. It solidified us as one of the strongest hip hop crews coming out of Massachusetts.
Explain Mayhem’s style?
I’d say my style is heavily rhythmic based, poetic, vocab heavy, and at times rapid-fire flow. My style is the type where it will make listeners rewind and pay attention.
Emcees that make you think, listen, rewind, and want to learn what he or she is saying are always top-notch in my book. So that’s the pinnacle of what I aim for.
Recently you dropped the track and lyric video, They Don’t Know produced by P-Ro. Tell us about that track?
Shout out to my brother P-Ro!! P was inspired to craft the backdrop after tiredly witnessing like all of us all the social injustices that have finally boiled and bubbled up.
He gave me the room to just say what I feel as a black man on record. All the emotions, frustrations, and feelings of what it’s like to actually live this on a daily basis. He challenged me time-wise to write and record it (24 hours). To get it out to the masses due to the importance of the message. Honestly, it’s probably one of the most important songs that I have been involved in.
The proceeds of that track will be donated to 70 organisations fighting Racial Justice. Tell us about that?
Right now proceeds of the sale from the Deluxe Edition of the track
(Song, Instrumental, Digital Poster, and Lyric Video).
As well as proceeds from the limited edition They Don’t Know merchandise T Shirts, Hoodies, and Face Masks (which were only selling until the end of July.
Will be donated to over 70 organizations fighting against racial injustice. P-Ro and I decided to not only support through our art but by fiscally supporting a cause that directly affects all of us. Some of the organizations that the donations are going to are:
Justice for All Action Fund
Black Lives Matter Global Network
National Bail Out
Know Your Rights Camp
Black Voters Matter Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
The National Police Accountability Project
Color of Change Education Fund
Higher Heights for America
Fair Fight Action
The Marshall P. Johnson Institute
You’ve worked with artists such as Juice Crew’s Craig G, Afu Ra, and Ruste Juxx to name a few. What has been the most stand out collaboration and why?
I love all my collabs lol. If I have to choose the most stand out collaboration it will have to be I Ain’t Lyin’ with the Legend Craig G. I really feel it’s the song that really solidified me as an emcee, to look out for in the underground.
The fact that one of my favorite emcees laced it for me and even shot a video with me for the track was the icing on the cake.
Tell us about your album Audio Murals with Reckonize Real. Am I right in saying it took 5 years in the making?
Shout out to my brother Reckonize Real!!! Yeah, honestly the project took 5 years from after we recorded the first single Blame Game featuring Rapper Big Pooh and Justin Cohen.
At the time when Reck approached me with the idea to do the project, I was in between working on another project. We were trying to figure out if we going to do an EP or a full-length project.
The crazy part about the 5 year period is that Reck started really bubbling. He started working on projects with Moka Only and Guilty Simpson. While I was just working on features and all that lol.
I then ended up moving down south. Reck just hit me up and was like bro I’m going to just feed you beats. I finally sat down and just banged out what is now Audio Murals. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on.
Working with EMS Productions what other music have you released?
I have released a few projects under the EMS / Waasawki Music Group flag. Shout out to my brother Tha Silent Partner we run Waasawki Music Group together.
I’ve released my Early May mixtape series (Early May, Early May 2 Retro May, and Early May 3 Mo’ Reto). This series is pretty much were songs that are some flips on classic songs like Will Smith’s Summertime, mixed with some original songs.
I released a project called MayJerzachusetts Island fully produced by my guy Ryan “Jerz” Myers.
I have a mixtape put together called the Mayhem Tape by Spain’s DJ Ero. It’s a collection of stand out songs that I’ve been a part of.
Also, I have a project titled Poison Man with my other group Poison Man. It was formed in Rhode Island with my brothers Meta P (incredible award-winning emcee) and DJ John Gottem (DMC DJ Championship finalist).
What’s next for Mayhem?
Just getting more music out and wrapping up these projects. I’m cookin’ like my Battle Rappers be saying “Let me cook fam, Let me COOK !!!” Lol
I have a lot of albums and EP’s coming soon.
Mayhem & The Soulslicers – Soul It May Seem (LP). Benefit & Mayhem- The Remnants of Mayhem Only Benefits Us (EP). Mayhem & The SOULution _ Singleton With A Pen (EP). Mayhem & Skinny Bonez Tha Godfatha – Spike Lee With An Interface (EP). Mayhem & P-Ro- PROclaiMAYtion (EP).
Mayhem, Don Streat, S.O.N, & Reckonize Real – Family Bizness (LP or EP whatever we feel like giving you lol) and the EMS full Album.
Thank you for having me and for you and the FileUnderHipHop.com family for your continued support of myself and the EMS team.
Interview by Jai Boo