Hip-hop rapper M-Dot unleashes 'Ego and the EnemyBy JULIA ANN WEEKES
NH Weekend Editor January 10. 2018 1:04PM
Hip-hop rapper M-Dot’s latest disc, “Ego and the Enemy,” finds him battling for survival in a dreamscape gone terribly wrong.
But the Boston-area recording artist (aka the multisyllable rhymer Michael Januario), thrives in this environment, where arrogance and anger constantly clash with self-reflection and hope.
For the 17-track 2017 release, M-Dot, who grew up in East Boston and Revere, Mass., and now lives in Beverly, Mass., worked with a slew of hip-hop producers, including Buckwild on the bleak cautionary tale “Chrissy.” The video for the song begins with a glimpse of kids playing in a backyard but descends into a domino-effect collapse into an adulthood crippled by drug abuse, violence and prostitution.
M-Dot’s jabbing rhyming schemes play against jarring slashes of reverb and mirror the sense of mounting disillusionment. A sample of the atmospheric chorus: “I feel deserted and I’m sinkin’ in. My time is coming, and I just don’t know when. We live in misery, the world is spinning out of control.”
But an upbeat M-Dot, who nabbed hip-hop artist of the year honors in the 2010 Boston Music Awards, touched base with NH Weekend recently for a Q&A about his music and a birthday bash he’s throwing for himself. He’ll perform with his crew, EMS, and other friends Friday at 8 p.m. at Jewel, 61 Canal St., Manchester.
I was checking out some of your rhyming schemes. How tough is that to do? How much is practice and how much is instinct?
The writing part is pretty easy when I sit down and actually focus; my attention being everywhere can hinder the process nonetheless. Ha ha.
The recording part is more tedious and often becomes a laborious venture since I will do retakes, trying to find the right sound. Way you have to look at recordings is they’re forever, so why not take the proper time to make it something you can look back on with adulation.
Can you tell me what was the inspiration behind “Chrissy?” Was that based on someone you know or things you’ve seen?
The track isn’t based directly on one individual but for sure a culmination of people I’ve seen or run into over the years. “Chrissy” is relatable for almost anybody since substance abuse doesn’t discriminate on race or economic class.
That song has some cool atmospherics. Those jarring slashes of sound remind me of a thriller movie when you sense something is wrong and that it’s only going to get worse. Was that the concept?
Yea. Buckwild, who has produced for Jay-Z, Biggie, 50 Cent & more, sent me some beats to sift through, and that one stuck out. Rev, of my crew EMS, immediately pointed out the song should have a singing hook since the production had a rock feel. Kore, of EMS; Zach “Scooter” Adams, who sent his vocals in from New York City; and Aisling Peartree all contributed on layering the mix.
The eeriness you now hear ... I felt we at the time needed to amplify, so Bryce “Quiz” Quinn, a Berklee graduate and engineer/producer for EMS, added some synths/keys over Buckwild’s ominous backdrop. I wrote the record, and the story just built as I kept writing.
You mentioned that you’d been traveling in Europe. Anyhighlights of your most recent tour?
I toured the full month of October 2017. It was the sixth time I had gone there for gigs — 2009 being the first tour — and this recent trip may have been the most advantageous of them all. From shows almost everyday to shooting music videos in various cities in between travel and performances to stopping in at studios to record, it was an unremitting daily routine of productivity.
There were a lot of moments I’ll never forget, but ... headlining a sold-out show in Finland — that night/crowd were amazing — and getting to link with legendary producer Pete Rock in Switzerland — afterward he sent me a beat — were humbling highlights.