I recently got the chance to catch up with Pittsburgh native and Atlanta rapper Mello Mac and I just knew I had to get him on the site as soon as we started talking to one another. It’s been a long time. Me and Mello Mac go back a long way, back to our days in Pittsburgh.
Both his parents played a pivotal role in my adolescent years. His mother, Chalise, ran the Boys & Girls club where my mother would send me and my brother to help keep us out of trouble. We would go hang out there everyday during the summer. I remember chasing this girl named Candace (I think) near the volley ball nets and she ran underneath the nets and so did I, only I forgot to duck and the net wrapped around my face. It hurts just thinking about it. It left a welt that covered most of my eyelid. I still have the mark underneath my right eye. My eye blinks were out of sync for like a week. My family threw more salt on the wound as they called me blinky. My pride was now hurt, along with my eye. That was a trying time for my younger self but you live and you learn, and I did learn a lifelong lesson about love that day. To never chase after love or you could get hurt…literally.
His father, Starge, was my first little league baseball coach. I was a late comer and bloomer to the game of baseball. But Starge stuck with me and helped me progress to the point where I became a beast with the bat. I still remember going 4 for 4 with a few RBI’s during the all-star game and I would’ve taken home the MVP trophy if my team would’ve won.
Ok, I know I just had a Al Bundy (four touchdowns in a game) moment but seriously those times were some of the most memorable moments during my adolescence, and now looking back on the partially filled book called “My Life”, I can honestly say that they were some of the key turning points that helped me get to where I am today. And I can easily see why Mello Mac is where he’s at today.
It was nice to sit down and catch up with an old friend and see what he’s been up to over the years and find out how the music industry’s been treating him.
Brennen Jones: We’re a long way from cutting up back in study hall.
Mello Mac: (laughing) Yeah, we are. I see that you’re doing well. The site looks good.
Brennen Jones: Thanks. We’re just trying to make some things happen. Got a lot of plans for 2010. I’m always looking for things to add to our lineup. It’s a never ending quest.
Mello Mac: Well I’m glad to be part of that lineup.
Brennen Jones: No doubt. You still hooping?
Mello Mac: Nah. I don’t really play ball as much as I used to. I don’t have the time. I’ve been looking to get back into it though. How about you?
Brennen Jones: I try to get it in every once in a while but my game is lacking. I need to get in shape. My offense is nice but my D be lacking. I be exhausted.
Mello Mac: (laughs)
Brennen Jones: Until I get the ball back in my hands and then I get that energy again. I try to be like Mike, but only on O. Not the D.
Mello Mac: (laughs) I know the feeling.
Brennen Jones: So how long have you been rhyming?
Mello Mac: I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now but I got real serious with it in bout 2004. I always knew what I wanted to do but 2004 is when I decided to start hitting the road and learning more about the business.
Brennen Jones: Do you think that you had to move from Pittsburgh away to Atlanta to gain notice in the music industry?
Mello Mac: I believe that I had to leave Pittsburgh and go to the “A”, in order to learn the business and build my network. My goal has always been to be a successful artist and CEO so the move to Atlanta made sense to me. I could of stayed home and built a fan base and then just been stagnated because I wouldn’t have known what to do next. Right now, I’m in the heart of the music business amongst major labels, successful independents, superstars, and key gatekeepers. I’m like a sponge soaking up all the game they been giving me. Like I said I always wanted to be a successful artist and CEO and this type of experience I gained the last few years is the reason why Mello Mac and Monop Music will be a success.
Brennen Jones: What was the most challenging part of you leaving home and moving to Atlanta as an independent artist and basically getting your grind on down there?
Mello Mac: First and foremost the hardest thing is leaving your friends, family, and loved ones 1000 miles away to chase your dream. And as far as being an independent artist grinding in the A, there is a few challenges. First like I said living in Atlanta is like living in the heart of the music business so with that being said there are thousands of aspiring artists trying to find their way down here which makes it a crowded scene. I was fortunate enough to link up with some key people which made it a little easier to not be looked at as just another person trying to rap. With that being said my grind and persistence also helped build my reputation as a serious artist that is here to stay. The other challenge is if you are playing this game seriously then it is a time consuming and very expensive business (laughing ).
Brennen Jones: Speaking of “grind on”, that joint “Grind on Me” with Nesia Beatz is hot. I see that Nesia Beatz does a lot of your production work. How was that partnership formed?
Mello Mac: I got an introduced to Nesia in 2005 up in Pittsburgh by my homie Prime and we did a demo together in 2006 that I took to shop around to some labels up in Chicago, and the records we did caught the attention of some key people. He was supposed to move to the ‘A’ with me at the end of 2006 and help me work on my debut album that I was working on with the first label I was with; PaperBoys Entertainment. But it didn’t pan out…about a year later I had hit a rough spot with the label, things wasn’t working out so I went back to PA for a month or two. In that time period we linked up and did a record called “Is U Wit It” that he kept telling me from the beginning was a hit but my mind was on some other shit. I was thinking about staying home and grinding there for a minute, but he convinced to go back to the ‘A’ and finish what I had started. so I told him I still had a spot for him to stay and the original offer was still on the table for him to come to the A and get his grind on. He came and we been putting out hits ever since. By the way “Is U Wit It” created a buzz and ended up getting radio in some regions.
Brennen Jones: Do you work with any other producers?
Mello Mac: Oh yea, most definitely. I will say that I have had the honor to work with some great producers. I have had the privilege to work with Grammy winning producer Ced Keys who has produced for some of the biggest names in music like Ciara, T.I, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Cee-lo, and many others. That dude right there has put in work. I have worked with Don P from Trillville. He actually produced my first commercially released single called “All About The Paper” which gained regional success and really put me on the map. I can’t forget my man TB aka Crack King who recently signed with Dark Child and my A&R consultant Nam Moses who has linked me with a slew of producers like DJ Burn One, Paragon, Carl So Lowe, and many others.
Brennen Jones: Why do you think that Pittsburgh isn’t getting the notice that it should in regards to fostering and cultivating hip-hop talent?
Mello Mac: I thinks it’s all about timing. In the 90’s we were known for producers like the Mel Man, Sam Sneed, and Black Czar. Now with Wiz Khalifa getting national exposure as an artist, it’s up to the rest of us to learn the business, make hot music, get our grind on and make the world look at us. Ain’t nothing giving so we gotta take it into our own hands to make Pittsburgh be looked at and taken seriously. Now is the time for us to shine because somebody has opened up the door for the rest of the world to look at us. So it’s really up to us as artists and businessmen to capitalize.
Brennen Jones: It seems that whenever anyone talks about Pittsburgh and the hip-hop scene, only one name is ever brought up and that’s Whiz Khalifa. There’s also another cat, Pittsburgh Slim who’s signed to Def Jam. What do you think it’s going to take for other labels to take notice and recognize that Pittsburgh is a thriving scene and that they need to send more A & R reps to the city and get some people signed.
Mello Mac: I really think it’s up to us. We gotta take more chances when it comes to our music and business. Like I said earlier I didn’t wait for anybody to discover me, I packed up moved to ATL and got my grind on and built my network that way. Not saying that’s the same path for everybody but that’s what I mean by taking chances. There really is no music business in Pittsburgh, we have tons of talent but no business. I mean as we speak we don’t even have an Urban Radio station. WAMO’s fucking dead! (Both Laughing) I’m not knocking any independent labels in the city doing their thing. When I speak of business I’m talking major corporations directly linked to the music industry being in the city. So why would execs come to a city where they would do no business? It’s up to us to bring them in, so we gotta get out grind get creative build a huge following and find ways to make ’em come to us.
Brennen Jones: You have a new mixtape dropping May 17th. Can you tell us a little bit more about the project.
Mello Mac: I got a street album with DJ Burn One dropping called “The Ruler”. I can’t call it a mixtape due to the fact that I put a lot of hard work and money into it and it really sounds more like an album. It’s not my official album so I will call it a street album (laughs). But to talk more about it…it’s crazy. I really went in on this one. The project is overall hard. Production is hard. Concepts are hard. Lyrics are hard. Everything about it is hard. This project is basically an extension of what I been going through since I released my last CD a couple years ago. The singles on the Project are “Grind on Me” “Imma” AND “Got It” all produced by Nesia Beatz and they all have gained regional success with “Grind on Me” being the most successful due to the fact it has already hit commercial radio, Internet radio, and is in regular rotation in strip clubs throughout the south east. “Imma” is the streets favorite and “Got It” is the catchy club record. I’m proud of the overall project but like anything else; the people will be the judge so I’m anxious to hear the response.
Brennen Jones: What’s the reason behind the title “The Ruler”?
Mello Mac: In my world I am the Ruler. I’m in control of everything I do. I don’t answer to anybody when it comes to my music. I am self funded, and self made. Not saying I don’t have help. I have a team that supports me but if this ship sinks the weight falls on my shoulders. So in this particular castle I am the Ruler. Give some time I’ll conquer the world (laughs) no…but serious I will.
Brennen Jones: The video treatment that you showed me to promote your album was dope. I can’t wait to see the video for that as well. I’ll be sure to put that up on the site.
Mello Mac: Oh yea its going be big. We ain’t playing just to play we play hard. I think the people will be excited to see the visuals for some of their favorite songs they been rocking to from your boy.
Brennen Jones: What is your 5 year plan in this industry? Do you plan on bringing on any new artists to your label?
Mello Mac: My 5 year plan in this is industry is be a household name as an artist and build Monop Music to be an independent juggernaut. I admire those rappers/CEO’s like Master P, Jay Z, and 50 cent who were able to take their music and labels to the highest level so that’s what I’m on. I definitely plan on bringing artist to Monop Music. 10 years from now I want to be able to kick my feet up and watch the artist I brought on and groomed be more successful than me. Mello Mac and Monop Music is here to stay.
Brennen Jones: Have any shout outs to anyone out there before we wrap up?
Mello Mac: Yeah. Shout out to my man DJ Burn One, Nam Moses, Nesia Beatz, Voreheez, Fa Sho Entertainment, shout out to Wendy Day and everybody that supports Mello Mac and Monop Music. The Ruler is Coming May 10th yeaaaaa.
Brennen: Thanks for taking the time for this interview. It was nice chatting with you. We’ll stay in touch.
Mello Mac: No doubt. I would like to thank you for the opportunity as well. This site has grown. I definitely see the potential. Much success to you.
Brennen: And to you as well.
[audio:http://theurbantwist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Got-It-.mp3|titles=Got It]Download – Mello Mac – “Got It”
[audio:http://theurbantwist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Imma.mp3|titles=Imma]Download – Mello Mac – “Imma”