A selection of articles from all our issues - go to 'The Magazine' to read them all, including exclusive interviews from Aston Barrett Jr., Niko Moon, Serena Ryder, Canaan Smith and many more...
David Catches up with talented Canadian Rapper MAJE following new project - Fly on the Wall
Hi MAJE! Thanks so much for talking to me today! You recently dropped "A Fly On The Wall"; you teased it on your Instagram just before it came out and there was a lot of excitement, myself included! Can you tell us more about this project?
It’s basically my way to re-vibe the mixtape era. It kind of died off because of EPs and albums which is just the way music has gone. I just remember growing up how cool it was to hear your favourite artists on other people’s beats, so I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s also a great lyrical exercise because the verses and the videos are only a minute long, so it forces me to get straight to the point. It was kind of a few birds with one stone – reliving that moment but also working on my skills as a rapper and lyricist. I was eventually just like ‘I might as well make this a thing…” I could’ve easily just uploaded them as new remixes, but I wanted to make it a moment and this was my version of that. The idea also came from Tierra Whack. She had a bunch of one-minute songs that she made an album from – I just thought it was really cool. Also from a business, and human nature, point of view our attention spans are so short now so I was like 'That’s actually really cool!'
This project then is something that came together over a period of time - as an artist it can be scary putting that out into the world. What do you hope your fans think the first time that they hear it?
Honestly, to have fun with it. I wouldn’t say it’s a nonchalant project but it’s a very nonchalant vibe. It’s not like 'Here is my single it’s all I have' it’s more like 'I did this kind of cool thing with your favourite songs – I remixed them'. Putting them on Instagram and Tik Tok is already really interactive, it allows people to be interactive; the comments section can fill up. I like that vibe, and that’s how I think about it. I actually think about this stuff way too much so I’m super analysing how to release my art!
In Mindful Melody we have previously supported the ‘slow down and simplify’ message which encourages taking things back to basics and enjoying the simple things in life – would you say that’s what you’ve done with this project? It’s not all about the chorus and the production but it’s saying 'This is me, these are my lyrics – enjoy!'
Exactly! I don’t have to worry about mixing, mastering, intense rollout plans, Spotify and stuff like that. It’s something easy to obtain and consume without putting pressure on me as an artist or on the listener.
You recently did a version of the 'Lemon Pepper Freestyle' on YouTube; a lot of the lyrics put an emphasis on how hard you're working at your music, and how hard you’ve had to work to get to where you are. What advice would you give to yourself when you were just starting out if you could go back?
Honestly, I wish I would have started sooner – the energy I’ve had in the last two or three years I wish I would have tripled that when I was younger. It’s about the compound interest over time. Honestly some days I feel like I’m behind and I wish I could have those years back where I was almost nonchalant about it. The other side is that maybe I wouldn’t have been ready then – it’s like I was living then so I could tell my story now. Some days I think about it way too much and other days I’m at peace with it. I would’ve believed in myself a lot sooner.
Linked in with that - you also say that when you were younger you were worried about success and how cool rapping was, but "that shallow mindset was foolish" and now you're focused on the "legacy and the movement". What would you want your legacy to be, what would you want people to be saying about you in 10 and 20 years' time for example?
Honestly, I just hope MAJE never dies. I think that’s the coolest thing. Even when I’m gone it’s like that legacy. I want to build things that will last forever. Every time I’m collab-ing with an organisation or another artist – something that I really believe in – if we build something then even when I’m not here that can still go on and that’s the ultimate goal. I just want MAJE never to die. Sometimes you can do that through music but other times you can do that through a lot of other things so I’m hoping it's a combination. Like my business ventures, things I create, my music, and through people too.
Possibly my favourite line from "Lemon Pepper Freestyle" is "don't think outside the box, think beyond it". What was the inspiration behind this? Is it a mantra you live by or something that you thought fit really well into the song?
I think it’s a combination of all of those things. I was trying to end that verse and the lines before it were very ‘wisdom’ based lyrics so I thought I needed another one to end this. Honestly, when I hear that back it sounds like a cliché and then I realised, ‘No one has said this!’ 'Think outside the box' is the normal phrase…
“Outside the box” has become inside the box!
…yeah, exactly! I wanted to take it one level higher. That one felt kinda nice because I thought at first it was corny, then I thought, 'Wait, no.. nobody says this!'
Having already spoken to Wren Kelly, a fellow artist from Nova Scotia, there seems to be a really strong community of musicians. In a career that is often perceived as being isolating, with songs like Justin Bieber’s ‘Lonely’ telling us how it can feel, how important do you think it is to have that support network where you can collaborate and help each other out? Great song by the way! I mean that’s big. If you think about it we are taking the road less travelled; I know a lot of artists but that’s because I am an artist. What I see in this field is people looking down on artists, not knowing how to appreciate artists or where they are coming from. You are kind of the black sheep at family events and stuff, you have cousins and siblings that are going to school – it’s something tangible that people can relate to upfront. When you’re an artist they’re instantly confused on what that means. To have people that relate to you when you feel like the black sheep is really, really dope. It’s important – you wouldn’t make it without them.
In your verse on 'Game Over' you say "I used to have so many jobs, not doing a good job of working on me", does this relate to a particular moment when you realised you needed to take more time for yourself or was it more of a good fit for the song, and how important do you think it is for our mental health that we do so?
It's kind of a combination. It is a really good line, once I came up with it I was like 'Man, yes! That’s the one!' It’s one of my favourite lines from that. But man, I had a lot of jobs, I’ve been working since I was 12/13 when I had a paper route. My heart wasn’t in any of my jobs. I was doing that for other people, it was what I was supposed to be doing having a job, but like I said I wasn’t doing a good job of working on me and rejecting what I actually want. I made up my mind that I’m never going to work again like that.
You also feature on 'Daydreaming', a new Wren Kelly song in which you tackle some of the emotional turmoil in romance. One thing I love about your rapping is how deep and meaningful you get in your verses. Has this always been your style, and who would you say your influences are?
No, this was not my style at all! Actually, when I first started I wanted to rap like Lil Wayne or just whoever I looked up to at that point. It took a long time to come into my own but I would say people like Kanye West, Drake and J. Cole helped me realise that I could just talk about myself, period. I used to have so many imaginary verses – things that weren’t really me but they sounded good. I was always like a wordsmith so I could rap any kind of way. I’ve always been good with lyrics and words since I can remember. Being an artist it's more about 'What is your story?' Even with my stage name too; it was just the initials to my government name then I made it into a word, but before I’d have really childish names. I was thinking if I want to do this for a long time I can’t have that; having a ‘Young’ name or a ‘Lil’ name. I realised I really needed to be thinking about what I do, because when you’re young you’re just mimicking what you see. I hit a point where I thought, 'I need to be my own artist'. A lot of my lines have to do with self-growth and self-worth and being an introvert – really direct. I always say you never want to have a verse that’s too broad where everyone can rap it – then it relates to no one. I try to have it so when I’m building verses I need that one line that only I can say; maybe it’s about my appearance or when I was 4 – but now that verse belongs to me. I always try to add that in my songs.
That then links back to the line in the 'Lemon Pepper Freestyle' about how your younger self was worried about fame, success and being cool but now you’re focused on the legacy and the art.
Exactly, yes! That’s exactly it.
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name their top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
I had a hard time with this one because I was trying to find the songs directly – but for the most part it’s the artists bringing that. Juice WRLD is really good at that, he talks about mental health a lot – Rest In Peace. There’s a couple of Lil Wayne songs that I really liked where he talks about not being okay. I really like 'Me and My Drink' – that one is really good. Lastly J .Cole – Love Yours – that’s a really good song. Kanye West talks a lot about mental health too. I find that it’s not a scary topic anymore, so a lot of artists talk about it. Eminem, andDrake are quite vulnerable and that’s a big help to people all over the world that aren’t okay.
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 11 below!