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The West Coast MC Medaphoar now goes by the name of MED and has featured over some of the best beats since the late nineties. His first album ‘Push Comes to Shove’ features production by fellow Stones Throw artists Madlib and J Dilla and Jay-Z’s producer Just Blaze, and his latest LP ‘Classic’ is an anthem to the definitive hip-hop sound. Ahead of his first ever Australia tour with Danny Brown, he speaks to ACCLAIM about the changing shape of hip-hop music and his opinion on smokin’ the good stuff…

You released your first album in 2005 – how to you think the hip-hop scene has changed since then with the rise of internet fame?

I think it took a great change, especially for independent artists as a way to get your music out without label support and a lot of money behind you – you can still spread your music. So it’s a plus and a negative, because at the same time ain’t nobody selling records like we used to, because it’s out there for free now.

You’ve said: “Good-feeling music will always last and allow hip-hop to grow’ – what do you see for the future of the hip-hop genre?

Oh man, I think there’s so much more out there for hip-hop that hasn’t been done. New things are getting broken all the time and I’m very interested to see what’s next for hip-hop. But it’s definitely here to stay, it’s not a fad or nothing like that, it’s heartfelt soul music, it’s the struggle, it’s people’s lives, you know. It’s actually regular people who are putting music out there – and yes, some of them are becoming rich off of it. But y’know, at one time they were just regular people like us – and it’s going to keep going.

Your latest album Classic you titled from the process of making it but what to you is ‘classic’ hip-hop?

It’s something that you make from the heart and from the soul, and everything you do is put into that track that you’re making. That’s what real hip-hop is for me.

Madlib produced most of the beats on Classic, what do you think it is that works between his beats and your verse?

When I work with Madlib I know it’s going to be a banger. He has so many beats I don’t know which one I’m going to pick (laughs) but I know I’m gonna get a grade A beat – we both put a hundred per cent into our music, so it’s always good working together.

You’ve worked with many different artists, from Aloe Blacc to J Dilla, who has been your favourite person to collaborate with?

Man, I think all of them, to me, are special. I think every artist I work with I don’t really hold higher than the other – like friendships or family – but as far as great memories, obviously, when it came to Dilla it was a real good memory, just working with a person that I loved and had appreciated for so long and being in the studio with him. And Just Blaze was also a blessing – just to go in there and meet a producer that was so down to earth and was just a legend – a living legend – and being beside Jay-Z in the studio with Just Blaze, I didn’t meet Jay-Z or nothing though, but I was in Bassline Studio so those were good memories right there, for sure.

On Classic the lyrics seem very person and inspired, what is the process you use to write lyrics?

I don’t know if there is a process! I just wake up in the morning, y’know, probably go through some emails, and if I have projects I’ve gotta work on I’ll work on those if I catch that energy. But usually when I work on music, I just go through what I’ve got, and whatever I’m feeling at that moment I’ll work on that beat or project. But as far as the process, I don’t light incense or nothing! (laughs) I don’t turn the lights down, or sit Indian-style and write rhymes. This is my life, y’know. I breathe this. So when I wake up I just hit the studio and go to work. Of course, I do have my medicine and all of that…

Is it ever challenging to write and rap about something that is very personal to you?

Yeah definitely – but I’ve learnt through music and I’ve met a few people in my lifetime that have come up to me and have actually said my music has helped them through a difficult time: Something that I was going through and they’ve related to the song. I guess that they get whatever they get from a song, which is kinda nice. But I definitely wanna start writing more songs to let people know who M.E.D really is. I don’t think I’ve really given too much of myself, or put myself that far out there yet. And as I mature as an adult and get older I wanna let people know who I am. So the next album, when I start recording, I want it to be more personal than the last.

Your track Blaxican is both personal and a powerful message…

Yeah, I think that song was the start of me really letting people know who I am. Coming from Southern California where the racial tension is so high, there really wouldn’t be many people who would stand up and say “I’m Black and Mexican” – even though you are and people can say it. It’s kind of one of those things, you know, when you’re in Southern California. I don’t think it’s really like that in the streets, you know, it’s a real jail thing but it does come into the streets and certain cities when it comes to the gang-bangers, or whatever. But the song’s supposed to be about “You know, I’m Blaxican. Whatever. I’m proud of it, I’m proud to be Black and Mexican, I’m proud of both cultures”. It’s a pretty brave statement. I think a lot of people need to release that we are all one. When I was growing up I lost a couple of friends to racial violence and gang violence out here, so I think it was pretty important for me to get that off my chest.

You speak a little bit about drug use on ClassicFlying High and Medical Card are kind of ‘stoner anthems’ – do you think that it is important to not shy away from provocative topics?

I don’t think it’s important for me to talk about drugs, I don’t think it’s important at all. I think it’s just something I do and obviously, you talk about what you do. When I do shows or perform those songs I’m always like “If you do smoke weed, you can do whatever, and if you don’t smoke weed remember you don’t have to smoke weed to fit in”. So I always try to spread the message of “You should do what you wanna do”. I don’t exactly lead by example of a drug-free life – I smoke weed and that’s it, I don’t do anything heavier. Live your life, you know? (Laughs) I guess it’s not a positive thing to talk about it, though, but it is what it is – you know, my mum knows I smoke weed, so it is what it is.

Maybe it’s more a matter of being able to be honest about it?

Yeah, I think so too.

You’ve worked on the huge collaborative project Quakers – could you tell us a little about your involvement? [Fitta Happier]

Yeah, I’ve been working on that – I got a song with Guilty Simpson. We’re supposed to be shooting a video for that, but I don’t know when that’s going down. Yeah, man, it’s just a great song. There’s a great artist selection working on it. I’m very proud to be on it. It’s a very dope project. There’s like thirty-one rappers on it or something!

The video for Outta Control drops today that you worked with Hodgy Beats on, can you tell us a little about that?

I’ll tell you this about the video – it’s gonna be crazy! It’s gonna be a little way out there! It was out of my hands, it was outta control, we’ll put it like that! It’s gonna be all sorts of crazy – it was just me and Hodgy clowning. There’s gonna be aliens and it’s gonna be pretty wild. I hope people don’t get the wrong message from it though, now you’ve got me feeling bad, being like “Do you think it’s a good thing to talk about smoking weed’? (laughs) and in this video we’re smoking big ol’ giant blunts and animated blunts. It’s kind of like an animated video, it’s gonna be us in animation, we had a lot of fun.

This is your first time touring Australia, what can we expect from MED show?

I’m just gonna give it a hundred per cent – I’m gonna give you a good show. I’m just gonna go out there and have fun and get the crowd to have fun with me. Spread the love. That’s what I’m there to do.

Check out our page for MED and Danny Brown Aus tour dates here. And more MED at www.stonesthrow.com