I've thoroughly studied the disses of the Roxanne Wars, the Bridge Wars of KRS-One and MC Shan, West Coast vs. East coast with Tupac vs Biggie; the millennial battles of Jay Z and Nas, 50 Cent vs every rapper's mama, to Pusha T vs. Lil Wayne, and the most recent from Drake vs. Meek Mil. (I'd like to forget about that Drake/Meek one because it was just as ridiculous as Paquiao saying he thought he beat Mayweather last May). Just as much as I like to watch a good boxing match, I love to hear the creativity one can state and back up through the element of lyricism. I grew up a true fan of rap battles off the Hot 97 golden era of the '90s and have had the honor of winning a few battles in New York City against all men with the most awkward responses and facial expressions. When someone is throwing word hits and shooting bars, it leaves a gate open for anyone to reflect, retaliate or contend.
On Sunday night St. Paul rapper Dante Pedro released his latest drop Thief In The Night, creating a buzz effect making Twin Cities hip-hop fans rush to Soundcloud to hear his song full of sliders, sick metaphors and shout outs. After posting Monday morning's column about Dante Pedro, my Facebook timeline was on 10, and by the time I woke up to start the day, my inbox was full of responses to his track. As I sat with my coffee and ate my breakfast, I was sent screenshots of conversations and comments to my cell in response to Pedro's latest song. While many statements posted around Dante rapping about certain artists, and many asking who was going to respond first to the Pedro cut, no one took more initiative to take forth in the rebuttal than the 35-year-old Minneapolis rapper Mista Maeham. Within a few hours after Dante Pedro released his "Thief in the Night" online, Mista Maeham fired back on Youtube with his track titled The Art of War.
I took interest in learning more about Mista Maeham and why he decided the need to answer back to Pedro's track. I set up a meeting around midnight at St. Paul's O'Gara's bar with Mista Maeham, and I invited along St. Paul rapper/producer J. Jones of hip-hop crew Fame and Glory (former group Dante Pedro rapped with) to give us his input on the two songs.
Minneapolis rapper Mista Maehem
St. Paul rapper/producer J. Jones of Fame and Glory
Maria Isa: What was the aftermath for you, once you heard Dante Pedro's track "Thief of the Night"? You heard your name was mentioned in it. What was your first reaction to the song?
Mista Maeham: My first reaction to his track ASAP was that it was a diss. I'm from the App (Minneapolis)! He tried to say he thought I was from the Paul to clean it up, but everyone knows I'm from the App. Years ago I was in the TC Hip Hop Awards running for Mpls Mayor, he was involved with running for St. Paul and my godson's related to him. He try to say he didn't know I was from the App, but I'm from the App... and we're friends on Facebook so I started tagging Pedro like "what's happening yo? What is it I'm hearing with my name on this?" Tagged him like 5 times and he didn't respond to the tag, which made me think he was spittin' slugs at me, ya feel me? So I gotta hold of someone that I know who's cool with him and call him "Yo what's up with your boy? I don't see why he mentioning my name and blasting at me like that? Pedro wouldn't get on the phone right away, so I'm waiting around, no response so I started to write Asap. By the time he called it was already too late. I was already in the middle of laying out my joint.
M.I.: So you had your song done before Pedro and you spoke?
M.M: Yeah, and then once we spoke on the phone he was apologizing saying he didn't know that I wasn't from the Paul, and didn't mean any disrespect. I just didn't buy it. I was thinking but, wait why is he even saying my name like he knows me from the Paul? I'm from the App...man you don't know me like that so why you even trying to credit a lie? I'm an all around dude, I be heavy over North, South in the App and over St. Paul, I'm not a one area type of dude, the earth is my turf and I move but if you know me, you know I'm from the App and it pissed me off because he was acting like he supposed to know me to credit me in his bars. I got love for the Paul, love the Paul. Got love for rappers like Selfish, Lefty Capone, a lot of cats out the Paul that be spitting. I went to school over here back in the 90s because I was kicked out of every Minneapolis school and I stayed with my aunt who's from over here in the Paul. My whole thing with the Pedro's bars is don't even say my name at all! I come from this street life and there's a protocol, you don't know me like that and I might of had a bad day to take it on some other tip. Lucky I'm on this rap stuff, cause I just came out of prison, lost my moms in the last year, he don't know me to even mention my name or what is capable to happen with frustration. All I was on to respond is you need a clearance to drop my name that's all i'm on. There's just a few people you shouldn't come at..and I'm one of them.
M.I.: J.Jones you being an artist from the Paul and having worked with Dante Pedro through your Fame-N- Glory days dated 10 years ago, what was your first reaction to hearing Thief in the Night?
J.Jones: When I first heard it I was like aww s---…I don't know, Pe' might need to sit down on this one, you know I know him personally, we rocked a lot of shit years ago. We're not like that no more but then I heard it again and I felt what Pedro was doing on this move. I was like, wait I like this shit! You stirring some shit up Pedro okay…and you got everybody's attention in the city! I like that shit! Then Maeham dropped his track and I was like this is on! Ooh s--- it's on! What's your next move?
M.I: People around me are talking more about this than the recent Drake vs. Meek. J.J: Real talk sis, Real talk this is way more entertaining than that battle. Both tracks have their ammunition. Look I don't rock with Pe' no more on music, but I ain't gonna be stupid and stunt on him because the Dante has bars! Pedro can rap, he's good! No doubt about that he's cold! But now I'm like aight man, What's your next move? Is there something else you want to add? That's what I love about this hip-hop!
M.I: From a Minnesota standpoint, where do you guys see this hip-hop music going? Is there any unification of this hip-hop music within the hood?
J.J: I'm gonna be out here always, but man I'm getting older now and I try to stay away from the unnecessary b----. Well I'm trying too (smiles) I keep and will always be making this music. I'm getting better with it and adding more flavors like I'm a cook with it. It's just like you know, I shoot and dribble with my right hand, so no i'm just focusing on my left dribble to be better and that's the same metaphor I rock for this new music I'm making. I'm working on my new project Stand for Something. Produced that whole thing got one production from Dru Dizz and Beasly's new album coming out. Oh, Maeham don't sleep on Dizz! Now he's a battle rapper. Pedro ain't no battle rapper, Pe' just getting it cracking; he's a great promoter and he killed it on that track too! As for unification, I look at both of these tracks from both rappers now as a negative-peace offering for our circles that cross paths. Lets just keep it 100.
M.I: Maeham, the amazing thing about all of this is that it set up a platform for all y'all, opened up our hoods to hear out who's out here putting in work, and the fact that the both of you dropped tracks back to back, in timing, great quality and heated up momentum can continue to inform and potentially build and bridge. Tell me are there any upcoming projects?
M.M: Yes, I have my album Border Wars coming out on September 29th and have a collaboration with Jadakiss on some joints he murdered. That song will be released though on the next album I'm working on. My push is Border Wars though. The music on here is relative to me speaking about the street life and struggle I was raised on. I also talk about my family and kids. A lot to talk about, I was locked up, lost my moms, deal with just trying to survive in this society by any means. Stay on the look for that and I'm gonna just keep putting in work through music and continue to see what builds from there.