Meyhem Lauren Courtesy of Meyhem Lauren

Real Name: Jamey Rencher
Hometown: Queens, New York
Influences: Wu-Tang Clan, Kool G. Rap, M.O.P.
Who He’s Down With: Outdoorsmen

It used to be commonplace for rappers to include a discussion of all four elements of hip-hop culture in their rhymes. On your “The Total Meyhem" EP, you focus on graffiti on your song “Got The Fever” and its video. Why did you do that?

It’s a selfish thing. It was a part of me, something that I used to do. I didn’t do the record on some “Let’s show the world some real hip-hop.” I did the record like, “This is a part of me.” Hip-hop is a part of me. I feel like the only time when you get to see graf in videos, they have a lot of piecing and that’s cool and I respect all of that, but when I did graf, I was doing tags and throwies.

The guys that do that type of stuff, they don’t get recognition, but those guys are artists. They’re out there bombing just for the sport of it, for no money -- just for the love and the sake of graf. That’s why in the “Got The Fever” video I had no pieces, no murals, just straight street graf because I feel that gets overlooked.

Your “Self-Induced Illness” album had 41 tracks on it. How and why did you put out a project with that much music on it?

There’s two reasons. Initially, it was supposed to come out through a company that folded. I figured if they were going to press a double CD and do everything for the record, then why shouldn’t I do it, too? I had to do all the work with pressing the CDs myself at the end when the company went down. The other reason is that I had a lot of material that I was sitting on, and I figured I’d get it all out. That would force me to write new things. I could have stretched 40 songs over four albums and that would have caused me to be less creative than just throwing out 10 at a time. I just wanted to get it all out and start fresh.

Your new “Respect The Fly Shit” mixtape is part of the newest wave of hardcore underground New York rap. Why do you think it’s starting to come back?

I feel like no matter what, there’s always somebody from New York repping in terms of the underground, that type of music. But, it’s been a while since there’s been so many sounds and artists going in that direction. There’s a bunch of us right now and there’s more or less unity among us. Even if we don’t hang out all the time, there’s a mutual respect and that’s a good thing, too.

A lot of times in New York, artists have the attitude, “I’m the best. I’m the nicest. I don’t want to rock with anybody else.” But you talk about me, Action Bronson, AG Da Coroner, Smoke DZA, Das Racist and there’s others. Somebody is friends with somebody. We’re all not like best friends, but it’s a common respect thing.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter @SorenBaker and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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