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First Look Friday: Marco Plus’ Pursuit of Greatness

todayJune 28, 2024 7

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The history of hip-hop has shown that rappers who pour all of themselves into the music have more control of their destiny, and Marco Plus, the rising rapper from the South Side of Atlanta, has his hands on the wheel. The product of a musical family, Marco Plus has been rapping since he was a child. Today, he is one of the most passionate and dedicated newer artists, showing all his multitudes through a relentless delivery, autobiographical bars and flexible flows. Marco has used his music as a sounding board for the things he’s faced, from dealing with substance abuse, living for his daughter, suicide ideations, and finding light in the darkness. Following the release of his latest album, Solace, Marco spoke to OKP about his creative process, pushing through pain, giving Bow Wow his props and seeing himself as the best rapper breathing.

Okayplayer: Who did you grow up listening to?

Marco Plus: Lil Wayne and T.I. Mobb Deep, David Banner, Bone Crusher.

I’m interested, how did you end up listening to Mobb Deep?

“Put Em In They Place” was on 106 & Park and 50 Cent had signed them to G-Unit, and I remember that, and that’s like one of the first beats that wasn’t original, that I had written a rap too. The beat was pretty crazy, that’s why I rapped on it. I ain’t get to listening to too much lyrical type of music until I got older.

I can tell by the way you said “lyrical,” do you think that’s a ridiculous way to talk about rap? Do you even like that title?

YES. Yes, I think that’s the dumbest way to talk about rap because everybody is lyrical. The most simple of rappers is lyrical.

How did you get into making music?

Honestly, I come from a musical family, my grandad was a music producer, my grandmother can sing, my mom can sing, my uncle taught me how to make beats, when I was at a young age, probably like 10 years old. Him, along with my mom and aunties, they taught me how to rap when I was like 4 or 5. So, it was written. I was the young nigga, tryna walk around dressed like the Hot Boys, no shirt, bandana on my head at 3 years old.

What was your first song ever?

I honestly do not remember, I been rapping for so long. I’m 26, so at this point, I been rapping for 20 years. I prolly been making full songs, since maybe like ‘06-’07. I been recording for a long time as well. I was honestly one of them muhfuckas tryna be like a child rapper.

At the time when you were trying to do it, there weren’t a bunch of child rappers.

Bow Wow done just got grown. We had Soulja Boy, but that was kind of different, I wasn’t really making dance music. I was inspired by the whole Lil’ Bow Wow era, in the early 2000s. That’s who people wanna listen to. I’m sure all my friends can vouch; niggas wanted to be Bow Wow, niggas ain’t wanna be Romeo. Bow Wow ain’t sell under 100,000, until like, ’09. People didn’t know that, Bow Wow got numbers.

It was a way longer run than people remember.

He got tall on us and kept dropping songs. That “Outta My System,” was a slap, “Fresh Azimiz,” was a slap! “Marco Polo” featuring Soulja Boy…slap!

I remember you said you were recording for a while. When you were putting songs out, where were you putting them?

I feel like I dropped my first tape on my 18th birthday, I started putting music on SoundCloud. That’s honestly the first place I started to put music at, I didn’t understand the whole streaming platform thing, ’til I was like 23, to be honest. I put my first song on streaming in January 2020.

Did you always feel confident in your skills?

I always felt that way, even when I was a kid. There wasn’t no kid better than me. I’m still at a point in my life where I don’t think I met nobody who rap better than me. You can call it cocky, you can call it confident, arrogance. It don’t even matter. I actually think arrogance sounds cool. I think I’m the greatest at what I do.

Your project Tha Soufside Villain perfectly lays out your path, in your life and career. How did you decide to be so honest and vulnerable in the music?

I think I can thank the artists I listened to when I was growing up for that. At a certain point, I feel like I found more introspective music, but at the same time, I found Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa first. That made me look at rapping great, as being cool. That led me to listen to Big KRIT first, Tyler, The Creator around seventh grade, and then I found Kendrick Lamar. That became my favorite rapper ever. Kendrick and Mac Miller. They are probably some of the most vulnerable artists ever, in rap. [I] make sure that I can be fully transparent and vulnerable, behind the microphone.

It felt like you were rapping at another level on Joints.

You know what’s funny? I really don’t like Joints. Everybody likes Joints, I think it’s a nice project, but I have certain projects of mine that I rank over it.

What do you not like about Joints? It’s not really about personal stories, it’s more “I can rap really well,” that’s what it sounds like to me.

That’s a great way to see it, ‘cause honestly, I was just tryna make good music that you can also smoke to. I’mma keep it fully transparent, I was in a bad place when I made that album. I had a manager, Hovain passed away. I had a few friends die back to back. I had a friend die of cancer, there was a lot of shit going on. I feel like my head wasn’t on straight when the album came out.

How were you still able to create with all of that swirling around you?

I’m honestly not sure. I feel like that’s the curse to be honest, cause no matter what, I really don’t stop working, and I feel like the best way to kind of vent sometimes, is to put it on the microphone. But sometimes, that shit be feeling like you’re stripping yourself down mentally. I’m saying some thoughtful shit, so I gotta trust in myself and be brave enough to actually put it out.

Is there a moment in your career that you see as a turning point?

The song “Lately,” on Tha Souf Got Sum 2 Say. I didn’t even know that song was gon’ be that big. JID had posted it, and the song just kinda spread, and then it caught a second wind, mid-to-late 2022. I just feel like that’s one of the songs that people pinpoint, to be like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s gonna be one of the greatest.’ I don’t really get bad reviews on that song.

From your perspective, what’s the story behind Solace?

Honestly, just tryna be happy, when the world is kinda sad for you. Not only that, but how it feels to be on that journey to find that and to be fighting certain things that you might think would be solace, but they actually fucking you up. Just coming of age.

I think it’s excellent and I think it also fits well within your discography. I think this one will be a big deal for you. I’m sure you feel the same way, since you made it.

I really do feel the same way. I think it’s my best project. I think it’s the best project of the year. I personally feel like nobody’s giving it to the world this raw, right now, who’s not above me in stature. I feel like I’m what everybody’s missing.

How long were you working on Solace?

To be honest, I had a whole separate project put up. But, I felt like it wasn’t the right time to give people that. I felt like I had to explore and experiment with my artistry a lil more, and just give people what I feel like they are missing. If we waiting for everybody to come back and do something, we gon’ be waiting for forever. So I feel like I might as well take initiative to start it, and then I could do what I wanted to do, all the way. And not that I didn’t wanna do this, but certain things are more important at the time for me.

What do you have coming up?

Videos, shows, everything honestly. More music, I’m not letting up. Solace, I’m gonna promote it to the end of the Earth, I’mma keep going, I’m tryna be the biggest.

Are there things that you wanna do outside of music?

I want to work in fashion, at some point. Also, I wanna make a cartoon, man. That’ll come later though, like a Boondocks-level cartoon.

Are there specific things you want to see yourself accomplish?

I know people act like they don’t care about this no more, until this rolls around, but I want a Grammy. At that point, once you win one, you gotta win another, I’m just tryna be the best at everything that I’m in. No. 1 record, No. 1 albums, tryna have everything, my name on the big screen, it’s all gonna come too.

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