Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed hip-hop and rap artist Maine Mez about his life, his career, and what inspires his music.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Well I’m a rap/hip-hop artist from South Carolina. I can’t quite define my style of rap. I’m more of a sponge. I hear something I like, then it’s embedded in my brain. I play with different flows and beats. I am extremely confident in myself and my abilities. I haven’t always been that way, which is why it’s more important for me to carry myself the way I do. I feel like I’m one of the best artists in the world and that isn’t because I’m entitled or say it just to say it. I put in long hours working on my craft, my content, my knowledge of the game, and show my respect to the previous generation and show respect to the ones in in the game now. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and my time should be soon.
I go by the stage name Maine Mez. Maine comes from my real name Jermaine. And Mez comes form the Japanese word “Mezame” which stands for awakened. I chose that because I feel awakened. I know what I want out of music and what I want out of life so that name stuck. I actually changed my name from “Yung illi” which didn’t stand for anything lol. I never really liked it but ehhh that’s in the past.
When did you first WANT to write songs?
I remember at 7 years old I saw a rap video (think it was Bow Wow) I was hooked. I tried to write a song. I can’t quite remember how it went though. But, I wrote my first ever real song in 11th grade for a talent show. After that it was history.
When did you take a step to start writing songs?
I’ve been making music for a while, but I took my process to a whole new level in 2020. That’s when I realized, I should be taking this much more serious and actually try and make a career out of it.
What was your first song released, and what was it about?
It was a song called “Loco”. One of my day one friends and I skipped class to record the song during 3rd block in the conference room. The quality was bad because we snatched a school laptop out the library and had a garage mic, but the lyrics were nastyyyyy lol.
There wasn’t really a topic, I was just trying to sound exactly like “Lil Wayne” at the time so I was just spitting random metaphors (unlike him who could make a story out of them) and trying to get people to go “ouuuu” that’s fire lol.
What was your latest song released, and what was it about?
Well, I’ve come along way I must say. My latest song is a freestyle to Juvenile’s “Set it Off” and J.Cole’s and Joyner Lucas’ “Your Heart”. The Set if Off freestyle I’m just going in, spitting some dope lyrics, metaphors, and just focused on eating the beat, but the “Your Hear” freestyle is the total opposite. I’m reflecting on my life, mistakes I’ve made, depression, losing my confidence in myself for a while, and how I had to man up and power through it.
Focusing on your latest song. What were your biggest challenges with it?
My biggest challenges with the “Your Heart” freestyle was truly opening up. I wanted to really put my mind in the place it was when I was going through some of the worst times of my life. I focus on being positive everyday and keep moving forward, but for me to be as real as I could, I had to channel a lot of pain from my past and tell people who may not even like me or my music all my insecurities and weaknesses.
How many songs are you working on right now?
That number varies. Some days I can be working on upward of 10 songs, then some days just one. If I get stuck on one song, I go to the next. My recording process is very slow and tedious at times, so I take my time and record alone because of it.
Do you keep to a theme with your music, or just go where the mood strikes?
I go with my mood most of the time. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m a pretty emotional person. I usually will tell you exactly how I feel in my songs.
What is your favourite song you’ve recorded, and what do you love about it?
My favorite song would have to be “Loco”. It was the 1st song I ever recorded. The delivery was horrible, the quality was shit, there was no concept, but my bars were dope, and I felt like a star preparing for the talent show in front of the school.
Do you find other people’s music inspires you? Who do you listen to most?
Honestly I’m a music JUNKIE. I’m definitely inspired by Lil Wayne, J.Cole, Jay-Z, and Drake some of the greatest to ever do it. They all be on my top 10 for sure. I listen to Da Baby a lot because obviously the man is fire AF, but he inspires me because he showed it’s a way out of the Charlotte NC area with the music. All dude ever does is work, so hopefully if I go hard out here, I can obtain even 1/5th of the success he has. Def has my respect. I’m also digging EST Gee, Durk been going crazy, Lil Baby still making it look easy, Kodak can’t miss I’m a big fan, rocking with Hopsin for sure, Big Sean stupid fire, and can’t forget Kanye. It’s too many to list, my shuffle be going crazy.
Do you write your own music, or do you have musicians you work with?
I write my own music. I don’t really work with too many. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I want to build somewhat of a name for myself before I start reaching out. I want to be able to bring something to the table. Obviously I can’t bring nothing to the table with artists such as Wayne, Da Baby, Durk, etc, but at the same time when I’m ready/ever be ready to reach out they can look and see oh he’s put in some work, or I can be looked at closer to a peer in the music game than just looking for a feature.
Do you play any instruments?
No, but learning how to play piano
Do you like performing live, or does it scare you? Where can people watch you?
I do and I don’t. I like it because it’s an experience like mine other. If you can get a crowd to rock with you, then you can convert fans EASILY. Up on stage you’re human. Mistakes can happen, you can forget words, you can mess up your entire set and that’s the thrill of it. Practice makes perfect.
Is your music available online, and where can people listen to it?
Yes. YouTube would be the best place as of right now. Just search Maine Mez and I’ll pop right up.
Apple Music and spotify the same way. Actually I’d you Google Maine Mez all my links will pop up.
Are you able to make music full time, or do you have day job?
I do music full time. The only reason I can though is because I opened businesses where I can operate from anywhere, so I can go anywhere at anytime.
Are your friends and family supportive of your music career?
Not everyone of them. A lot are though.
What’s something you never expected about being a songwriter? What have you learned that surprised you?
Well when I first started, I thought being a good rapper was enough to get signed, but there is way more to it. I learned not to chase deals and not to chase hits. Be true to yourself and to your life and you’ll get more fans and hits.
Have you had any experiences that really stand out because of your songs?
Well I’ve opened for artists such as JadaKiss and Lil Scrappy. I’ve performed at smaller festivals., but I don’t have a signature moment yet. But I feel like it’s coming soon.
Do you have any important events coming up we should know about?
As of right now no, but that could change in the upcoming weeks. I’m working closely with some people in the media to have a promo/media tour about my upcoming project “Now That I’m On”
So that’s something. Stay tuned in with my IG @mainemez to learn more.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to write songs?
I would say make music that you like. Then find people that like what you like. You’ll be so much more happier. There is fans for every type of music. Be different but don’t be a gimmick. When I 1st started I was trying to be a Lil Wayne clone. Now that I’ve found my own lane, I am still inspired by Weezys metaphors and rap style, but I’ve added my own twist.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes I’m proud of everything I’ve done since 2020. It’s been about a whole year since I’ve been going hard on music so I would say I’m about 8/10. I’ve just been building my foundation correctly to be able to actually keep fans and gain more respect. 2022 is the year where I think I’m going to branch even farther out.
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