Sound Check: MC Squared

MCSquaredIt’s been scarce lately to see a quality hip-hop artist come a long with with a sound that blends hip-hop, soul, jazz, and poetry. MC Squared blends the sounds of all of his influences from KRS One to Miles Davis, to create a masterful album called The Search. SoulTrain.com sits down with this eclectic artist.

SoulTrain.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

MC Squared: I was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. You know, when it comes down to music, I feel like that flower that grew out of concrete. Down south everybody down here has a mouthful to talk about when you meet them, and I wanted to put that on top of music.

SoulTrain.com: Definitely. People have put you into a lot of different categories. There’s hip-hop, but then there’s also jazz, blues, there’s soul and there’s some gospel, too. Can you tell us who your influences were and what describes your sound?

MC: Well you know in the south, the Bible belt, I grew up in the church. So that gospel underline you hear is not musically injected into the song, but spiritually injected. So whenever it comes down to anything I write, my mind frame is always on that moral path. My mind frame is, nowadays, what people call conscious rap or conscious music, is not that. It’s really just telling it how it is. A lot of people talk about what they got, what they did, and this or that. For me, lyrically I call myself a reporter. In today’s world, you’ve got tons of things to talk about outside of cars and clothes. I’ve been playing the trumpet ever since I was seven years old. So growing up, the marching band and certain mentors who have been key in my life kind of introduced me to jazz, but I really didn’t start playing it until I was 16. I started writing poetry at an early age of 8. I started free styling at 14, so rap and hip-hop were already embedded in me. What I’m trying to do in today’s society is exactly what happened to me when I was growing up. I really wanna reconnect hip-hop to its roots. I really wanna connect America musically back to its roots which is jazz. I just want to bridge the gap.

SoulTrain.com: Right. Now talk about your debut video and single, “The Search,” and the inspiration behind it.

MC: The name of my debut single is also the name of my debut album The Search. It really just speaks about helping yourself. I know in this entire time, writing this album, personally I was searching for myself as a musician, and at the time frame in my life I was actually searching for myself as a person. I wanted the world to hear my journey and what I was seeing in myself as far as people struggling, and finding their true selves in the struggle. A lot of people want to be like what they see on TV. Who’s the cool kid? Who’s the cool playa on the block? What is Lil Wayne wearing tomorrow? You finding your true self is where that song stems from.

SoulTrain.com: Keeping in line with that theme in terms of searching and finding yourself, there seems to be a new breed of musical artist developing from the state of Alabama. The state has a rich history in music that’s often overshadowed. Talk about that new movement with artists like yourself and Sky Collette (another SoulTrain.com featured artist), and is it something that’s intentional or did you guys all kind of come out around the same time?

MC: Well to be honest with you, we’re all around here like family. I read the bio of Miles Davis  a couple of years back and I was clueless on the fact that Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and all of those guys lived with each other. They all hung out with each other. They were like family. I didn’t really understand how easily that could happen unless you live in a city like Montgomery, Alabama where everybody knows each other. That gives way to people of the same mindset, and we naturally gravitate towards each other. So when it comes down to the music, it also goes to the question before of what really are my influences. Everybody around here: if you’re not listening to gangsta rap, trap music, or somebody auto tuning their voice on every single song. You’re kind of gravitating towards that mindset to the people like myself who grew up listening to A Tribe Called Quest. People who grew up listening to Nas, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lalah Hathaway, and those influences embedded in us have kind of pulled us all together in a mutual bond not even just to do music together, but just to talk and hang out.

SoulTrain.com: t’s definitely a great sound that’s coming. Now being that you are from Alabama, do you ever run into any resistance or stereotypes from anyone outside of the state?

MC: [Laughs] Definitely! I always tell people that I was just a little kid in the hood with a trumpet in his hand. So none of the gangsters wanted to hang out with me because I was always going to band practice. But I was exposed to all of that stuff. When it comes down to the stereotype of the environment that the south breeds, they see someone with a necklace around their neck. They see someone with the dark shades or the hoodie or they hear our accent and they automatically say, “Oh, you’re of of those down south rappers.” Well, if you listen to cats nowadays like Big K.R.I.T. or Andre 3000, the simple fact that you have the accent or say you’re from down south doesn’t mean you’re talking about the same thing that people have been talking about for years. We’re really trying to break out of that mode, and I’m doing that by making sure that trumpet stays glued to my hand.

SoulTrain.com: If you were a fan, listening to your album, what would you want to take away from it?

MC: That’s the hardest and easiest question that you’ve asked.The front of my album is a word search. In the search, you’re finding words like happiness, wealth, health, etc. That’s what I want people to take away from my album. Just like you find those words in the word search, you find it in the music as well.

SoulTrain.com: On final question.  What’s your favorite Soul Train memory?

MC: Oh man! My favorite Soul Train memory is turning on the tube. It was a rerun one Saturday. I used to love watching Soul Train to try and do the dances. My mom was in the kitchen making pancakes and I was trying to keep it down, being that I grew up in a religious household. I was making a little too much noise and she crept around the corner and caught me dancing. So immediately I thought I was going to get my behind tore open, but instead she came over to me and started doing the booty bump with me. She bumped me so hard I fell to the floor and we just started laughing. So on that one Don Cornelius saved me because if it would have been MTV I would have gotten a whooping!

SoulTrain.com: Well alright. Ladies and gentlemen: MC Squared.

You can pick up MC Squared’s album The Search on iTunes and www.mcsquaredlive.com.

–Nick Eden

Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and appeared on Season 1 of BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new EP #FLIGHT1980 is available for FREE download HERE. Follow him on Twitter @nickeden and on Facebook.

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