MHz: Legacy

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Photo courtesy of Mara Gruber

Photo courtesy of Mara Gruber

In late 2012 Hip-Hop super-group MHz released their long awaited full-length album. One of the groups members, Camu Tao, passed away in 2008 due to lung cancer but the groups remaining members, Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki Da Motamouth, and RJD2 soldiered on and renamed the group MHz Legacy. 

MHz Legacy is also the name of the group’s new album. The Columbus, Ohio crew invited guest emcees Ill Bill, Slaine, Oh No, Slug, Blu, and Danny Brown to get down on the album. RJD2 handles the bulk of the production on MHz Legacy but producers like Stu Bangas, Marco Polo, Harry Fraud, Surock, J Rawls, D1, Jason Rose, Rob Stern, and !llmind provide sounds as well. 

Copywrite and Tage Future of MHz Legacy spoke to The Real about their late band mate Camu Tao, the division that exists in Midwest Hip-Hop, and their new album, MHz Legacy. 

TRHH: How does it feel to finally have the album out? 

Tage Future: It felt good, man. Just stating the obvious but it’s been a couple of minutes since we put out something. Whenever there is a couple minutes between projects like that, and I’m talking about a couple minutes as in 2001 when we dropped Table Scraps which technically wasn’t an album, we’re talking about over a decade man. It felt good, man. 

Copywrite: I’m happy with the album. We got a lot of shit on there that we’re proud of. We got a lot of shit on there that I didn’t think we’d get done and get it the way it sounds. I’m real happy with it, man. We could have nitpicked all day about it. Me and Tage are perfectionist but that’s the ill part. If anything we have so much shit on there. I know we could have nailed it down and gave the magazines their break and not have them sit through an hour of music before they went to lunch. It’s a big landmark for us. We’re proud that we all came together to make this album that we knew we would inevitably. We wanted to basically chill out, take our coat off, and kick our feet up and chill for a minute. We wanted to make a nice little lengthy album and not be in and out of the spot so soon. 

TRHH: Why’d you guys invite other producers to work on the album instead of having RJ produce the entire thing? 

Copywrite: I don’t know, man. One producer for a whole album has never been anything that any of us have done. I guess our taste is a little too broad to eat steak all month. Sometimes your ears crave different sounds and shit and different randomness. We didn’t go on a path to get beats from different producers it was whoever had the shit that we needed. We have Surock who is not unknown but he’s probably the least known. We have Rob Stern who did the intro track. Whoever had the music that we felt we needed we just used. We linked up with them and made it happen. 

Tage Future: I agree. It wasn’t like yo, we’re going to mess with a bunch of producers. We just picked some heat. We got RJ’s production as the foundation of it. He produced the most records out of all the producers. There were other beats that we wanted to mess with because they meshed well and went along with whatever themes we were trying to do sonically. We didn’t plan to have a whole bunch of producers but it was a matter of stuff that we liked and what would mesh with will RJ’s contribution. 

TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the song ‘Mechanical Me’? 

Tage Future: That was the first song that we recorded on the album. If you listen to the chorus Jason Rose is talking about breaking out of his metal canopy, cut the strings on mechanical me. Let me do me. Sometimes in life you got stuck in a rut or a routine and sometimes you need to break free. Sometimes it’s physical and sometimes it’s a mode of thinking. ‘Mechanical Me’ is talking about breaking out of that routine that you might be stuck in, whether it be something that you do every day, something that you experience or are a part of. It could be a job or a philosophy, but it’s about breaking out. 

Copywrite: We had it easy on that song. All we had to do was walk in and rap. Jason Rose already produced it and had the hook. It would have been a great song with or without us. Shout out to Jason Rose on that. He’s a super-talented dude. Basically what it is, cut the puppet strings, be your own person and get off this fucking conveyer belt of everyday 9-to-5 shit even though it’s designed to keep us tired by the time we get off.

TRHH: You guys all live in different parts of the country so what’s the writing process like? Do you guys write in the studio together or e-mail tracks? 

Tage Future: Most of the time we’re not working in the studio together unless we meet up. It varies from song to song. Cop and I have been dealing with one another for years. We’ve been friends for well over a decade. We definitely know one another’s tendencies and things we like to do when it comes to a song. Sometimes he may be the first one to write something to a song and he’ll hit me off with it and ask what I think about it. I’ll come with something to compliment his or vice versa. It’s not really a forced thing. It’s pretty easy for us because we know one another. 

Copywrite: We’ve known each other for so long, man. Me, Tage, Camu, and RJ we all want the same outcome musically. Even though we all have very distinct sounds we’re like twins. We never missed a beat. 

Tage Future: Three twins, man, how ‘bout that? Never thought that could happen. Three twins and two triplets! Can’t have three twins, man. We have a lot of similarities in our tastes. 

Copywrite: Our solo shit is different for sure but when we all rock together it’s a different vibe. I’m more stripped down when I do my solo shit. When we do MHz shit we have more fun with the technicalities and get a little more wordy with shit. The nerd wordsmith in us comes out because we know that is what this shit is really based on. This is how it really started before we got smooth and shit. Our shit was rough around the edges and when we were battling it was like who could say the shit to make you go, “What the fuck did he just say?” 

TRHH: Why do you think the Midwest has never had a dominant run in Hip-Hop despite having artists like Kanye, Eminem, Common, and Nelly achieve success? 

Copywrite: No support because we’re crabs in a bucket. We get jealous too ‘cause we want it so bad. That’s how it is in Ohio. 

Tage Future: I feel like it’s twofold. That’s definitely a part of it because when we were growing up in Columbus we were cool with other artists. We used to do shows with other crews but there wasn’t as much of a movement as you’ve seen in the South, West, and East. Also, I feel like it has to do with the sound as well. The sound of the Midwest is not really a signature sound. There’s a lot of different sounds within the Midwest sonically. It’s not saying that it’s any better or worse than any place else but it may play a role in the togetherness in the sound of a region. You can hear a song from the South whether it’s Houston, Atlanta, or Miami it might not sound exactly the same but there are a lot of similarities in it. I feel it’s kind of like that in the West, too. 

Copywrite: The West Coast sound is the Midwest sound pretty much because the Funk is the Midwest. The Isley Bros, Bootsy Collins, that shit is the Midwest, that’s Ohio. They capitalized on the Funk. 

Tage Future: I like that question. It also seems like since the Midwest did not have an identity of sound; we kind of drew from everywhere. You draw from the East, the West, and South and put your own little flavor on it. There may be more West in your sound if you come from St. Louis, there might be more East in your sound if you come from Chicago. I’m not saying that’s how it is; I’m just giving you an example. It’s a fusion. The Midwest sound is more of a fusion of influences which gives the sound a variety. I feel like that may play a role in the togetherness of a region. 

TRHH: Tell me about the new single ‘Mass Temple’. 

Tage Future: That’s also Jason. 

Copywrite: Yeah, Jason Rose on the beat, Jason Rose on the hook. We both drew from different shit. I talked a little bit about spirituality. I have a grandma who just passed away at the beginning of last year. I think I just wanted to talk about some serious shit. That’s what the beat sounded like to me. 

Tage Future: I kind of drew from just growing up. I felt like my story could relate to others whereas you grow up and go through a few things, have a few close calls, and some things that could have had you take a turn for the worst. By faith or by God’s grace you get through things or dodge bullets and now you’re here. That’s basically how my verse was and being happy to be here now and touching on some of the things you can go through in growing and developing. That’s what ‘Mass Temple’ is about, saying thanks.

TRHH: Did losing Camu inspire you guys to finally complete the album? 

Copywrite: Nah, it wasn’t a deciding factor like, “OK, Camu passed, let’s do this MHz album.” In a way it was in honor of him, finally getting together and doing the shit that took so long to get done. Really it took a few months to get it done. That’s our flag, man. We’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re proud of the love that we have for each other. 

Tage Future: It wasn’t the only factor. We all just wanted to make something happen. Mu was an inspiration and still is for us. That’s one of the reasons why we came together. We did the song in his honor… 

Copywrite: Not to cut you off bro but my idea was to call the album Tero Smith. We were like, oh shit people might look at it like we’re trying to do it like that… 

Tage Future: We didn’t want people to think that we were trying to capitalize off of Camu and him not being here. We didn’t want to give off that impression because that’s not what it is at all. That’s why we added “Legacy” to the name because we’re not precisely the same group that we were before because Mu is not here. It’s kind of like MHz asterisk [laughs]. It’s still us but we wanted to acknowledge that.

TRHH: What’s next up for MHz Legacy? 

Tage Future: Definitely trying to tour. 

Copywrite: Basically letting this album get heard. I feel like 2012 was a great year for music. A lot of shit came out and with that being said our shit got its proper due a little bit but a lot of shit came out so it was hard to pay attention to all the good shit. A lot of people don’t know who the fuck we are. They know a few of names in the group, but they don’t know the name MHz except for super hardcore people who really know. Super backpackers and people that know about indie rap know. We’re just trying to keep making good music and give this shit its proper course and let it be heard. We really love the record. I fuck with this record heavy. I think it’s the best shit I’ve done so far. 

Tage Future: We may drop a couple more visuals for some of the records on the album and like he said keep pushing the campaign so new listeners can be put up on it.

Purchase: MHz Legacy

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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