Hip hop is definitely what’s ruling the charts as of late. From artists you’ve heard of to acts you haven’t, even the hybridization of the genre into others places it at the top of everywhere it appears. But with chart topping singles, there’s plenty of acts who rap and rhyme about experiences they never really had. Of course, that’s not the case with Houston rapper Maxo Kream. Since getting his start he’s kept things real and proven time and time again that he’s the real deal in hip hop while giving us some of the best tracks from the genre. With a new deal at RCA Records, we sat down with the rapper to talk about where he grew up, why his new album is called Brandon Banks and what he has planned for the future.
Growing up in Southwest Houston, Maxo has said in the past that his mom loved the music of Tupac and that he himself came up listening to 50 Cent, The Game and Young Jeezy. Looking back, it made us wonder if becoming a rapper was something he aspired to be. “Man, not really. I had dreams, rapping just happened. I really wanted to be a basketball player or a wrestler,” explains the rapper.
The Southwest corridor of Houston is a large and sparse expanse of land. Fort Bend, Alief and Missouri City take up a lot of land mass. Because of this, we asked him to explain just how large the area is for anyone outside of the area to truly understand. “All that shit big, but it’s all different too. Houston is real big, but the Southwest side is like its own city. It’s all separate to me, but in many ways it’s the same. It’s really its own place,” says Maxo.
With the way Houston’s rap scene has been lately, things have been strange. Rap-A-Lot Records isn’t really actively releasing new material, Travis Scott is popping off from another city and the old timers are all sticking to what they did twenty years ago; it made us wonder if Maxo sees himself as the current face of Houston hip hop. “I definitely do. I’m still in the city. Everyone still portrays the old school and the slow down rap of Houston, I’m the most current. The spotlighting of our own artists isn’t happening. It don’t come easy though, you gotta’ get outta’ the mud,” replies Maxo.
Recently Maxo inked a deal with major label RCA and signalled a change in how he’s done things in the past. He also just dropped a new single with Megan Thee Stallion, “She Live.” When we asked how the two came to be he replied, “It was time to go to a major. I fought to get it right, I’ve been underground since 2011. I still have control over everything, it was just something I was ready to do. Me and Meg been rockin’ a long time. I even thought about signing her in 2016 before anyone knew who she was. We were cool outside of music, I was cool with her mom too. We been tight as partners and the track made sense to do now.”
With the world as his oyster, the new album out in July, Maxo has not only been hitting the festivals hard he’s been making his name known. We were curious as to why the album is titled Brandon Banks, and what lead him to that. As per Maxo, “Brandon Banks is my father’s name. My last one was called Punken cause my nickname was Pumpkin coming up. I’m a junior, so for everyone to get me, you gotta’ get my dad first. To know me is to know him. A lot of people in the African American community say ‘I don’t know my dad.’ But I do know mine and he was a big part of my life. Plus being Nigerian, it’s just another chapter in the Maxo Kream story.”
For an artist who’s always kept things on the level and someone who’s kept it real, his success is definitely a story for anyone thirsty enough to put in the time it takes to make it. Before parting ways, we ask if he had any advice to anyone wanting to enter the rap game. “Keep grinding, put it in folks’ face. Believe in your music no matter what anyone say. Timing is everything. Get it out there, and know when to capitalize.”
Brandon Banks is set to enter the world on July 19 on Big Persona/88 Classic/RCA Records. The new album will feature contributions from Travis Scott, Mike Dean, Meghan Thee Stallion, Murda Beatz, ChaseTheMoney and more. All of the singles “Meet Again,” She Live” and “Still” will be on the album, and all three can be streamed wherever you stream music. Maxo Kream is set to perform at Summer Smash in Chicago, IL on June 29 and at Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas, NV on September 20.
Image Credits: Photo by Jordan Marble.