An Interview with M E
M E is a North Carolina native whose music has continued to captivate listeners. The 28-year-old, who now resides in Brooklyn, is often cited for his strong storytelling abilities and honest lyricism. A renowned artist, he has been praised for connecting with his audiences through shared emotions and a cadence tailored to each song. His message and cultural narrative paint a vivid picture of our complex society. Read this article to discover M E’s musical background, inspirations, and more!
Hey! Introduce yourself. Where are you from?
Yo yo! I’m M E, Jimi Mac, that tall-ish guy who’s NC’s greatest artist, just to name a few. My hometown is Burlington, NC (336!) but I’ve lived in Brooklyn (Flatbush!) for almost 10 years now.
When did you start making music?
I started making music at 9 years old in Salisbury, North Carolina. The homies who lived next door to me had found a speaker with a mic plug-in and recording capabilities. We formed a group called the Rugrats on the spot! It was my homie who taught me how to write rhymes because I didn’t know how. He helped me put words on the page; he effectively ghost-wrote half of my first verse ever. I still remember that verse word for word. It’s cringy now, but back then it was mind-boggling to our peers. From there I just couldn’t stop writing. I started out experimenting with double time and flow and I perfected it over time. My writing skills will continue to improve over time, but it’s amazing to see how quickly they’ve taken off.
Who inspired you to start making music?
The first thing that inspired me was a photograph of Jay Z in my older sister’s living room. During the Hard Knock Life Tour, Jay Z stopped by Greensboro, NC for an appearance, and she got a picture with him. Vol. 2 was my first introduction to Jay Z; even as a kid, the title track had me dumbfounded, especially the video. Transforming the Annie sample into something I could understand, keep in mind we did not grow up pretty by any standard. I was inspired to make music by that level of creativity, but I didn’t know how at the time. I only knew that I wanted to create something that people could relate to and validate their experiences.
How would you describe your music style?
I would describe the music style as Hyper-Realism Rap. Featuring East Coast Rap’s great qualities combined with South’s story-telling charisma. My goal is always to create a concise thought, vibe, narrative, etc. when making music. I think of each song as an episode. The way I progress in a song or narrative, I liken to cinematography. It sounds weird, but I don’t want you to hear the story, but to see it. The challenge then becomes how do I make it sonically pleasing to listen to? Over time, I believe I’ve been able to strike a perfect balance with this. To achieve this, one of the tools is the approach; for example, instrument selection, song structure, etc.
Additionally, I keep an idea of the performance as a forethought. Whenever I create a song, it has to be something that can be performed and provide an experience for the audience. I liken this effect to reading Shakespeare in school. Remember when it was mandatory and people would read it without life, or energy, and it sounded horrible? In that regard, I feel the same way about artists who perform without performance tracks or on top of their songs, vocals included. The idea is always to create two separate experiences; the one you get when you listen to the studio version of the song, and the other is the live performance of the same song.
Who are you listening to now?
It may be best for the question to be answered by who I’m not listening to at the moment. I literally challenge myself to listen to a new album each day. When it comes to music, I tend to judge books by their covers! My thought is as an artist, the album cover should intrigue the audience to want to press play, even if they’ve never heard your work before. In other words, I’m a musical smorgasbord.
What’s your best project or single so far?
So far, I have released two albums and an EP. Those tracks are complete hits in my live sets, and I haven’t released them yet, so this is quite tricky. In my opinion:
- Pride Kills: A Collection of Ego (EP)
- 20/21 (Album)
- 20/20 (Album)
I think my best song is “I Do” (feat. Naomi Banks). It just hits differently than any other single I’ve released.
Any upcoming releases from you to look out for?
Keep an eye out for the music video and single for “MAAD” from the 20/21 project. I have a short film based on the 20/21 album to be released. My artist collective, The Aguille Collective, will release a project this winter. A few artists in the Collective will be dropping solo projects as well.
Have any shout outs?
Of course! I would like to shoutout The Aguille Collective; Drew Drake, Jave, T-Bell, DJ Pfysical, Rxch of Killatape, and Junior Collective member Venus. Gospel Recording Artist Róli Reid and Brooklyn Artist Nina Moss. Go check their music!
Want more from M E? Keep up with his music on SoundCloud!