Brooklyn is home to endless raps in the rap game, and Maino refuses to be left out of the conversation. Born Jermaine Coleman, the East Coast spitter is best known for his hit records “All The Above” featuring T-Pain, and “Hi-Hater” which peaked at #16 on the Billboard charts upon release in 2009.
However, Maino’s catalog runs much deeper than the mainstream success of these records, bringing nothing but the real when it comes to his music. And while he fell in love with Hip-Hop long before his decade-long stint in prison, it wasn’t until he was behind bars that he actually learned how to rap.
Fast forward to today, Maino is excited as ever to be dropping his highly-anticipated new album K.O.B. 4, which will serve as the last installment in the King of Brooklyn series. Slated to release in July, the project is spearheaded by lead single “Vibe With Me,” which samples Busta Rhymes’ Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.”
The Source caught up with Maino virtually, who was celebrating Taco Tuesdays at The Chelsea House in his hometown of New York City. Read below as we discuss what Hip Hop means to him, why Tupac influenced him so heavily, the new single, and more!
Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years this year. What does Hip Hop mean to you?
It means everything to me. It means opportunity. You know how many brown and black kids, men and women that Hip Hop saved? The opportunity is endless. Coming from the ghetto coming from impoverished neighborhoods, Hip Hop saved us. It gave us the opportunity to be millionaires. Make money, take care of families, travel the world. Do things that we wouldn’t wouldn’t have been able to do without the vehicle of Hip Hop.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Hip-Hop?
I fell in love with Hip Hop as a kid, listening to all the groups. It was intoxicating. It went with the sound of the streets. It was natural. You went outside to play on your block, you heard various different music. You heard Eric B & Rakim. You heard KRS-One, you heard him blasting out the speakers. It just felt natural. It was organic.
Is it true you started rapping in prison?
Yeah, I never rapped prior to that. I wasn’t a rapper. I didn’t start rapping until I was in prison, because I wasn’t a rapper.
What was that moment that you were like damn, I’ma start spitting?
That moment for me was listening to other dudes rap, listening to other people rap. Listening on the gate. In prison, you on a tier. You got a man beside you, another man beside you. It’s a tier. SHU: special housing unit. In a box, 23 hours locked in a day. Friday night, dudes just banging on the gate rapping. Damn, this shit sound hard! You know what, I’ma write me a rhyme. That’s how it started, I was influenced.
How were those beginning raps? Were you writing on paper?
Yeah. Because I was in prison, the sort of music I was making was primarily about what I was experiencing. Being away, being in solitude. Feeling so many different feelings, so many different emotions. It was geared towards that. “I’m in the cell feeling like it’s hell!” Shit like that.
Were there artists that you studied while you were behind bars?
Tupac, for sure Tupac. Biggie influenced me, he was the artist I identified most with because he came from my neighborhood. I hadn’t seen an artist that came from my neighborhood, that became a star. That was unfounded at the time. Tupac, because nobody spoke to the black male experience like he did. Where he was able to put the emotions and feelings of being a young n*gga trapped in and out of jail, in and out of the streets. Dealing with confrontations and conflicts with other black males, hustling and getting money. Dealing with the death of your homies in prison, he spoke to that like no other. Still even till this day, nobody speaks to that experience like him.
He got the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today!
Yeah, I thought he would have been had that. He just getting that? I didn’t even think about it. When I heard it, that was a no-brainer a long time ago.
You got a favorite Tupac song?
Too many to name. Too many man. “Str8 Ballin,” if you know what that is. “Death Around the Corner,” so many. “Are U Still Down?” “My Block.” Those are a few off the top of my head.
What was the most important lesson you learned from when you were behind bars?
Never give up, ever. Know the pain is temporary.
You dropped “Vibe With Me.” What led you to sample that Busta Rhymes song?
My man ArizonaSlim, he did that. He was playing beats and I just heard it. At the time, nobody had done it before. I wanted to tap into that. It wasn’t even something that I thought of on my own, to be honest. So I gave him all that credit, ArizonaSlim, for thinking about that. Because prior to what Coi Leray and them did, nobody had thought about that beat before that.
Was it easy to get that clearance from Busta Rhymes?
Yeah, I sent it to him right away, as soon as I did it. He thought it was dope. I wouldn’t have put it out if he didn’t like it.
Best memory from the video shoot?
Doing something that I’ve never done before, which is having fun with the video and doing different things. Putting on the costumes and glasses, trying to channel some of that Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott energy.
Who’s girl’s voice is that that says “oh, I can’t stand Maino”?
Oh, that’s the girl I know. I like that drop. It’s funny.
I know you dropped “Pressure,” shout out to Jim Jones. That video was epic, loved the drum band in NYC.
Lobby! We just doing music. Me and Jim do a lot of music. We did the Lobby Boyz album. We have another Lobby Boyz album. You have a Fit Lit album with me, him, Fabolous, and Dave East. We got a lot of music already sitting there. Already done.
Why are you the King of Brooklyn?
We’re not the only king, we all kings. I’m just one.
Who are the others?
Fabulous is definitely one. Bobby Shmurda is a young king from Brooklyn. You got a lot of kings man, we all kings. You gotta understand what Brooklyn is, Brooklyn is king’s county. Fivio Foreign, we all kings. We all have our own thrones and own castles, our own domain.
King of Brooklyn 4 drops next month in July, you’re ending the series. What can we expect?
Just honest music. You know me man, I just speak from my heart. Straight up talking about talking my shit, that’s it.