Hustle and flow

Let us tell you about M-Dot —  before he does
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  April 27, 2010

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FREE ENERGY “I don’t have money to pay for shit like all these other rappers,” says M-Dot. “When I need show flyers, I flirt with the girl at Staples.”

M-Dot is live on Brookline Ave, chopping it up with nurses, businessmen, and co-eds. We’re meeting for an interview, but in the five minutes it takes me to walk down from the Phoenix offices, the North Shore native has already stickered the perimeter and spit game to dozens of approaching Sox fans about his show at José McIntyre’s that Friday. “I get absolutely frantic if I’m not moving every second,” he says, speaking as quickly as he rhymes. “Everybody raps — I rap, you rap, he raps — so I have no choice. I have to go harder.”

This performance is not surprising. M-Dot isn’t merely one of the most gifted rising MCs in New England — he’s also the region’s most relentless media-relations troll, as a result of which he’s been featured in more than 75 newspapers and magazines without hiring a publicist. At 27, he has arrived at the realization that hip-hop is no longer a cash cow with DD teats. M-Dot can slash infinite tracks with razor-sharp art, but in order to pay the rent, he rocks more than 150 shows a year, from Anaheim to Amsterdam, and he spends eternities bothering writers, editors, and station managers.

People don’t develop a maniacal work ethic overnight. Before music, M-Dot devoted himself to another black man’s game, basketball, and, overachiever that he is, he even captained Bunker Hill Community College to a state championship. One of his college coaches, John Preziosa, could especially relate to M-Dot’s approach to urban extracurriculars. Better known as Jawn P. of Top Choice Clique, Preziosa was Boston’s first Caucasian rapper. Needless to say, coach P’s game-bus stories about his trials as a hip-hop outsider prepared M-Dot well for his coming career.

On a Boston rap scene that’s more cliquish than the South Hadley High School cafeteria, M-Dot is the rare rapper to find acceptance on his own terms. He arrived in a full sprint from left field — with his own crew, EMS, in tow — but that’s not to say he didn’t pay proper dues. Under the tutelage of such game runners as Edo G and especially Gang Starr Foundation rock Krumb Snatcha, he’s hit the level at which aspiring artists pay him for verses. As he documents in his new single, “No Money Down,” in his four years on the scene, he’s never once paid for studio blocks, stage time, or any of the marquee guests who feature on his mixtapes. And he’s placed tracks on the top hip-hop sites without handing over a dollar of payola.

“I don’t have money to pay for any of that shit like all these other rappers, or for beats,” he points out, “so I have to impress people enough so that they want to work with me. When I need show flyers, I flirt with the girl at Staples.” He continues: “I haven’t had another job in four and a half years, and it’s hard. People don’t realize or understand what kind of sacrifice this is — I had to get rid of my car. And I don’t have new clothes, either — I shop at Marshall’s and borrow gear from my boys if I have a photo shoot. But even though I don’t have the extra stuff, I’m paying all my bills, and my girl lets me use her car, so that’s not so bad.”

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