There have been a number of changes to the meaning of New York Hip Hop in just the last few years alone, with artists like A$AP Rocky and Action Bronson taking Big Apple rap in surprising diree ctions that many could not have predicted. But for Bronx emcee Mysonne, it’s all about sticking to the script and showing respect to the tradition and the original, signature sound of NYC. SoSoActive recently caught up with Mysonne in a phone interview where he touched on his relationship with Chris Lighty, his new mix tape due May 15, and making sure New York Hip Hop continues to sound like, well, New York Hip Hop.
What are some of the current projects that you’re working on that fans can expect to be exposed to soon?
I have a mix tape dropping on May 15, and I just dropped a mix tape, The Definition of a G: Part 2, that’s been getting a lot of love and a lot of people showing it love. And that’s really it right now.
Your latest video, “The Sound of NY”, seems like it’s all over the Internet and getting a big amount of buzz. Were you inspired by the unfortunate events around Chris Lighty’s passing to make that song and video?
Oh most definitely, because Chris Lighty was the first person that signed me back in 1998. I know how much of a fan of Hip Hop that Chris Lighty was. He always wanted New York to have and to create its own sound. Me and Chris had a relationship to where I would always hit him up and be like, “Listen to this song; what do you think?” When I was making the song and he wasn’t here to hear it, I was like “Damn, I know he would like this.” I just wanted to make a song that I know he would approve of as a tribute song to him.
From your bio you seem to have collaborated with some rather important musical movements out of New York, from Ruff Ryders to Violator. Can you talk about how some of those collaborations came about?
Well like I said, Chris signed me to Violator because it was his label. I was originally supposed to sign to Ruff Ryders, which didn’t happen because I decided to go with Chris Lighty. But me and Ruff Ryders were really family-oriented, but I was also always told that you can’t do business with your brother. So I went with Chris because he was cool, but we were doing business, and I had an agenda. Ruff Ryders was already so big, they had built their own stamp, and X was the face of the label, so I wanted to be the face of my own label. So I decided not to follow Ruff Ryders based on that. But Ruff Ryders is still family and we still do music together. So all of that came about just like that.
There’s been a lot of talk about the direction that NYC Hip Hop is going in. What’s your take on it and what do you predict the future holds for Hip Hop coming out of New York?
Well, I hear lots of New York artists and it’s just like, “Why are we trying to sound like the South?” We have a sound. We have our own vintage sound that has a feel to when you hear it, you think its sounds like a New York sound. There are so many artists that are trying to cater to so many different states and different areas and I don’t believe we have to do that. We should continue on with our own sound, and we don’t have that distinct sound anymore and you don’t hear it on our radio stations. That was my whole idea when I made that “The Sound of NY”.
Since being released from prison in 2006, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve personally noticed in the rap game? Have they had any effect on your career?
The music is more about gimmicks than substance now. Music is more about image and controversy. It used to be based on your skill level, that’s what got people to listen to you. At this point, rappers are just good entertainers.
Like many artists, you really seem to have taken control of your own music career. Do you feel like the playing field has been leveled these days for artists to remain independent but still be successful?
Of course. I think it’s like a gift and a curse. Because if you put out a song or anything that goes viral, people are more into the controversy as opposed to being into the music. A person that beefing with another person has music that gets more of a look as opposed to just a skilled artist. But in retrospect, if you’re an artist and you’re consistent with putting out good music, you can build up a fan base. It takes longer, but it’s a strong fan base. Now you don’t have to worry about certain people playing your music because you probably have fans worldwide that you didn’t even know about. So it’s definitely leveled the playing field.
Is it important to you as an artist and an entrepreneur to remain independent and stay in control of your music and your brand?
Of course. I think at this point you have to be in control of your brand. Nobody knows how to sell you better than you. That’s a thing that has hindered a lot of artists in the past. A lot of artists weren’t in control of their projects. They ended up putting out music that they thought they were supposed to put out and ended up losing. Because when you don’t sell they get rid of you. And a lot of artists are putting out their projects on the Internet and virally, when a lot of them used to be on major labels. So when you’re in control, even if you lose, you can live with it.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Hip Hop, from DMX to Mase to Game. Who, if anyone, are some of the other artists that you’d want to get in the studio with?
I have to work with legends. I have to work with Jay-Z and Nas. Or like Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole. I like music with substance. But you might hear me in the studio with anybody depending on the song I’m doing. Different artists can bring different things to tracks. Depending on the track, you might hear me with anyone who’s talented in their genre of music.
What do you want to say to potential fans that might not know Mysonne’s music?
I say Google it. Go online if you have a computer or a phone, type in M-Y-S-O-N-N-E and you get me. No sugar coat, no bullsh*t, no fakeness. Some people are going to love it and some people are going to hate it. But I stand by my brand. Whatever I say I mean, and whatever I mean I feel. And that’s that.
What advice would you give to up and coming emcees to become successful in this game?
Know what you want to do and don’t take no for an answer. Don’t be discouraged. Because you’re going to hear a million No’s before you hear one Yes. You have to have belief in yourself and nobody can tell you who you are. Nobody knows who you are better than you do.