There's a huge misconception that to get out of the ghetto or to change ones status or position in life, rapping is the way to go. While in some instances this may be true, but for most people who have such a dream, hope is often lost with the confines of reality. The true nature in success is to be able to be more than one thing, to have more than one job or to be multifaceted. To be multifaceted in the sense of creating opportunities (having a plan b) so that you can sustain when life suddenly takes an unexpected turn.
Well, I had the opportunity to interview a young New york rapper who has gone against the odds and quite frankly has a better chance of being a major success story than most young African American men who grasp at stardom through diluted lyrics and false pretenses.
Fame isn't always about notoriety. It could be a nice looking young African American male with the talents to rhyme, the tone to hold a note and the life experience to make you take him seriously. I caught up with the MBK Entertainment recording artist Fame one afternoon, after his vocal lessons of course, to talk to him about his music, life with MBK and his future plans.
How did you get started with MBK entertainment? How did they find out about you and was it through a relationship you had with someone else?
I’ve been involved with MBK since I was a kid from just being around certain individuals in the office. I kind of grew up around the company. I got to see Alicia Keys develop as an artist there. I knew that once I started taking my music seriously and got it to a level where I knew I could make something happen, MBK was the first place I wanted to go. Once I got my music together, I was able to get a meeting through a friend. I played a couple of records for Jeff Robertson and the whole staff there and they loved it. We’ve been moving forward ever since.
With the current state of the music industry, where do you see your music progressing?
I’m trying to be an icon, and I want people to talk about me years from now. That’s why MBK was the first place I wanted to go, because we shared the same vision about longevity as an artist. The money’s great, but it doesn’t guarantee longevity. The money isn’t why I’m making music. I genuinely have a love for the music. It’s all I know. I’ve been making music since I was a kid and it’s been in my family. My grandfather is a doo-wop singer and my mom sings in church. I want to be a game-changer, not a fly-by-night artist. I also want to be great in this industry and make a statement. I know that MBK is the perfect place to make that happen.
What statement do you want to make? What is it that will separate you from other artist where you will be bigger and better than what is out there now?
I rely on the stories I have to tell. I’m a young kid having fun. I never want to put on the air that I have everything figured out or that I’m this "golden child" artist that was mystically beamed here. I’m from Brooklyn, and a lot of my records are based on my experiences growing up. I’m genuine, and I like to keep myself transparent. I like to relay experiences and memories, even those of going to parties, on my records. I want to show my youth on my tracks, because I want my audience to grow with me. I may be saying “never call” now, but in a few months I may grow to have a new perception about that.
I love the song “Never Call” but there is a line that you said in there that struck me. It says, “I take your bitch, I give her d#ck, and then I never call.” We are all responsible for the kind of music or message we put out, so what do you think your peers and the fans within your age group will draw from lyrics like that?
I think lines like that make hip-hop what it is. It’s authentic, and I do pride myself on being honest. If I say it on a record, I’m not literally telling people what they need to do. I’m telling them what I do. You have to be real in your music. This is what kids are talking about, anyway. It sounds blunt and in your face, because it’s the honest truth. Sometimes the honest truth will cause a little stir inside of you. Sometimes you have to make bold statements. Music is a business and you do have to impress your listeners. As a new artist you have to make compromises in order to be successful. That’s why I put together my mix-tape with songs like “Never Call”, and then there are others where I talk about falling in love. As a young adult, our emotions are everywhere. Even on Twitter, you’ll see a girl talk about how she can’t stand men, and by the end of the day she’ll say she wishes she were in love. People have different emotions and I like to just put all my stuff out there, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think that’s what is going to draw people into my artistry. I’m so honest and there’s nothing that is off limits to me. I want to be a vessel and a voice for my generation, because it is so misunderstood. I want to show people that there’s so much more to us. Yeah, we’re a wild generation, but there are a lot of things that affect us.
You previously lost the use of your jaw and were unable to speak. Typically such a debilitation of one’s art leads to new innovation in their craft. How did that experience affect you and where is your path now?
I was wild’n out on the streets in Brooklyn and, when that happened, I came to a halt in my life. I realized, the life I was living in the streets wasn’t the best thing for me to be doing and I saw the consequences. I lost my speech, as you said. I think everything comes in a message and that was God’s message to me. I began to question whether or not I wanted to continue to focus on music, and God silenced me in that moment. He took my voice and, with it, the only thing that I knew how to do well. He took it away from me so I could realize what my life would be like without it. Once the wires were removed, there was no shutting me up. That’s why I emphasize being a vessel and allowing music to pour out of me; whatever. That was the transition in my artistry from a hobby to a career. From that point on, when the wires came off, I was recording like a monster.
Do you feel that you lived a wild lifestyle, as you described, and was it a result of your growing up without a father in the home?
It was more so about me finding myself, just like any teenager. Every child goes through a rebellious stage. Some are more reckless than others. Some kids will watch TV when their parents say don’t or stay up later than they are supposed to. My mom raised me well. She’s incredible. She basically did it on her own, and she’s incredible for that, but once I got to a certain age, I decided I wanted to be outside. Growing up in Brooklyn, there’s a lot going on out there. Sometimes people submit to it and become part of that, and then you have cases, like mine. I came to a point in my life where I could wise up. I knew that that lifestyle wasn’t particularly for me. I’m just glad that I had older people around me. A lot of my friends were older, I never hung around guys my age. I had a lot of older friends around me where I could watch and learn from their mistakes
Let’s talk about your first mixtape called “A Hybrid Season." Where did the name come from? What are the mission and story behind it?
The name came from Jeff Robertson. He calls me “The Hybrid,” because I rap and sing. In hip-hop, right now, there are a number of artists who do both in their music. It’s the season for the sound, so I called it Hybrid Season because it was my time to shine. On this mixtape I wanted to show people who I am. I open the mixtape talking about my experience in LA. I went out there with the expectation that my life was about to change, and was met with the rude reality of it. The second record talks about my dreams of making it in this game. The rest of the record focuses on love and losing love and what was going on in my life, including my transition from being a hobbyist to an artist. It describes being on a label and when my girl starts acting funny.. I documented all of those transitions on “Hybrid Season”. Hopefully, the people can relate.
Since you’ve signed with MBK, how has your life changed and what is your daily preparation for your career?
Life has changed tremendously. Other than music, fitness is now the second most important thing. I’m in the gym all the time.
And why is that?
When I perform I like to make sure my wind is up, and we all know that sex sells. It doesn’t hurt to have a six-pack (laughs).
You’re absolutely right, image is important. And contrary to what some may say, it is everything when it comes to the music business.
Aside from fitness, it’s important to network and get my face out there. My days consist of a lot more movement than when I was just hanging out in Brooklyn. They’re more productive with longer studio hours, and I’ve realized that this is no longer a hobby; it’s a career. It was almost weird, at first, to hear people talking about shooting videos and that sort of thing in such a professional manner, because to me that was all fun. During the MBK meetings was when I began to realize that this is really happening.
Let’s talk about vocal lessons. How important is that for you? Is singing a natural thing for you?
Yeah, singing is definitely natural. Vocal lessons are like doing your little push-ups in the morning. They’re meant to strengthen what you already have and to keep you sharp. A lot of times you’ll lose your voice on the road, but with voice lessons you learn different techniques to keep your voice healthy. As a singer, the voice is the moneymaker so we have to take special care of it. I’m taking vocal lessons with Ankara, who has worked with countless artists. He was on "Making The Band" show with Diddy. He’s incredible, and he’s more than a vocal teacher. He’s like a life coach and he believes that a good person produces a good voice.
Who is Fame?
Fame is witty. Fame is a jokester. Fame is smooth, definitely all about the ladies. Fame is someone who loves to have a good time; someone who loves his family. Fame is a little bit out there at times and he’s a little bit much at times.
What makes you tick? What moves you?
I’m moved by my family. I love seeing my friends have the time of their lives, or seeing my mom smile while we’re doing a red carpet event. I run on success. The more success I gain, the more I want. Coming from the hood, we didn’t see a lot of that. So, to see my family and friends taking in these new experiences, has a moving impact. I’m all about my family. I’m all about my peoples, and I’m all about my friends. The music is for them, so that we can be entertained and to get them through life situations. If the world loves it, then that’s cool. But as long as my peoples love it, then we’re good.
For someone coming up who wants to be where you are right now, what do you tell them?
It's all about consistency, man. Consistency is the key to everything. I know guys who are horrible, but they manage to have music careers based solely on their consistency. You have to follow your own path. You can’t get caught up in what people are saying. You have to do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, you only have yourself.
What are future collaborations that you’re looking to do? Who do you have in mind?
I’m looking to work with whoever is willing to work. I have my favorites: Jay-Z, Fabolous, R. Kelly and Usher. I have a lot of artist who I look up to and would love to work with, but I’m willing to work with whomever. I like to just get together and vibe out in the studio and see what happens.
Copyright 2012 USL Magazine