Artist to artist: Hellnback gets the grease on Merkules [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – Originally published August 26, 2014 – With the way hip-hop has been changing over the years it’s hard to find an artist who sticks to the original formula – beats, rhymes and solid talent without any gimmicks. In this artist to artist series we bring you a rap beast in the flesh. Hellnback recently caught up with Stealth Bomb emcee Merkules, who has been all-over the world proving that the formula still reigns supreme to this day.
He gave us a moment between touring, studio sessions and video shoots to catch us up on his fresh fruit and cardio regime (yes cardio), the belly licking line-up after his recent shows, and more.
All he needs is a lighter and some haze….ladies and gents, Merkules.
Interview conducted by Hellnback for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Who are you? For the readers who don’t know.
Merkules: My stage name is Merkules. I’m a bulk size package of raw underground hip-hop, with a teaspoon full of bacon grease.
HipHopCanada: Being so young in a world of trap music, I noticed you rap and carry yourself with the confidence of a veteran, with bars for days. What have been your major influence in the game?
Merkules: I ain’t even really mad at the trap stuff, to each their own really. I mean, it’s not necessarily for me but I respect it for what it is. Hip-hop is constantly evolving and the new ”trap” phase is really only a part of that. My biggest influence was life in general, I was the class clown growing up. On the surface I was often happy and outgoing but deep down inside I was miserable at times. Hip-hop helped me grasp who I am as a person and move forward.
HipHopCanada: A Lot of folks don’t know that you’ve actually been rapping since your preteens, tell me about your thoughts on hip-hop and what advice you would give to the younger artists who look up to you.
Merkules: Yeah man, I’ve been a fan of the culture since age 8 or 9. It’s always been apart of me and apart of my childhood. I would walk around in public with my parents in a doo-rag and a Fubu jersey, I was a wild little kid. The only real advice I could give the youth right now who are interested in pursuing a career in music is just be you. Don’t try to conform yourself or your image to match what’s popular on the T.V screen. Nowadays you can buy fake YouTube views and song hits or whatever but it’s corny – respect doesn’t have a price. An old friend of mine by the name of Rasul told me before he passed away, ”Speak what you know”… I try to live by that to this day.
HipHopCanada: Explain #BaconOverBitches.
Merkules: Bacon Over Bitches is a slogan of mine, It’s been one of my many handles over the past couple years because I’ve been very vocal on my social media outlets about my love for Bacon. I’m always hungry. It was crazy man…It started as a personal opinion and completely popped off out of nowhere. The kids love it. I’m on a diet now though but the ”bacon” thing will always be apart of my movement.
HipHopCanada: You just toured across the pond to Europe. How was that experience and meeting fans who don’t even speak english but know your music word for word?
Merkules: Insane, I can’t really find the right words to describe it the way I’d like to but it was amazing. Knowing that we have support like that in places on the other side of the pond was unbelievable. I remember one kid in Germany knew every word to our song “L.A.S.H” but when I approached him after the show to say “hi” he had no idea what I was saying. That kind of stuff helps me sleep at night.
HipHopCanada: So I understand you started taking a more healthy approach to living which had you down 30 plus pounds so far? How and what did you change? And was it tough?
Merkules: To be honest man I was just sick of living a certain way. Sure the junk food is great but you reach a point in life where you realize right from left. Is this really how you wanna do this? Who wants a life so short lived? I live and breathe this music shit and I need to be mentally and physically healthy enough to pursue this career the way I’d like, the ”right” way. It was hard at first but overtime when you want something enough, you’ll get it. I’ve been drinkin’ lots of smoothies man, and usually one regular meal a day which is usually chicken by choice ’cause it’s not so bad for you. None of that deep fried shit though, and the odd snack here and there if I REALLY’ got the munchies. Usually carrots or watermelon alongside a hour long cardio session every morning, it’s workin’.
span style="color: #800000;">HipHopCanada: What is Snak to you?
Merkules: Snak has been a mentor to me since I started really taking the ”rapping” thing seriously. He’s like an older brother too me. We aren’t scared to disagree with each other sometimes when it comes too certain things but we still got that same connection. I’m currently signed to Stealth Bomb Records alongside him Jaclyn Gee and Young Sin. We’ve all known each other for years, it’s family, Snak’s taught me a lot.
HipHopCanada: I have been in the game for a long time and I remember working with you when you were a teen. You told Manik once when we were in the studio that you going to be a beast when you hit your 20s. Recently hiphopdx.com named you as one of the top 17 rappers in the country. Do you feel there’s pressure to hold down a whole country? Or are you just rapping?
Merkules: Salute to ya’ll. You guys have been around since I first started and always showed me that love but yeah man, that was a big deal for me. I woke up one morning and saw it on my Twitter feed and was real honoured. HipHopDx is one of the most credible hip-hop sites out right now and have been showing me lots of love this year, so salute to everybody on that side of the fence. I do feel that there is some pressure sometimes but without pressure I wouldn’t have the work ethic nor the drive I have right now to get up, go out and body shit. So I like it.
HipHopCanada: What is your most memorable moment or opportunity that music has given you?
Merkules: Being able to help people with the struggles they deal with simply by preaching about my own and sometimes walking in their shoes. The power of music is a beautiful thing and I’m lucky to be in the position I’m at now. I feel like I did work my way here but we got so much still in store over these next few, I’m excited. The touring and being able to meet legends I grew up idolizing is a big factor too man. I could go on for days about all the different things it’s done for me.
HipHopCanada: What can people expect from a Merkules show?
Merkules: Debauchery in every sense of the term: mosh pits, loud noise, good times – pretty much anything you could imagine when you think about attending a underground hip-hop show. I try to interact with everyone as much as I can. If you’re a fan of my music and you wanna kick it for a minute and have a shot and shoot the shit, by all means. I try not to be that guy hiding out in the back, fuck all that.
HipHopCanada: I heard someone licked your belly at a show…
Merkules: Yeah, that’s sort of become a thing now. A friend of mine who goes by Rasta Mike started a ”Tongue In The Belly Button” trend at my shows and girls have been lining up to lick my belly. It boggles my mind honestly, even I wouldn’t wanna do that. There’s been times when guys have tried while I’m performing, I ain’t bout that life though. Sit down and have a milkshake buddy.
HipHopCanada: What project are you working on and what’s coming up in the near future?
Merkules: Right now I’m working on my second real ”album” per say. It’s been in the works for about a year now and I’m trying to perfect it. It’s crazy because I’m literally sitting on over 250 songs mostly mixed and mastered just chillin’ in the vault ’cause I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I will not disappoint with this next project though. I’ve been working with the likes of Vanderslice, C Lance, Aspect, Kid P, Stuey Kubrick, Stu Bangas and more as far as producers go.
HipHopCanada: Do you have anything other than music in the works?
Merkules: Yeah I’m working on my first feature film where I play as Rob Ford. Nah, I’m playin’. I would like to try some acting shit though. Not really everything I’ve been doing is mostly music related. I’m about to do my first ever Merkules solo tour now so I’m excited about that. We got a show on September 5th at Fortune Sound Club and one in Chilliwack with Tech N9ne that month too before the tour kicks off. I’ll have Doom Squad and H-Man on the road with me.
HipHopCanada: Any last words?
Merkules: For sure, salute to you for having me. Salute to HipHopCanada for the continued support and just keep and eye out, man. New visuals, new music, new everything coming soon. No slowing down. Gracias.
Interview conducted by Hellnback for HipHopCanada