The Mysterious Mr. 3

 

When I first heard Polite Society by Mr. 3, I was taken aback by how dope the production and mastering was for such an unknown artist.  With beats that had my room wobbling like a fat girl on a unicycle, the album was on constant rotation for weeks until I was yelling, “Puerto Rican China Doll” upwards of 15 times a day–enough that my girlfriend finally had to tell me to “shut up or get the fuck out of the car.”

I had first heard Mr. 3 when I stumbled across a link to a track titled “Lounge Music” several months back, and I could tell from his album that he had made a lot of progress since this track. “Polite Society” features songs to dance, fuck, and smoke to, arguably the most important qualifications for a hip-hop album, and I was very impressed by the amount of quotable lines that I retained even through my first listen. “Popped a few birth control pills now I’m geekin.” “Cool ranch on my body.” The lyrics had me laughing, feeling hungry, and occasionally even wanting to break stuff. The album’s style was a perfect mix of quality rapping, funny lines, and most importantly, some unique beats.

Intrigued by the mysterious rapper and his Barry White-esque voice, I reached out to Mr. 3 to see if he could shed a little light on his album and his rap career. Having just finished a show opening up for ASAP Ferg and Juicy J, Mr. 3 had a lot to discuss about his first major live performance, so check out the interview to get some insight into this rising MC’s story.

As a moderator of one of Reddit’s largest communities, you have a lot of information floating around on the web. I’ve gathered that you went to Morehouse College (at least for a little), and now you are pursuing a law degree somewhere in Florida. Where along your journey did you start rapping and how did you start?

Mr. 3:  Yea, I went to Morehouse College for a second.  I was a knucklehead back then though and fucked my way out of graduating from there, but in retrospect those were some of the best people I ever met in my life, and I regret not taking that opportunity to its fullest extent.  It’s rare that most people will ever get a college experience like that.  The history oozed from that place, and Atlanta in general is one of my favorite cities.  I just wanna move back to Atlanta and build a castle right next to a waffle house.

I really don’t remember when I “started” rapping per se. It’s really not something I did, or do, consciously.  I did it because everybody else did it.  I did it because I grew up around hip-hop my entire life.  I never considered rapping to be a unique skill, and I wasn’t aware that it was until recently.  It has always felt completely natural to me, like regular speech. But if I really had to put a pin on the “beginning, back in middle school the American Classic known as “Grindin” by Clipse dropped.  School desks across the nation became makeshift MPC’s.  It was the kind of song that was boosted by its simplicity.  And it gave us our first take of the cypher life. I was horrible back then; we were all horrible.  But we were 12 years old, we were horrible people in general.

As I got older and grew, I kept doing it in the back of my head and as a joke here and there.  Guys get around and rap all the time, I never thought anything of it or just how much I was doing it, or how good I was getting at it.  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I would hop in cyphers and freestyles and dudes would give me looks because they thought I was spitting writtens; I wasn’t.

I never saw myself as a rapper; I still don’t. Not too long ago I seriously contemplated buying one of those Korean anime body pillows.  I am nowhere near cool enough to think of myself as a “rapper”, and its always weird when people assume you’re cool because you know how to rhyme.  I’m just thankful my fans will never see my browser history, or my boss as fuck beanie baby collection.

Recently you opened for A$AP Ferg and Juicy J, and your major complaint was that the promoter treated you and your DJ like shit. How did this promoter find you for the show? Did your publicity alone get the promoter’s attention or did you actively pursue this gig?

Mr. 3: My homie Darius (aka D1n.ONLY) was the one who got the hookup, and we had linked up before, so he asked me to perform with him.  Darius knew the promoter on some personal shit; it wasn’t like dude heard about us and went and found us.  We ain’t like that yet.

But the way the shit worked was this: the more tickets you sold, the longer your set got to be.  We ended up selling more tickets than any of the openers, but they still made us go first, I guess because they didn’t know us or thought we would suck or something like that.  They wouldn’t even let my DJ use his own equipment, he had to use the house equipment, laptop included, because they “didn’t wanna unplug anything.”  Grr.

I was just happy to be there, and I got to drink for free that night, so I didn’t say shit (the bartender wasn’t even supposed to give free drinks to openers; dude legit liked our music and hooked it up and told us not to tell anyone).

As a college graduate now pursuing higher degrees, did you ever think that rap was going to be a possible career path for you? It seems as though there is a stigma in the hip-hop community about education, and what effect has that stigma had on your motivation and ambition?

Mr. 3: There’s mad dudes in the game who are college educated.  Ludacris has a college degree.  Tity Boi, David Banner, J. Cole, the list goes on and on. The whole notion that you have to be a crack dealing gangster in order to rap is gone. You don’t even have to “act” hard anymore to get on.  I think the game is becoming more accepting to people from any background.  Everybody has a story to tell.

I’ve never encountered a stigma against education in hip-hop, and if such a stigma exists, it exists in uneducated circles.  Nobody gets to be rich and famous and powerful without being somewhat educated.  And honestly, if that stigma does exist, it exists between people who don’t know anything about hip-hop and have a stereotypical “scary black guy” image of it.  Those people should be of no concern to you.  You can live a happy and successful life without them.  In actuality, I’d suggest it.

Rap is not a career for me.  It’s my love, its my undying passion, but I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket in terms of trying to feed myself and my future family.  Success in this game is based upon a lot of factors that you have no control over.  No matter how much work you put it, I don’t want to bet my future on the luck of the draw.  If you come out here planning on becoming a millionaire off hip-hop and hip-hop alone, you’re dumb.  Do it because you love it, not because you tryin to pop bottles or some stupid shit like that.  That’s not real life.  Don’t be that dude who blows his whole paycheck in one night in the VIP trying to be cool.  Too many dudes out here wanna look like a rapper, but don’t actually want to put the actual work in to be one.  They want to celebrate before they accomplish anything.  That’s not how it’s supposed to go.

Even the most talented people may not ever get to the point where they can feed a family off hip-hop.  The money isn’t consistent.  It’s not a long term thing for most people.  For every Jay-Z there’s a thousand guys who came and went.  Blips on the radar. These are the majority. I went to school because I know that’s long term money.  And I know that, if I stack bread on the business side of things, I can use that money to fund my music.  Last thing you wanna be in this game is broke, because when you broke, you’re more willing to compromise your integrity for a dollar.  I don’t wanna get in the game having to do anything for money.  Money does not motivate me.  The music does.

How do you choose your production? You mentioned that you find a lot of your beats around the internetbut do any of your friends produce for you? If so, have you ever worked in-house with a producer to create a completely original track?

Mr. 3: I got a couple of cats that I know personally who got beats, but honestly the best beats out right now are coming from Ukrainian teens. Hip-Hop has truly become a global thing.

I get my shit from anywhere.  It doesn’t even have to be hip-hop.  I just gotta be able to feel it.  If I feel it, I get on it. I’ll rap on anything.  If Cam’Ron can make the Golden Girls theme go hard, I feel like I have full creative license to go in on some Muppet Babies, or something trill like that.

Sometimes I’ll hear a beat and feel it at first, but over time it’ll fade away and I won’t fuck with it as hard.  I listen to a beat, on repeat, for a couple months before I ever rap on it.  If I can listen to the same beat for months and not get tired of it, that’s when you know its actually good and doesn’t just have novelty appeal. That’s how you know it has the potential to be long lasting music.  I’m not out here tryin to make flavor of the month hypebeast shit, I’m trying to make sonic landscapes. Bangers for all the ladies out there who refuse to use tampons with cardboard applicators. Pyrex Ballads. The good stuff.

These days, it seems easier than ever to turn a bedroom into a studio. Do you record at home? If so, what is your setup like?

Mr. 3: I record in a studio.  I would like to set something up at home simply for ease and to save a couple bucks.  Also I prefer rapping without pants on which can be awkward if I’m not at home.

What was the process behind Polite Society? Did you find all the beats first, or did you record along the way?

Mr. 3: There really was no formal process. I just hear shit, I like it, and I go rap on it.  After I did that a couple of times, I had built up enough material to warrant a tape.  I honestly don’t wanna give up the keys to the safe like that, but let’s just say I put a lot of time and work into it.

Who would you say your biggest influences are towards your style?

Mr. 3: OJ Da Juiceman, Lil Boosie, Annie Lennox, Astrud Gilberto, Roger Waters, Ennio Morricone, Trick Daddy, Beth Gibbons, Sixpence None The Richer

Do you have any future projects you are working on currently?

Mr. 3: I’m throwing around a couple of ideas.  I’ve got some future collaborations that I’m really excited about.  I don’t wanna give away too much.  You’ll just have to wait and see.

blacklizlemon.bandcamp.com/album/polite-society

 
Nathaniel Heller