MJ here your favorite Hip Hop blogger! Tonight it is more than a pleasure, it is an honor to interview Pennsylvania’s and East Coast’s own Mercy Gang! Mercy Gang embodies the definition, lifestyle, and culture of Hip Hop. Album after album the group conveys unity, brotherhood, and Hip Hop in it’s true form.
Their latest album “M.E.R.C.Y.” is an imperishable work of art created with blended talent and a mastery of lyricism, beats, and straight bars! This album is in tribute to the group’s fallen soldier Hefty Metal…
MJ: Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to chop it up with MJ. Its an honor, you’re an amazing journalist, and poet. Let’s jump right in and talk about the new album M.E.R.C.Y. You have some of my favorite emcees on the album as features such as Chris Rivers and Ren Thomas. Give everyone the who, what, where, when, why, and how of M.E.R.C.Y. What does the acronym stand for? Talk about the production. Talk about the cover art. Talk about the meaning behind it. How was it creating music and an album without the core member Hefty (RIP)?
MG: The acronym M.E.R.C.Y. stands for Murder Every Rapper Coming at You. It was an honor to work with some of the nicest lyricists in the game. Ren Thomas is like family, we have done plenty of shows with him and our brothers over at Sensi Starr so it was bound to happen. Our fellow Bax War brother Pryme Prolifik did the production on that record. As for Chris Rivers we chopped it up on the phone with him, sent him the track and he murdered it. We also have U.G from the legendary Cella Dwellas. He has been like a big brother and mentor to us since we went on tour with him, and Adlib in 2013. We wanted to work with some producers we didn’t get a chance to work with on our first album, but still keep that in your face sound that our fans were used to. We had some of the usual suspects like JL Studios, Level 13, U.G, Chris Fields, Nysom, and a couple of new producers like Holla da Schollar, Will Sully, and Pryme Prolifik. The artwork was done by the Soloist. We wanted to let Hefty know how much we miss him and that we know he is watching over us. This was a long and emotional 2 years; a lot of tears were shed working on this album without him. He was very creative and had such a powerful voice that was a big part of our sound. We appreciate the amazing poem you wrote for Hefty on this album; it really meant the world to us and his family.
MJ: What do you want fans to embrace most from this album? Tell us what three words would Hefty use to describe the album.
MG: We want the fans to truly appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears we put into this album. The three words Hefty would use would be amazing, compelling, and honored.
MJ: Will there be a M.E.R.C.Y sophomore album or trilogy?
MG: Yes, we’re constantly working on new material. Maine has a project with suspect from Marmel coming soon, and DJ Merc is working on a mixtape.
MJ: I have to share that Mercy Gang is in my top 5 of favorite Indie Hip Hop groups for many reasons! To begin each of you share the same core belief that Mercy Gang is a reflection of a family and true brotherhood. To further, the group has an incredible know-how and skill to combine individual unique talents into fused perfection! So often you hear of groups that break up or call it quits after a few hits or an album. 2017 Mercy Gang is still thriving. Share the secret of a successful group. Also what would you say are some challenges?
MG: Thanks MJ! That’s means a lot coming from you, being the Hip Hop head you are. We trust each other’s creativity and respect each other’s point of view as it comes to beats, rhymes, and life. We argue and bump heads like most groups do, but the love and respect that we have for each other and for our Mercy Gang Brand is stronger than our pride or any egos.
MJ: Listening to M.E.R.C.Y talk about how the group has progressed musically from previous albums. How would you like to further progress as a group?
MG: Just continuing to make the music from our hearts, and daring to be different. We’re not afraid to take risks, always giving our all on every song, verse, or hook. We don’t sit around trying to make a hit. We just let the music bring the best out of us organically.
MJ: Mercy Gang has shared the studio and stages with several major artists! Talk about a memorable time in your career that still stands out to you. Also, who would you like to add to that list of collaborations?
MG: We have had a few but the performances that stick out the most were the Staten Island shows where Method Man came on stage and started rocking to our song. We have also had the honor of rocking the stage with both Sean Price and Prodigy who sadly are no longer with us. May they both rest in peace. Our bucket list of artists we would love to work with, for Maine would be Redman and Nas. Paulie would like to collaborate with Eminem and Tech N9ne. We would also love to work with Philly’s own the 30 and Over League.
MJ: As we move into the new year give us some inside scoop on upcoming shows or other projects you will be working on.
MG: We’re working on some dates for a couple of mini tours in Canada with Marmel and with universal entities from MA, VA, and NC. We are working on another Mercy Gang album. Maine and Suspect are working on a project titled “Cross Boarder Connections Vol 2”. DJ Merc has a mixtape coming out, and we have a couple of surprises under our sleeve as well, so stayed tuned!
MJ: Let’s talk about support! I find it amazing how incredibly supportive and encouraging you are to other artists. I remember one show, our first time meeting in person, you arrived early, supported every single performance and performer, and even stayed afterwards to network. Why is that so important to you? How does that help you as artists?
MG: Well first and foremost I’m a fan of the culture so I love to see other dope artists, and we are always down to do build for collaborations. Networking is extremely important when you’re an artist, dj, promoter, manager, or even just a fan. So many doors can open up through networking. We’ve met some great people who share the same love and passion as we do.
MJ: I get called an ol’ head quite frequently because I debate and critique music that so many are quick to categorize or label as Hip Hop. When I think of Hip Hop I think lyrics, boom bap, knowledge, delivering a message, instruments, poetry, art, etc. I think of a 4-minute track with a hook. I think of catchy intro’s and outro’s. I think of longevity; I can go on forever. Tell me in your own words how do you define Hip Hop? Do you see Mercy Gang ever conforming to fads or trends?
MG: We will never conform to fads or trends, that’s just not us. Hip hop is a way of life for us! we eat, sleep, and shit Hip Hop…Hip Hop is a feeling, Hip Hop is competitive, Hip Hop is beats, rhymes, originality. It’s being true to yourself, and not trying to fit in.
MJ: I’m curious, how did everyone link up and create Mercy Gang? If it wasn’t for music where would you be right now in life?
MG: Maine did a record with Sway one of our earlier members, and Hefty came to the session and the three of them hit it off instantly. I was part of a group called Unstable Minds when Hefty reached out to me about joining the group. The original group consisted of Hefty, Maine, Ace, Sway, myself, Paulie, and Bagz. Our name was “The Mercenaries,” but Maine wasn’t feeling it so he started saying Mercy Gang and it stuck. We met DJ Merc at a show we did in Jersey and he was dope. So three months later Hefty approached him about being in the group and the rest is history. We still try to keep the essence of the original group by putting the former members on a lot of our projects. If I weren’t doing music I would probably be pursuing my interest in writing scripts for movies (Maine).
MJ: Play along with the quick 3…. Name three places you would like to tour. Name three artists in your playlist regardless of genre. Name 3 people who have influenced you both personally and musically. Describe in three words a Mercy Gang performance.
MG: We would love to tour overseas like Europe, Japan, and definitely the United States. My playlist right now has Redman, John Mayer, and Conway. Paulie’s playlist right now has Twiztid, Wu Tang, and Benny from Griselda. My three influences would be my cousin Sudan who I learned how to rap from. My mom who made me the person I am today and I would have to say the culture of Hip Hop. Three words to describe a Mercy Gang show without a doubt would be energetic, raw, and amazing.
MJ: Each member of the group has their own personal lives, where does the balance come in? How do you balance career and family? Sometimes in this industry to be successful in both is extremely difficult.
MG: It’s a thin line, because one is going to effect the other. For Paulie and myself we both have wives and kids, and both of our wives are nurses and their schedules are crazy. So when it comes to touring we have to work around our family’s schedule. But the thing that makes it work is the love and support our family shows us when it comes to our music, they know how much it means to us.
MJ: As we wrap up, is there anything else you would like the world to know about Mercy Gang?
MG: We would want the world to know that we love what we do, and we try our best to give our all on every track we do. We love Hip Hop! We love our fans, and we love making music.
MJ: I wish Mercy Gang a future filled with success and extraordinary accomplishments! Thank you for being true to Hip Hop, salute!
MG: Same to you MJ. We want to thank you for being our voice for Hip Hop. Continue to hold it down for us independent and underground artists. We salute you and it was an honor to do this interview with you.
Follow MJ @MJsHipHopConnex