Ego and the Enemy: A Q&A with M-Dot

Photo: Syben Vanoverberghe

M-Dot doesn’t have time for arrogant, boastful rappers. The Revere native puts in too many hours on the stage, in the booth, and behind mixing boards to worry about someone else’s self-aggrandizing bars. He’d rather prove it with hard work. It’s not easy, though. As the title of his new album, “egO anD The eneMy,” suggests, an artist’s arrogance and insecurities can often become their biggest challenges. Years in the making, the 2010 Boston Music Award winner’s debut album has topped the charts of Boston staple UndergroundHipHop.com and earned positive reviews from the Boston Globe and hip hop blogs. While the albums boasts beats from legends like Large Professor, Marley Marl, and Buckwild, M-Dot and his struggles with pride and self-doubt take center stage. M-Dot spoke with Spare Change News about the new album, hard work and, of course, egos.

Spare Change News: You’ve spent years working on this album and the reception’s been great so far — how’s it feel to get such a positive response?

M-Dot: It’s great. It’s something I don’t take for granted. I didn’t want to put the album out until everything was perfect. We mastered the songs six or seven times! I’m ready move on now, to grow and be better on the next one. And prove more people wrong — the chip on my shoulders is real.

That was a really prevalent theme on the album: proving to people that you deserve their respect and deserve success. In the end, though, you can still be your worst enemy. How did you process that tension within the album?

Making the music was easy — it’s internal, within me. I’m not gonna say I’m humble but I don’t post that “I’m the best” everywhere on social media. I think it’s petty, insecure, makes you a target. When I started doing music, one thing I noticed most was the insecurity and the egos. Myself included. So that was the thing I wanted to address — that I’m my own worst enemy. I’m mentally creating these [conflicts]. But they’re not roadblocks, they’re motivating. I work ten times harder because I’ve put it in my head that I’m not good enough.

 

You have 13 producers for 17 different tracks, but the sound is really consistent. How’d you get that cohesion?

I was looking for that type of sound. I don’t do dark music, but I wanted the person listening to feel like they were trapped. Like they were enclosed in a dark cave, trapped in their own insecurities and self-doubt. We’re not trying to keep it ‘92 boom bap, but we’re not going in a trap or mumble rap direction either. In the middle it gets a little lighter, and then I hit them again towards the end. So there are some dark undertones, but I’m not really a dark person.

 

“Shine” captures that shift pretty well. It’s got an uplifting hook and a pretty triumphant beat, but your verse is dark, gritty, and unrelenting.

That’s my verse of the century. That’ what I’d go to if I had to show someone my best stuff.

 

UnderGroundHipHop was closing down operations just as this became the number one album. [Note: UGHH found new ownership shortly after this interview.] Is it a bittersweet feeling?

The Boston Phoenix closed [after] I won Phoenix artist of the year in 2010. WERS 88.9 closed — I had to beg to get onto that. All the platforms for the music I did were closing. And days before I send them the album UnderGroundHipHop is closing? We’ve been in this a long time with good music, never burning bridges, and never compromising who we were. I never did no sucka rap, no payola. For it all to come together was very refreshing, but it was very scary. I did it all the right way and now it might not even be enjoyed correctly?

 

What’s in store for the follow up?

The enemy is what’s coming. This was the ego,and the enemy version is what’s next. We’ve already got songs lined up.

 

M-Dot will be performing at the Middle East Downstairs on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 8pm, opening for R.A. the Rugged Man. Tickets available here.

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