Despite some career and life advice from Masta Ace as well as being able to credit Sean Price as an uncle, Maffew Ragazino has began regularly appearing on many critics and listeners radar the old fashioned way—making good music without a ton of industry co-signs. That’s become a surprisingly rare feat, when most newcomers are comfortable coasting by on a combination of name dropping while wearing and rhyming about their favorite streetwear labels and vintage Jordans. But Maffew also avoided the pitfall of nostalgic laziness and calling out his more mainstream peers, and in turn, earned the respect of both underground and mainstream fans.

After a performance at the Generation Next showcase, the Brownsville, Brooklyn native talked civic pride, Hip Hop’s burgeoning, blue collar crop, and his future projects. And, for all you grammar nitpickers, Mr. Ragazino shed some light on why the seemingly broken spelling of his name is anything but.

HipHopDX: How do you feel being ranked in this new realm of artists like Jon Connor and Action Bronson?

Maffew Ragazino: Those are the homies, and I’m excited about what’s going on in Hip Hop right now. Some new blood is entering the game and being accepted—it’s not with the most welcome arms—but I love the fight. You’ve got to walk a few dogs now and then, but it’s cool though. All in all I’m excited about the opportunities being granted right now.

DX: Why is your name spelled so unconventionally with the two F’s?

Maffew Ragazino: A lot of people think I’m ignorant for spelling my name with two F’s—it’s M-A-F-F-E-W as opposed to the biblical way. But there’s a reason for the two F’s, and there’s a meaning behind the name. My name [is an acronym that] stands for Money And Fame Fuels Everyone’s World, and it’s a real self-explanatory statement. It means everything, and that’s the reason we’re here right now. We’re on the grind because there’s a lot at stake. There’s a lot that can be gained from these opportunities that we’re taking advantage of. Money And Fame Fuels Everyone’s World. If it doesn’t fuel your world, then you need off this world.

DX: When can we expect part two of your “Rare Gems” mixtape?

Maffew Ragazino: You can definitely expect “Rare Gems” before the year is over…sometime during the fourth quarter. But right now, we’re doing the Rhyme Pays album with DJ Teddy King, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Boundless New York. It’s official, and it’s gonna be dope. I’ve got the homie B Works on there, who did the intro. We’ve got Sha Banga, my other business partner Big Throwback and of course DJ Clark Kent is on there. I want to leave something for people to anticipate, but y’all have only heard two cuts off the album. Everything else is the element of surprise.

DX: How did the brotherhood that you, Action Bronson and Mayhem Lauren have come about?

Maffew Ragazino: Those are the homies from Queens. We’re damn near neighbors; those are The Outdoorsmen. I’ve got a lot of love for them, and they gave me my Queens pass. I love it out in Queens, and doing music with them…we damn near see eye to eye when it comes to our ideals on Hip Hop. We see eye to eye on the stuff that we enjoyed coming up as youngins, and the bond that I’ve built with those brothers is deeper than music. It’s just on some G shit, because we respect each other as men before the music. It makes for a great combination. I just saw the homie J-Love and AG The Foreigner at the homie Rasheed Chapell’s release event the other night at Public Assembly.

DX: How instrumental was the Village Voice profile on you guys and Roc Marciano was last year?

Maffew Ragazino: It kind of came out of nowhere, but it raised the awareness in a whole different platform and fanbase of people who read The Village Voice. Some of those people might not check out all of the sites and blogs that show me love, so the people who follow The Village Voice got a little co-sign and a nudge to go check out Maffew Ragazino, and that definitely helped everything that’s going on right now. It helped build the following. Everything is going as it’s supposed to go. One fan a day, and I’m loving the grind right now. I’m just happy to be here.  

DX: For those that don’t know, you’re a Brownsville native…

Maffew Ragazino: I don’t got the Brownsville hat on right now—I’m a little fancy with my snapback. But I always rep Brownsville. Every trip, everywhere I go, everywhere you see me you see Brownsville. Don’t make me bring Sha Banga over here with the Brownsville hat on and the “Where I’m From” t-shirt from the video with Masta Ace.

DX: As such, who would you say are your top five Brownsville emcees?

Maffew Ragazino: I don’t want to be political, but I’m definitely pro-Brownsville. I gotta shout out my OG, Masta Ace. I’ve got so much love for that guy, he’s kind of taken me in as a brother. Any time I need any advice—even if it’s aside from the music—he’s always there. He always seems to answer his phone, even if he’s overseas dude will let me know like, “Yo, BBM me. I’m in Switzerland.” It’s been nothing but love since we got introduced to each other through our mutual friend Steady Pace.

And in no particular order: my family, my uncle Sean Price. Can Maffew Ragazino go on the list? Definitely Maffew Ragazino, since I’m gonna make Brownsville history. Who else can we put on there, Sha Banga?

Sha Banga: From Brownsville? I say everybody who made it out of Brownsville, even if they don’t rap. If you want to go into specifics and say Rap, that’s a different story. But you got M.O.P., the whole Bootcamp…and we forgot to mention Maino.

Maffew Ragazino: Yo, it’s too many fuckin’ people! I need like a top 500, because I’ve got nothing but love for Brownsville. I love where I’m from, man. Shout out to MG, Thirstin Howl III and all the Lo-Lifes. Up the hill in Oceanhill you’ve got M.O.P., Smoothe Da Hustla, Trigger Tha Gambler, D.V. Alias Khryst…and the list goes on. I know all those guys, and they fuck with Maffew Ragazino. So what does that tell you?

DX: What’s been your biggest industry co-sign so far?

Maffew Ragazino: I don’t want to sound biased, but without a doubt, it’s been DJ Clark Kent. As simple and blunt as possible, he only fucks with the greats…Biggie, Jay-Z. Need I say more?

Additional reporting by Ikenna Nwoga. Filming and editing by Adenford Jean-Philippe.