Meyhem Lauren is a street savvy NYC-bred wordsmith who represents a pure and organic style of hip-hop. He is also an old school graffiti artist and one of the founding members of the highly respected graffiti collective known as the Smart Crew. Mey is one of my best friends and I’m honored to interview him for FRANK.
Where are you from?
Queens, NY, the Galaxy.
When did you start writing graffiti?
In the summer after sixth grade, I started carrying a marker. There was a local store and we would go to there to buy markers, spray paint, boxcutters and firecrackers. It’s kind of ironic that the three people who started the Smart Crew—myself, LUK, and SYCO13—became friends in a class called TAG (Talented And Gifted).
Who were some of your biggest influences in graffiti?
Different writers had different influences. SHONE and Trap always had dope fill-ins and straight letters, Cost was the tag king. SP and Dash got colorful stuff, also Raep, Fray and Such were everywhere.
How did you get into the rap game?
I was just a fan that evolved into an artist myself. I met J-Love in ’98 and just knew him from the neighborhood in Queens. I bought some beats from him in 2005. After that, he showed me the ropes by bringing me in the studio and introducing to a few people in the industry. And then started to play my music on his mix tapes. Around 2008, things started happening for me.
Who were some of your biggest influences in rap?
Wu-Tang, MOP, Kool G Rap—that’s my favorite rapper, that’s why I do this. Nas, Tragedy, Capone-N-Noreaga, Cormega.
How do you separate yourself from other artists?
I don’t really feed into being a character, what you get is me, I’m just me. Sometimes I’m too genuine, Meyhem is Meyhem. Sometimes I want to change the world, sometimes I want to shoot someone in the leg, I’m just being myself, and that’s why my music is all over the place. I feel different every day.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the rap game?
I think it’s great, it’s better than it’s been in a long time. A lot of people are chasing to relive a golden era from the ’80s or ’90s but this is the next golden era right here, this is a monumental era right now.
Any exciting projects in the works?
I’m working on four projects right now, one is produced by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, one by Buckwild, one by J-Love, and another one by Harry Fraud.