maino_mg_8038

Maino: Say Hello

Maino’s rep on those Brooklyn streets is thorough. But while it may garner him a certain level of credibility (he speaks on that below), it doesn’t have anything to do with making hit records. A few years back on the strength of “Rumors,” a brash, industry gossip smackdown of a song, Maino caught a deal with Universal Records that only managed to make his buzz stall out. Now riding with Atlantic Records and his “Hi-Hater” single—and now the prerequisite remix with Swizz Beatz, T.I., Jadakiss, Plies & Fabolous—being a certified smash, it’s looking like Maino’s musical output may soon match and eclipse his block infamy. All good for Maino since establishing a legal legacy for his peeps is one of his stated goals. His debut album, If Tomorrow Comes…, drops September 23 but despite the title, his future is looking bright. Say hello. AllHipHop.com: You served ten years in prison, when did you go in?Maino: The early nineties, ‘93AllHipHop.com: That said you weren’t out when say Biggie and Lil Kim first got real popular. Being on the inside how was that for you?Maino: S**t, any cage is hard. But I grew up there and I made the best of the situation.AllHipHop.com: You’ve mentioned many times that you got started rhyming inside, about what year was that? Maino: Oh man, I started after B.I.G. came out, I’ll say about ‘95 or ‘96, around that time.AllHipHop.com: And before that you never really thought about it?Maino: Not at all.AllHipHop.com: Is there anything you did growing up that might have hinted to that ability?Maino: No just an being an avid fan. I grew up listening to the greats, like any other kid in the street, no different. I listened to Hip-Hop, that was mainly what I did. I’m from the ghetto and Hip-Hop, that was a part of my life. But I never wanted to be a rapper, I never aspired to be one and never thought about being one. I never thought I would write rhymes, I never thought I would do any of that until I went to jail.

“Kay Slay was the first person to really put me on the radio, put me on his mixtape and I went from there. I was aggressive about it, I just wanted to meet the DJ’s. I didn’t want to get out and try to shop a demo. I was trying to get my music directly to the street.”

AllHipHop.com: At that time when you realized you had that talent, was there a certain point when you thought, “you know what, I could really do this?”Maino: Yes, because that was just my hustler’s instinct kicking in. I figured like I grew up hustling, I grew up in the streets, I figured maybe I could use rap to be an addition to what I was doing in the streets…I could give it run. I’m about money, let’s see if I could make it work, to see if I could grab opportunity and get out there on the streets and put my best foot forward and make it possible. I didn’t know if it was going to work but I said, “I might as well try, what could I lose?” But if it don’t work I can always fall back on the street anyway. AllHipHop.com: So when you got out in ‘03, what was the first thing you did?Maino I jumped right into the mixtape circuit. I met Kay Slay he was the first person to really put me on the radio, put me on his mixtape and I went from there. I was aggressive about it, I just wanted to meet the DJ’s. I didn’t want to get out and try to shop a demo, that is not what I was trying to do. I was trying to get my music directly to the street. Before I even got out of prison because I’m such a strategist that my thoughts were premeditated before I got out. I had formulated, I had people out in the streets so my man’s was in a position to help me. So by the time I got out all we had to do was go see the lawyer, incorporate the paperwork and the name—register the name Hustle Hard Entertainment—and we were on our way. AllHipHop.com: You doing well on the street mixtapes, is that how you managed to be a ghostwriter on Lil’ Kim’s album?Maino: Who ever said I was a ghostwriter, who said that? I never said that.AllHipHop.com: You didn’t say that, but it’s just the word…Maino: Oh, it’s just speculating. Well, I am not going to run with that. I have never supported that idea of me being a ghostwriter for anybody. People are going to speculate because that is just the business. People are going to speculate that Kim don’t write her rhymes. That don’t have nothing to do with me though. AllHipHop.com: Your song “Rumors” was popping off and you signed to Universal, it seemed liked things stalled, though. Maino: Well, we live and learn. At that point, I don’t think they understood where to go with me, as far as me being a New York artist. I don’t think I was ready either honestly. I don’t really think I was ready as I am today. Right now I’m 100 percent sure, I’m ready, I’m on deck. So, it was cool for both of us because I was able to get some on the job training. It was a learning experience, sort of like college. Now I’m really in the work force.  Maino “Rumors”AllHipHop.com: Looking back is there anything you would have done differently specifically?Maino: Well it is all about my creativeness, as far as making certain records and just growing as an artist. Where I am today, as far as that, I don’t think I was there, then speaking directly at growth as an artist.AllHipHop.com: So correct me if I’m wrong, would it be safe to say that wouldn’t have made a “Hi Hater” with Universal?Maino: Right, I don’t know if I was capable of doing it, because first and foremost, it‘s my mentality. I didn’t understand the game the way I do now. Everything takes time, I had to go through that period get here – so that portion of my life was well needed. If I didn’t go through the situation with Universal, I don’t think I would be able to make “Hi Hater” because I actually made the record right after I was released from Universal. It was right after I was released from Universal and right before I signed with Atlantic. AllHipHop.com: I see you got credit as co-producer, what did you do to get that credit?Maino: Because the whole record is my idea. My man Mista Raja, I called him up and told him I got this idea, I want to use this particular record. We used the beat that [Mary J. Blige] had, we found that beat, shout out to my man, DJ Unique, for getting the instrumental to us. What I did was Mr. Raja, he looped it, and I rapped to it. So, I’m getting my Diddy on. Maino “Hi Hater”AllHipHop.com: Did you know you had something when you finished the song did you realize it would blow up?Maino: Well at first I wasn’t fishing for it, saying “Yeah, I’m looking for a hit record.” I was just being myself. In doing the record I was like, “Oh it’s coming out good.” But it wasn’t until people were walking in the studio and started dancing, oh man…immediately. It was like a reaction off of impulse. So I was like, “Wow I’m holding a bomb right here.” so I finished the record and everybody loved it and I held it. I held the record for a year.AllHipHop.com: Why, because you were waiting for that right time?Maino: I had just got out of Universal and I was negotiating with Atlantic. My deal with Atlantic wasn’t done yet and I did the record right in the middle of that. So now I was faced with the option of either release the record on my own or holding it until after my deal is done, waiting until Atlantic was going to be able to get behind it. It was a couple of times I wanted to leak the record on my own, this record could have actually came out last summer. But I don’t think it would have been as big as it is today, because my deal wasn’t done. I needed the machine behind it.Hi Hater Remix – Maino f/ t.i., swizz beatz, plies, jadakiss, fabolousAllHipHop.com: What’s your relationship with T.I. like? Maino: That is my brother man. He’s a very real dude. Grand Hustle is family. I’m not actually signed to the label but we family. Those are my allies, those are my brothers.

“That is some industry s**t. What is street cred? What is that, where does it come from? I don’t know these dudes for being anybody so how can they have street credibility?”

AllHipHop.com: You have mentioned before the difference between street cred and respect. Can you speak on that? Maino: What is street cred? That is some industry s**t. What is street cred? What is that, where does it come from? I don’t know these dudes for being anybody so how can they have street credibility? I don’t know these rappers for being a fixture in the ghetto. I am and I was who I was before rap. I’ve been well respected where I came from, been known in my immediate area of Brooklyn, as well as in prison. So I believe that’s just the industry’s term to solidify a couple of these guys that may wear bananas and their pants hanging. So I don’t buy into the street credibility, I don’t even know what that is. Respect on the other hand is the greatest of everything because without respect what do you have? I grew up in an era where if you wasn’t respected, you couldn’t have your chain on. If you wasn’t respected you couldn’t wear that watch and bracelet.  If you did you would have to hide it, because n****s are on your ass for that. That is a guaranteed fact. So if you had that respect and that was the greatest thing in the hood because nobody was going to touch you. You could bring a girl from another project to your hood. She didn’t have to worry about girls jumping on her because you were respected.I’m not saying you had to be the most gun-slinging, gangster in the hood, but for different reasons men are respected. I just happened to be of the ones who was really respected way before I even picked up a thought of rapping. AllHipHop.com: For you what is the greatest part of being an MC? Maino: Being able to provide for my family, take care of my son, legally. You don’t understand I never done anything legal in my life. I came out my house I was in the street at a very early age, I went through so many trials and tribulations being a pre-teen, a teenager and going to jail for a long period of time, getting out and going directly back to the streets and making the transition from being a street dude to being an artist. This is the first time where I have ever been in the position to provide for my people with a legal foundation.AllHipHop.com: The situation with Lil Cease, is it squashed, or a case of it is what it is?Maino: It is what it is. That is not even a thought in my every day process because that was just a situation I needed to address and I addressed it. I don’t have a problem addressing anything I feel like I need to. He couldn’t watch his mouth, so I gave him a reason to watch his mouth. He will never disrespect me as long as he lives. And anybody who is affiliated with him will never ever get out of line again. AllHipHop.com: Being that your status is elevated, that means that eyes are going to be on you. How do you deal with the fact that there is always going to be an idiot out there just itching to test you?Maino: What I am doing right now, is I stay kind of pulled back a lot on the beefing with a lot of dudes. I try to hold back and just let the music speak for itself, because it was a time when people only judged me and people only noticed me because of controversial issues I was through. So I’m not even focused on these other dudes. I’m just focused on my trying to make good music and go to the next level. However, I don’t think that anyone is just going to step out of line for the sake of doing it. I would be a fool to keep trying to look for that, I wouldn’t be a true blue hustler to get all the way here and to constantly do things that are going to chase the money away. That is what you call being counterproductive, how can I get all the way into a corporate environment, get a record that is moving all around the country and do s**t that is going to take away from that. That wouldn’t be smart at all and I am nobody’s dummy.AllHipHop.com: After somebody listens to the complete album, If Tomorrow Comes…, what are they going to get out of it?Maino: Hell of a lot more respect for me as a person. I think they will love me as a man and not just as some MC. I stay away from all the MC s**t, the rapper s**t. It’s just real talk and real situation in life. Even if you look at “Hi Hater,” it’s not really about me being a rapper, it’s about a situation everybody can relate to. So I try to make my music to where certain other people can take something out of it, not just listen to some ill metaphor or something. That is not what I am in it for.

“I didn’t learn anything in jail as far as preparing me to be a regular upstanding citizen… Real talk, it’s designed to just leave you in there and you got to wing it and take it upon yourself to pick up something. They give you a vocational training, you can get your GED but is that really going to prepare you for the world? You have to have it in you, to want to do something.”

AllHipHop.com: Any track that stands out? Maino: There is a couple. There is a record called “Floating” that I love. It’s about loss, it’s about losing homies to death and jail and how do you cope with that. I say, “I don’t want to feel sober, I want to feel numb, I don’t want to feel sober.” So with most people aren’t going through they say they drink and get high and that is kind of what the story is about. Man it feels like I’m floating on the clouds. I’m high, because I don’t want to face the word alone. Because when you are going through these things you want to ease your pain. You don’t want to think about what is making you hurt, that is what the record is about. AllHipHop.com: I saw this video on the Kay Slay show and you mentioned how they’re building of all of these jails but not building schools. Do you feel that jail rehabilitates people at all?Maino: No it doesn’t. I didn’t learn anything in jail as far as preparing me to be a regular upstanding citizen, honestly if it wasn’t for rap I would go back to the street. Real talk, first and foremost it’s not designed to be that way, it’s designed to just leave you in there and you got to wing it and take it upon yourself to pick up something. They give you a vocational training, you can get your GED but is that really going to prepare you for the world? You have to have it in you, to want to do something. You got to say, I got to take this time and I’m going to use it to perfect whatever craft I want to get into, whatever field I want to get into. It just gives you time to think, it’s just all on you, though.

blog comments powered by Disqus