Due to social media, a whole new generation of music has sprung a leak without the cultivation of a good compilation tape. And rightfully so, many artists have gone straight to the fans with complete album-like packaging.With that new template in mind, A$AP Ant joined forces with his brother DJ Nick for Marino Gang Records, an independently run crew, and together they’re cosigning a movement of new music. Baltimore-bred DJ Nick had a serious hand in selecting some of his favorite current artists for his new mixtape, The Big Payback, reminding us just how important a guiding hand can be.
Equipped with refreshingly classic announcement horns, selector-rewinds, and featured spitters from almost every coast, the new mixtape makes for a good ride round town. Without a preliminary physical copy, The Big Payback manages to hearken the days when we picked up DJ Clue mixtapes at the local bodega or Mom & Pop record shop before the album dropped. The tape primarily deals in street tales, competitive fashion and rhyming, while also taking time to introduce some of the personalities that will be leading the genre in a few years.
Internet rap fanatics may be slightly familiar with its guests like 100s, A$ton Matthews, Dash & Retch P, Smoke DZA, A$AP 12VY, who are all present but we’re also introduced to new names like Butch Dawson, Maxo Kream, A$AP Lotto, C Plus, YG Khaled, Shine and Jordxn Bryant. Marino Gang members YG Diego, Young Shaka, Tootie Ro, and Chynna, make their presence felt on what seems to be a clear and distinctive offset of A$AP’s original fold. Names like Travi$ Scott, A$ap Yams, Josh Peas, A$AP Bari, A$AP Lou also show their flare over the tape’s shoutouts.
Recently, we got up with Marino Gang’s A&R/Advisor DJ Nick to help us spill the beans about the origins of Marino Gang wave, his love for hip-hop culture, and the future of their record label.
So, when did Marino Gang begin?
Marino orignally was a brand of clothes. T-shirts, or whatever. My brother eventually started rapping with A$AP Mob. Then he started his own crew, Marino Gang. The first artist was Young Shaka. Shout out to Young Shaka. He’s locked up right now, but he was one of the first artists. It was either him or Young Diego, but they’ve both been rapping. My brother wanted his own crew and it was his idea for Marino Gang Records, but I always wanted to be the OG or a guide or something like that on the music tip. And now we’ve got two new artists, Tootie Ro, and Chynna. All of them are from Baltimore, West Baltimore, except Chynna. She’s from Philly.
“ Marino, we draped down, drug hoes, still coked up.” – A$AP ANT “The Way It Go” A$AP MOB, Lords Never Worry, Aug. 2012.
Can you describe all of them ( Marino Gang)?
YG Diego’s the young spitter. I put money up on him against anybody. He’s the young Jadakiss of his time, you feel me. That’s that guy. He’s got them bars. I got the money on the kid. We just met Chynna really. She’s new to Marino Gang. Young Shaka, he’s just raw. He’s a gutta nigga. He’s unorthodox, real street rapper. It’s something you can listen too. Shaka freestyles everything and I don’t even really like freestyle rappers, but he kills it. Tootie Ro is one of the newest Marino Gang artists. It’s like Trap Rap. I told the boy, I don’t really like Trap Rap but his shit is fire. All of them from Baltimore, West Baltimore. 21215, except Chynna she’s from Philly. ( A$AP) Ant’s the leader. Myself, I am DJ Nick. I’m a DJ but i’m a DJ artist. I’m an A&R also, because I always wanted to pick out the music. I used to be a big critic, but it wasn’t to shit on people. I really lived hip-hop culture and I want to see it through.
What’s the situation with Shaka? I think I met him at Trillectro in 2012. That “100+2” might have been the most entertaining song for me on the tape.
Hopefully, He’ll be home soon. I can’t speak on his situation too much but I think he’s been in there about 7 months now. I’m not trying to brag about boy in the interview, but he control the phones over there. He call niggas all the time and we try to visit him every time we can.
He’s looking good. He looking rejuvenated. He’s loving it ( The Big Payback), but i’m sure he wants to be home. We told him, “Don’t think we forgot about you.” He’s on the first and the last song on the tape.
So how and why did you put The Big Payback together? Earlier we talked about you pretty much A&R’ing this project.
The name The Big Payback is on some EPMD shit. It’s from a song on their second album. If you pay attention, it’s just a similar font, but the bars within The Big Payback on the logo is just a dedication to them. That’s my favorite group. If I don’t want to hear new shit, I’ll go back and listen to them. A lot of people took Eric Sermon’s style and they don’t even know it.
I listen to a lot of kids spitting bars, and they might spit some Migos shit and think it’s bars. Bars is some shit Nas might give you. Something real slick, you feel me. I just want to show the kids what they might be missing because it’s a lot of new fans to Hip-Hop.
Have you seen something missing in the rap game? What are your feelings about rap in general for the past couple of years.
I can’t really lie. I was on my little wave with the “Hip Hop Is Dead” around 2006. That’s when I really felt how Nas felt at the moment. And no disrespect to down south, I love it, but it took me sometime to adapt to that music. I don’t feel no bad way about the current state. It’s a lot of good music. I still want everybody to do their thing.
What made you do the shout outs on the tape? I thought it was pretty clever and nostalgic. And you’ve def got some trendsetter’s speaking on their.
I wanted to bring that whole tape feel all over again. That whole DJ Clue, DJ Kayslay, DJ Mike feel.
Outside of Marino Gang, you reached out to some great up and comers. How’d you go about reaching out?
I just built good relationships with people. I picked half of the people out and my brother ( A$AP Ant) picked half of the people coming out. We both agreed on all things, but I feel like every body on there are the new people coming up. I tried to get that West Coast feel going with Da$h & Retch, 100s, and A$ton Matthews. It’s starts with the Josh Peas shout out and then it goes into the songs and eventually hits Plus Money, who’s from Sacramento. Now a 100s fan gets to hear an A$ton Matthews and vice versa. I’m just here to bring those connections. I just hope my DJ shit brings more, because I used to look at Don Cannon and now he’s at Def Jam.
I saw people posting it as Ant’s tape.
It kind of bothered me a little bit, but I understand it because it brings it more traffic. I’ve been working on it since like May because it’s hard to get those tracks especially with artists and their schedules. And much respect to them because I know they grinding. Slutty Boyz were supposed to be on there, but they sent me some shit from May. I had to make sure everything on here was exclusive. I wanted Oochie on there. I’ve been known about Slutty Boyz but i’m still newer to them, but I dig their shit.
What’s your favorite song so far off The Big Payback?
My favorite joint is the Square Off joint. They’re Doug E. Fresh’s sons. They were the first rappers to ever wear Marino.
Are you guys ever going to bring the Marino T-shirts back out?
I’m going to keep it 100. I’m not sure, because that’s Ant’s thing. I don’t know much about the business with it and everything.
Word. So, how’d you get into Hip Hop music. I know you’re Ant’s older brother, right?
I’m the older brother. I’m 24 and my brother ( A$AP Ant) is 20. I got into music when I was two or three years old. My mother and father right now are 45 and 46, and that’s the same age as most of these rappers who started out with the genre. Kool G Rap and all those 80’s bred musicians. Some people mothers and fathers might play The Temptations but my mother and father are from the Hip-Hop generation. I got into it through my mother buying me my first rap tape. It was Kriss Kross’ Totally Crossed Out, and after that it was a rap, my nigga. Ever since then I’ve been buying tapes. I would buy the cassettes I would buy from the singles on the radio and all that.
Do you remember your first cassette?
I remember the first thing I really got into was Puff Daddy and No Way Out and that was around third grade or second grade and that just turned my whole muthafuckin’ life around. I used to want to be Puff Daddy so bad my nigga. ( laughs)
I remember that joint. That was the clear tape with the light sephia cover inside of it.
(laughs) Already. I remember I had a girlfriend at the time and she would ask what you want to be when you grow up, and I rememeber saying, “ I want to be a rapper.” I swear on everything, nobody was saying that shit. Shout to every body, but it seem like no one wanted to be a rapper before 2009 and up, you feel me.
How did you get into DJing?
Well, im not going to stunt on you bruh bruh. Ever since that day of my first tape, I’ve been on it. I was rapping in middle school and high school. It would be me and one other kid and everybody wanted to hear us. Then when everyone started rapping, I fell back like I love this, I can do something else. It’s the same love now. Tt’s a positive love. I got love for rapping too, but I’m not trying to be a rapper.
DJ Clue is my favorite DJ and even when I was a rapper, I wanted to put out hella mixtapes. I would go to Rocafella.com and see DJ Envy and other DJ’s.
Ha, I remember those days.
He ( DJ Clue) changed the game and I always loved the echoes. It originated through Brucie B. Shout out to Brucie B for that, but Clue is my favorite. The Professionals Part I was one of the first one’s I remember. I look up to him.
Did you ever DJ parties?
Nah, I did a couple parties. I’m not into being a club DJ though, and I don’t want that to be my lane, but I will get into the future. I would probably do like an hour set or a 30 minute set or something like that.
How’d you feel when A$AP Ant began to rap?
I was happy as shit, really because I never really knew anyone in the industry. He wanted to do what I always wanted to do. If you look at his past interviews, I got my brother into rap music, you feel me. I let him listen to D-Block, Dipset, or shit like that. When I was in the 7th grade we were in the room listening to Street Wars, either the Vol. 1 or the second. One of those P-Cutta shits. We in the room listening to Beanie Sigel dissing Jadakiss and I said, “ Ant, you young right now bro, but just pay attention to the lyrics.” That’s how I got into music and that’s how he got into it in a way.
So, who was your favorite rapper?
I’m a keep it all the way G for real. Jay-Z’s my favorite rapper, but I don’t say it all the time because he’s got so many hop on fans, but if anyone asks me, I always say Killa Cam.
Realistically, Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers, but It’s Killa Cam. Cameron Giles, that’s my favorite rapper. He knows hows to reinvent himself.
Do you guys feel like you model Marino Gang after the Dipset Era? I know you guys are fans of the movement.
I can’t say that at all honestly. I would like to say that. I would have no problem giving it up, but Marino Gang is a whole new thing for this generation. After us, it’s going to be who’s the next Marino Gang, you feel me?
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