Writer and ‘Local Vocals’ host Ben Toland met up with Rochester Hip Hop Alumni Hassan Mackey, to discuss the past present and future of the man who just can’t stop.
Talking about really everything. You’ve been doing so much stuff it’s hard to keep track of it. You just got back from Germany?!
Yeah I was over in Brussels it was pretty awesome my man Chris Prolific brought me out for a beat showcase. It was pretty interesting because they really dig music from over here, they knew the words to my stuff and everything.
That’s what I’ve been seeing, that Europe has been treating musicians much better than the US.
I’ve heard a lot about it travelling I’ve heard a whole lot about it from Kev Brown and Apollo. They go on the road and come back with these cools ass stories about places he’s been with people who really dig the music.
Anywhere else besides Germany?
Not right now, I’m supposed to be going on a full German tour a couple months down the line, it’s still being booked and setup. As far as overseas stuff yeah. I haven’t been to London yet, I did the Brussels joint, that was it.
Turning back to Rochester, You’re probably one of the longest running emcees in the area.
Yeah, I mean probably if not the longest, as far as local activity around here. I’m one of the longest running as far as doing shows and stuff like that cause I mean I was one of the first to book like Bug Jar, Milestones stuff like that around this area, bringing people out cause I have the open mic from Javas. So people were already familiar with me and plus I been on the scene here performing since I was like 12, 13 years old. So I’ve always been active whether it was in music or the arts, cause I’m in FUA too though I’m not as active as those guys are in the graffiti scene but people know of me through that as well, art and everything.
Since you brought up FUA, we have to talk about the ‘BBoy BBQ’, you host that event with FUA correct? How’s that been? I went to the first year and got the chance to meet Shiro from Japan, which was crazy.
Yeah I host the ‘BBoy BBQ’, we do that every summer in august, so far we’ve had 4 of them. We had Tony Touch come out to one, which was just crazy. Its pretty amazing man, people from all over the world coming to paint with us. Some awesome stuff has been going on and it’s pretty crazy cause you know from there you got the Wall Therapy influence, I know the guys that started that too.
Who else have you collaborated with in the art world cause you mentioned FUA and Wall Therapy.
My boy Theiven Stephen he does a lot with Wall Therapy. I haven’t necessarily collaborated with Wall Therapy, we’ve done small projects I know a couple of the guys who do their stuff very well though, mostly with FUA man, you know a lotta those guys are like childhood friends we’ve just been around each other kinda like by default.
You know just about everybody in Rochester as far as music goes though am I right?
Yeah, just about man, there are a lotta of cats here that get busy. A lotta new cats that are getting busy, you know doin their thing. You know you got like, Chemical Ape, you got my man Kiza, he’s dope. MDot aint necessarily one of the young dudes he’s from my generation but MDot and Tim Tones have been heavy on the scene forever, we come from that same sort of circle.
They do ‘Let’s be Friends’ at Skylark.
Yeah that’s their event, they get a lot of people turning out just dancing the night away, cools tunes meet some people you haven’t met before. I haven’t even been yet but I hear about the events and they’re fun.
In consideration of the scene, there’s a lot of talent and there’s a lotta people talking about talent, there’s just so much going around what’s your take on all of the music that you can find in Rochester.
Man, you never know what you’ll find. It’s crazy though I mean, I’m connected to a bunch of scenes, more so than just hip-hop. I know the guys from Thunder Body, Giant Panda that’s like family, you know what I mean, my brothers, like Skribe. The music scene here is thriving here all across the board with the Eastman School of Music right there you got everything coming outta there from classical to jazz to whatever heads might be doing in their spare time on the side, then you got the underground hip hop scene. A lot of these young kids is hitting the ground running cause they get it in much different way than when I was coming up, we didn’t have a lot of technology based stuff and people weren’t self initiating and forward moving on their own, it’s like they don’t need to connect with the one guy with a camera, they savin up to get their own stuff. I’m doing it DYI.
Yeah, yeah, the one guy in the neighborhood with the mic and the computer to record stuff.
Yeah and you gotta go over to his house and he’s not the DJ so you gotta go where the DJ is at to lay the track, it’s not like click this button and send this mp3.
It’s seems there is a lot more, from start to finish, individuals working on tracks.
Yeah now, these days you can be all in house.
What your stance on venues and their opinions on hip-hop shows and rap shows, the stigma that has been building?
You know why, it’s like I don’t know the particulars, well I kinda do but… none of the clubs have ever told me no we couldn’t rock it cause they knew I was bringing the type of crowd that was gonna pay money at the bar, they wasn’t comin there to necessarily fight and if they did fight it was like the most random shit, it wasn’t concentrated or premeditated. A lotta dudes act like wild, and it’s unfortunate that heads are getting told no, but then it’s like, shit, what kinda music are you creatin cause certain things they might not want to be a part of cause what it’s promotin you know what I mean, it’s written all on the outside of the shit, there’s no denying it, you cant’ sugar coat it you cant dress it up and be like oh this is something else and then sneak it in there, and then let it out the bag and do the other shit its like No, cause you prolly tore their shit up the last time you were there or you cant bring a crowd or you know who knows.
How many albums have you cut? You’ve been on numerous mix tapes and different tracks with other artists, but as far as Hassan Mackey goes?
As far as Hassan Mackeys material, first uhhhh, first official project that I did that I consider an album was the ‘On The Fly’ project, that was back in like 2003, me my brother QP my brother Conduct, together we were a group called Melodic Dilemmas aka Mell Dell for short and that was my first project. After that I did a mix tape called ‘The Everything Mix Tape’, it consisted of just freestylin from beginning to end you know and it was all like topic based. I did that with my friend Moproducto, he produced that whole thing and my boy JR aka ‘smack dig em’ he was like kinda like the energy for it or whatever we would hang out crack jokes and stuff like that and we’d talk about it, laugh about shit or talk about the severity of shit and I’d just jump in the booth and just rap about it. I’d do a bunch of freestyles and we’d pick the best ones that we would like to go together. Then from there I did the ‘Soul For Sale’ album, that was like my official like signing a record contract project I did that for Rawkus, that was in like 06-07. Damn I’m buggin cause, I released my first 12in for that ‘On The Fly’ project in like 2001, we dropped the project in like 2002-2003, the uh ‘Soul For Sale’ album was the one that came out on Rawkus, Young C did a great majority of the production on that, I worked with a lotta cats on that man, that are like just like went off to do like super producer shit you know what I’m sayin for like well known, the well named people that we all know of. Ummmm after that project we did the ‘Daily Bread’ project for Mellow Music back in 2010-2011, I did that with Apollo Brown, a producer out of Detroit, and then my last project that I just did is ‘That Grit’, that’s me and my brother Kev brown, he’s out of Landover Maryland and uh were in a crew called ‘Low Budget’ which basically like, bunch of emcees producers, we all rap produce and something else.
You’ve had a long run of word of mouth.
Yeah, a long run of word of mouth a long time before any of this computer shit and the computer shit just helped it, cause we all came into the fold of technology early, like AOL doll up shit
Hahahaha, instant messaging
Yeah instant messaging, Hotmail like primitive shit, before being like ‘Oh check me out and tag us and all this in your videos’ I don’t even do any of that I just put it out, if it’s good enough for you to peep you’ll hear it.
Doesn’t sound like you’re too big on the web, do you have somebody else that does it for you or do you just kinda casually keep up with it?
Ohhh no, I do mess with the web. I’m just not about bombarding people. Because like I said you might have one Michael Jordan and then like two or three other heads thinking they is, and they might have more of the initiative to just be like, bombarding people with their shit because that’s the way they think it works and that’s prolly all they have time to do where as, it’s like yo you might be sitting on an album about a half a year before you even drop that shit, some people are just dropping stuff as they go, and that’s cool too. It’s like, True was saying this last night, it’s like he’s like yo man you know you should drop just drop joints, drop joints not for the sake of clamoring or whatever but just constantly be having stuff out there because to be honest right now it’s more so of a popularity contest then it is a quality control contest and I’m like yeeeeeeeaaaahhh, nahh .
That’s not what you’re into?
Nah, nah, I drop it when I wanna drop it, and you know I know why I’m making music I make it cause I love it, I don’t make it for the sake of everybody else thinking ‘Oh Hassan got the new shit!’, nah I’m a regular person and in real life people like loathe you or they just don’t even think about you.
One person in particular, that we’re both familiar with the abilities of, Moses Rockwell.
“Oh yeah that’s baby bro”
We’ve got him featured on the show that goes along with our next issue release, what’s the history behind you two? How’d you meet him?
Man, yo, I met Moses Rockwell via the hip hop scene Dubland and Milestones coming out to shows real quiet dude man humble as shit you know what I mean, he’d come out to the shows supporting, I didn’t even know he rapped at first it would be him, my man Kbiz, Kev Bennet and Sharp, they just roll through to the shows comin to support, and one time he handed me a cd, I think this was 2009-2010, and you know, I’m like, people hand me cds all the time man, and there was one particular case where I happened to be running out the crib and I grabbed his cd and threw it in and was like “Oh shit! This cats dope” I’m thinking this kid is dope, hell yeah, yup. And I was already cool with him you know, from coming through to shows and shit, like, he was listening to my shit in high school! So I’m like, wow this shit is crazy.”
Sounds like you’ve got a few of releases in 2016.
Yeah, I’m just keeping busy, you know I produce as well as rap so I might do some instrumental stuff, been thinking about that. For the vocal stuff, that’s a guarantee that that’s coming out soon. The self produced joint, is probably coming out around my birthday and that’s on January 20th.
Are you planning any touring behind a release?
Well see man, the way it happens usually, once you know, you start getting out there you can either tour the stuff you have or start tourin some new stuff as well, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be tourin cause I’ll have a slew of new material, it kinda goes hand in hand, once you drop some new shit it’s like a snow ball effect.
So you have regular spots around the country?
Yeah yeah, I mean I could always go to the city, I could always go to the city, I could go to Toronto I got friends over there, overseas of course. I wanna go to Africa, man there’s heads askin me to come out there, my boy Kev has been out there a couple times, they got a hip hop scene.
Oh yeah, they got a hip hop scene, I don’t know too much in particular but they love the music, and we got fans out there, they’ve been hittin me up “Yo, When you comin to south Africa?” and I’m like Hell yeah Id love go there, yeah, I am going, I’m gonna go all the places they been inviting me, man it’s only right gods see it fit and I’m doin it.
It sounds like the way that you operate is working well for you, not being pushy letting people discover you for themselves.
Yeah I’m not a pushover man, I learned that from my mother, you know, everybody’s not gonna like you and that’s always been cool to me, shit people have their opinions but I’ve always been a cool mother fucka, not on some “check me out” shit cause everybody’s cool in their own right. In the art community I’ve done things with like minds and in the music community I’ve done things with like minds, and that’s based off the fact that we have that kinship in order to be able to take our coolness and pool it together, not be too cool for school.
There are a lot of people in your face about it, they want the social media exposure and want to walk down the street handing out flyers and stickers, talking about themselves.
It’s cool to see that kinda stuff, trust me man I got videos on YouTube with like a million views and shit but that’s not a bowl of food, you know whatever. It’s not like oh fuck them but I can’t eat that. I still gotta work in order to keep stuff like that going on so let me not get caught up in it at all that way I’m not psyching myself up too tough thinking I’m the shit. When it comes to my shit I know what it is, I’m confident in my shit. I’m not letting anybody tell me no. I’ve had to face adversity my whole life and I don’t’ mind challenge you know what I mean, life is challenging and nothing is bigger than that, after that everything else is a fucking breeze. It’s cool to be able to deal with life in that perspective because that’s what fuels my material to be the way it is it ain’t over the top, it’s in you face its not dishonest, its exactly what I need.
You mentioned you were at the Filthy Funk reunion show(12/19/2015)?
Yeah, the Filthy Funk reunion man. Filthy Funk reunion, Danielle Ponder. Danielle Ponder is an alien son; she is from a whole other planet but that’s my buddy right there. I’ve known her for a long time too she’s part of the open mic scene from Javas as well, we all got our chops early but man, she hit the ground running when she started doing her thing. I’m super proud of her man cause she’s like a moving force, people love her man, and they got all the right reasons to cause she sings from the pits of her soul, it’s dope, super dope.
What are you lookin forward to most in 2016?
Looking forward to most in 2016 man, uh, shit my dog getting bigger Hahahaha. More creativity man, hopefully I’ll be able to get back on the scene and be more active around here, probably more than likely be able to create some events. Book some shows for other people to help dissolve the stigma, where as to like the clubs don’t wanna have people come out.