Chicago producer and emcee Mush Millions is no rookie to the music industry. Discovered in his early teens by executives at Warner Brothers, the child prodigy Mush was quickly singed to the label and moved to LA to record his debut album. However, Industry Rule #4080 caught up with Mush, when a young upstart by the name of Michelle Branch also inked a deal with Warner Brothers. Shortly thereafter, Warner executives decided to switch gears and focus on the talents of Ms. Branch, thus dissolving Mush’s would-be budget.
Never one to quit, Mush packed up and returned to Chicago destined to take what he’d learned in the industry and use it to his advantage. A few years later Mush found himself aligned with Fat Joe’s Terror Squad camp and is once again ready to take a stab at Hip-Hop domination with the release of his debut mixtape, Tha Movie. (download for free here)
First, introduce the Fake Shore Drive readers to Mush Millions. I know you’ve been in the industry for a while, so get everyone up to speed
Mush Millions is a producer first and foremost and an emcee secondary. I started music when I was 9 years old and was born with the gift. I started making beats first, you know. My inspirations were Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Crucial Conflict and Twista – all the fast rappers – because I thought the slow rappers were only “alright”. So like I said, I started making beats first and didn’t have any artists to rap over them, so I just started rapping myself. That’s how the rapping and producer thing came about, so that’s really me in a nutshell.
So you prefer the “Midwest” rapid-fire flow?
Absolutely and I think I’m the best now. Real talk. But my music is a mixture…I can speed it up or slow it down. If you don’t like one song, you’ll definitely like the next. I’ve got something for everybody.
Didn’t you win a prestigious music contest as a child that lead to your first record deal?
Yeah it was a music showcase. I was picked up by Warner Brothers/MBM Records, and I was with them for approximately four years. However, I had some altercations with the label and I had to leave after that. They put me up in LA for five years or so, so I went through high school out there. After that, I cut ties with the label and came back to Chicago and then got up with my new home, Connected Records.
5 years in LA? That’s a big difference in culture – how was that experience?
I had to get used to it at first because there was way more gangbangin’ out there. I mean, there’s gangbangin’ out here, but at the same time everything is love, love. I’m from K-Town and everybody’s basically family over there. I moved to LA and it was all new to me – drive-bys and things like that I wasn’t use to. I was in Riverside – it was one of the hardest places in LA.
I figured a fancy label like Warner Brothers would have put you up in Beverly Hills or something
I was in a good place, but I had to go to school in the hood. I had a regular education. I thought I was going to go out there and have a tutor or something, but no, it didn’t work out like that. I was still just a regular person working on an album. I was out there doing everything myself – my A&R was strong and I didn’t even need a manager. My Mom was managing me at the time, really.
I bet you have a ton of material in the stash then, huh?
‘Pac J-R (laughs). Tupac Junior, for real. I could put a million songs out (laughs). Unfortunately, I don’t own any of those records though. But I do have plenty of music that I’ve done since that will take care of me and my kids and my kids. (laughs)
Let’s talk about the Terror Squad affiliation – how did you hook up with them?
A guy by the name of Pito, who was down with Terror Squad, heard some of my music. He took my stuff and played it for some of his people over at Terror Squad and they liked it – Pito’s been managing me ever since. Next thing you know DJ Khaled is hosting my mixtape and I have a song with Fat Joe. Terror Squad is family period. I’m still Terror Squad regardless or where I sign, be it Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam or wherever.
Terror Squad isn’t too heavy in Chicago, so that’s kind of a different angle for them…
Yeah, I’m going to stretch them out (laughs)
What’s up the new mixtape, Tha Movie?
It’s really just me doing me. I did some of the production on there and so did some of the Connected Records family – we have Emmaculate on a few tracks. The rest of the songs are instrumentals from various artists in the industry.
When can we expect the official debut album?
It’s in the works so I really don’t want to say too much. I’m kind of keeping it under wraps right now. Before next winter it will be out though – just know that.
Are there any Chicago artists that you’re friendly with or planning on working with on your debut?
King the Hood Savoir, he’s my little brother. Then there’s a group called The Drive Squad who I’m messing with. Also, Crucial Conflict, can’t forget about them. Pretty much everybody in Chicago… You see we have Bump J on the mixtape.
Pretty much all of the artists in Chicago have my production – they at least have something produced by me. They know I’m that n**** to come see!
Who were some of your biggest inspirations from a production standpoint?
Dr. Dre and Timbaland. Also, Emmaculate – I’m definitely inspired by him. Pretty much everybody else – I feel like they’re not seeing me. So pretty much those three.
Is your production influenced by any other genres of music, or strictly hip-hop?
R&B. I love R&B. My beats are more like soul/rap. I mix some R&B up in some of the hardcore stuff and change it around if you listen to it. But besides the other three producers I named earlier, if it’s not them, then I don’t listen to it. Like I might hear it, but I’m not listening, I’m not focusing. But when I hear those other three, I’m focusing, I’m channeled in.
Can we expect any of your production on any of the upcoming Terror Squad releases?
Is there anything out there right now, that people may have heard and not known you’ve produced?
My first single from the mixtape – “Freestyle Silly” that’s me, that’s Mush. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback on that record right now, and I’m hoping it’s going to be one of the biggest street records in Chicago – but if not, I got more (laughs). We haven’t really been stressing it to the radio [“Freestyle Silly”], I just want people to know that I can do this rapping. It’s not just production, it’s every thing – I’m a company in one (laughs). But that’s why I’m really pushing that record because it’s one of m
y most lyrical songs. It’s my time – I’m a patient person, but im tired or waiting – I’m just gonna take it.
Let’s talk about your label, Connected Records, and your role in the company
Well, I’m not the CEO of the company, that’s actually Dame Cash, but I’m like the president of the label. Right now on the label it’s my brother Ben 1, who is an R&B singer and myself. It’s just me and him on the label right now. We’re not trying to do too much right now. You probably heard the joint from him [Ben 1] and Shawnna. Emmaculate, he’s down with the label too, and his production is like the best.
Where do you see yourself in the next year?
I should have a video and I should be like two times platinum (laughs)
(laughs) Wow, you really think that’s possible in the climate of the industry nowadays?
Look, I ain’t going where everyone else is going. We’re going to let God drive us and I’m telling them…I’m gonna be platinum twice and will have the number one video on BET, MTV, VH1 – wherever (laughs). I may even get my own “Flavor of Mush” (laughs)
Who, if anyone, would you like to model yourself after in the music industry?
Berry Gordy. Berry Gordy was that dude. I feel like I’m the Berry Gordy of Chicago and Connected [Records] is my Motown. Berry Gordy’s first artist was Smokey Robinson – so I’m Berry Gory and Smokey Robinson rolled into one. I’m going to promote myself like Berry Gordy promoted Smokey Robinson’s “Shop Around” [sings: “you better shop around”], and put Connected on the map.
What kind of advice would you have for some up-and-coming artists that may not have the outlets or connections that you have?
Don’t use samples. Cut them out. I play seven instruments – listen to my production and you’ll hear it.
I play the flute, the guitar, the violin, the keyboard, the clarinet – I can’t play the drums though, I have rhythm, but I can’t do it yet (laughs). But that’s what makes me different and that’s why I’m Mush Millions. I have a million talents in me!