First Look: KOTA The Friend
We interview KOTA The Friend for our first look series.Read More
Meyhem Lauren loves turkey. I know this because I just spent last night binge watching episodes of “F*ck That’s Deicious”, the VICELAND show in which Meyhem Lauren travels all over the world with Action Bronson, The Alchemist, and Big Body Bes. Meyhem serves somewhat as the straight-man on the show. If Bronson is the foodie extremist, displaying an appetite that possibly only he alone can maintain, Meyhem is the regular guy that shows everyone else, ‘hey, maybe these brains aren’t so bad to try after all.’
In his rap music, Meyhem exists in a similar manner. One of my favorite emcees when it comes to making straight-forward rap music. Wordplay, metaphors, grimey shit, beautiful shit, that’s Meyhem’s music, which most recently took the form of an album (Gems From The Equinox) and EP (Frozen Angels) with the legendary DJ and producer Muggs.
“Mey raps. Mey is a monster,” Muggs tells me over the phone on an early morning in late June (the same morning Muggs released this with DOOM and Freddie Gibbs).
The story has been told before, the one about how Muggs and Meyhem met during a session at Alchemist’s studio, Muggs threw him some beats, some time went by, he threw him more beats, and they decided to do a project together. That became the 2017 release, Gems From The Equinox. They had so many songs done that they came back with the Frozen Angels EP, which you may have missed amidst all the Drake/Pusha/Kanye hoopla. And if you did miss it, stop what you’re doing and go listen.
The shits is tremendous. And it’s just the start. While those releases were predominantly completed over email, the two have since been in the studio together regularly. They are now shaping music hand in hand, and both say it’s their best work together yet.
“At first I was just throwing him tracks you know, and he would pick what he likes and then he rapped on them,” Muggs says about the early material. “But now we are dialed into a sound. So even the stuff we’re [now] doing doesn’t sound anything like either the Frozen Angels or the Gems. It’s just like, now we’re in studio everyday, and just like, figuring it out. Now I’m really dialed into the new sound to make him shine even more.”
The bond between Muggs and Meyhem was strengthened by their shared aesthetics, musical preference for Mobb Deep and CNN. And while Muggs is so closely associated with LA Hip Hop thanks to his work with Cypress Hill and the Soul Assassins, both he and Meyhem actually grew up Queens. Oh, and they both love food.
“When we first started working it was kind of like, he’s Muggs, I’m Mey,” says Meyhem about their early relationship. “But now it’s like, you know, we’re friends, we’re fam, that’s my man. We rode around laughing and throwing lobster tails on the grill.”
Read on more my full interview with Meyhem Lauren as he talks about working with Muggs, his style of Hip Hop, and how all the success of “Fuck That’s Delicious” only makes him want to rap more.
rubyhornet: I believe that Frozen Angels came out the same week or shortly before the Nas album and in the middle of all the G.O.O.D. Music releases, and the Pusha and Drake beef, and then you got the 6ix 9ine’s trolling shit. Did you guys think at all about where this project would sit with what is happening in Hip Hop overall right now?
Meyhem Lauren: We don’t ever think about that. We just think about what we want to put out, what we wanna represent and drop it. That’s it, you know?
rubyhornet: Yeah, he was saying too that you guys have been able to work more in person on new music, and that’s helped just making him better in working with you and creating more music. From your standpoint how has the relationship gone specifically working with Muggs?
Meyhem Lauren: I mean it sounds better. When we first started working, it was kind of like he’s Muggs, I’m Mey. But now, it’s like, you know we’re friends, we’re fam, that’s my man. We rode around laughing and throwing lobster tails on the grill. And I get what you said, like he knows more what beats suit me. Like I’ll be listening if the beat is ill or not. But that might not always be for me, like the beat that’s ill could be for B-Real for GZA or for someone else, may not fit with what I got. But now he just knows right away like, ‘Yo, this is a Mey style beat.’ We gotta have that chemistry, and that was crazy. In the last couple of days we knocked out 5 songs from the next project that are so crazy, they literally blow away everything we ever done before. We are just moving in the right direction.
rubyhornet: That’s exactly what he was saying and he also mentioned you guys grilling all the time.
Meyhem Lauren: Yeah (*Laughs*)
rubyhornet: Also speaking of that, you do work with different producers and are constantly writing and making music. The way that he might have a specifically beat for you, do you save any kind of style or is there any kind of subject or rhyme style that you wanna save for Muggs? And think to yourself yeah this is what I’m going to use on the Muggs project vs. something you do solo or Harry Fraud stuff. Is there any ‘Muggs’ kind of rap?
Meyhem Lauren: Naw, not in particular. Not where I’ll like plan to save a subject for Muggs, but Muggs makes dark beats. So it kind of brings darker rhymes out of me. Does that makes sense?
rubyhornet: Yeah that definitely makes sense.
Meyhem Lauren: Me and Muggs recently have been doing some up tempo beats. And I didn’t still try to strictly stay dark on that, cause that wouldn’t make sense. So it’s based on the beat, the beat brings the rhymes out.
rubyhornet: Yeah, obviously you’ve heard about Cypress Hill before you met Muggs. And I’ve read and seen interviews with you talking about just listening Cypress Hill’s music as a kid and a being big fan of Hip Hop. I’m curious if you had any just preconceptions of what it might be like to work with Muggs or even as a kid or aspiring rapper in your teens? The same way of someone who wants to be a baseball player might think about visualizing hitting a home run off Randy Johnson, had you visualized what a recording session with Muggs might be like?
Meyhem Lauren: No, the whole relationship started organically. I met Muggs at a recording session, I was at Alchemist’s house. Working on completely different music, he came through, had some beats. He’s Muggs, so he knows about raps man. He was playing beats, and I had the opportunity to jump on a Muggs beat, like why wouldn’t I? And we just moved from there on. That was day one, day one was the session. We just got right to the work.
rubyhornet: Got you, Got you. I think I read a bio of yours that starts with….
Meyhem Lauren: Yo, I hate all these bios floating around (*Laughs*). I don’t even know who is writing these things? The only one good thing I can say is there’s a bio floating around where they shave like 5 years off my age. I’m not sure why, but I’ll leave that alone. But I don’t know what’s going on yo, I don’t even know what you’re going to say right now… But there’s a bunch of unauthorized bios all over the internet, I don’t even know how to fix that.
rubyhornet: Got you, I did see one that said you were born in 1989. And I was like I don’t know…
Meyhem Lauren: Yea exactly, I’ll take that (*Laughs*). I’ll keep it 100, I’m ‘83, but if you wanna say ‘89 hey.. Who am I to point that out. Everything else is wrong.
rubyhornet: Exactly, I read that and then I saw you talking about listening to Cypress Hill in like middle school or high school, like, ‘Damn this motherfucker must’ve skipped like 5 grades. For Cypress Hill to come out while he was in high school’… But I read something where it described you, but I don’t know who wrote it, but it described you as a Queens based rapper that represents a genre of Hip Hop that is near extinction. And I thought that was interesting if you started your bio like that, maybe someone else wrote it. Do you feel that way?
Meyhem Lauren: Naw, you know what’s crazy? It’s actually a piece of a very old bio that I think that I wrote or someone else wrote. But it’s like someone just took all these bios and put them in the blender, and added things and put things that were never said. But yeah, I’m cool with that, and that does makes sense to be honest.
rubyhornet: So what does that mean to you? Why do you feel like it’s going through extinction? Why do you represent this genre so much?
Meyhem Lauren: I’m just playing my part. I’m just actually doing what I like. And I don’t think it’s necessarily going through extinction, maybe in the mainstream of the public eye it is. But it’s actually stronger… from what I feel. And I’m not talking about myself, because a lot of dope stuff that fits the category of that genre that has been on the rise lately. Like I said, it’s not like a niche thing or something like, ‘Oh, I’m trying to be cool.’ I’m really making what I like, I’m making what I’m listening to. Obviously it’s an updated version because of whatever year it is. But I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do, you know?
rubyhornet: Yeah, does having the success with the TV and cooking take any pressure, in your eyes, off making music? Does it go into this attitude of letting you making what you like?
Meyhem Lauren: Naw, my thing is ‘more pressure.’ Cause it’s like, I gotta remind dudes that I still rap. Matter of fact not just that I rap, but I rap first and foremost… I’m Meyhem Lauren, so it actually gives me more pressure to stay on top of my music.
rubyhornet: That’s interesting man. That’s an interesting concept, and I think that’s probably part of why you’re such a good rapper and artist. Is that you kept that mentality, where it might be easy for someone to be like ‘I’m on TV, I have these other things. I’ll let that ride.’ But you’re attitude, now listening back to the music, it makes a lot of sense. So I think that’s dope.
Meyhem Lauren: You know something crazy? Beyond TV, I don’t know if you know, but I’m the voice of the World Cup. All week I have been doing voice ovesr for the World Cup. I’m at Fox everyday, updating games, and screaming and yeah doing crazy things. I just threw that in there cause I really wanna do voice overs now, I wanna cook food, but… I still wanna rap.
rubyhornet: Yeah, I saw that on your twitter like people were asking is this Meyhem Lauren on the World Cup Games? Are you a soccer fan or did they pick you for your voice?
Meyhem Lauren: I’m a soccer fan now. I love soccer. It saved my life.
rubyhornet: I also saw on your twitter that someone said something about you being a famous rapper and you replied, ‘I appreciate that, but I’m just a regular guy from Queens.’ And I feel like that sums up a lot. And is part of the reason that Muggs wanted to fuck with you. He said first and foremost you’re just a cool dude. Is that at the heart of how you see yourself or your identity?
Meyhem Lauren: Yeah, basically. Regular guy from Queens, it’s not like necessarily like average Joe regular, but regular meaning, I’m a certain type of person from Queens and there’s a bunch of people like me. That are in whatever. I’m just a regular guy from Queens, bro. I have been a rapper and done a bunch of things and I’m grateful for that. But that’s not who I am necessarily only.
rubyhornet: When we first worked with Bronson and brought him out here for our party and Closed Session, he said the exact same thing, and when we were just talking he was like ‘I’m just a regular guy, I make music, but i’m just a regular dude from Queens.’ That seems like that’s a key part of your bond. And I know that you guys are real friends from like 12 years old.
Meyhem Lauren: Yea that’s my man forever.
rubyhornet: Outside of the Muggs, you said that you guys have another album that you’re working on now. Is there any other music or things that you want people aware of?
Meyhem Lauren: In between Gems from the Equinox and Frozen Angels I put out an album with Fraud.
rubyhornet: Yep Glass right?
Meyhem Lauren: Glass, yep and I loved that. It was a bunch of issues on the back end like it took while to get out so we kind of just threw it out there. But the feedback’s been incredible. Dropped a video with me and Conway. And I’m still gon’ drop one or two videos from that project.
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