The letter M in Roman Numerals equates to 1000 (One thousand), also commonly known as a grand. In South African colloquial the usage of the word “grand” means to be alright. On the metric system of measurement, the letter M also represents a Milli which means 1 Over 1000. Whereas in Hip Hop slang, a Milli is short for a million as made famous Lil Wayne’s song called “A Milli”.
For South African rapper simply known as M (real name: Karlos Bryan), even after all the challenges that life has thrown at him, he is still “grand”! On the grand scale of things, he recently released his debut mix tape entitled Son Of No One, to pave the road of his path to his first Milli – as a way to get one over a grand (1000).
We were able to speak to M about the mixtape days after the release of Son Of No One. Among other things M got to give us his perspective on the struggles upcoming artists face and the lack of love from their established counterparts. We also got to find out more about his personal circumstances which served as motivation to the title and overall, we just got to know more about the young debutant.
Lavatory Records: Introduce M to the world?
M: M is an average guy from Johannesburg, born in Harare, Zimbabwe. I grew in a single parent home. My mom raised two children, gave us the best education possible and still found a way to make sure we had everything we needed. I’ve got a BSc General from Wits University and a day job that funds my music.
Anybody that knows me knows that I put my family before anything else. Those close to me call me “Family Guy”. I’ve lived almost everywhere in Gauteng except Pretoria. Most of all I’m just passionate. I love music.
LR: How did music become part of your life beyond an interest or hobby?
M: I’ve always been artistic and enjoyed listening to hip hop. My high school friends and I started a band called “Blak Fury”. The passion just keeps growing. I’m a firm believer in finishing what you start, so it’s natural to push myself to the limits and see how far I can take it.
LR: Who were your favourite musicians while growing up?
M: Eminem, The Notorious B. I. G., Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Shaggy and definitely Proverb. Shaggy was the guy though – cornrows, swag and talent!
LR: You just released a mixtape entitled Son Of No One. What is the title and the project about as a whole?
M: The title is me; M finding his own path in life. The music industry is hard to break into and the title reflects the challenge that I and so many other artists experience. It’s about me being my own man and owning that right through my music.
The Project is a reflection of the journey to being an artist, the casualties of the dream chase and the cost on one’s soul living in the Big City. I was so inspired by the South African identity which I make reference to throughout the mixtape. It also refers to what having to be a man in Jozi means from my perspective. My mentor, Chron Burgundy has and still guides me when need be and has taught me so much. There are still however so many aspects of the game that each musician has to learn through his own hustle. I respect the struggle.
LR: The music business is one of the most challenging areas to be in, what hurdles have you had to overcome?
M: Rejection, funding, support and overall lack of that break we all need. The industry is based on who you know and how well you manage those relationships. My greatest hurdle has to be meeting and speaking to a few mainstream artists and not even getting feedback. This makes development difficult. How do you grow without an experienced artist giving feedback?
As an aspiring artist, I’ve had to grow thick skin. People generally support what they know or the current trends. Breaking that cycle or becoming the trend is extremely difficult.
LR: If the opportunity were to present itself, which artists or producers would you most like to work with?
M: Artists – definitely Reason, Tumi, Proverb and Youngsta CPT. Producers – Ganja and Tweezy.
LR: What other interests does M have outside of music?
M: Sports, IT, Art and Fashion.
LR: Tell us about a typical day in your life?
M: A typical day in my life is like an episode of Family Guy. I sit in traffic like any other person and try to conceptualise song ideas on my way to work. In the afternoon I pick my sister up from varsity and we jam home in traffic. As soon as I get home the beats start playing and I write lyrics, work on graphics, catch up on work projects or sit on social media reposting the funniest things I can find. Oh and I also make time to help around the house with chores.
LR: Now that you’ve released a mixtape, are there any plans of putting out an official LP?
M: Not yet. My single Plus 1 featuring Ckenz Voucal is on the Mixtape. The intention for the short term is to promote the single to the full extent and work on more music and get better at this. It is a long term goal though. I have lots of songs penned and am working on it though.
LR: Any other projects/ events, musically or otherwise, that you’re involved in and would like people to know about?
M: My sister and I are currently promoters for “SQUAD” – a start-up event company in Johannesburg. Look out for these guys they plan to change the party experience in the city.
LR: Any special mentions you want to take time to shout out?
M: I’ve always wanted to do this!
Shout out to the family and friends behind me, my bothers (Corey, Juan, Juninho, Jose, KAYKZ and “boss”), Infiniti photography (Facebook) for the dope work done on my cover, the talented Ckenz Voucal. A special shout out goes to a young man that’s been supporting me from day one, Shafiq Abdula aka Ficky, thanks homie!
We would like to thank M for making time out to speak to us, we hope this is the beginning of great things to come for him. Keep up with his moves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube.