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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - M-Tri
Monday, January 11, 2010

Before I even spun M-Tri’s album, Max Talkin’ Real Ism, I had a distinct feeling it was going to be a little different from most of the other fare that had been coming across my desk as of late. His wife, DJ Leecy T, had passed me the album, and being that there aren’t a lot of wives in the scene, that instantly made M-Tri stand out to me. It didn’t take long before his album stood out to me, too. Max Talkin’ Real Ism is dope hip-hop. M-Tri’s lyrical content, and the way he delivers that lyrical content, are both top notch. That’s why this week I caught up with him to find out more about his music, one of his most memorable emcee battles, and what it’s like being married in the rap game.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with the M-Tri story. Where are you from and how did you come to the decision to pick up a mic and start spittin rhymes?
M-Tri: I'm from the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, New York. I was introduced to hip-hop through the elements of graffiti and breakdancing. I started writing rhymes after being inspired by artists like Run-DMC, UTFO, Whodini, and LL Cool J. After hearing Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, and KRS-One, that really put the fire in me to start recording and performing. Shortly after that I started DJing and a few years later got into production.

Adam Bernard: I’ve been listening to your album, Max Talkin’ Real Ism, and there’s an impressive array of subject matter on it. What were some of the “Real-isms” you were hoping to cover going in and what do you feel are some of the more powerful statements on the album?
M-Tri: Going in, besides the braggadocios emcee topics, I really wanted to cover the everyday life issues of people, such as work, relationships, addiction, self-improvement, money, and injustices. The more powerful statements would be about police brutality, how the government neglects disabled and poor people, and striving to achieve your goals by staying focused and positive in a negative world.

Adam Bernard: Who do you think the target audience is for this album and how do you hope it will affect them when they listen to it?
M-Tri: I think my target audience would be people both young and old that love and respect the culture of hip-hop. I hope it makes them feel inspired as well as entertained through the lyrics, boom bap beats, and scratches.

Adam Bernard: You have one line on, I think it’s “Silly Rappers,” where you say emcees are nervous “like Mike Tyson at a spelling bee.” This leads me to believe that you, at one point in time, may have been a battle emcee. 1) Am I right? 2) If I’m right give me your best war story from you time battling.
M-Tri: Yeah I definitely started out as a battle emcee, like most of us do. I have a few war stories, here's one... It was my senior year in high school and I was leaving school with a friend. I was showing him a press photo of my DJ at the time, our dancers, and myself. This kid overheard our conversation and jumped in with "you got dancers? You think you can rap?" By the time I was a senior most people knew I rhymed and I had quite a few battles at school, but I didn't know this kid and obviously he didn't know me, so he challenged me to a battle. There were a bunch of us on the corner and I set it off. He was definitely caught off guard. He kicked something and we went back and forth a few times. The crowd judged me as the winner. We shook hands and I went on my way. The next day while I was leaving school he ran up to me like "let's battle again!" He had some of his friends with him and by the time we started a huge crowd surrounded us outside of school. People thought it was a fight and the crowd got bigger. We rhymed back and forth a few times and then he started getting racial with it. I just kept hitting him with straight comedy. I had people cracking up and screaming. The crowd lost it on one of my lines and that ended the battle.

Adam Bernard: That’s a dope story. You know, your wife was the person who actually passed me your album. I know a lot of rappers who only rhyme to get girls, so how is it being married in hip-hop? Does it help you keep your focus knowing that who you’re going home with isn’t a question?
M-Tri: My wife is actually my DJ now so being married in hip-hop is awesome! And she's DOPE, so what more could I ask for? We have a beautiful relationship on and off the stage. Being married and settled down works really well for me because I am definitely more focused now than I was in the past. Shout out to DJ LEECY T!

Adam Bernard: How do you feel the landscape of hip-hop would be different if you were a top selling artist?
M-Tri: The landscape of hip-hop wouldn't be focused so much on materialistic things, violence, and sex. It would be more realistic and intelligent for the everyday person. Hip-hop would focus more on skills and creativity if I was a top selling artist.

Adam Bernard: When all is said and done, how do you hope the M-Tri chapter in hip-hop’s history book will be wrapped up?
M-Tri: I hope it would be wrapped up by saying I was a sincere and dedicated artist to the culture of hip-hop as a triple threat on the set, that I gave back to the community, never turned away an autograph, and went triple platinum!!!

Related Links

Website: djm-tri.com
MySpace: myspace.com/mtri
Sonicbids: sonicbids.com/mtri

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