Interview by Kiera Renee
Instagram is a smorgeshboard for finding anything that you can possibly think of. It’s also the greatest platform in the world to network and connect. One Thursday afternoon, I was going through my unread DM’s and saw a note that simply asked if I could take a listen to their music and give my feedback. That message came from New Jersey native and upcoming recording artist Taurean Maecham. He just released a new project called BlaKK Radikal. The ideas and concepts discussed on this body of work are important to the black community. He discusses issues like PTSD, inequality of black and brown people plus more.
Taurean Maecham’s music is not for those who are trying to sip lean, have 5 baby momma’s and call black women out their names, it’s too deep for those people. However, his music is for anyone who wants to consume music that pushes the limits and forces them to think about what’s really going on in the world. So I wanted to introduce you to the industry’s next big thing. Scroll down and learn more about Taurean Meacham got his start and why he chose to stay true to his authentic self through music.
Who is TAUREAN MEACHAM ?
First and foremost, Taurean Meacham is the son of Bruce Booker and Esther Meacham. I am a proud product of Asbury Park, NJ. I am also an activist, a business owner, a full time college student, a veteran, and a new father.
Do you write your own music?
Yes. I write everything. I don’t knock those who don’t; however, that’s just not how we do it where I’m from. If you are a not calling yourself an emcee or a lyricist then I’m not sweating who writes your records. You still have to perform. It’s no different than a singer. For me though, nah. My material is entirely too personal for someone else to write.
What inspired the development of your new project BlaKK Radikal ?
The album was inspired by the void. The void that I’m speaking of is the one that exists in our culture when it comes to creating entertainment that is not exploiting our culture or focusing on the negative aspects of what “Blackness” is. We have plenty of artists talking about gangs, drug abuse, degrading women, etc. What we don’t have enough of are older male artists that are teaching and trying to pass on the knowledge to the younger generation. You have Jay-Z, Nas, Black Thought, Common, and older acts like that who have shown us how to age gracefully in hip hop and still create relevant art without playing yourself. I wanted to create a project that had a message in every song. I wanted something that could be played in schools or the club. I wanted something that my people would be proud of. I understand it may not be the best move commercially. That’s the beauty of being independent. If you make something that people don’t like, at least you don’t owe a label $300k for it.
Why did you choose to spell the BlaKK Radikal that way?
It’s spelled BLAKK RADIKAL purposely. The three K’s are in there for a very obvious reason. As a Black man in the United States, you have to understand what you are up against. This country was not set up for anyone non-white or male to succeed. We have a constitution that was written by white male slave owners. This country did everything in its power to disenfranchise Black, Hispanic, Asian, Women, and the LGBT community since its inception. The only way that any of these groups have gotten any progress in this country is through radical action. No one had equality given to them. That’s a myth. Every great milestone in equal rights in this country has been fought for against an unseen enemy that we all know is there. The difference today is that the KKK is now the M-A-G-A.
This is your third project that you dropped, what’s the difference with this new project?
I try to make every project uniquely different and yet still connected. My first toe projects I recorded this year were recorded simultaneously in completely different studios and released on the same day. Both albums were linked because they told two sides of the same story. This album was recorded from March 2020 till August 2020. I would have done a disservice to Black people had I not included the themes that are discussed in this body of work. This isn’t an album to party too. This album is a rallyingcall. We are due for another revolution. That revolution is cultural and the battlefield is in the minds of our young people.
In the song Check Over Strips, you were dropping so many industry gems, who put you up on the game in regards to industry politics?
I’m being honest with you, no one put me on anything that I discuss in that song. I recorded that back in March or April of 2020. Most folks aren’t willing to give away the game for free. There is a barrier of entry that is normally consisting of a pay wall. I decided to educate myself on the business side of music and not make the same mistakes that many others have. Ok, let me clarify this. No one sat me down and talked to me, texted, chatted, responded to an email, etc. We have enough cases of artist exploitation dating back to the Beatles and Stevie Wonder. They were some of the first artist’s to have a 360 or multi-rights deal. Stevie Wonder kept Motown’s lights on for pennies on the dollar. He was exploited. Same as the Beatles and why Michale Jackson was able to purchase their masters. Prince told us. A Tribe Called Quest told us industry rule #3080. We saw TLC get exploited. We had Master P telling us to be independent. We had Jay-Z saying be independent. The lessons were always there if you listened. I grew up in the Bad Boy Era. I love Diddy and I’m going to catch hell for this. I remember the whole “Let The Lox Go” campaign. They openly talked about their publishing situation. I saw what happened to 50 Cent and his classic “Power Of The Dollar” album when he got shelved before he met Dr. Dre. I am a huge Cormega fan and I saw how they did him dirty with his first album and I saw how he stayed independent and still put out the music that he wanted to. The game is the game. All the information is out there. The application of that information is what the industry gatekeepers deny you unless they have some way to profit off of it. My goal with that song as my single and video was to make it very clear what my intention was with regards to the game. I’m here to start a revolution.
Which 2 songs on this project are gonna surprise people in terms of the message they’re gonna receive after listening?
Honestly, every record is incredible. I know it sounds arrogant to some; however, I wouldn’t purposely put out something that I didn’t believe in. If I’m limited to two songs that will surprise people I would say “Judas Iscariot” and “PTSD”. PTSD I am openly addressing my own struggles. Judas Iscariot I am openly going at one of the biggest traitors in all of hip hop and everyone who has sat passively and watched.
You’re addressing a lot of issues that affect the black community such as PTSD, gun violence etc, why was it important for you to address those matters in the project?
Those issues are real. It’s easy to distract our people with a good time. It’s not easy to hold ourselves accountable for how the culture has chosen to profit off of the pain of others. I am no saint at all and far from perfect. That does not prevent me from holding myself and my people accountable through. I love us too much to not include issues that are currently affecting the community. I love to party and have a good time as well. That’s on the next project.
What keeps you motivated when things aren’t going your way?
My number one motivation right now is my daughter. I have to make her proud. I’ve kind of done everything else in life that I’ve wanted to do. Right now, I’m in a different phase in life. When we are young, we are taught to conquer. We are hunters, warriors, explorers, etc. When we grow older we learn to cultivate. We learn how to develop relationships and cultivate those into something deeper. I have to pass on the teachings of my family to her. That’s the motivation.
What advice do you have for upcoming independent artists?
If you want to hide something from an ignorant person, then put it in a book. You have to educate yourselves. You wouldn’t go into any other job without some required prerequisite knowledge. You can’t be a journalist without education. You can’t be a chef without having an education in culinary arts. You can’t be a professional athlete without developing a thorough understanding of the sport. Why do we allow artists, hip hop artists especially, to operate as a business without any education? You are a business. Your product is your art. Ask questions and seek out your own answers. Get some folks around you that will hold you accountable. Develop your own relationships with the people that you want to do business with. The last thing would be to cultivate your sound and your identity as an artist. Have an artist’s message or a vision for how you want your work to be received. Find the fans that do mess with your music and focus on them and build that core audience. IFPI published a report in May 2020 that said there were 341 million paid music subscribers worldwide. Imagine there are more than twice as many unpaid listeners. Now throw in the radio audience as well. That’s nearly a billion potential fans. I’m not competing with any artist on earth and neither should you. I can’t take Drake’s fans. I can take Lil Uzi’s fans. I can’t take Kendrick’s fans. There’s no need to. Grow your audience and the fans that aren’t aware of you will become aware of you. Perfect examples of that are Russ, Curren$ey, and Tec-9. Russ is a “newer” act, but I hold him in pretty high regard when it comes to his grind. Almost forgot, your biggest fan base is the international marker. Push your music outside of the states.
What next for you?
We have some interesting things on the business side in the works now that I will keep close to the vest. Musically, I have three albums finished and two of them are mixed, mastered, and ready to go. Both are completely different as well. My video for “Checks Over Stripes” just debuted on VEVO this past weekend as well so run that up as well. Now that the VEVO channel is up I will also be using my platform to help promote some dope spoken word poets and doing 5 minutes mini-documentaries with the songs from BLAKK RADIKAL. So if the song is about Black equity then you should expect a 2 minute breakdown out of a 5 minute music video on what it means and how to get it. The beauty of independence is that you don’t need permission to do what you believe in.
Link to music https://unitedmasters.com/m/blakkradikal
“ Checks Over Stripes”