Meyhem Lauren Interview
Meyhem Laurenovitch stops by HipHopGame to talk about his Buckwild project, how an album with DJ Muggs came about, his relationship with Action Bronson, and more in this exclusive interview.
Our last interview was over a year ago. You released two dope free projects and took on a variety of other projects in that time. What’s this past year been like for you?
The past year, it’s kind of been hectic. It’s been a lot of work. I’m working on multiple projects right now, just staying busy. I’m doing a lot more shows and a lot more solo shows and a lot more shows with [Action] Bronson. It’s been crazy.
Did you expect to blow up like this or has the love been an unexpected surprise?
I always expected the both of us to surprise. I didn’t think it would happen as quick as it did, but I always expected it to happen.
I’ve always appreciated that you dropped consistently good music. What do you attribute your success to?
I think it’s what you just said. If you consistently put out quality, you can’t be denied. If you’re just always there, dropping something new that’s fire, and keep hitting ‘em, how could you front on someone like that?
What’s your creation process like?
I rarely ever scrap a record or a verse or anything, for that matter. Occasionally sometihng won’t fit and I’ll hold it back, but it all depends on the project. You already said, I’m not like a one-hit wonder guy. Maybe I won’t even be the hit guy. We’ll see what happens down the line. I try to place things on the right project. I don’t think about making the perfect song. I think about making the perfect project. I knock music out and then try to decide where to place it. It’ll all make sense later.
You’re probably recording more songs than you ever have, especially with the variety of projects you’re working on. Has your writing process changed at all?
It really has to do with the production, to be honest. I let the production tell me what to do. Sometimes I hear a beat and I’ll be like, ‘All right, this is just go right from your head to the paper.’ Other beats are a story beat or a beat that you kind of want to explain something on or a party beat. It’s really all about the production.
Is there anything you listen for in a beat that makes you decide what you rock over and what you pass on?
Yeah, there is, but I can’t really explain what it is. It’s just like a certain feeling. I’ll know after ten sconds of hearing a beat whether it’s a keeper or not. That’s how it goes, really.
You’ve taken on a variety of projects. The one you’ve been working on for a while is the Buckwild LP. How’s that coming?
It’s good. It’s pretty much done. We might have to do two or three more records, but the Buckwild project is pretty much a wrap. We have a situation for it and it should be coming out very shortly.
What was it like working with Buckwild?
Buck is dope. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to. At the end of the day, I’m a fan. I’m a fan that just happens to rap and make a career off of it. I’m working with a dude I grew up listening to and I’m able to get feedback from him. It’s a good thing.
What did you take away from working with Buckwild?
One thing I can say about Buck is that he’s kind of like a perfectionist. And that’s good because I try to be as sharp as possible whenever I lay down a song, but Buck is really like, ‘Yo, Mey, you can do that better’ and, ‘Do that over.’ I appreciate that. It might annoy some artists, but if Buck is saying to do it over, I think that is going to make our project perfect.
And you know what? Since I worked with Buck, I’m even more of a perfectionist on my other projects now ‘cause I know I can make this sharper, I can make this better. I’m just focused on the finished product more than I was. Working with Buck just changed my career in general.
You’re also working on an EP with J-Love, someone you go way, way back with. How’s that project coming?
It’s dope. He’s the first person I ever worked with. Doing something with him is just natural. In the past few years, I’ve worked with a bunch of other producers and artists in general, but it’s always good to come back to your roots and rocking with J-Love is always good. His beats are a perfect fit for my music. It’s dope. We actually want to do an LP. We’re putting out the EP first to make some noise with it and try to get somebody behind the LP. That’s what the whole reasoning is with doing the EP. There’s a hundred J-Love beats that I want to rhyme on. We’re going to do the best six or seven and then work on the LP down the line.
You’re also doing an EP with DJ Muggs. How did that come about?
Basically when Bronson was doing the Rare Chandeliers project with Alchemist, Muggs came through. He was just kind of kicking it. I told him he was one of my favorite producers of all-time and I’m not one of those dudes who meets artists and producers and talks their ear off, but when it came to Muggs I needed to bow down and tell him how I feel. I tell everyone that the first Cypress album is my favorite album of all-time. Kool G. Rap is my favorite rapper of all-time, but that’s my favorite album, mainly because of the production. I told him I was a huge fan and that night, we knocked out a couple records and after we did the stuff for Bronson’s album with Al, Muggs played some beats and me an Bronson knocked out a couple records and then I knocked out one by myself. A few weeks later he hit me and told me he wanted to do a project. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to them, but then he sent me more beats. I went out to L.A. and stayed with him and we knocked out twelve songs. That project is done too.
I’ve known Muggs a long time and I know the one thing he really appreciates is someone who keeps their word and follows through. I’m sure Muggs saw that in you.
We kind of had that talk also. He’s Muggs. A billion people want to work with Muggs. I’m just honored that he wanted to work with me and respected the talent and I think me and him are going to make something classic. I’m working on a bunch of things and you don’t want to pick a favorite child, but the Muggs project is something special.
When are we going to hear something from that?
I’m dropping the Buck project first. I like the Muggs project and the Buckwild project because they’re both completely different. I’m also doing a whole project with Fraud and that doesn’t sound anything like the others. I want to drop the Muggs album this year. The Buck project is dropping sooner. It has to make sense, but the work is done.
You already did one project with Harry Fraud, Respect the Fly Shit. What was it like working with him for a whole project?
That was dope. Me and Fraud go back. He knew me before I had a buzz and I knew him before he was a super-producer. But he only produced half of that project. I gotta shout out Tommy Mas who produced the other half.
You put that project out for free. Do you ever have a problem giving out music?
No, not at all. And I followed that up with the Mandatory Brunch Meetings project. To be honest, I put both projects out for free. It made a lot of noise. They both got well over 100,000 downloads. They both really got out there. I also pressed the vinyl for Respect the Fly Shit, which I made money off of, and I’m pressing up vinyl for Mandatory Brunch Meetings. I’m going to put out deluxe versions of both too.
As an independent artist, do you find that having free projects out increases the demand for shows and helps you get more money for a show?
100%. Giving out a free project, it’s just a different era and you have to play the game. I’m putting out a lot of retail projects. But it’s very important to put out free things too, especially as you’re climbing the ladder as an artist. If I hadn’t put those two projects out for free this summer, I might have made money selling it, but I got much more features, much more shows, and much more exposure. Those albums generated a lot of income for me and I think ti was in my best interests to do that.
Even with Self-Induced Illness, I’ve sold more units of that since I put out the other projects for free because I got new fans from those projects that found out about what I had done previously. It’s like a fine line you have to walk. I wouldn’t say you have to put out everything for free, because that defeats the purpose, but sometimes you have to put something out for free.
And in the next couple of weeks I’m going to drop a surprise EP with Ice Rocks. He produced probably my biggest record, “Got the Fever.” It’s eight joints and we’re going straight to vinyl with it. Ice Rocks is in a group DXA and he produces for them. We’ve been cool for a couple of years and we finally did a project together. I’m actually parked outside of his studio and we’re about to go do some work.
Is an Outdoorsman project in the works?
I really don’t know. Who knows what will happen down the line? In the immediate future, it doesn’t look like it. Everyone’s working on solo stuff. Action Bronson’s working on stuff, AG Da Coroner’s working on stuff. J-Love’s always putting out stuff. But I don’t think we’ll see a whole album anytime soon.
What’s your relationship like with Dante Ross today?
I’m actually not managed by Dante Ross today. We’re still very good friends and we speak frequently and he does help me with things, but he’s not my manager. To be perfectly honest, him and Bronson had a fall-out. It’s kind of public and they’re not too fond of each other. Action is like one of my best friends, so before business, I can’t be managed by a person that my man has a problem with. So although Dante’s never done anything directly to me and I have nothing bad to say about him. I’m cool with him, but I still felt awkward being managed by a person that my best friend didn’t like. We had to kind of go our separate ways but we’re still cool.
Right now, I have no management. I’m doing everything myself, kind of like how I was before. I’m sure down the line I will get management. I’m not really in a rush to just get a replacement manager. And anything that me and Dante started together, we’re finishing, like the Buckwild project. He pieced together that project and he’s still overseeing that. And Bronson never asked me to do that. I just felt awkward. It just didn’t look right.
Dante Ross has a lot of experience. What did you learn from him?
I learned a lot from Dante, man. I learned the importance of making everything count and getting the proper exposure. You could make the best album in the world or the best project in the world, but if you don’t hit the right media outlets, you’re working for nothing. I learned that you have to be consistent and keep working. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m putting out quality things on a consistent basis. We still talk frequently and he still helps me out with things. If I need assistance with anything, he’ll help me. He’s a friend, he’s just not a formal manager because of the Bronson thing. It’d be weird.
When you see how the promo game works today, if you have the relationships with websites and DJs as an artist, will a manager even be needed?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that. It all depends on your reason for having a manager. I’m not the kind of guy that needs to have a manager. I’m very, very self-sufficient and I make things happen. I just wanted a manager because I’m at the point in my career that I just want to make music. It’s not that I’m not capable of setting up shows and responding to emails, but I just wanted to make music. I wouldn’t say the manager is getting phased out. It’s definitely an important thing. And even if you can handle your business, why? Put your energy towards being an artist.
There’s been a ton of attention paid to Action Bronson’s skills in the kitchen and yours haven’t been talked about as much. Have your talents been overshadowed?
In the kitchen? Yeah! You know what it is? I never cooked professionally and he knows things and his presentation game is crazy. But Bronson will tell you that I get busy in the kitchen. I just don’t put it out there like that. I’m not going to do a Meyhem in the kitchen but I don’t really need to be known for that. If you know me personally, there’s no denying what I do in the kitchen.
Can you drop any culinary jewels on the HipHopGame readers?
I can drop a jewel! Watch the sodium. We use too much salt. Almost everything already has a lot of salt in it. If you like that zingy, zesty flavor that salt has, lemon and vinegar is a great salt substitute. I squeeze some fresh lemon and some vinegar in it. That’s a jewel.