Mugzy speaks on Australian hip-hop scene, Iggy Azalea, and a wake-up call from Def Jam

Mugzy
Mugzy (Facebook)

While hip-hop was born in the Bronx, its reach has now surpassed the borders of nations and even continents. In Australia, there are some die-hard fans who truly appreciate both the art form and the culture. Mugzy is one of these individuals– inspired by Tupac, Biggie, DMX, Public Enemy, and other legends, and pouring his heart and soul into each of his songs. No road worth traveling is without obstacles, however, and he eventually found himself reevaluating his expectations for his career. Now the 26-year-old is stronger than ever,  and is prepping new music for his fans across the globe. Look for new music from Mugzy in 2018, and learn more about him in “The Questionnaire”!!

 

BROWNIEMARIE.COM: Where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

MUGZY: Live in a place called The Central Coast which is about an hour and a half north of Sydney’s central business district.


What is the Australian hip-hop scene like?

In all honesty, this is what I’ve experienced on my journey… I’ve realized that U.S. artists are very humble. They always want to network and connect with each other or whoever has a dream of being a rapper, whether it’s in the United States, or here in Australia, or wherever it may be. They always want to find ways of making this dream happen for them. That’s what I love [and] that’s why I have been given so many opportunities over there.

Here in Australia, we have so much love for the hip-hop culture it’s crazy. Whether it’s Rapping, DJing, Graffiti, Beatboxing, Breakdancing, or just general hip-hop knowledge, we want to eat it up. But in saying that, there is too much criticism here– especially with accents. Hip-hop heads here say, “Rap in your normal talking voice… don’t do this fake USA accent.” Most call it a “wacksent.”

I can understand we want to put our Australian input on the map as natural as possible, but I’m going to be 100 percent real about this: Rapping in your normal voice [with an Australian accent] has no flow.  It’s bleh, plain. It doesn’t sell. To make your music strike the ears of the listeners, it has to be catchy and flow well,  so putting some USA slang on it doesn’t hurt.

Now, I’m not saying go turn into an Iggy Azalea because she is as fake as her plastic surgery. I’m just saying, whatever gets put on the table, use it. This is why we aren’t making a living off our dreams and have to go out to our 9-5’s– because we don’t come together and make something great. Thats what I see in our scene… I don’t turn a blind eye to it. Thats why I made the track “Aussie With An American Attitude.”


How did you come up with your name?

When I was starting off, I used to do gangsta rap. I would write down lyrics about shooting guns, drugs, gangs, all that type of stuff– even though it wasn’t my life. I think it was because of the early 2000s; it was such a cool image. We had G-Unit who just came out, and everyone wanted to be like 50 [Cent]: Rockin the du-rag, baseball cap, basketball jersey the whole lot. My first rap name was Ryder-Reyne. My real name is Reyne Brady, as in “rain,” but spelled differently. Sounds corny as f***.

One night, I was watching the comedy movie “Soul Plane” with Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, and Method Man. Method Man’s character was a laid back, funny, quirky sort of guy called Muggsy. As I was watching the movie, I thought, “Wow. His character is a lot like me.” When the credits rolled up, I checked out the name, and it just clicked. Hopefully, later on down the road of my career, I meet Method Man so I can tell him that story [laughs].


What was your first gig?

The first time I ever picked up the mic to perform my material in front of a crowd was back in 2009, on my last day of finishing high school. We had [a school-wide event] celebrating that we’re finally leaving, so i decided to put my name down [to perform]. The performers (including myself) were behind the curtain of the stage ready to be called up at our times. I remember peeking through the curtain and seeing hundreds of students waiting for the show to start. I stood back against the wall with my heart racing thinking, “I cant do this. I’m not prepared to perform in front of that many people.” Just freaking out [laughs].

It was time for me to do my set… I walked out on stage, picked up the mic and just my luck the audio f***ed up [laughs]. Typical school quality. While staring at all those faces and hearing nothing but silence/awkwardness, I then thought to myself: “If i want to be a rapper and want this dream to come true, nothing will bring me down. No embarrassment, nothing.”

So I picked up the mic and performed my track “Keep On Rapping,” which is the third track on my first album, Ride Or Die. The crowd was loving every minute of it… getting into every lyric and chorus, waving their hands, singing along; it was incredible. After I finished my set, the crowd kept screaming, “Encore! Encore!” From that moment on, I knew this is what I wanted to dedicate my life to.


Who are your biggest musical influences?

Top five: 50 Cent, Tupac, Eminem, DMX, and Nas. [50’s] Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ is insane. Still to this day, every joint on that album is pure fire. G-Unit forever.

What more can i say beyond his name… there will never be another Tupac. The guy is iconic and a legend in the hip hop game. I reckon if he was still alive, he probably could of ran for president.

I know it probably sounds cliché to say because I’m white myself, but I reckon [Eminem] was the main one who broke that barrier of hip-hop which was [almost exclusively] a black domain of music. I know we had white artists before Em, like 3rd Bass, Beastie Boys, House Of Pain, even Vanilla Ice, but I don’t think they had a big enough impact on the scene like Em did. He’s the hip-hop Elvis.

 I love DMX because [he combined] his raw, aggressive attitude with powerful, catchy lyrics you will never forget through his message. I feel like in my career, my flows/vibes are a lot like X.

[Nas’] Illmatic is a hip-hop classic and number one album to go to. If Illmatic isn’t in your recommendations, then I’m sorry but you ain’t hip-hop [laughs]. Go bump some Lil Yachty s**** .


What has been your biggest professional challenge?

Back in 2012, I was doing a ton of gigs. I came across a street flyer for a talent competition called UrbanStar which was catered only towards hip-hop and R&B. One of the judges was Marcus Pernell, who was a producer at Def Jam/Universal. On the night [of the competition], there were about 30 contestants and all of them did cover songs. I was the only one who did original material (I performed my track, “Keep On Rapping”).  Two of the judges scored me with a zero but Marcus scored me with a 10 out of 10. It completely blew my mind just knowing someone who is that high in the industry, who has probably worked with artists I inspire to be like, enjoyed my performance

After the event we had a bit of a chat about my career. Probably a few months after that, he asked me out for lunch to talk more about my career and Def Jam. From hearing those words (“lunch,” “career,” “Def Jam”), in my mind I thought, “OMG, he has the contract for me to sign. My life is going to be changed forever. Everything I’ve been working so hard for year after year has finally paid off.”

While having lunch together, he breaks down the music industry to me and the Australian hip-hop scene, and how Def Jam probably won’t be able to sign me because hip-hop wasn’t that big here in Australia (this is before Iggy). [He also told] me if I was in the States, it would be a better shot, etc.

I remember walking out of that lunch feeling so gutted, like my world was flipped upside-down. [I was] thinking, “Should I continue doing music? Is the dream ever going to happen?” Before that event happened, I was always in the mindset of this positive high thought that you make your first release, you do a few gigs, and it will happen just like that. It’s simple.

Not realizing the long hard road, and not realizing this industry can cheat you in so many different ways that it’s not funny. So when I walked out of our lunch, it brought me back to reality… even though it was a depressing time.

What I say to artists who want to get into the hip-hop game or music in general: Don’t think it’s going to happen overnight. Watch your every move, be aware of things, and hustle ya a** off daily. I suppose my biggest challenge was overcoming that disappointment. 

What are you currently working on?

[I’m actually getting] back into the studio ASAP. My second album, Understand Me, released in 2013, so its been four years since I’ve released anything new. I’ve been getting into a lot of acting but i miss music so much… especially the high/adrenaline of crafting new work. So I’ve got a ton of work to do.

For my third album, I want to do a two-disc and pile as much music/craft out as possible. That’s all I can say at this point… nothing more. Can’t wait; it’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster. In 2018, fans will def hear something once again from Mugzy.

 

Follow Mugzy on Facebook and check out his music on SoundCloud.

 

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Goodbye, Examiner.com

I can’t remember how I heard that they were hiring. Maybe it was on Craigslist? I started writing for them in December 2010 as a Cleveland nightlife journalist, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I treated my articles more like blog posts than professional content, but Examiner.com gave me the freedom to figure out my writing style. I also had (nearly) complete latitude when it came to choosing what people, places, and events I wanted to cover. This autonomy is rare, and it was amazing.

When people ask me why I moved to NYC, I say, “Career.” The long answer is that Examiner.com gave me the inspiration, confidence, and contacts to become an entertainment journalist. Less than a year after I began writing for them, a publicist at Sony contacted me. They wanted me to come backstage at the Cleveland leg of the Scream Tour, and interview their artist, Jacob Latimore. I thought it was a joke at first. How would Sony know who I am? At the time, Examiner.com was getting tens of millions of hits per month, and was a top 100 site. That kind of traffic is extremely valuable, and opened up countless doors for me in New York.

After working with Sony, I thought I would try to make a career out of my passion for entertainment journalism. Examiner.com gave me the platform I needed to gain access to top celebrities and events, and I knew I had a knack for interviewing. Before Examiner.com, I co-founded an urban lifestyle blog called Media-n-DaHood, and created DoloHustle.com as an entertainment blog. One of my first interviews was with Dolla Boy (now known as Dillon Saks) of Playaz Circle. I met him and Tity Boi (now known as 2 Chainz) at a meet and greet in Cleveland, and Dolla asked if I wanted to interview him. Afterwards, he told me that they had just come from radio station Z107.9, and I conducted a better interview than the radio personality. And this was off the cuff! I remember my brother nodding approvingly as he listened to the recorded interview. I was on my way!

I informed Examiner.com that I was moving to New York, and picked up New York Nightlife and Music beats. It wasn’t long after I moved to Brooklyn that I was attending exclusive events, interviewing and partying with celebrities, and making memories that I will hold onto forever. As I started covering more celebrity charity events and product launches, I picked up a New York Celebrity beat as well.

Now, I get about 50 emails per day from publicists and business professionals who want me to cover their client or brand. I have interviewed dozens of celebrities, and some have become friends. I’m very happy and proud with what I’ve accomplished as a journalist, and I’ve had a wealth of amazing experiences in New York. I haven’t decided what my next move will be, but this is one chapter that is closing. Examiner.com emailed all of their contributors about two weeks ago, and told us that they were shutting down. Our content may or may not remain on online, and the full-time staff was laid off. I’m planning on reposting the articles that readers enjoyed the most on this blog, maybe in #tbt style. I am still writing for AXS, and am deciding what the next move will be. It has been an amazing journey, and Examiner.com was the catalyst for this adventure. I will always be grateful.

Delayed article

This was supposed to be published in August but somehow it just saved as a draft (?) smh. Was supposed to be an update on what went on between June and August:

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It has been two months since I’ve published a post (smh) but I promise I will be better. The craziness really kicked in when (Update #1) I started working full-time in May and was brought on on an on-going basis in June. Also picked up another side writing job, so it’s been extra cray. Not to mention that it’s the summer time and the events are constant and now it’s my birthday month (Leos stand up!) so of course I’m extra on the scene as of late.

On a more organized note, I finally brought myself to delegate some work and got one of my interviews transcribed for me (yeah!). I still need someone to organize my calendar and emails, but I’m not ready to turn all that over to someone yet. Baby steps.

I also find that I’m prioritizing my work better since moving to New Jersey (Update #2). There are increasingly less reasons for me to come into the city (Manhattan), and I really don’t party during the week like I used to. It helps that most of my girls are out of town right now… ain’t gone lie. And when I say most, I mean 99%. I’ve been traveling too but sheesh, these chicks bounce from New York for the whole summer. Guess we’ll turn up in September :/

Love life is still pretty nonexistent BUT I am going on more dates and have decided to try online dating as well when things slow down a bit (Update #3). When I say slow down I’m not sure what I really mean though. Things haven’t slowed down since around December or January 0_o. I think it’s more because I was A) focused on and stressed out about finding a job, and B) focused on and stressed out about finding my own place, that I was doing that stuff in my free time (on top of kicking it) instead of knocking out more work in my free time. I feel the weight lifting a bit, though.

Pray for me!

Noel Ashman and Michael Bregman birthday party pics

Noel Ashman and Michael Bregman birthday party pics

These entertainment giants celebrated their birthdays at the sexy DL lounge (95 Delancey St.) last week.  At the event were Damon Dash (he was a jerk, as expected), DJ Stretch Armstrong (very nice and humble), Melle Mel (super cool and down-to-earth), Stephen Baldwin (*smile* check the pics of he and I), Thomas Fiore (cool), Luis Guzman (he was there for about 90 seconds), Dr. Georgina Rose (check my review of her last event here), and about a dozen other notable people.  It was definitely a memorable night 🙂  Pics courtesy of Cashin Design.