The art of storytelling according to Maxo Kream
Thanks to his unique abilities of storytelling, Maxo Kream takes us to the streets of Houston and to the vicissitudes of his family.
Maxo and the disputable relationship with his father
Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah Jr., a.k.a Maxo Kream, was born in 1990 in Houston, Texas, from the African-American mother and Nigerian father, whom came to United States to seek fortune, Maxo inherited from him not only the temperament and a massive build but also the same name.
The bond with the father is fundamental to understand both the personal history and the musical career of the protagonist of this episode of Art of Bars.
‘Cause of that, Maxo Kream‘s first official LP, entitled Brandon Banks (2019) is focused on the relationship between the two and it has been released this summer for the major record company RCA / Sony Music. Father and son are both depicted on the cover of his album that, also, has seen the participation of the father with different interlude skits between the tracks. Brandon Banks, says the Texan rapper, is the pseudonym that Emekwanem Sr. used to commit scams before he got arrested during a blitz at home. That night Maxo experienced a crucial episode of his life at the age of twelve.
An unexpected event for the young Maxo, who had suffered for years, with his three brothers, the presence of a hard and despotic parent demanding a full discipline and a successful school career from them. Maxo, in fact, according to his father, was not predestined for a life in the ghetto surrounded by criminality and violence, but he must attend and graduate to college. Actually, he enrolled, but he didn’t finish the school preferring to pursue the dream to become a rapper.
The affiliation with the Crips and the gangbangin period
Despite attempts by Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah, Sr. to keep him out of trouble and off the street, the teenager Maxo with no father at home for several years began to hung out with gangsters from Spice Lane, a poor and degraded area of Houston, populated by migrants from Louisiana, devastated in 2005 from the Hurricane Katrina. Therefore he got involved with his older brother in the first crimes, as peddling and robbery. He also assisted to the uncle’s death for crack and the cousin one, killed for error by a friend under the effect of Xanax.
A turbulent period for Maxo that growing up became a member of a Texan ramification of the famous Californian gang ‘Crips’, in particular of the “set” of the 52 Hoover Gangsta Crip, the one also Schoolboy Q, the notorious rapper from Los Angeles, belongs.
However, the Nigerian rapper is not naive and he knows that a criminal career has a short life of violence and, also, mindful of his father’s sermons, he prefers to concentrate to his main passion and ambition, becoming a Rapper, without cutting off the ties with the gang, though.
The concept of gangs in the United States, especially (but not only) about Crips, goes beyond the common conception of criminal life belonging to a scale of values , more or less questionable but not necessarily pursued through the use of violence and delinquency.
In fact, Maxo Kream follows two other world-famous rappers, which have never denied their belonging to the Crip gang as Snoop Dogg and the late Nipsey Hussle (RIP). They have indeed, contributed to a social community improvement like the Crip philosophy (Community.Revolution.in.Progress), at least in words, prescribes.
Houston and Texas Hip Hop Scene
Houston, where Maxo Kream grows up, is the fourth most populous city of the United States and beyond his modern appearance (Houston hosts the NASA headquarter and some of the largest energy companies), is still full of contradictions.
Terribly sultry, victim of frequent hurricanes, it is, today, one of the most multicultural cities in the United States, despite being a slave and segregationist bulwark of the last century. Texas also “boasts” the most liberal legislation on firearms and their use: in fact, it is the state where, for instance, it is easier, once the legal age is reached to legally obtain a large-caliber automatic rifle, and where it is allowed to shoot anyone who violates your property or threatens personal safety, without legal consequences.
Beyond these social aspects that characterize them, Houston and Texas have, however, played an exceptional role in the history and culture of Hip-Hop, although too often we forget to mention them when we talk about the places that have most influenced this Culture. In fact, before Atlanta or Miami, the most famous rappers from the southern hip hop scene came from Texas. Legendary groups like Geto Boys, UGK, DJs like Dj Screw and record labels like Rap-a-Lot records have written some of the most important pages in the history of this genre. Scarface, Bun-B and Pimp C (Rip) are undoubtedly considered hall of famers of this Culture. Also in the last fifteen years, the Texan state has continued to produce numerous successful Hip-Hop artists, from Paul Wall to Travis Scott.
Maxo Kream, therefore, takes his first steps in a fertile scene and has the opportunity to get in touch with local exponents of the genre, studying their skills and their evolution closely.
The evolution of Maxo Kream and the ability to sing his story
Maxo, musically born between two generations, embodies a kind of link from the late nineties / early 2000s and the one of the young trappers.
Despite the fact that in most cases, the productions, the flow rate and some content can be compared to the hip-hop trends of recent years; since the first mixtapes, such as QuicccStrikes (2013) or #Maxo187 (2015), Maxo shows to have bars, technique and stories to tell that are not common in the majority of the new generations rappers.
It’s with the latest projects, Punken (2018) and Brandon Banks (2019) that Maxo Kream shows his maturity as a man and an artist. The music becomes a remunerative profession for real, He reconciled with his father and he realized that the story of the street, is not a source of pride, but it’s an opportunity to give voice to those who feels represented in certain events showing also the negative consequences of certain choices.
Now the greatest talent of Maxo is outlined; the ability to entertain the listener with vivid and detailed tales of his past or with realistic stories of the hood degradation. Those can be compared to any ghetto or periphery, with almost an anthropological approach, as of track “Brenda” (Brandon Banks Lp, 2019), a tribute to the famous 2Pac song “Brenda’s got a baby“.
From the streets to the block she done been through a lot
She never had no cash, she used to work at the spot
Her mom a prostitute thot and she addicted to rocks
Sellin’ ass for the cash, sellin’ pussy and twat
Her mama smokin’ at work, but she ain’t workin’ no job
She hit the block in a skirt, now she work the blowjob
She asked her mom ’bout her pops, but her mom don’t remember
She say she look like 2Pac, so her mom named her Brenda.
da “Brenda”, Brandon Banks Lp, 2019
Maxo Kream, thanks to his abilities of storytelling, accompanied by a hypnotic and original flow, represents one of the most intriguing innovations for the Hip-Hop scene of the Southern states of Usa , keeping laso alive the tradition of the great Texan MCs of the past.