Marvel Alexander is one of the most interesting individuals you'll meet in the music industry. Standing 6'9" tall, the 27-year-old New Jersey native is making an immediate impact with his sharp sense of humor and deep knowledge of all things relevant today. More importantly, it becomes immediatelly apparent that, in his relatively young career, he's seen it all -- ranging from chart succcess to shady label tricks. Marvel has been studying the game relentlessly ever since he started working on his brilliant debut full-length project Egodeth some three years ago. A first taste of success arrived when he and his partner Snugsworth produced A$AP Ferg's hit "Shabba," but that's when the hustle got even more real. Label politics and creative differences followed, consequently leading to more music, such as the popular track "Why My Ol’ Lady Gotta Be A Thot", another album called Life Before Deth and his star-studded latest project Don't Die Yet, featuring Sango, Kaytranada, and BADBADNOTGOOD. Besides high-quality production and clever lyrics, the projects also share a sinister, menacing vibe which are synonymous with industry setbacks and lack of understanding from music peers. With a new single out, called "So Much Luv," and a new album in the making, the avid HYPETRAK reader and frequent commentator is ready to take on 2016 and make a lasting impact to the world of music. Read our candid conversation with him below.
Do you feel like you're underappreciated?
I don't really feel underappreciated per se. I'd rather say I'm misunderstood. People simply don't understand me as a person and as an artist. I don't fit directly into any category directly so I feel like my music can be an uneasy listen sometimes because people don't know when to take me serious or not and my answer to that is ALWAYS take me serious. I love to bring joy to people's life but I never want to be the joke nor do i consider myself a comedian. I just bring fun and real life relatability to hip-hop, which I feel is rare nowadays. As far as being appreciated I feel like the listeners that do understand me deeply appreciate what I do.
Let's talk about your previous projects which we think are greatly curated. For instance, how does your last album sound now, one year after its release?
My last album was an attempt to get noticed. I put an album of interesting collaborations together with a lot of my more well-known friends to make myself "bloggable." To my displeasure, it worked out better than I expected. I ended up on the majority of major blogs most of which I've never had contact with. But I feel like as a whole the project, Don't Die Yet only reflected a small part of me as an artist. With my new project and singles I feel like this is the music that represents me the most. The music I've always wanted to make. I threw away all notions of conformity and made music true to me and I love how its coming out. I have a much more carefree attitude this time around like "if they hear it they hear it." I've put all my effort into the music rather than the politics.
My new album is my absolute best work yet.
What's the title?
Marvel Alexander & The Pursuit of Existence.
What does it mean?
It's basically a documentation of the journey I've had to take in order to find self-worth and purpose. I personally feel like if you're don't actively using the talents you were born with, you're just alive but not living. I'm such an extreme person where I feel like if I'm not doing what I love in life I might as well have never existed. And currently, I don't feel as if Im in a place of existence yet. So this body of work is a personal account of my journey in finding purpose and meaning in my life.
You have a new song "So Much Luv." How does it fit with your current catalog of music?
"So Much Luv" is a song of self-realization, like an ode to my love life during my journey. It also takes my Latin sound influence to another level and making it more complicated to replicate. I really enjoy pushing the barriers and progressing hip-hop anyway I can. This style in particular, could be the next wave in hip-hop.
Is there any moment in your career which you would describe as a turning point?
Working on "Shabba" would absolutely be a turning point for me in my career. That song introduced me into the music business and opened a lot of doors for me as an artist and producer. I wouldn't have met the important people I have relationships with if it weren't for that song and for that I'm extremely grateful.
Who are you feeling in the game right now?
Roy Wood$, Ty Dolla Sign, Drake, Madeintyo, DJ Khaled, Chance The Rapper, Crystal Caines, Rick Ross, Travi$ Scott, Tunji Ige, Fetty Wap, Mac Demarco, Justin Bieber and Jeremih. I've also been listening to a lot of Maze, Ned Doheny, Rick James, Debarge, Fela Kuti, Ann Peebles, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Queen, and David Bowie as far as the classics go.
What artist has surprised you this year?
None really. The last artist to really surprise me was YG. I wasn't expecting him to put out such a classic album. But I believe that came out early last year.
What does your music offer to the music market?
A broader sense of relatability. I feel within hip-hop, it's one extreme or another. You're either selling crack out of an abandoned house or your drinking champagne in a bentley with a $30,000 Rolex on. As far as my music goes, I talk about my actual life which includes neither of those things and I feel like I represent the majority of listeners in my age bracket.
How do you think music consumption will change over the years?
It's up in the air. It's pretty solid between streaming, radio and purchasing right now and it's not looking like that will change anytime sone. The only way it'll change is if some real creatives are put in positions to rustle some feathers, which is something that I plan to do when I get the resources. We'll See. I also feel like Beats 1/Spotify have the potential to replace radio if there was an free option that didn't use data on your plan. I can see that being the next step in about five years.
How would you recap your personal 2015?
2015 had its ups and downs. I went on my first tour and I put out an album that was mildly successful considering my level in the game right now. I also had opportunities to submit records for well-known artists but nothing really stuck. There's also been few meetings at labels, but again, nothing really stuck.
What is your ambition for 2016?
My ambition for 2016 is to get a major placement on an album as a rapper and as a producer. To ho on a tour but this time as an artist not a DJ. Put out my follow-up album as well as to finish Crystal Caines's album which I am producing/executive producing. And lastly, to overall put myself in a position to make a career out of my art which is what I've struggled to do in the past.