In another week, it’s going to be two years since we first spoke with MEDHANE. Originally going as Donny Oh, it only took one video of him rapping over a Knxwledge beat for us to want to dig for more. He dropped his project Stuffed Shells right after and since has taken it down. He is at a new chapter in his creative journey and it begins with his collaborative project with slauson malone called Greys in Yellow. I remember we spoke about who he wanted to work with (production-wise) and he named a handful of producers that he would attempt to mold his next project, but slauson malone is the Madlib to his DOOM. MEDHANE lets loose of his experiences and turmoil over the last couple years over slauson’s rugged-yet-rich, gritty and flickering production. It is at the top of my list for projects this year, and 2015 has been busy.
We exchanged e-mails back in forth about the project, recurring themes and how it’s like to work with one of his closest friends. Enjoy the read and make sure to grab a copy of Greys in Yellow - either for free digitally or in cassette format.
So last time we spoke, you went as Donny Oh. What influenced the change to become MEDHANE?
I’d just rather use my actual name
You took down Stuffed Shells after dropping it and are now prepping a new project. What has changed musically since in between?
I’ve been working with slauson malone for like a year now and we’ve just both been experimenting with different types of shit the subject matter is a bit more personal on my end though.
Do you two work together in-person often? If so, do you feel that helps the creative process?
Yeah, thats my boy. We chill together a lot. Working in person just makes for better music. I think most people would tell you that.
Can you describe what the title Greys in Yellow means and what we should expect from the project?
“Greys in Yellow” is the name of a painting by Mark Rothko. When I saw the painting it was the perfect description for everything I had been feeling for the 8 months prior. Don’t expect anything from the project just go in with open ears and mind.
You and Slauson showcase your chemistry through the performance video you did for “NORMAN.” How did it feel performing some other songs from the album with him tonight at the album release party?
Normal, we’ve been performing together all summer – he’s one of my closest friends its always a good time performing with him.
You repeat “everyday is the best day of my life” on Apartment 2A after reciting lines like “Bridges I’d build just to save myself from getting blunted / by my lonely, what they expect from quiet old me?” Is that hook work as a mantra in this situation of tackling these lonely, challenging thoughts?
Yes. The hook actually came from a conversation a few friends and I had with a homeless man while shooting the “Dirty Blue Seats” video. We told him to have a good day and he said every day is the best day of my life, and it struck a chord with me. I found that repeating the mantra on bad days could have some type of positive effect on my outlook, and I also thought it made a pretty tight hook.
Throughout the project, escaping is a recurring theme. I hear it in a depressing sense (“leave and never come back” on “cold_wrk”) and an evolving sense (the rocket ship with your brother on “GOODGUY”). Can you tell us more about this?
Yeah, so like the album deals with the transitions you deal with when you’re becoming an adult, and feeling caged by your surroundings. So when I say leave and never come back my goal was to capture the feeling of wanting to escape from your immediate environment (that you may feel caged by) to chase what it is that you really want in life. When I talk about the rocket, I am addressing me and Jasper’s work. In a sense, this album/project, all of our work together really, is our rocket or our means of “escape” from whatever it is that is troubling us in our day to day lives.
You bring up cops a handful of times in your raps and put clips of some in the video for “cold_wrk.” Is this related to all the recent police brutality, a personal experience or something else?
Someone on Twitter put this best. He said something along the lines of “The police are cancer and being black in America is smoking. You can’t pick one.” I think that perfectly summarizes why I talk about police pretty often on this project.
What do the acronyms for the first and second to last track stand for?
The first track is to “Whom It May Concern,” the second to last track means “Those Savior of the World Boys.”
Can you explain what “killing myself to survive” means on “304”?
Thats me addressing me smoking and drinking to deal with my personal issues. instead of doing any real self work, I would choose unhealthy alternatives leaving me feeling like I was killing myself to survive, or doing things that were ultimately harmful to my health so that I could escape certain things that I was dealing with at the time.
Any final comments?
TB gang! Fuck everyone else!