We’ve all been taught the same life lessons and been preached the same cheesy epigrams like, “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” And while we fantasize about our lavish, seemingly unobtainable dreams, even momentarily closing our eyes and living out these fantasies, it takes a certain type of spectacular character for one to open his eyes and furiously chase his dreams and make it a reality. Enter, Mekka Don.
Mekka Don has redefined the term “career change.” Mekka, an NYU law graduate and former Phat Farm model, left a lucrative career as a lawyer at a prestigious New York firm to become a rapper. Though he received harsh criticism for walking away from a dream job and respected position, he persevered and upstaged his doubters with critically acclaimed mixtapes, most notably his “All Eyes On Me” EP. (Download a copy at Mekkadon.com)
On the tape, Mekka possesses the mind and spirit of President Barack Obama and beautifully constructs his raw and honest thoughts into memorable lyrics. His latest single, â€œThey All Come Down,” which is available for download on iTunes, is a strong comeback single telling of the inevitable fall that every entertainer could endure. As if his plate weren’t full enough, Mekka has made room for another project, “The Underground Railroad.” Mekka Don dishes out the details of his new project and much more in the following interview:
JR: So when was your epiphany?
MD: It’s interesting, it wasn’t an epiphany, I knew I always wanted to pursue rapping. It is one thing to have it as a hobby, and it’s another to have it as a career. Even at the firm, I knew it wasn’t going to be forever, and at 26, if I was going to make things happen — I was going to make it happen now.
JR: What mental place did you go to for “All Eyes On Me?”
MD: It was a collaborative idea with Mick Boogie. Like an actor, I became Barack, without ever misquoting what he said or what I believe he would have said. I accepted the challenge with that knowledge while still maintaining my swagger. I read his book and studied Tupac’s music. Once you have the information in your head, you just flow.
JR: With the success of your last EP, do you feel any pressure to perform at the same level and have the same success?
MD: I do and I don’t. My goal is to reinvent myself and keep the creative juices flowing and keep the excitement. My current challenge is to make original content that is fresh, hot and that gets people interested. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into “the guy with the Obama CD.”
JR: What inspires you?
MD: Barack Obama inspires me, just not because of the obvious reasons, but because with him, we have no excuse. He overcame the impossible, so anything is possible. Symbolically, I represent the professional minority; I still have swagger, but I am powerful and political.
JR: Do you still have respect for the rap-stars who rap about women, money and superficial dreams?
MD: Well, the entertainment industry is a business. For some, it is about sales, because that is how they make a living. So if they get money by rapping about women, they are going to rap about women. It’s a business, not necessarily a reality. But it can be frustrating when I turn on the radio and it’s all about degrading women and shooting people.
JR: You rap, “they all come down.” Will you?
MD: Possibly. But, as long as your esteem isn’t codependent on your success and you diversify yourself, you’re fine. I will always be an attorney and a rapper, but my esteem is not measured by my success. Other people, their success makes up their esteem. As long as I diversify myself and keep doing projects, I won’t fall. Life can throw you a curve ball, which can be fate, but your destiny is your destiny.
JR: So what’s up with you and the Source Magazine?
MD: I’m doing showcases and performing frequently. I have a secret agenda. I want to help other artists gain exposure, something you don’t typically hear from other artists. I put together “The Underground Railroad,” a showcase that highlights major talents who need more exposure. They can be signed or unsigned. I just want someone new and different to the game with real, raw talent.
JR: As a former lawyer, do you have any legal advice for Lil Wayne? (Rapper Lil Wayne has been sentenced to one year in prison for gun possession.)
MD: Haha, actually I still practice with my sister-in-law, but in his situation, Wayne can still produce and release music while he is in jail, so he’ll be fine. It’s a life lesson. When you think you’re invincible, the inevitable always happens. We must remember how to treat people and not get a big head.
JR: Anything else you’d like to add?
MD: I’m not just a gimmick, listen to my music; if you like it, great, but don’t just immediately judge it.
Mekka Don’s music can be found on his website, mekkadon.com.