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September 30, 2011


Photos by William Olguin

If you haven’t heard of Machina Muerte yet, then you need to be better plugged in to the seedy criminal underbelly of the rap world. This extended family of boundary-pushing artists scattered across the country is a new wave of rappers scaring the daylight out of respectable citizens everywhere. Mestizo is the co-founder of the machine, and the mastermind behind much of their operation. He’s got a unique fashion style, like a classy yet dangerous Southwestern cholo gentleman, often sporting a leather jacket and fedora, with black raybans and the top button fastened; a look completed by his intimidating stare and crisp, earnest, clenched-teeth rapping. Mestizo has travelled around the country working his way through different rap scenes and styles, but has always retained a bare-knuckle intensity, raw emotion, and an impeccable work ethic. He has released a number of albums over the years including last year’s Elecholo, and he has a new album dropping in November on the New World Color label. Mestizo and Machina Muerte are definitely artists to watch; we caught up with him to bring you the latest word.

First off just introduce yourself, your crew, region, etc.

Mestizo. Machina Muerte, Los Angeles.

Do you have any early memories of hip hop that stick out in your memory?

Mc Lyte’s haircut. Too Short’s homeboy sweatshirt. Yo MTV Raps farewell cypher. When the “Players Ball” video dropped it changed my life.

How did you first get started rapping?

My uncle lived next to a Bay Area rapper in Richmond named Chilli B, he kind of inspired me. My pops gave me a Motley Crue tape and Too Short’s first tape and Moms said Motley Crue was devil music and threw it away, so I kind of got stuck with rap, thanks Ma. Also my homie Johnny Martinez gave me the first N.W.A. tape when it came out, that really kind of set me off.

We’ve already talked with Isaiah Toothtaker about how Machina Muerte got started, can you tell us your side of the story?

This was a concept me and Isaiah had already talked about for years, it could have been any name, but the aesthetic of it would have still been the same. I’ve always known there is power in numbers and I had a lot of homies who are amazing at what they do, just didn’t have the means to get noticed for it. We had been hanging around each other making music, drinking, fighting, tossing around ideas, so it came together naturally with Isaiah and my organization. It all worked, so we just continued to grow and get stronger and new members inquired and some members fell off, some were kicked out and some were sought out, which is how it works for us and continues to work for us.

Machina Muerte

What is Machina Muerte? A label? A crew? A Family?

Machina Muerte member, N8Noface of Crime, put it best “We are not a crew, we are not a gang IT’S A FUCKING FAMILY THANG!”

Where is Machina Muerte at now, and what are the plans for the future?

Staying strong, move forward and upward and going as far as we can in this lifetime.

Has moving around so much affected your musical style? Have you adopted different things from different regions or from your different backgrounds?

Definitely. Your environment, your experiences and your bloodline affects and shapes who you are as person. I have a little of everything in my style, The Bay, Arizona, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Cities, Ghettos, Country, Burbs, Struggle, Pain, Love, Hate, Filipino, Sicilian, Native, Black, White, Brown, Gods, Devils etc.

Will there ever me a Machina crew album?

It’s definitely a work in progress…

What do you find inspiration from in everyday life?

All the people close to me and all the bullshit I’m still going thru with this world. Oh and lots of drinking, drugs and Nintendo Punk hop that Crime makes.

Are there any artists out there now whose music you admire?

Andre 3000, Organized Noize, Gonjasufi (Machina Muerte) Portishead, Massive Attack, but pretty much I just vibe off of what the Machina Muerte, A.I.R. and New World Color fam is doing.

What are your thoughts on the state of hip hop right now, in L.A. and everywhere?

Its dope as fuck right now, because most of the new hip hop in L.A. and everywhere in general, they’re just making music again. It’s just a melting pot of different styles and genres and that makes hip hop interesting to listen to again.

You also have a distinct style, have you seen fans trying to dress like you yet?

Haha I hope so, the world would be a much more handsome place if they did. Yeah it’s cool, because along with giving my perspective on what an emcee should sound like, I give my outlook on what a human should look like. Fashions another form of self-expression just like music or any art and I respect the fuck out of it.

You’ve been all over in different scenes with different styles; do you feel like you’ve hit your stride now?

Naw never, I’m ever changing I haven’t ever and just can’t ever stick to one style or way of living. I’m constantly getting bombarded with new ideas and emotions which keeps me constantly new and fresh which can be a gift and a curse.

What’s the word on the new album De’Nir? I heard something about Blu’s label, is there a release date yet?

Not completely, De’Nir is due out sometime in November.

Yeah New World Color is Blu’s label he put together with MAINFRAME which is the Jonson & Johnson duo, kind of picking up where Sound & Color left off.

How is the new album different from your past work?

This album I actually had a lot of fun making and enjoyed making it, rather than stressing on getting my point across. I didn’t focus on forcing my ideals and morals on the listeners, I just did what the fuck I felt like doing at the time. Plus the beats are from a lot of amazing producers who are producing some big ass tracks, but fucked with me on this one, so that gave me a lot of motivation.

What’s the word on the Humansuit album?

Let’s just say it’s gonna be everything and more from the Dons.

Are there tours planned for either?

Yeah 2012 will be a heavy year of conquering new territory for the Death Machines.

What else do you have in the works right now?

Machina Muerte clothing line is gonna be out asap. I’m working on a lot of experimental music with misc. people, but I’m probably going back into Chicago winter/BBQ mode for a while.

What other Machina Muerte releases can we look forward to this year?

Amazing new LuckyIam album Time 2 get lucky, New Cadalack Ron with his brother Briefcase, revamped and new Kap Kallous, new Rapewolf LP, Serpdot madness, Zackey Force Funk new album, new Crime album, Isaiah Toothtaker new joint, Meaty Ogre should be done with something soon, Gonjasufi has a new one dropping in Oct. should be eventful

Any last thoughts or shout outs?

Shouts to my brother Isaiah for beating the case and getting out of probation a free man!


5 Responses

  1. “all good but…. players ball vid. really?

    Eff that… I think Outkast was a pretty pivotal group for a LOT of hip hop fans. I know they sure were for me.

    Dope interview too.