Slang Rap Democracy: Interview with Meyhem Lauren
Consider yourself lucky, you are in the midst of a New York hip-hop resurgence. One of the key components? Meyhem Lauren, a Q-Borough rhymesayer who slings the rhymes harder than a fastball by Steven Strasburg. With a style that evokes golden-era hip-hop nostalgia, Meyhem has been in the game for eight years, persevering and fighting through the doubters only to now reap the fruit of his dedication. His Outdoors crew is pushing their weight around twenty-twelve, and now Meyhem has been tagged in to Texas Cloverleaf the hip-hop industry.
Peace Meyhem. First question that I want to ask is for the readers who don’t know who you are, who exactly is Meyhem Lauren?
Meyhem Lauren AKA “The Silk Shirt Ambassador” is real New York in the purest form. Go to WWW.MEYHEMLAUREN.COM and get familiar.
You run with Smart Crew, the Lo-Lifes, and Outdoorsmen. The Outdoorsmen are doing big things lately. Action Bronson and Shaz just dropped Blue Chips and Before It All Happened, and your going to release Respect the Fly Shit in May. How does it feel that your team is helping put Queens back on the map and is about to brand Outdoorsmen all over 2012?
It feels good; basically we’re just all playing our parts. We have a strong team and a lot of quality music to hit the public with. At this point the only thing that people can do is sit back and watch, respect the flood or drown in it.
What can your fans expect from Respect the Fly Shit?
Classic material straight up. I feel very strongly about this project and don’t throw the term classic around loosely. Ninety percent of the project was recorded between shows in Texas during SXSW so there was a lot of adrenalin flowing due to performing non-stop and wilding out. All the beats hit hard and have a classic yet futuristic sound and were produced by Tommy Mas and Harry Fraud. Features on Respect the Fly Shit include two of my Outdoorsmen brothers Action Bronson and Ag Da Coroner. I also got verses from my homies Despot and Heems from Das Racist. There are a few other surprise guests on the project but I’ll keep that info under wraps until later.
When I name artists like NaS, Kool G Rap, Mobb Deep, Large Professor, A Tribe Called Quest, and Cormega, what’s the first thing that comes to mind and why?
Queens legends, people like that are the reason I rap now. Luckily I was fortunate enough to be raised by the material that those artists dropped as I was growing up.
What will it take for Meyhem Lauren to join the collection of Queens legends?
Quality, consistency, and hard work. I have mad material in the stash and I am working on numerous projects at the moment. I put in work for a minute to get things properly lined up. Now all I have to do is play my part and deliver. If I don’t reach legendary status in the future I can only blame myself.
You’ve been working with J-Love for some now. It’s been said that Large Pro helped mold NaS when he was starting up. How has J-Love helped you out with your career?
J-Love helped a lot and still does, that man is fam forever. He’s the first person to take me to a professional recording studio, he showed me how to count bars and write in song format, he’s the first person I ever worked with production wise, he’s the first DJ that ever let me host a mixtape etc. After I knock out this LP I’m doing with Buckwild (DITC) and my Everyday is Thanksgiving LP, I’m going to do an album completely produced by J-Love.
On “Guillotine (Swordz)” off the Purple Tape, Raekwon told his listeners “Watch me massage your brain with slang that’s king.” Rae cooks up some of the craziest slang wordplay, and I think both you and Bronson are bringing it back. Personally, how do you approach your writing process and how do you try and make your wordplay sound fresh and smooth?
Similar to the Wu, we always had our own slang and way of talking amongst ourselves so we basically incorporate that into our music without even thinking about it. We write songs and speak to the masses as we would speak to each other. Its bugged out because I hear kids in the street saying words and phrases that I know me and my mans made up. I guess it means we’re doing something right. As far as wordplay being fresh and smooth that is ninety percent of what music is. I respect lyrics but flow and delivery come first, you could spit the cure to AIDS on a record but if the way you say it isn’t appealing to the ear, your point is going to get missed. An artist with a good flow and energy can make it in the game saying almost nothing but an artist who has the best lyrics in the world but sounds unappealing has no shot. In my opinion real legends are the people who mastered both flow and lyrical content.
I’ve read in an interview in which you’ve known Action Bronson since you guys were both twelve. How do you feel about all the success and demand he’s been getting recently?
I love it! That’s family right there If he shines, I shine if I shine, he shines straight up. If anything his recent success is motivational. Bronson actually put the battery in my back to do the Respect The Fly Shit project that’s about to drop. He basically talked me into doing it and orchestrated the whole shit when we were in SXSW.
Have you picked up any cooking techniques from Bronson? If so, what?
Mad things, he put me on to seasoned panko bread crumbs, kalamata olives, various cheeses and peppers, deep frying techniques, various seasonings and all types of other shit that will give me a heart attack if I don’t step my cardio routine up.
Have you taught him anything?
Yeah I put him onto mad shit, so did my brother. All of us cook so over the years all types of fly dishes got whipped up between the three of us. Baked macaroni and cheese, chili, all types of wings, turkey meatloaf etc..
Have you seen Thirstin Howl’s Jail Recipe videos on YouTube? If so, got a favorite dish episode?
Yeah those videos are golden, he deserves a TV show. My favorite dish is the Jack Mack episode without a doubt.
Who do you think would serve the better dish in a iron-chef cookoff, Bronson or THIII?
As long as I get a plate from each of them I don’t even care who wins..
Illmatic or It Was Written?
Only Built for Cuban Linx or Iron Man?
Road to Riches or Wanted Dead or Alive?
Illmatic, Iron Man, and Wanted Dead or Alive
Final question. There is no way that Ralph Lauren himself hasn’t heard of the Lo-Lifes. Would you like to say anything to him on behalf of the crew?
Nah. I respect him as a designer but that’s the extent of it, no message necessary.
Any shout outs?
PEACE TO EVERYBODY SHOWING LOVE AND SUPPORTING THE MOVEMENT. FREE DREN STARR! PEACE TO MY G RAEP TCN!