Los Angeles, CA – Hip Hop has gone through various incarnations over the years but one thing that has not changed is the value of honesty. For Strange Music’s newest spitter, Maez301 this is a lesson that came only after years of self-reflection.
But one thing that Maez discovered early on is that the key to longevity is an honest connection with the fans, and that won’t necessarily always get you airplay.
“It took a few years [to get the courage to put out my music] I was so caught up in trying to make what I thought other people wanted to hear and trying to make it perfect, and my deepest insecurity was people thinking it wasn’t good enough,” Maez told HipHopDX in an exclusive conversation. “It got to a point where I realized that I have to be okay with that vulnerability. Once I accepted that it actually gave me strength and courage to put my work out and I began to see things change through that vulnerability,” he added.
Once Maez did start hitting the booth, his work caught the attention of his uncle, who got it in front of the right ears and before too long he was sitting across the table from hip hop’s independent crown-wearer.
“I shared my music with my uncle and I didn’t know what was going to happen. He liked it enough to share it with an uncle I never met, who shared it with Ervin Pope of EP Music and before you knew it we were on the phone chatting about the prospect of working together,” Maez remembered. Then he presented me with an opportunity to come out here and make it happen. I took that chance and here we are.”
He continued: “Ervin has known my manager Inglewood Muggs for a long time, Muggs has been working closely with Tech N9ne and E-40 and a lot of big names for a long time and they caught wind of my music through him and that formulated a relationship between me and Tech N9ne and Strange Music and after a while I think they had enough faith in me to bet house money and give me a shot on the label.”
The DMV has established itself as a worthy destination for hip hop with artists like Logic, Wale, Fat Trel and Goldlink. While many people have made a name for themselves in the city and then spread the sound, Maez decided to take the back road to put on for his city.
“Timing is everything and I’m amassing a lot of my initial following through Strange Music and their fanbase as well as the California area in which I reside in and it’s beginning to trickle back to Maryland now,” noted Maez. “It’ll be interesting because a lot of Maryland artists pop there first and then go other places and the irony is that I left and went somewhere else and then go back home which is ironic because a lot of times to pop in that area you have to follow the sound and I love that I left and I’m cultivating my own sound and I’m bringing it home and I think that’ll encourage a lot of the people at home to do their own thing and not just stick to what is the DMV trap sound,” he added.
Maez dropped his Strange Music debut EP M back in April and followed that up with three more short projects in June. According to him, working with Tech N9ne reinforces what he wants to be in this industry.
“I can reproduce a lot of what is hot right now, but when I look up and I see Tech N9ne who has always danced to the beat of his own drum and is the most successful independent to ever do it it’s a reminder: Stay the course, follow your heart and there’s an audience there,” said Maez. “There is a way to be successful without trying to replicate mainstream sound. A lot of people don’t always get what I’m doing right now but it allows me to navigate that experience and share my journey.”
Success is measured differently by everyone, and while Maez isn’t averse to mass appeal, the long play for him is grounded in the goal of never having to play a part like so many artists do.
“I believe that this is a very special opportunity and to not be myself within this experience would make it very difficult for me. I would have to go home, take of my hat and sigh. I don’t wanna have to do that,” noted Maez. “I wanna come home and feel like I’ve been being myself all day. I look at some of these artists that seem a little uncomfortable in social settings, a little insecure on stage and for me I imagine it’s because they’re trying to play a role and sometimes they run out of juice. It begins to exhaust them because they don’t know what to do next and that creates that anxiety of ‘what do I do?’ When who they really wanna be is within all that but they’re afraid to be that person so I’ve been really fine with just trying to share who I am with people.”