Newfoundland rapper MAK11 talks New Atlantis, the local scene, touring & more
St. John’s, Newfoundland rapper MAK11 ended 2018 continuing promotions for the final installment of his New Atlantis trilogy which came out late October.
New Atlantis 3, which is MAK’s fourth mixtape to date, is 17-tracks long with guest appearances from several prominent local artists including Spenatra, Tony Delicious, Reggie Morales, mitch drowned, Sedymane, Jacob Critch, Bails, ADH, Har_Soul, Bradley Aces, Lil Ranch, and Albert Dalton.
2018 also saw MAK release the Lords Of Fogtown album back in March, produced by his inhouse team We Ain’t Spoke (Spenatra and Xander), and with features from some of the same artists that contributed to New Atlantis 3. The video for “Jive In Japan” was released earlier in the year in support of the project – check it out below.
The Modem Music artist, formerly of the Te$laz Divi$ion collective, just recently got back from touring central and western Newfoundland, with plans to reach beyond his home province later this year.
We caught up with MAK11 to discuss the New Atlantis series, being a rapper in Newfoundland, Modem Music, and more.
You can find our exclusive Q&A with MAK further below, along with his latest single “Ghosts,” the first single from his forthcoming album, Lords Of Fogtown 2.
HipHopCanada: MAK11… First question, where’d the name come from?
MAK11: When I first got involved in the hip-hop community around 2011, I was going by the alias “A-Mac” which is a play off my actual name, and the nickname I went by in high school. The following year, I linked up with a couple of other local hip-hop artists to form a group, and one of them (known as Dope Piece at the time, now Sid Sindicate) saved my contact info in his phone as MAC-11, based on the speed of my lyrical delivery. By our first group performance in December 2012 – opening for Madchild – the name MAK11 had stuck, as a reference to my early alias and my actual name, my lyrical abilities, and of course as a homage to the OG rapper, Mack 10. I also consider the number 11 to be very powerful as it represents inspiration, illumination and spiritual enlightenment.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been making noise on the east coast for some time now… Tell me what its like being a rapper from Newfoundland. Is there a vibrant hip-hop scene or indie scene there?
MAK11: Being a rapper from Newfoundland is extremely difficult in regards to receiving opportunities for career advancement because of the lack of interest in the genre from the overall population here. But the local scene is thriving among the artists and individuals who work hard to keep it alive, mostly in St. John’s but also across the central part of the island and the West Coast. Newfoundland definitely doesn’t always get the respect it deserves for being the host province of a lot of talented musicians, artists and entertainers, but the hip-hop scene here is alive and growing thanks to the efforts of the current locally recognized artists and of course the artists who laid down the framework for them (most of which are still actively involved in the community) such as Shiest, Lee Fitz, and Radar. Speaking from a personal level, it’s been an artistic and spiritual journey – as well as a struggle at times – building my career here as a hip-hop artist, but it’s definitely starting to payoff. In the last year alone I’ve opened up for artists such as Fetty Wap, Merkules, Snak The Ripper, Madchild, Neon Dreams and more, and all of those shows were local. So it’s safe to say the scene is alive and well here and I’m happy to be at the forefront of it.
HipHopCanada: Who’s in your crew and what roll do you feel you guys contribute to the local scene?
MAK11: Over the last year or so, I’ve been working with a local production duo known as We Ain’t Spoke, who individually go by Spenatra and Xander. Spenatra writes and records vocals as well as produces for our camp and since last October the three of us have churned out four projects, with a fifth in the works; two solo mixtapes from myself, Lords of Fogtown and New Atlantis 3, as well as two joint EPs from myself and Spenatra, The Cosmic Lounge and #FreeWiFi. Since the summer we’ve managed to land a song from both of our joint EPs on the local hit radio station here 99.1 HITS FM, resulting in them both successfully entering their Hall of Fame. We’ve also started a label under the name Modem Music with the intent of distributing our and other local artists’ music on streaming services under one Newfoundland-based umbrella. So far it’s been a huge success and is majorly contributing to helping ourselves and other artists here gain more exposure within and outside the province.
HipHopCanada: I first saw you on a video with Dopeace (Sid Sindicate), I think it was “Maintain” and was like this kids dope… Are Te$laz still a group or is it Modem over everything now?
MAK11: “Maintain” with Dope Piece was the first music video I was ever featured in back in early 2015, shortly before I released my first solo mixtape, New Atlantis. Te$laz Divi$ion was a local group formed in 2012-2013 comprised of myself, Dope Piece (now known as Sid Sindicate), and several other local artists. Before Te$laz started up, I was rapping on my own for about a year, although I collaborated for some time with Winnie Churchill, a local artist who had moved here from Toronto some years before that and began making music after he was introduced to me by a mutual friend. We performed several shows at local venues and I later introduced him to the members of Te$laz Divi$ion of which he then became apart. The group disbanded sometime in 2016 after creative differences among some of the members, but the popular opinion is that we made a big impact on the local hip-hop scene in the period of time that we were actively performing, opening for acts such as Machine Gun Kelly, Preme, Tech N9ne and more.
After a period of time then spent focusing heavily on my solo image and releasing a second mixtape, New Atlantis 2, earlier in 2017, I began collaborating with We Ain’t Spoke last Fall and before long we were producing music on the daily, with Spenatra himself being a featured vocalist on much of it. By March of this year, we had released a full-length locally produced mixtape under the title Lords Of Fogtown. It pays homage to the slogan created in the mid-2000s by the St. John’s punk/skate scene (presumably because of the weather conditions of Newfoundland’s capital city) parodying the movie Lords of Dogtown, as well as referencing well-known Fogtown Barber located downtown St. John’s, whose clothing line is stamped with the Fogtown logo, which you’ll see in many of my music videos.
Since then, myself and Spenatra have released two collaborative EPs which (as well as the previous three mixtapes mentioned) are available on Spotify and Apple Music thanks to the forming of our label, Modem Music, and we’ve also released multiple other local artists music to streaming platforms under the label. The whole idea behind the label is for us to build connections and branch out to other artists and companies and so far we’ve been nothing but successful, so at this point you can bet it’s Modem from here on out.
HipHopCanada: You’re on tour now across NL correct? You planning a regional / national tour in the near future?
MAK11: I just returned from a tour across central and western Newfoundland, hitting Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Gander to promote the release of my fourth solo mixtape, New Atlantis 3, which was a dope experience for sure! I’ve made fans all over the province over the last few years, so it was cool to meet some of them and perform at different venues. At this moment I’ve got nothing else planned in regards to touring, but myself and my team have made plenty of connections with artists and promoters in places such as Halifax and Toronto, as well as in the US. So you can be sure there’ll be some big things coming in 2019 for myself and the Modem family.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been getting a lot of shine on FM radio out there in St. John’s also… What’s the formula there? and, do you prefer to make more trap / hip-hop shit like “Like Derozan” (featuring promising St. John’s spitter Tony Delicious) or the radio jams?
MAK11: Myself and Spenatra have managed to land two songs on HITS FM’s Battle of the Beats radio show since June, and I’m also featured on a song with local artist N8 Douce which is in currently in rotation on OZFM. The formula comes down to two things; the quality of the production, from the creation of the beat itself to the vocal engineering, and also the mindset you’re in and the energy you put into the music being made. Sometimes you’ve got to take things real serious, other times we make the best music when we’re just having fun. But we always enjoy the process and that’s why I believe we end up producing quality, radio-worthy music. I’m a lover of music in all forms and I want to be heard, so at this point I’m looking to express myself via as many platforms as possible while being as diverse as I can in my approach to making music. You’re going to hear more radio-friendly MAK11 for sure, but my die-hard fans know me for the hard-hitting trap beats and lyrical complexity of the New Atlantis trilogy, and there’ll be plenty more of that from me to expect as well!
HipHopCanada: The New Atlantis tapes are a good consistent body of work. Can we expect a MAK11 album anytime soon? Any features you have in the works or would like to speak on? And anything else you wanna add or tell our viewers?
MAK11: No plans on a MAK11 album just yet, however the Lords Of Fogtown 2 mixtape is slated for release in Spring 2019, once again produced entirely by We Ain’t Spoke and featuring several prominent local artists. The video for myself and Spenatra’s radio single “Electric Body” will be released in the near future, and the first single from Lords Of Fogtown 2 “Ghosts” is available now Spotify and Apple Music!