The Rise of Mir Pesos


From Riding Around Camden to 500K on Youtube 
This is the Rise of Mir Pesos 

Written by Amirah Kane-Waheed

Bad boys in hip-hop must remain unapologetic and authentic in all facets of their lives. The story of Mir Pesos proves him to be one who escaped the inevitabilities of inner-city life despite the many forces that oppose positive change. By utilizing his passion for music, he traded his past for a new beginning. 

In contrast to his younger years, Mir Pesos inspires the youth in his neighborhood to make better choices in life by rapping about the lessons he's learned. During an exclusive interview with our writer Amirah, Pesos gave us his perspective on music's social impact, the recent controversy involving Cardi B, Nicki Minaj's validation, and unique persona.

Hey Pesos, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me. How are you?

I’m good, I woke up a little late, but I’m alright. I can’t complain. 

My best mornings are when I wake up early. I tend to get the most accomplished when I wake up early. Getting an early start to my day helps me be more productive. You represent Camden quite well in your music, and I'm curious to know what part you hail.

I spent some time in Cramer Hill, but I'm from 6th and Ferry. 6th and Ferry are where I was born and raised. If nobody else does, I will represent my city. 

In our previous conversation, you told me your grandmother raised you. What was that like for you?

I lived with my mom, who was a single parent. She sometimes worked two or three jobs at once, so we would end up at mom-mom's house. Many of my cousins already lived at her house. As I got older, I began to do my own thing.

 How has your background helped you develop as an artist, and how has it impacted your work? I recall my siblings, cousins, and I being dumped at my grandmom's house whenever our parents wanted to go out or be alone. We would just be outside all day and all night during that time.

I've seen a lot of things. It is possible to stay out of the streets, but many outside influences draw you into them. As a child, I experienced so many things growing up in Camden. Life has been full of trials and tribulations. My music portrays everything about being from Camden.

The fact that you said that is interesting because King Shinobe spoke about the polarity in lifestyles of people who live in the hood in a recent interview. He stressed the importance of deciding if you want to live by the streets or pursue a music career full-time. As you point out, there is another reality that some people may feel like they do not have a choice due to their upbringing. Would you mind explaining that perspective more?

Being good is twice as hard. Social media influences people in this generation. The influence is so strong that if I went on there and told a lie, there would be some people who would believe me. Rappers have a great deal of influence over their audiences. Hip-hop music when I was a kid was about drugs; nowadays, it's about killing their boys. Today's rap has a different influence on kids, and it affects them differently. Students in Camden have few school programs to attend. Homelessness, people looking for drugs, and other illegal activities are the first things children here see when they wake up and go to school. In addition, they see people hustling on the corner. Since they see them wearing nice jewelry and driving nice cars, they don't think to ask them if they’ve gotten shot or been to jail. They already have a mindset of wanting that lifestyle, but they don't fully comprehend the drama behind maintaining that image while running the streets. 

During an interview with the Detroit Hip Hop Society, Dr. Wesley Muhammad discussed the evolution of hip-hop and its influence on black youth. Rappers are the gods of the black community, he said. What he said resonated with me because hip-hop artists tell true stories based on what goes on in the black community. Depending on how you portray our culture, it could serve as a tool to help us succeed as a people, or it could serve as a weapon to destroy us. What do you think about hip-hop's evolution, and how can we improve its content to change the conditions of our community? 

I believe if you choose to rap the harsher accounts of the hood, you should go back and inspire the children to do things differently. When I rap, I talk mostly about my past and the struggles I have faced, so I take that opportunity to give back to my community and offer incentives to young people. I encourage them to become great by hosting basketball tournaments and showing them what I truly stand for, which is quite different from what they hear me say. It is also through music that I raise funds for the community.

I love that. When you were a youth, how did you discover your love of music?

My dream has always been to be an entertainer. I dreamt of being on Nickelodeon's All That when I was a kid. I was always passionate about being in the entertainment industry. My cousins who lived at my grandmom's crib greatly influenced me while I was there. It was fun watching them dress, listen to music, and get hyped up when their favorite artists appeared on the radio. I wanted to be what they glorified. When I went to jail, my passion for rap developed. When I returned home, I lost my job and could not find another; I had nothing else to do but write. I began taking myself more seriously and attended a showcase as an artist. Once I did that, people started recognizing my talent, and that's when I began to take it more seriously. 

I love hearing these stories when artists realize their talent is legit and should start developing themselves further. When did you discover your talent earlier in your career? It usually happens after impromptu cyphers or rap battles in a friend's basement. 

As a child, I didn't think of myself as a rapper, but I was the subject of a diss track. I wrote a reply instead to fight the person in my initial response. As much as I wanted to go to his house and fight him, I realized I would allow him to benefit from my name for years if I didn't respond with a song. In the end, I responded with both. I wrote the song and went over to his house. *He laughs as he reminisces* I didn't take my music career seriously at the time. The musicians in Jersey didn't get recognition, so I decided to be a football player. 

Your statement is interesting because when they talk about their passion, most artists say they initially thought it was something else, but eventually, music calls them back. When did you decide to devote yourself entirely to music?

After being released from jail, I had no intention of going home and doing nothing. At first, I took up music as a hobby. Having done the showcase and seeing how my peers responded, I gave myself two years to make this a full-fledged career. After that, my career took off, and then the Cardi B situation catapulted things. Since my music was different from what Jersey had been producing, I believe it launched so quickly. The twang makes people think I'm from the South when I talk. 

As I listen to your music, I get the impression that you're the cowboy of Camden. As soon as you enter a room, you will shake the tables. You're like the Tazmanian Devil, wild and everywhere when you're on a track. Your music turns up the vibes for any function. Having heard the snippet for the video of your song Stuck, I instantly felt the energy you gave was on 10. You set the standard for your music’s vibe in the first verse with your energy. Mir Fontane's hook makes the piece solid once he comes in. In the past, I've discussed Mir Fontane's artistry and how he seals records with his signature touch. You balanced your differing styles of expression harmoniously together. Describe the song's creative process and how it came about. 

A friend of mine and I were recording in his studio. If I am bored and have nothing to do, I often feel compelled to hit the studio. As you said, I’m a Tazmanian Devil in the studio because once I get loose, I begin to start knocking out songs. At one point, I recorded four tracks in one sitting. It was one of those productive days. My producer Wayne Campbell began playing a beat he was still working on when I reached the last song, and I was instantly inspired to get on it. I did not write down my verse initially, and I just started spitting it out uninterrupted.

I record directly from my head after getting a feel for the beat in most cases. All of us, including Mir, who was sitting in the room, were amazed at what I had come up with once I stopped spitting. The hook for the song had not yet come to me. He had already begun working upon my arrival, and I could see him heavily into the track while recording it. After the session, I urged him to come up with whatever he wrote. As soon as he got on the track, the bar broke.

I wish I could have witnessed the creative process for this track. Let’s talk about the Cardi B incident surrounding the song. I remember the morning of the controversy when a friend of mine accused Cardi B of stealing a piece from a Camden artist. I decided to look more into her claim. I found that the hook for her song Up was a replica of the hook for Stuck. As a Camden artist, I felt we were all robbed. Your song was so lit, and I feel as though if your work inspired someone from her team, they should have found ways to collaborate with you. Instead, they chose to benefit from someone else’s hard work. 

I honestly try to do the same things that they are doing. I didn’t have a reality show to kickstart my career or a significant following on social media. I live in Camden, which is ten times smaller than the size of New York City. Chances of my music picking up are slimmer than most, so for someone to go out of their way to make it harder for artists like me is confusing. I put a lot of faith behind Stuck because it stood out from the other songs. 

To be honest, I like Stuck better because it reflects what Camden is and the people from here. The song’s essence came from the culture we have here. Was there a chance that someone from Cardi’s team or an affiliate associated with Up may have been present during the making of Stuck?

Yes, however, we are going through the legal process with the whole thing, so I can’t talk about it—even though someone was in the room.

I understand. If anyone wants to know without you confirming, researching it for themselves would provide an answer; paperwork does not lie. On the flip side of things, how did you react to Nicki Minaj shouting out Camden after the whole ordeal? I felt like a notion of justice was granted from the Queen when she validated your hard work. Artists aren’t always in control of some of the shady deals behind the scene in this industry. However, Nicki gave you her support on her track Seeing Green. How did that make you feel?

I love Nicki, man! She can do no wrong in my eyes. I felt like she stuck up for us, despite her maybe moving on her agenda. I don’t have anything wrong to say about her; I will always love her for that. She’s in the industry's cream, so she caught wind of what went on and took that opportunity to stick her neck out for us. It’s not like they will blackball her; they have tried it already and weren’t successful. 

She’s been on this new wave of revitalizing hip hop again, and acknowledging you at that moment on such a groundbreaking track was a big win for you. It made me look at her differently; she’s playing her own chess game. However, she still stays dedicated to the culture enough to render support to any hard-working artist regardless of their level. Some hip-hop enthusiasts feel they cannot relate or connect to today’s expression of art. They don’t see the impact that it is making for some. Considering your music, how do you feel hip-hop can positively impact the world?

I try to send out positive vibes, period. For instance, if someone is upset at a party playing my music, I want their whole vibe to become positive. I make music for the person working out in the gym going H.A.M. My music is for switching the vibes entirely positive. Whether you need to start your day in the morning or turn up before going to the club with your friends, my music will give you energy. The problems in your life shouldn’t be that deep after hearing my music because it will put you in a better mood. I send personal messages in my music, and those who listen know. I live through my music. I rap about my past mostly; I’m a different man than when I was in the streets. I would be a hypocrite if I tried to rap as if I still lived my past life. The streets are not a game; jail is not fun. 

I respect the transparency you are giving me now. Can your fans look forward to getting another joint project with Mir similar to your EP Twin Stix? 

I’m getting back to business for the summer. I’ve been hibernating during the winter and handling family matters. I am releasing my second project, Pocket Rocket Pes, soon. Once finalized contracts and paperwork are signed, our fans can anticipate another joint project. 

We need some dope music for the summer. What has been your biggest highlight in your career thus far?

I was performing at All-Star weekend in Atlanta. We were promoting the song during that time. Mir wasn’t with me, but I performed Stuck there. 

What is some advice you would like to give our NJ Indies who read the blog?

Do not allow anyone to tell you that you can’t do your art. I always put my mind to something and stayed consistent. The more time you spend developing yourself as an artist, the better you’ll be. You are only going to improve with consistency. Life isn’t always going to throw you the oop. Closed mouths don’t get fed; start networking with like-minded individuals when you’re out there. 

Watch out for Mir Pesos' upcoming shows and the release of his new music. His music keeps the vibes positive while paying tribute to his roots. Through his music, he teaches today's youth that having an undesirable past does not mean they cannot pursue a fresh start in life.

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