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The Rising Local Hip-Hop Artist Every Music Junkie Needs To Know

You might know him as his moniker, The Dapper Rapper, but homegrown rising hip-hop artist Mean keeps it real in his latest EP, By Any Means. We chatted with him about his music and fashion influences and what he's into right now.

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On music and his 2nd EP

Slated to release on 31st March, By Any Means comprises of five individual songs (read: Sweet Dreams, Trollin’, Pull Up, Walk That Talk and Grim Reaper) all of which will take listeners on a ride of emotions (listen to it here and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about).

“It (By Any Means) is actually a quote from Malcolm X (African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist). In his speech, he mentioned “by any means necessary” and I feel that everyone and anyone who has been through hardship can relate to that phrase because everyone has their own struggles and they’ll do anything to achieve their dreams, get a pay check and so on,” says the rapper.

The phrase that has driven the rapper’s latest EP was previously mentioned briefly as lyrics in two of his songs (In Flight and Not Safe For Work). Now that he has fully found himself as an artist and a person who’s “so comfortable in his own skin” he has decided to pay homage/tribute to it and create a single project on something that means so much to him.

Instead of picking out a single song everyone should be listening off his album, Mean’s intention was for “every song to be a single” and a story in itself since each song has a very different story behind it.

“But if I had to choose, it’d be Trollin’ and Grim Reaper” says the artist. “In Trollin’ I turn negative issues like bullying and turning them into a positive message. But Grim Reaper actually means the most to me and I speak about a lot of things. There’s a line the song “reap what you sow” and there’re two meanings which I address in the song. For one, it’s the literal meaning, how we work hard to get recognition and success while the other is much deeper – it’s very personal, about suicidal thoughts and depression. I want people to know it’s real and it’s happening but you just have to pull through and find happiness.”

On artists he currently digs

True to his hip-hop stance, Mean is all about embracing under the radar artists. he mentions three that he’s into right now and the song that has been on repeat.

“(American rapper) Young Thug. I feel that he gets discredited for a lot of things. His music is very different from a lot of the rappers out there and his melodies are one-of-a-kind. To me, he really is a true musician and artist but sadly, he’s just not getting enough credit for his work.”

“(American rapper) Lil Uzi Vert is always about fun, upbeat tunes but his latest single XO TOUR Llif3 is such a depressing song which is a refreshing twist. He talks about his break up with his ex-girlfriend and the way he puts it – you won’t know if it’s from his or her perspective.”

“The (American) hip-hop band Migos is the pioneer of this (hip-hop) sound. They started like a cadence of flow, they literally created a completely different fresh, new style of rap.”

On music trends and the key players championing it

Evident in his newest EP, Mean is all about genre-bending, authentic music and feels that it is the biggest movement happening in the music circuit. And as for the players championing it? He talks about two very prevalent protagonists.

Kanye West and Drake. Both artists have broken so many boundaries and managed to seamlessly blend different music genres together. Kanye’s a genius at his production style – he used vocals as instrumental – and changed the way music is being produced for hip-hop. Drake has managed to attract non hip-hop listeners to hear his music because he is always bending genres and these two really inspire me – I want to blend genres and just create genuine, authentic music.”

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On how fashion played an important part in the making of his EP

Mean is no stranger to the fashion industry (he was even chosen as Loewe‘s brand ambassador). He lends a personal edge to high fashion runway looks and translates his passion for fashion to whatever he does – music included.

“Fashion has always allowed me to brand myself as well as my music and it really show’s in my aesthetics. Now that I’m comfortable with myself enough to not care about judgement and just wear and act the way I want – it translates to the project. My music is carefree, it’s me.”

On his fashion influences

The rapper is not one to pinpoint the style icons he derives his fashion taste from. Instead, he dresses the way he wants to and makes sure he’s comfortable in it. Although he may not have a style icon, the rapper gets inspired by Creative Directors who he feels have managed to “break boundaries and make things fresh again”.

“(Belgian designer at Calvin Klein) Raf Simons, (Irish-born designer at Loewe) Johnathan Anderson and (Italian designer at Gucci) Alessandro Michele are the ones I have major respect for and inspire me.”

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