Up and coming Queens rapper Meyhem Lauren recently took the time to sit down with us and discuss upcoming projects, sneakers, and more.
Read the interview below and peep Meyhem's latest mixtape "Mandatory Brunch Meetings" here. Meyhem also has several older projects featuring the likes of Action Bronson and others. You can download these tapes here
Can you speak for a minute on sneaker culture in NYC?
You know it got real crazy, like now everybody’s a sneaker head. It used to be like many things an elite few that collected and traded sneakers together but now it’s become a mess. I started to get out of sneakers because of the whole deadstock thing. I had hundreds of pairs on ice and I started to wear them and the soles wore out almost instantly. It got crazy, I remember being out with a girl in a pair of raids and my heel falls off. I remember thinking to myself, “Yo I got the flyest kicks in the world on, but if the heel is broken I look like an asshole.”
What would your sneaker of choice be?
Hands down the 95s. I mean I got some foams and Jordan’s but the 95s are top for me. I like the Kobe’s and LeBron’s just to rock on the day to day. It’s crazy; Korn put me on to the LeBron’s. My man got married in Vegas and everyone was drunk and sweating and he’s like “Yo, try me sneakers on”. I’m laughing like what are you talking about, he’s like “Yo forreal we're the same size, try them on”. So he takes the kicks off in a casino in Vegas and I try the bron’s on, and they had to be one of the most comfortable kicks I’ve worn in my entire life, since then I’ve scooped a couple pairs up.
Say that Nike used quality rubber and the OG sneakers were all wearable, would you rather have the retros or OG’s?
It really all depends but I think I’d like a pair of each, one to rock and the other to play sports in. The sneaker culture changed the game. I’m not even mad that there making sneakers of a lesser quality because back in the day they knew the majority of the customers purchasing the shoes intended to play sports in those sneakers, but now these kids are wearing them just to match their outfits and for other reasons and we really messed up letting them know that.
How do you feel about violence in the sneaker game?
A lot of it has to do with the way that society raises the youth. It don’t matter if they made even one pair, there’s no excuses for that. The way I was brought up, you’re not gonna go shoot someone for a pair of sneakers. While many people would like to blame corporations like Nike, they are at the end of the day a corporation and it’s about profit. The mindset regarding sneaker culture needs to change, not the actions of Nike or other footwear giants. You simply can’t blame Nike for the wrong-doings that people choose to do. At the end of the day it’s all supply and demand. When I hear about sneaker related violence it always baffles me because they’re just gonna retro every shoe at this point so why go crazy?
Thoughts on newer hybrids, stuff like the new Barkley posite maxes?
Eh, I’ve seen em but I gotta be honest, I like the original Barkley’s a lot better. I mean it’s cool but posites are too hot now, and it seems they’re trying to make everything a foam related sneaker and that doesn’t necessarily work. I don’t hate em but to me there nothing special.
Can you speak for a minute on Nike Sb?
You know what’s crazy, I was never into Sb’s that much because I’ve never been into skating. It always bugged me out that people would collect Sb’s for the hype because they are skateboarding sneakers. Like I said, I was more into basketball, running shoes, Barkley’s, Jordan’s and stuff like that. I had a few pairs of Sb’s though; I think I had the Jedi’s (the ones with the lime green laces) and the orange hemps. I had those because I really liked each pair and they stood out to me. I didn’t know what they were worth, I didn’t know how collectable they were, I just like the shoes and bought em. Part of the problem with modern sneaker culture is that people don’t even know what they like anymore, it’s not about personal preference they just chase what’s hot, or what has a name or what’s collectable. A lot of these sneakers they hold in high regard; grail kicks so to speak, are straight trash. They simply wouldn’t like them if everyone else didn’t say “Yo, that’s the shoe!”. So I like to stick to what I like, not what’s hype. My music is the same way. I don’t necessarily do what’s “now” or what everyone else is doing and follow that hype, I’m trying to do what I like. I wear what I like, I make the music I like and that’s it.
As an artist, where do you stand currently? Are you signed? What’s the deal?
You know what it is, each project I’m putting out is an individual project; separate things with separate labels. Respect the fly shit and mandatory brunch meetings I released through Heems from das racist and his label Greadhead. Ill also be putting a deluxe edition of each of those projects out with bonus songs, that may be done through another label. Like the Muggs project we got options for that, me and buck have options for the Buckwild project, me and J-love have another label so I really just knock out projects and figure out where to place them. Each project is like a child that needs a home so I try to find the situation where there’s a perfect fit and then I put that out. Luckily it's 2013 and we can put music out without a label and still be successful.
How do you feel about the up and coming talent in rap today?
Its best described as a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are a lot of talented people that are breaking through and getting heard that would have never gotten exposure prior to the internet, but there’s no filter and there’s a lot of trash getting through also. It has its benefits and it has its downsides, it is what it is.
Who do you feel is giving Nike a run for their money as of late?
I mean Nike will always be at the top of the food chain in my opinion in the sneaker world. Nike holds their title. But I’m a new balance dude; I like all the colors they put out. The burgundy’s, the all greens, the blue and brown joint, the original all greys, I like it all.
Can you name some of your musical influences outside of the rap world?
I like nirvana a lot. Actually, shout out to syco13 (AKA Heffner AKA Brando AKA Sinatra). Back in elementary school he was one of the first people to put me onto music outside of Hip Hop. He put me onto nirvana, Greenday, the stone temple pilots, stuff like that. It stuck with me. Good music is good music. I tell everyone there’s two types of music: good music and bad music. It doesn’t matter what type of genre it falls in. Other than that I listened to jazz. Stuff like Louie Jordan. If I’m listening to regular radio in New York I’d rather listen to something like one of the oldie stations.
Have you ever camped for a pair of kicks?
Fortunately, I’ve never waited on line for a pair of sneakers. Not even once, I have no idea what that’s about. Luckily I got a couple friends in the sneaker game that if I really want something I can make a call and make that happen.
I like Supreme. I like what they’re doing; supreme is dope so shout out to Supreme. I like a lot of the collab’s they doing, I like the pieces and the hats. I’m real picky when it comes to clothes too, like especially street wear brands. I actually wanted the Rae-kwon shirt for a while. There’s so many right now that you really just can’t like all of them.
Shout out to Mishka, they put out my last tape “Mandatory Brunch Meetings” so I love the people at Mishka. You know what, truth be told if I was to pick my two favorite street wear brands it would be Supreme and Mishka.
What’s your relationship with Wu-tang?
Throughout the years I’ve worked very closely with J-love who is Ghostfacekilla’s personal DJ. So through that I got to meet some of them. Wu is the foundation of New York Rap. I’m cool with Masterkilla, we’d never done a record together but through some friends I have in East New York. Of course I’m cool with Ghost through J-love.
You cool with Smoke?
Yeah I left premiers show the other night on Serious XM and he was at the studio down the block so we just bumped heads. But DZA’s fam man, like he’s busy and I’m busy so we haven’t put out a lot together but you’re gonna hear a ton of joints from us soon.
Any last shout outs you would like to make?
Shout out to Smart Crew, TCN, AVR, Outdoorsmen, The lo life’s, and to myself, Meyhem Laurenivitch. Shout out to Post AOW as well.