Oct 30, 2008 - 1:20 AM
Oh Dang!: Million Dollar!
Million Dollar Mano: Yes sir!
OD!: For the uninitiated to Million Dollar Mano, do a real quick introduction.
M$M: My name is Mano. I gave myself that name as a joke because of Ted DiBiase who was the Million Dollar Man. (Laughs) I had Ted DiBiase's picture on my MySpace for a month with the title Million Dollar Mano and all my friends started to call me it. I was like, "Just call me Mano" and they would say, "Whatever Million Dollar," so it just stuck. It's cool too because it gives me something to work toward because I don't have a million dollars. I'm a thousandaire right now. Treated!
OD!: You're tearing across the country and the world right now. You're from Chicago but you just flew in from New York, right?
M$M: Yeah I just came in from NY, did a couple ill joints. Me and my girl M.I.A performed together at the Diesel event with N.E.R.D backing us up. It was real ill because I got to perform with P (Pharrell Williams) on stage. But P knows me from me and my girl Drea's rock group called He Say She Say that's signed to 1st & 15th, which is Lupe Fiasco's label, and he loves our music and he's really down for what we're doing. I thought it was dope that he got to see me in the other aspect of what I do because He Say She Say is totally different from the rap shit I do with Hollywood Holt or Mic Terror or M.I.A.
OD!: How do you keep all that going, since you probably get no sleep?
M$M: You know what? I'm on Japan time. I sleep but it's a really really minuscule amount. I'm up at night. I function during the day but my creative kinks start at night. My creative process comes on when it wants to be turned on. I can be inspired by some huge, bigger than life show, hearing a song playing in McDonald's or TJ Maxx from when I was a kid and being like, "Yo, I wanna play that tune in a different chord" to some indie party I'd never enjoy because it's full of cigarette stink and PBR. Most definitely, though, being around the bigger homies like Lupe and Kanye gives me inspiration. Being around those dudes makes me wanna get it and go so hard not just for me but my team too!
OD!: Speak on that. What artists are a part of your team?
M$M: Yeah, most def. There's Hollywood Holt, who is an incredible fuckin' rapper and song writer. Mic Terror, who is one of my favorite MC's of all time! I like some ill dudes, and Mic has always been legit to me. My girl Drea (singer from He Say She Say). She's one of the most incredible people I've ever met, just her spunk within her writing and her being so smart. I mean this girl reads books every day. I HATE TO READ BOOKS! So she knows some of the most incredible words to the point I'm like, "Yo, I'm an idiot. What does that mean?" She's a walking thesaurus. Also my little homie, Chase. Skyler's most definitely doing it. My homie Jesus Piece. There are a lot of my dudes that aren't even in rap shit from Chicago that are doing some amazing new things.
OD!: What do you attribute that to?
M$M: I think it's a new regime and new creative minds. Chicago is known for it's crab in a barrel mentality because it's a small big city so a lot of the people before me had their insecurities about bringing on the younger generation. They didn't know if that person surpassed them if they (themselves) were ever going to get another chance. But there's a lot of huge people in Chicago that people may not think have gone hard for the city that have. Like Lupe, I've known him since high school; he's always helped me in my career. Kanye has also helped pull me up. There's a lot of ill things going on because Chicago is maturing and become secure with itself as a city.
OD!: You're really coming into your own as a producer too. What's your go to equipment?
M$M: The first thing I ever started off on was a sampler and a Boss DR-7 drum machine and moved my way up to an MPC 2000xl. When I was making beats on there I thought I was so cold! This is when I was 16-17. I was letting people hear them and they would say, "You have some good ideas but none of this shit is mixed good. You need to layer your drums and EQ your shit." And I would say, "Fuck you this shit sounds great!" Now that I look back at those beats, they wack as hell to me. It was true I couldn't EQ none of my shit so when I found out about tracking out beats and mixing I was like, "What!" My homie was telling me about Reason and how it was the shit and now that's my weapon of choice. I make all of our stuff on Reason.
OD!: What's coming up that people should know about?
M$M: I'm about to do a mixtape with my homies at Saint Alfred. Shouts out to Ian and Dave. Me and my homie Timbuktu the heavy hitter are going to do a two sided mixtape for Saint Alfred. Tim is ridiculously awesome. Shouts to the Cool Kids. Me and my homie Chuck got a DJ duo called Boys Out The Hood that's coming. Other than that, the He Say She Say album in '09, the Hollywood Holt album in '09, and Mic Terror in '09. So we about to go very very hard!
OD!: One more question because I know you're on your way to a soundcheck right now. Something that always comes up in your interviews and you say is that you're a "connoisseur's connoisseur." Define that.
M$M: Man, you are so on point. That's awesome nobody has known to say that or asked me that in an interview. See, I'm a renaissance dude. I'm this suave debonair type. But I'm also goofy and playful at the same time and I've always had this demeanor behind me about liking dope shit. Not just because something is expensive, but for its individuality. I've always been looking for something that expresses me that nobody else has. I'm also a collector of things from music, to comic books, to sneakers, to toys, to luxury luggage. (Laughs) I'm a nerd that likes to collect really really dope shit and show it off. I really like the artistic quality of things and putting those things out there and showing them off. It has nothing to do with price. Like if a print by Van Gough costs 50 grand and it doesn't look cool to me, it's whatever. Respectfully. For example, Basquiat who I like a lot, there's some of it I don't understand and just think it's a lot of scribbling. But to other people it's beautiful. So to each their own.
OD!: (Laughs) Don't Basquiat look like Kid Cudi to you?
M$M:(Laughs) Holy shit!! Shouts to Kid Cudi! I'm a tell him that next time I see him.
Joshua Weitz is an assistant editor and event coordinator for Oh Dang! A born and raised “Frisconian,” Weitz is a certified 80s baby. Between traveling the world, working 50 hour weeks and driving classic cars at top speed, he drops introspective and incisive questions on your favorite hip-hop artists.
Suzy Salazar is a freelance contributor to Oh Dang! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.