MME is DIY Hip-Hop Fueled by St. Louis Pride

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MME in many shapes and forms. - PROVIDED BY MUHAMMAD AUSTIN.
  • Provided by Muhammad Austin.
  • MME in many shapes and forms.

In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.

MME's spazzed out hip-hop crew eschews big time promoters in lieu of strong, community-based roots. With this group, MME labels in two ways: Musical Mastermind Entertainment and Mastermind Einstein. The latter's been the subject of local praise, and for good reason. When this collective combines, they come off as some super-hero rap squad and straight up animate on stage. With DIY ethics in tow, MME has set out to book its first tour and is looking to crowd source funds through indiegogo.

See also: Mastermind Einstein's A.D.D. (Artistically Day Dreaming): Read Our Homespun Review and Listen

MME bleeds distinct beats, unafraid to explore sounds outside the rhyme. Through working with the sharp Franco-Hill or Adult Fur, MME comes out equally fresh live and on-record. Muhammad Austin, who moonlights as Mvstermind, has a keen ear for quality and a good eye when it comes to his crew.

Not one head in MME is dead weight; they all splinter into solo and sub-groups. Their recent cut 80-D has Austin with AtM (Amir Wakil & Malcolm Chandler), Lyrique (Jermarco Britton), Ciej (Charles Jacobs) and Sixela Yoccm (Alexis McCoy). The song gives headroom for each major player and edges in enough screen-time for a proper introduction to MME as a whole.

Not that I'd advise the following, but: Satellite members of MME set up a kit and amps right across from our office on Delmar earlier this Summer. No doubt breaking some city ordinance, they got our attention (with the help of Jeffery Hill Jr. Of Franco-Hill). RFT Music happened to be meeting that day, and these heads kept interrupting. Before U-City's finest could hassle them, I ran down and dropped my card off.

To other bands: If you're brave enough to do the same, go ahead, but RFT Music offers no protection from the fuzz, and we certainly don't guarantee any press. Busk at your own risk.

So they survived what was likely a hissy fit from the cops. MME hopes to crowd-fund a fall tour, featuring dates in Chicago, Columbia, Kansas City and Springfield. The recent push with Mvstermind's latest A.D.D., the video for 80-D and this indiegogo campaign marks a full effort - growth through the fans, local art and community.

We met with four core members this week to discuss their drive and post-show food. They've all been kind enough to Fill In The Blank. Click through for the head chef, Mvstermind, and his thoughts on Steak 'n Shake, nature and making music.

Mvstermind (Muhammad Austin)

I make music because... I feel I've learned that this is my purpose in this world. It's gonna come a time where creative innovation will be the soul of communication, the universal language throughout the universe.

Everything in my life has drawn me to these moments. I feel so connected when I make music. Every key is a different emotion and every drum pattern tells a story. Through my art I can display my visions, my thoughts, my interpretation of this thing we call life. I make music because I can connect with the world, reach people and have a positive effect.

I'm most inspired by... nature, and the beauty of the universe itself. But, in fact, I'm most inspired by my peers. I swear I've been blessed to be in such a close-knit circle of some of the most talented people to walk the planet. Watching them grow, watching us grow. See people fulfill and overgrow their potential - it's amazing. Whenever I hear new music from them, or like a new verse, I immediately in my head go back to the drawing board with a smile, like "Yup, my people's cold. Time for me to get doper myself." And with that vice versa in the crew, the inspiration is like a catalyst. We're each other's key. And keys open doors... to brand new mansions with bad chicks, Ferraris...

The St. Louis Music scene could use... the worlds biggest projector known to mankind, so we can broadcast 80-D across the galaxies for the whole world to see.

What I like most about St. Louis is... the fact that within a few years we shall become a powerhouse known across the world. The diversity of hard working talent this city posesses is off the charts. In fact, we probably work harder than most, we helped build this scene over the years. We're putting the music back in St. Louis culture.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is... best?? How about worst.

Steak 'n Shake on Hampton. Long story short, we were in the parking lot, this time, in fact, being quiet and minding biz. I admit at times we can be obnoxious and loud but, this time, not at all. They arrested two of us for an expired metro link ticket. They said we were standing there too long, over ten minutes, so they had the right to yell at us to throw our hands on the police cars and frisk us. Which they found nothing. Nobody even had a criminal record ever. Steak 'n Shake is good after a show sometimes, but those cops over there - no bueno. Funny enough they brought over a patty wagon assuming we were some dangerous criminals disguised in hipster clothes. I totally didn't answer this question properly.

Shout out to the old man leaving Steak 'n Shake who patted the cop on the back and said "Keep it up boys, gotta be careful out here."

Click through for Ciej's take on the female form and how it relates to his art. Oh yes, and dead cops.

Ciej (Charles Jacobs)

I make music because... I get bored and there's not too many other things I wanna spend my short amount of time here on planet Earth doing I guess. I don't know man.

I'm most inspired by... women. Women are something else man. Out of all the music I create, I'm most sensitive about sounds that I create directed towards the woman. I can't too much dig anything deeper than I dig a woman. In fact, sometimes it's irritating how much I dig women. A woman's emotional nature, the softness of a woman's skin (good lordy!), when a woman is curious, when a woman is smart, beautiful and flawlessly put together, but most of all when a woman receives you. When a woman 100% receives you, that's one of the most beautiful things I ever did experience.

I strive to make beautiful music, so I strive to entail the beauty of a woman alongside the artwork that I produce. Yup, but other than that I'm super inspired by being tight as fuck. I'm not trying to have nobody fucking with me on this art shit yo.

The St. Louis music scene could use... more magic. There is a lot of creativity, there is a lot of skill, there is a lot of drive in the numerous artists that I've come across on the scene, but there's not that much magic. I'm talking magic like how Black Spade can get on stage with a laptop, a pad, and a microphone and not do anything too extravagant. He can just look up a beat that he likes, press play and rap to it. But the impressive thing about his stage presence is his ability to vibe with the crowd super hard in effortless manner. I mean damn. There's magic in his music already, but when it's performed, people can't do nothing but feel that shit. He's a big influence on my approach to music.

Or even magic like Jeffrey Hill Jr., the Kansas City drummer from the Franco-Hill duo. I've seen a bunch of good drummers. I've heard drummers that are technically sound and never miss beats. I've seen drummers flip sticks, catch 'em and do a lot of cool tricks, but you don't run across too many people that can feel out a drum like the homie Jeff. He's got the magic. I dare someone to watch that man drum and not feel those rhythms man. I dare someone to watch Jeff drum and sit still the entire time. I dare you. The magic is an essential thing people. But then again, I guess it wouldn't be magic if everyone had it... So I guess I take that all back.

What I like most about St. Louis is... the river with the dead cops in it. It's a really nice river.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is... Steak 'n Shake. I do not like Steak 'n Shake. The food is just, nope. And please don't get me started on the wooden tooth picks they've disguised as "french fries." The greased out steak burgers aren't the most satisfactory edible creations known to man neither. I mean, I don't like Steak 'n Fake. I just don't, but I order the food anyway. Why? Good question. I have an answer.

When the team and I do shows, we don't get the most profit from them. I just charge it to the game and stay humbled. After all, we are still paying dues. And for people to enjoy what we do enough to call on us and rock their shows with them out of the billions of other musical artists in St. Louis is very gratifying. But the thing is, we as a collective put so much into and behind this art we produce, that it's not often that all of us can come together at once with enough money in our pockets as individuals to pay for what we eat on our own. We'd gladly cover for our brothers, no problem, but still, who takes pride in mooching ever? That's where the shows come in.

Now as i've mentioned before, these shows aren't really paying us enough to pay off any bills, car notes or expenses of the like just yet, BUT what they do offer is just enough bank for everyone in the collective that hit the stage to order whatever meal they'd like on the Steak 'n Shake menu. For just a moment, the entire group can come together and humbly enjoy a meal that they've worked hard to earn, on the same night, at the same time. To me, it feels like Thanksgiving. Shit. Better than Thanksgiving. It freaks me out man. These moments heavily out balance the taste of wood chips and grease on a bun any day. And since Steak 'n Shake is one of the few spots open at almost all hours around the clock, the choice on places to indulge in not so healthy dining endeavors is limited. And that is why Steak 'n Shake has the very best post-show food in St. Louis.

Click through for Lyrique's past, riddled with Pokemon and old records.

Lyrique (Jermarco Britton)

I make music because... when I was beginning my journey in life I always felt different among the other children. I always had difficulty capturing Pokemon and really had no interest in being among the top ranks of trainers across the globe. So, I focused my energy elsewhere to find purpose. Of course my family treated me like an outcast because they couldn't understand my lack of interest and efficiency in battling but I've come to see that what they felt was best for me had nothing to do with my actual contribution to the world. Wait, wait, in all seriousness though. My grandfather instilled in me a passion for music when I was very young. Constantly flipping records in his vinyl player I soon began to emulate the voices I heard projected and haven't turned back since.

I'm most inspired by the world around me and how complex its workings are because of its absolute simplicity in contrast to the rest of the universe. My approach has always been less is more. To me that is beautiful. I get inspired by what feels good, by what hurts and most importantly, by what makes no sense. Like, I can shift myself to understanding through song. At least, that's what I've based my existence around.

The St. Louis music scene could use... a quart of professionalism, a teaspoon of class with a pint of originality. Someone with an easy bake oven. Set that stove to 375 degrees for extra assurance and let it bake. Hopefully what comes out is the recipe for greatness.

What I like most about St. Louis is... that we have the potential to be the next mecca of sorts within various fields in the states.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is... Steak 'n Shake. Cheap and always open. Perfect for us since we're always getting out of shows in the middle of the night. Even though we had to sever ties with Steak 'n' Shake one fateful night because the cops decided to indeed harass us for no legitimate reason. But it's all good though, I still have faith in the Saint Louis Police Department. Yeah, no, not really.

Click through for Leo Q. Davis, the group's resident saxophonist.

Leo Q. Davis

I make music because... music is an essential part of who I am, and it's the best way I have of expressing myself. I started music in middle school but when introduced, it came natural to me and from then on it's been a match made in heaven.

The St. Louis music scene could use... more publicity. I feel like there's more than enough talent in St. Louis from a lot of different genres - hip-hop, jazz, blues, R&B, et cetera, that has yet to be acknowledged. We definitely have what it takes to compete with other cities. In due time though, I suppose.

What I like most about St. Louis is... how small it is. I'm always amazed when friends of mine are friends with people I know. St. Louis is not as big as it seems and in so many ways it's a good thing. Music being a prime example, with everyone knowing everyone that's all on one accord, it kind of creates a movement, for a lack of better words. A wide range of people helping people to reach goals, offering talents or services.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is... a tough one! But I would have to say the best post-show food in St. Louis is Steak 'n Shake. Majority of the time the shows I'm in take place at night and don't end until the next day, leaving the options I have to choose from slim to none. Steak 'n Shake is just one of those places that's pretty affordable, food's great and they're open all through the night.

Click through for more on MME and their indiegogo campaign.

Contribute to the group's Fall tour at MME: National Tour indiegogo campaign Follow MME through the Mastermind Einstein Official Website

Do you know a project or band that should be considered for this series? Drop a line to fillintheblank@riverfronttimes.com.

Previously from our Fill in the Blank series: - Little Big Bangs - Everything Went Black - Lions Eat Grass - Kevin Harris - Laika - Heavy Horse - Barely Free Partial Prisoners - The Defeated County - Lizzie Weber - Kenshiro's - B.E.L.L.A. - Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Humdrum - The Blind Eyes

Follow RFT Music on Twitter or Facebook. Follow RFT Music editor Daniel Hill on Twitter too, if you are into that sort of thing.

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