25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD~ with MFn Melo!

mfn-melo

MFn Melo is one of the warmest people I’ve ever met, perhaps the warmest. His voice is warm, his dreads look warm,  his beats are warm, I’m telling you. I get to perform with him again for the first time in a long time at Township on December 15th. We’re sharing the bill with one of his PIVOT homies DJ Squeak Pivot (PIVOT = Melo, John Walt, Saba, Joseph Chilliams, and more. PIVOT = a lot of melodic, jazzy raps and versatile lyricists), Ash Wednesday, M.U.T.T., Hank McCoy, and DJ Stepchild. 2200 N. California, Chicago, IL;  doors 8 PM show 9 PM $10 @ door!

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color? Red
Who is your favorite athlete? Kobe
What is your favorite poem and why? Roses are red. It’s a legend
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? MuhfuckinMelo: What it looks like.
How tall are you? 6’1
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? “Call me Melo” sampled “umma do me” remix by Rocko. Rick Ross first line, it was “ima true baller bitch call me Melo” lol
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? MeloDramatics 
Tell me about it? It’s my first solo project I’ve been working on forever. Maybe one day I’ll put it out
How did this show Thursday come about? Ash Wednesday is thee homie. She asked and I’ll never tell her no
Where is home? Burb life
What is home? My room
Who is home? My nephew
Whose home are you? Depends on who’s looking for shelter
What is your favorite plant? Cannabis
Who is your daddy and what does he do? He retired
Who are you? I’m Muhfuckin Melo
What do you do? I take care of my nephew and write about my thoughts in my spare time
Who would you like to collaborate with? NoName
Where are you going? To the top
Where did you just come from? Studio
Where are you right now? Studio
Who is Vashti Bunyan? Google say she sing. Ima check her out in a minute
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? Ash is T’d. Energy always high. Great person.

+ is an amazing person as well. Helped me out in ways he’s unaware of. He that nigga

Riki cool as hell. Vibes go crazy

Why are you still performing? Cause that shits fun. Best part of being an artist. To know that people connect with me while I’m up there makes me feel. Feeling is cool
What does a free world look like to you? Papa doc and nem

OLD ESSAY// Defcee, Master of Ceremonies

defcee

These pieces originally appeared in Side by Side Magazine.

Defcee is an excellent rapper. He’s such a good storyteller and sensitive soul that his words and presence would do well to be on any stage in this world. Attendees would experience a soulful vision of hip-hop dripping with knowledge and good humor. But what about his classrooms: the Chicago school kids who need Adam, their teacher? What about the Adam that needs those kids? The further you get into Damn Near Grown (2015) you get the sense of a vivid, aching world with Levin’s huge, overflowing heart reaching out to bring it all in. Any ceremony he masters isn’t just better because Adam is such a gifted speaker, it’s because he’s an even better listener.

Def is funny too.  Sometimes, such as on “Timeless,” he’s tearing apart other rappers. But his battle raps here are more riffs on the culture than anyone in particular, which gives the song a freewheeling joy. You’re ‘on the outside looking in like Dule Hill on the Cosbys;’ when Defcee imagines putting on Gucci goggles he compares himself to Horace Grant and then, with an implied and hilarious sigh, Luc Longley. Def is self-deprecating in a way that reveals itself as legitimately dangerous on “alter(ed) ego” but the production is hot so who cares? Def soars over jazzy boom bap, reminding us what it’s all about in the first place.

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I meet Defcee at Young Chicago Authors, a mecca for art kids in the city. Before I can do anything, Toaster shouts at me from across the room to settle a disagreement. He and a kid, probably 17 or 18, are arguing about Lupe Fiasco’s sophomore album The Cool. A class just got out: chairs are everywhere, hip-hop is playing, there’s teenagers chatting, young adults, mentors, and everyone is there to rap. Adam Levin, aka Defcee, is the teacher in the room.

Our interview takes place in December shortly after the release of the Timeless maxi-single, where Defcee captures the complexity of his own heroes.


Timeless
 starts off with “Forty II” highlighting Defcee’s history as a raucous battle rap emcee.
This time he’s subverting it though, roasting himself just as much in the process. It’s all about the line. The mix of dedication to craft and self-sacrifice is a defining characteristic of the Damn Near Grown (DNG) rapper. He’s only 24, but an elder statesman of his scene. Maybe it’s his influences.

“Wu-Tang is part of the bedrock, obviously. Jay, Nas.” Levin pauses to think. “Scarface.” Defcee has always had an affinity for rappers who popped in a bygone era. He keeps the energy alive, bringing East Coast lyricism to Saba’s jazzy trap beats and pairing Chance the Rapper references with Horace Grant jokes. Then, when his old soul is bare on Timeless’ last half, he searches openly for himself through tragic observation and magical realism.

“Purplewatersugardrank,” the first single for Def’s long-awaited DNG project features half of PIVOT Gang, Noname, and Bay Area word wizard Benjamin Earl Turner. Though Timeless is all about a solo journey through Adam’s world, Defcee’s rap family is large.  


And though Defcee has only a handful of projects to his name as a solo artist, he is always working on just as many projects as he has released. Grand Total, an EP project with the aforementioned Ben Turner followed DNG‘s release late last year. Following those two are 
a “love” project Hell of a Drug, and a “drug” project named Adderall Adam. Adam Levin is all of these things: a legendary MC, a tender love poet, an overprescribed Surburban kid, and he is damn near…

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Happy #DefceeWeek!