Bronx, New York emcee MrE presents the Kingdom Come-directed “Keep On”, his new single produced by himself and Robb Hutzal. MrE’s last release was his EP Prodigal Son Returns (stream). When asked about the inspiration for his new single, MrE says, “I had a supervisor who would be on my case a lot. He then relieved me of a highly sought-after position at work just so his people could get it. The next day I was just grilling him from afar and the first thought that came in my head was the first line of the songs first verse: “I’ll break yo f–king face, with your rotten teeth and braces!”. That thought kept playing in my head that whole morning, accompanied by more thoughts, which became lyrics. By the end of the day, I had a new song. ‘Keep On’ is all about the Golden Rule: do unto others as you’ll have them do unto you. Treat others with respect. If not, there’ll be problems. It doesn’t matter if you’re Urkel, you still deserve respect. We see and hear enough of what happens when the seemingly harmless guy gets pushed to the limit. Count all the mass shootings that’s been going on in our country. What do the relatives and friends of the suspect always say? ‘Oh, he was so quiet, wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ Of course, he wouldn’t… until he had enough.”
How did you get your stage name?
It used to be MystarE. Couple years later, I changed it to MysterE. Then I finally broke it down to just MrE. Different spellings, same pronunciations (Mystery) yet each has been a triple entendre for “Mystery, Mr. E (“E” being the first letter of my first name) and Mr. Enigma”
What made you decide to become a rapper?
Believe it or not, it started with the “Bartman” Remember that damn rap song by Bart Simpson back in the day? That was the moment I wish I could rap. Then Kriss Kross came out, then I became even more inspired. Then there was Naughty by Nature, Lords of the Underground, Cypress Hill, Kool G Rap, Nas, then so on and so on, not necessarily in that order. All these amazing emcees just had me like, “Man, I wish I could do what they do.” Then, finally, in ’98, DMX comes on my radio with “Get At Me Dog” I’ve never heard anything like this before in my life but I was hooked and I thanked the Most High that Funk Flex ran it back a few more times because this shit was hot! Months later he releases “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” his debut album. I copped it, played it back to back, 24/7 then, to my surprise, I finally started writing my own rhymes within a month of purchasing the CD. It was as if X was the catalyst for my newly discovered talent.
As a Bronx emcee, how do you take the responsibility of being from the borough that birthed hiphop?
It’s a lot of pressure, I believe because you’ve also got K.R.S. One, Remy Ma, Fat Joe, Big Pun and so on. So as an emcee from the Bronx, you’re expected to have that same grit, which I don’t really having a problem doing; I grew up on all of that. The problem is the way the game is set up now it’s as if to be a financially successful and famous rap artist…you can’t really hit hard as X, or ONYX or 50, Eminem, Mobb Deep, M.O.P., Busta Rhymes, etc. You’re expected to pretty much dumb it down or make sure you’re slow enough to be understood. You’re expected to rap calm; people hate it when you “shout” at them. I’ve had both “Keep On” and “Prodigal Son” reviewed and most people kept complaining about how I’m “yelling” at them, how much I’m trying to be hard and tough and how uneducated I must be for cursing up a storm, even with the edited version, they’re complaining about how much I’m cursing, which had me asking myself “…I gave them the right version, didn’t I?” It’s as if they expect me to be happy…since when are rappers required to be happy? The whole purpose of “Keep On” was to voice out the frustrations of many people who feel antagonized by others, regardless of how mild mannered they may be.
Your music is angry. Where do you think your anger comes from?
Still trying to figure that out. There’s a scene in Marvel’s the Avengers where Dr. Banner is walking towards a monster. Captain America tells him “You might wanna start getting angry (you know, so he can turn in to the Hulk)” then Banner responds by saying “That’s my secret, Captain, I’m always angry.” Then he transforms into the Hulk then tears the monster up in minutes. That’s how I feel. I feel as if I’m always angry, about nothing in particular. I just take a lot of stuff personally yet I’d rather take my frustration to the studio then act out on it there and then and possibly get in trouble. I remember some time ago I was speaking to one of my cousins about my music. She asked me if music was therapy for me? I had to really stop and think about the question. Then I smiled then said “Yeah, exactly, it is therapy!” It was as if I had an epiphany. At that moment I realized the main purpose of my lyrics for me. I have an audio blog on my website I started a while ago titled “Our Voice”, which anybody can find at http://www.thedarkonebegins.com/blog. One of my entries is titled “Helpless”. I felt like such a weight was lifted off my shoulders after I finished writing the verse then even more weight shed after I recorded it.
What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
I think it was “Walk this Way” by Run D.M.C. featuring Aerosmith and I didn’t just hear it; I was watching the video. I was very young at this point and Hip Hop was new to me at the time so I kinda wanted Aerosmith to win the “battle” since I been more familiar with their music. But I tell you what, since I’ve been listening to the song recently on Backspin over and over, I feel how I should’ve felt it about then. Matter of fact, I just added it to my Spotify library.