Hip-Hop transcends time. Many folks have tried their hands at the art. Some become more successful than others. Contemporary fads are satirized by time. The profound are rewarded with a timeless longevity. Several MCs dream of the, shiny-suit A&R, discovering their music and championing their cause. The men of ¡MAYDAY! personify this evasive dream. CD and Sharpie in hand, Tech N9ne, co-founder/Vice President of Strange Music, actually approached the sextet as a genuine supporter. Following an on-the-road audition, ¡MAYDAY! has earned their place on Strange Music.
Together, L.T. Hopkins, drummer; Nonymous, percussionist; Gianni Ca$h, bass-player/producer; Plex Luthor, guitarist/producer; Bernz, MC; and Wrekonize MC/programmer, have become one of Miami, Florida’s increasingly valued exports. Sharing a unique experience, this group of talented artists has been transformed into an extended family. While performing on Tech N9ne’s, Hostile Takeover 2012 tour, AllHipHop.com was invited to conduct an exclusive interview with ¡MAYDAY!. In their début feature, ¡MAYDAY! discusses everything from Strange Music, the new album, Take Me To Your Leader, and some of life’s intricate nuances.
AllHipHop.com: May I have the story of ¡MAYDAY!'s evolution in sound from the beginning until now?
Bernz: ¡MAYDAY! started out as a two-man group with myself and Plex. We were signed to a small label out of Miami, [Florida] called Southbeat Records. We hooked up with our homie, Wrekonize; he was our labelmate at the time. After Southbeat dissolved as a label, we ended up picking up Wrekonize and brining him into the group. Along the process, we changed from being a two-man, mostly sample based outfit, into more of a live music endeavor. Somewhere along the line there, we just started gigging out a lot more around town, and it evolved into what you see now.
AllHipHop.com: Last year, you guys agreed to sign with Strange Music. What factors influenced this decision?
Bernz: The number one factor is Tech N9ne. We’ve looked at everything he’s been able to accomplish so far, and the model that he’s been able to build, along with Travis [O’Guin] and the rest of Strange Music. It just seemed like the perfect fit for us. In terms of the way that we are, we are also a self-contained, do-it-yourself organization. So, it matches very well, us and Strange Music. Tech was just—he also came to us as a fan. The first time I met Tech, he had my CD in his hand. He wanted us to sign it. That was a really great experience. It was never your traditional sleazy-record-company-guy kind of story that you hear about. It was something that was really organic.
Plex: Their head A&R really fought for us.
Bernz: Their head A&R, Dave Weiner, was the first person to believe in us. He was leading the charge to get everyone else on Strange on board.
Wrekonize: We knew that their touring structure was so crazy. We wanted to be out here [on the road] where they were doing tours this size. We knew that they could bring us out here.
AllHipHop.com: Plex, in an interview that you did with Murder Dog magazine, you told Black Dog, “… the whole organization from the top down is nothing but cool ass people…” With you, does this sentiment still ring true?
Plex: Yes, [now] even more so. The more time that I spend with these guys—I wish that I lived in K.C. [Kansas City, Missouri] so my kids could hang out with these people. They’re on the up and up, all the time. There’s no uncomfortable sh*t over there. You never feel like, “Is he fucking me over?” We never feel like that. Travis, [O’Guin] is going to keep up the mold. And even the [road] crew and the people that we room with are cool as sh*t. There’s no complaints.
Bernz: Here, everybody’s about their business; it’s really refreshing. You don’t get the classic industry f*ck-ups.
AllHipHop.com: Plex, have you had the opportunity to submit any beats for Lynch?
Plex: Yeah recently, I just did and it kinda sucked. I made 40 songs for the album, and we just did Klusterfuk. He caught me at the end of it. So, hopefully he likes something. I sent him six [beats] which is the number I was told to send him. Hopefully, he picks something. I didn’t get the chance to make it for him—which is what I like to do—but hopefully he chooses something. I like them.
AllHipHop.com: From its inception to having everything mixed and mastered, how long was required to create Take Me To Your Leader?
Bernz: I want to say about six months. About four months of touring—we did about half of it on the road, and the other half we did once we got back home. Give or take a month, I’d say about six or seven months.
Plex: We went in the studio, for like, two months.
Bernz: Once all of our ideas were jotted down, it only took a month, or a good month and a half, of actual going in everyday and recording to lay out everything. The thought process of what was going into it, and starting to think about titles, and direction; that started when the last tour started.
Plex: We did 40-plus songs. There’s a whole other ¡MAYDAY! album out there that nobody’s going to hear.
Wrekonize: Or, not yet anyway.
AllHipHop.com: I want to discuss a few tracks from the album. “R.E.M.” is one of my favorites. Who’s responsible for this lyric, “…Life’s a Rubik’s cube…”
Wrekonize: That’s me.
AllHipHop.com: That’s you? I’m going to have to give you a hug.
Wrekonize: Come over here and give me some love.
AllHipHop.com: [hugs Wrekonize] You’re dope. It’s a complex thought, but you’re able to convey it in such a simple way. It would take me a paragraph to get across the same idea; you did it in a sentence. Wow!
Wrekonize: Thank you; I appreciate that.
AllHipHop.com: Are any of you guys parents?
Plex: Yes, I have two boys.
AllHipHop.com: Excluding, Plex. Are either of y’all afraid of the responsibility that’s required to become a good parent? On this album, emotional angst surfaced surrounding that idea.
Bernz: In a sense, these albums are autobiographical. We’re getting to that point in our lives where you start to think about these things. The decisions that you make now matter longer. Also, seeing what [Plex] has to go through in terms of balancing out his family-life with his work-life. This is a really strange career to be a part of; so, your family really has to bend to your career. It’s out there, man. It’s an everyday thing for us. We always have to schedule around his family and what he has to be there to cover.
Plex: The ironic thing is that they all come from more family-orientated homes.
Bernz: I’m a Latin boy; I have more cousins than I can count. For the most part, I don’t want to speak for the whole band—with the exception of [Plex]—I think it’s something that people have to struggle with, home-life and all that.
AllHipHop.com: Who said, “…I’m feeling like this bassinette is just another coffin…”
Wrekonize: That’s me; on “Dig It Out,” right? Can I get another hug for that?
AllHipHop.com: Absolutely! You’re going to be my new “MC-crush.” [Hugs Wrekonize and everyone chuckles.]
AllHipHop.com: The best track from the album is “Everything’s Everything.”
Plex: Wow, I’m glad you said that; thank you very much!
Bernz: That was Plex’s top track, too.
Plex: Did I have to fight for that to be on the album?
Bernz: No, you had to fight for it to be on the live show.
AllHipHop.com: The track’s theme is polarizing; either love or hate, but you brought it together in such a cohesive way.
Wrekonize: Thank you very much.
Plex: It was a little more positive.
Bernz: But on my verse, I wanna say it’s an angry verse. I understand what she’s saying. We’re walking this line where we love each other, but we really fuc*ing hate everything.
Plex: It’s hard to do right by other people, but at the same time do right by you and yours. People can’t take that personally. I may have to sh*t on you, because I have to feed my kids. I’ll see you tomorrow, we’ll be cool; it’s all love. But, right now, I got some important sh*t I gotta worry about.
AllHipHop.com: On this track, who boldly declares, “…America’s gonna eat its young…”
Bernz: “…Drive-thru, deep-fried, ‘cause that’s what you want...”
AllHipHop.com: Those lyrics made me think of Trayvon Martin’s murder. What is your perception of the whole situation?
Plex: I just think Zimmerman is a crazy fu*k. That dude needs to be gone already. I’m not going to go into the politics of it. But, when someone gets shot—when a kid gets shot who has Skittles in his pocket—regardless, of the situation, it fuc*ing sucks.
Bernz: That whole thing is such an onion. It’s a representation of so many different aspects of our society that all clashed in one moment. In that one instance— the race thing, gun-control— so many different aspects touch on what just happened there. America is definitely going to eat its young! That’s the vibe with that.
AllHipHop.com: As a country, why is it easier to fix the world than it is to heal ourselves?
Bernz: Naturally, just because people are more idealistic, nobody ever really realizes that they themselves are the world. Change really has to start from within. It’s a lot easier to go out and pick some sort of distant topic, than it is to look internally and ask, ‘What the fu*k am I doing that’s wrong?’ So, I think that’s why the topic of the world is a lot easier to do.
AllHipHop.com: Into whom or what do you invest your faith?
Bernz: Into my friends, and my family, and my supporters. We’re not really a heavily religious band. In this band everybody has their own things that they follow. But it’s not really something that we really like to talk about, or push on people. In this day and age I think that everybody is just kinda trying to find themselves.
Wrekonize: Family and good friends; good friends are hard to come by.
AllHipHop.com: Overall, I respect your musicality. You’ve worked with everyone from Devin The Dude to dead prez. So far, who’s been that one person who’s been that elusive feature that you’ve yet to work with?
Bernz: There were a few people we tried to get on the album. Even though we’ve had the look of working with a lot of people, we’re still very unknown. It’s a process. I really think that in the future, every one of your favorite rappers, or artists, are going to come to us for their remix. It’s going to be the “cool” thing to do. I truly believe that. We’re so eclectic; I feel like we can hit every single range you want us to hit.
Plex: On Wednesday, we dropped a song with Black Thought, Jon Connor, Jay Rock, Stevie Stone, all on one song.
AllHipHop.com: All on one song?
Bernz: The song we did with dead prez [“TNT”], we did a remix with all of them on there. [DJ] Khaled is even on there.
Plex: We love to work with people who people think we shouldn’t be working with.
Bernz: Like the Ace Hood song on our album [“Highs & Lows”]. We told people, we just did this amazing track with Ace Hood. People were like ¡MAYDAY! and Ace Hood, how the fu*k does that work? But he killed it. He got on our sh*t and killed it!
Wrekonize: We like those head-scratchers. We like dropping a track and the headline reads who’s featured on it—we like to fu*k with people’s heads.
AllHipHop.com: Until the next time, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Wrekonize: Take Me To Your Leader, is in stores and on iTunes. Go get it!
Plex: We need y’all to support us.
Bernz: Support us, and come to the shows. We’ll melt off your face.
Plex: We’ll kick you in the neck.