Interview With King Mez: ‘Dre See’s Me In Him’
‘Where you from or what you doing?’ – that’s the question that those who don’t know are asking King Mez. So it’s time you get to know who this MC is, Dre saw something exceptional in this fire-starter and brought him onside to write and feature on ‘Compton’.
Your the very first MC that we hear on the ‘Compton’ album. How you feeling today?
I feel amazing today, I can’t even put it in words, I’m pacing around my house right now, it’s like a dream come true
What was it like for you last night when the whole world was listening to the album?
You know what’s crazy, I would always talk to Dre about it and we would always talk about how it would be and how it would feel, and it’s like something he always told me ‘man it’s not something I couldn’t explain to you’ and ‘it’s also something thats hard to fathom till it happens’. You can’t really understand what it means to people until it happens, like Dre’s been wanting to put music out for all this time and then what he does I’m a part of it, it’s something I can’t explain, I can’t even put it in words.
What was the feeling like when you pressed play for the first time on the whole completed album?
You know its funny man, that wasn’t very long ago, because mind you I’ve been working with Dre for about a year and I recorded almost 50 or 60 songs with him for the album, and it wasn’t really that long ago when we had the finished concise product. I remember we went to the mastering studio, same studio he mastered the Chronic and the Chronic 2001, where he mastered 50’s album, Em’s albums, we went there and that’s the first time I heard it together all in one piece. When I tell you it was a moment, like **** **** who did the Watcher on 2001, he was in there and he brought some Dom Perignon for Dre and I don’t even drink but I took a sip that night just off the strength of it. That’s how real it was, that’s a moment.
We were playing your mixtape ‘My Everlasting Zeal’ years ago when you were on the come up. How did you make the transition from working on a mixtape to working with Dre?
You know what’s interesting Big Pooh from Little Brother put me in contact with the A&R at Aftermath, he told me whenever you go to LA I wanna make sure you meet someone, there’s someone I want you to meet. It’s a much longer story about me getting to L.A but he definitely put me in contact with the A&R at Aftermath. Then I came in and started writing and they really liked it a lot and one day Dre showed up in the studio and that was my first time meeting the man, and I moved all my stuff to California, you know I live in North Carolina, I live in the East Coast of the United States, so I moved all my stuff to L.A before I even got the call back, before they even told me I could stay. I just knew something felt right, the first day I was living in L.A I got a call back man, they were like ‘where you at?’ can you come back to Los Angeles and I was like ‘I’m already moved my stuff to LA. I’m already here’. So I went to the studio that night and I been been in the studio everyday for a year.
You’ve come up in the same way as J Cole who is also from North Carolina, its good to see both of you come through and get to the positions where you’re at at the moment.
Yeah, that’s an honour cos I look up to Cole, and its interesting because he was interested in my career when I was younger, like around my ‘Everlasting’ days, he heard that project and he reached out to me. Whats even crazier than that is Cole was at Dre’s studio, where I been recording the album out of, he was there because it used to be No.I.D’s studio, so the first time Cole heard my music and reached out to me, he was in the same room that I recorded this album with Dre with recently, the odds of that is crazy. So for whatever reason, it seems like everything happened the way it was supposed to happen and I got a lotta love for J Cole.
What was the process for making ‘Talk About It’? Its the first Rap based track after the intro. How did that come about?
You know its crazy DJ Dahi brought through the beat one night, and its funny I can’t remember what we were working on but we just stopped what we were working on and were like ‘ah man its crazy’, immediately crazy and me and JT we started working on Dre’s part of the the song and what not because we did a whole lot of writing for the album too and Dre came in and started telling us what to say and what to do. What we kinda do is, he kinda gives you the information in his perspective and its my job to give the information back to the world in a rap form. So we heard it, we started working on Dre’s part and then we did the hook, and I did the intro and I remember saying ‘Ay Dre do you think I can get a verse on this?’ and he was like ‘of course, this’ll be your moment’ so you know you gotta show up this’ll be your moment. So I was like ‘alright’ you know I had to go in there and do that thing, I had to make it happen bro.
This’ll be your moment
I like the reference about ‘he still ain’t opened cheques’ from the Eminem albums’, it really put into perspective where Dre is at.
I’m inspired by him as well in a real big way in this whole endeavour, truthfully those albums were some of the first albums that really inspired me, Chronic 2001 is the first album I actually bought with my own money, I was 9 when that came out. So its an honour to even be mentioned with those names to be honest with you.
On ‘Dark Side/Gone’ were you working with Kendrick Lamar?
Yeah, he came to the studio and did his verse and we sat down and talked, its cool because I met Kendrick like 2011 in the studio with 9th Wonder one time and then I opened up for him in New York in 2012, so I met him a couple times but it was always in passing, it wasn’t like how when I met him in the studio. But the first time I met him in recent times, I was with Dre at the Game concert and Dre and Kendrick started talking so I stepped out the way because I didn’t know if he knew who I was like that, and he kinda walked up to me and he was like ‘man I love your shit, I love your music’ I’m like man thats crazy. I was lost for words cos I’m such a fan of his, so it was an honour man and then getting to work with him on a song was great – and watching him put it together he’s a genius for real.
Is it really shots at Drake? Thats what the internets are saying right now, people are like “he said the word ‘energy’ that was aimed at Drizzy”.
You know whats funny man, I’ve been seeing that around and I doubt it just because he did that song way before the Energy song was out. So I don’t even think the timing makes sense for it to be a shot you know and he made it with a smile on his face and there was good energy in the room. I don’t think it was that kinda thing.
….also what we learned from Control is that Kendrick isn’t afraid to name names.
Yeah, if he wanted to say it he seemed like the kinda guy who’ll let you know what he’s trying to say.
What was the process for making ‘Satisfiction’?
Satisfiction, Marsha really had a big influence on that song, cos she had a hook on that beat first when we first heard it and I think that was interesting because they kinda already gave us the concept, and we were at Dre’s Beats house in Malibu when we heard that for the first time and we started listening to it. That was fun and I got to help Snoop and Dre, the fact that I’m on a song with Snoop and Dre is crazy to me. That was a moment as well. And Marsha as well, I’m a big fan of Marsha Ambrosia so it was great. Great opportunity.
It was an amazing moment listening to the album last night for the first time as a fan. Its crazy to hear you talk about it. How does it feel as an MC to know that Dr Dre one of the greatest of all time, the Steve Jobs of Hip-Hop, the guy who moves the needle, changes the game constantly picked you to open the album, picked you to help craft his vision?
Thats the kinda thing I feel its too early to give you a real answer, because i’m telling you its hard to understand the magnitude of what this means. To music, to people, to our culture, to our society, its hard to even understand what this means, for a culture that changed the world. He means so much to this culture, he means so much to the world and he’s invested in me and that means so much to me.
He means so much to this culture, he means so much to the world
Whats even more interesting, its not that Dre is my friend or that we have a good relationship that makes me excited, its the fact that he see’s me in him and he see’s him in me, when he looks at me, he’s inspired by me, he’s told me at numerous occasions ‘you inspire me’, you know I’m like man I don’t know how to take that its crazy.
You’re living the dream….
Yeah its just the start, I’m so excited, because I’m the type of guy who’ll be like amped about something for a little while and then we gotta get right back to the business and I’m already back in the studio today and the album came out yesterday. I’m recording before you called me I was making a beat. Yeah man, I’m serious.
You’re living the dream, you’ve done what very few people ever get to do in a lifetime. What advise would you give to anybody who’s on the come up who is trying to make it but feels like its not happening for them?
What you gotta realise is that the walls will always come, there will always be obstacles, there’s always going to be things that slow you down. A lot of people will always wondered ‘Mez puts this project out and then he slows down, then this happening and then we didn’t see him for a while’ I went through a lot, my moms passed away when I was 20 and I was working on Kings Crisis and I dropped out of college to look after my little brother by myself. A lot of people wondered why it took so long but it was a struggle, I went through a lot and with that being said, it was still no excuse ever, I never felt like it was ever a reason not for me to be successful. I hope that means something to somebody out there because it doesn’t matter what you want because if you want it its yours.
If you want it its yours.
Thats the realest talk. What’s next whats your plans for the future?
We kicking with the songs, we already got some joints, its crazy man, cos it feels like there were some classics that I feel that didn’t even make the album, Its not that it didn’t make the album because it wasn’t good or wasn’t amazing, maybe it was just didn’t fit or didn’t make sense, best believe I scooped a couple of them up and I’m excited to share them with the world when the time comes. Shout out to Roy!!
Listen to the full #DreDay special with DJ Semtex on BBC 1Xtra now.