going up on a tuesday!
He’s had one hit to date, yet counts Miley Cyrus and Drake as both fans and collaborators. Now signed to Drizzy’s OVO and with a brand new mixtape, 'Drink More Water 5,' fresh on the nets, we meet Atlanta’s ILoveMakonnen to talk Molly, Miley and making...
Photography Stef Mitchell
Both Los Angeles and Atlanta have long been breeding grounds for some of music's most seminal artists. From N.W.A, Snoop and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the West Coast to Outkast, Usher and James Brown in the Dirty South, the two towns have birthed acts that have single-handedly changed the course of contemporary culture forever.
Imagine an artist that has been raised on a diet of G-Funk before moving to strip-club central at the age of 13, and you might just land upon hip hop's hottest new act, ILoveMakonnen. "Both places have inspired me in many different ways," says Makonnen Sheran of his woozy, weird music that is both complex and straightforward in its intent and execution. "But I'm not looking to those places to inspire me anymore," he decides. "I feel like I've reached a checkpoint already with those places, so I'm looking to new cities, new cultures, new things I haven't yet experienced, to inspire me."
Over the last year, the 250year-old has gone from a wannabe novice to one of rap's most wanted. It began when Miley Cyrus instagrammed a pic of the artwork for Mak's Sonny Digital-produced, MDMA renouncing single I Don't Sell Molly No More. Then Drake got involved, jumping on Club Going Up On A Tuesday (64m views and counting), taken from his debut, self-titled EP, and the stage was set.
Now a fully-fledged member of Drake's OVO label, Makonnen has since collaborated with Cyrus and is working with Drizzy on new material. "I haven't run into Miley lately," he says over the phone from New York, where he's recoding his debut album. "We have a song together, but her people or whoever haven't gotten to putting it out. It's up in the air still but it's a great song and I know she really likes it, so hopefully it will come out. We'll see how that pans out." And his boss? "Drake? He's very down to earth. You meet him and you wouldn't know he was this celebrity who makes music and has all these people go crazy for him every time he walks out onstage. He's a very nice gentleman and someone I admire. He's just a good person. I'm trying to learn his ways."
Before we begin our interview, there is a polite reminder not to ask Makonnen about "the passing away of his friend" (Makonnen was put on house arrest for "involuntary manslaughter" after accidentally shooting and killing his best friend Anthony Godoy in 2008) or "drugs". Given that a lot of his songs are soaked in artificial stimulants (see the previously mentioned I Don't Sell Molly No More), this presents a slight problem. Luckily, Mak is more than happy to talk about other things that matter to him, like how he used to work as a chef at a taco restaurant. "I'm a very good cook. I do a great baked peanut butter chicken dish." How he used to interview people like Lil B on his blog back in the day. "I met Adele online, right around Hometown Glory when no-one really knew her. "Before I knew it, everything had taken off. That's when I knew the power of MySpace, because I saw it happen to countless artists." And that time he studied at Beauty School. "I studied cosmetology; nails, hair and skin. I'm pretty great colorist! I can cut hair too." It's good to have a back-up plan, right? "People can be like, you suck, it's a wrap, you're a joke, get out of here! I'll have to go back to doing hair if that happens, and that's fine."
He also has opinions on the world, the future, and life itself. "I think that we should have more people gathering and enjoying each other's company as humans instead of fighting all the time," he decides of Planet Earth 2015. "There should be more celebrations between the countries, like how we do with the Olympics very four years, but annually. That's what I'd like to see happen. Everybody's going through their own thing on this planet, but we're all living on this Earth at this time and we all want to take care of the place we live in and the people we love and enjoy our lives while we're here, while we can. Everyone should get on the same page. I think we can all have a happy, successful life that way."
Like many of his generation, the Internet has played a huge part in Makonnen's development as an artist, as well as his recent success; he also recognizes its impact on both the local and global community. "The Internet is a great place to connect with people across the world. That's what we need to start doing; we need to start bringing that element of how we connect with each other online into our human form so we can connect with each other in person." This also connects to his idea for Tuesday; at first glance, a mere straight-up banger, but also one that's saying something too. "I'm trying to change that idea, all across the world, that we only party at the weekend. That we live for the weekend. If you're having a good Monday or a Tuesday and you go to a club or a little pub, whatever, and you've had a good day, then go out and celebrate. Live for now."
How about his personal plans? What does the future hold in store for the man who includes Swizz Beats, Lil B, Passion Pitt and Mannie Fresh as inspiration? "I plan on coming to the UK in June and having a great time. I envision it to be a little gloomy, darker skies, a lot of people, busy," he ruminates of his forthcoming first trip abroad. "I don't know, I want to come and see the culture and embrace it all. I want to travel a lot and be one of the most impactful artists of 2015. I plan to do that by dropping a lot of great music, performing a lot of good shows and by having a lot of safe, sexual excursions," he says with a huge laugh. "I think that's a pretty good inspiration for right now."
Photography Stef Mitchell