For our latest interview, I hit up Mark Maturah. Mark is an avid hip-hop fan, and more commonly known in the industry as the manager of upcoming Miami bred rapper, Denzel Curry. I took some time to pick his brain about his stance on the current hip-hop industry, Denzel Curry’s forthcoming project Planet Shrooms & the future of his client, what a typical day looks like for him, and an array of other topics. Read the new interview after watching Denzel Curry’s debut visuals for “Threatz,” and if you don’t know this emcee’s music yet, get familiar.
Skoodmusic: Where are you originally from? How old are you and what got you into management?
Mark Maturah: Im originally from Miami, FL born & raised in Uptown Dade County (Norwood to be exact). Im 27 years young, since I was a kid I always wanted to be involved in music somehow. I started out [in the industry] as an A&R, a lot of projects down here in South Florida developing talent, creating the scene that underground Miami hip-hop is today, and putting together concerts for our cream of the crop locals to perform at. I’d say I was here for the start of the internet wave of talent and youth that started popping off from down here in 2010. Guys like J Nics, QuESt, Mayday, etc. I got a chance to watch them all come up.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day in all honesty revolves around me brainstorming in the morning. Most of my mornings before work the first thing I do is go through my emails to check anything I may have missed, listen to Denzel references for the next project to see what I can add creatively, going to the studio when I can (I still work a 9 to 5, to keep it G) so my days vary. Most work gets done first thing in the morning though. I juggle a lot.
Where is your favorite music coming from right now?
My favorite music at the moment is coming out of Atlanta. The A is like the mecca of the South in my opinion and is always ahead of the curve when it comes to trends, style etc. Production wise I really like 808 Mafia, Sonny Digital, Mike Will Made It, Metroboomin, Zaytoven, etc. I’m not sure if all those guys are from the A but they work with a lot of Atlanta-based artists most of the time. I like Future, Rich Homie [Quan], Young Thug, Peewee Longway, Migos, down to up & coming guys like Key! & ForteBowie. ATL has history from the O.G’s like Dungeon Family, to snap, trap, bass (even though it originated here in Miami!), crunk (originated in Memphis), but the A is where its at.
Who are some of your other favorite up and comers in the industry right now?
I don’t really have any favorite up & coming guys at the moment. 2013 was a pretty slow year for new talent to me outside Chance The Rapper, which is why it’s easy to see why he blew up so fast cause there wasn’t much competition far as new guys go. 2014 we are out to change that. I like Chance though.
To add on to that I feel like the internet is thirsty right now, like actual talent is so slow right now that they are in a rush to co-sign anything affiliated, signed, etc. and dub it as the next big thing. A lot of the new stuff is sub par to me. N64 was slept on, but it did what it was supposed to do, wake people up slowly but surely. I love the position we are in because we did it on our own, no label, no PR help, no machine, just a team of like 6 people. We are the true definition of independence. We are organic.
Were you ever a musician yourself?
Before I started behind the scenes I used to rap myself, I decided to put my knowledge and skill to use to someone else though. I was okay, but my ideas were great. I’ve thought about songwriting. I actually wrote the hook on “Threatz”, and co-produced “Zone 3” on Nostalgic 64. Denzel & I bounce ideas back and forth a lot, we have a great working relationship and that’s like my younger brother.
Do you only manage Denzel Curry?
Denzel is currently the only artist that I manage, for good reason as well because I don’t like taking on to many clients at once. What works for one person may not work for the other, and you have to deal with attitudes, egos, and so much more. I want to be able to give everyone the same amount of attention but Denzel is my main focus. I manage 3 Producers who are extremely important/responsible for the sound of Nostalgic 64, Rem, POSHstronaut, & Ronny J. We all like one big musical family, That’s like my production team. Denzel is producing music now as well, you’ll hear that on Planet Shrooms.
Denzel premiered his newest set of trippy visuals on Complex Magazine for “Parents” off Nostalgic 64, what’s your favorite record off that project & why?
My favorite song off the last album is without a doubt “Zone 3.” Denzel came to us with the idea of the song he wanted to sample, it was the last song we recorded for the album. I found the part to chop, and then Ronny & Posh started going in one night in the studio. Denzel just starts mumbling the hook and I’m like “That’s it!” representing Miami & where we from is important to me. I felt like the album needed a hometown anthem. I sat down with Ronny and arranged the beat around Denzel’s vocals which is why it has so many switch ups. I love that record.
So, Denzel released a collaborative track with Deniro Farrar titled “Bow Down” at the beginning of the year, can you talk to us about any other upcoming collabs?
I don’t want to spill the beans on anymore collabs, but I can say there won’t be any famous collaborations on the next project [Planet Shrooms]. Denzel is out to show & prove this time around, He doesn’t want anybody’s help and would rather help the artists in Miami locally that he came up with, then work with outsiders. He’s very humble and all about helping his people. There will be a couple new faces on the next project but its going to be mainly him and the project will be a double EP. 2 albums in 1.
He [Denzel Curry] is also set to Tour w/ The Underachievers & Dillon Cooper on the ‘Eyes of the World Tour’ which is set to travel around the nation, what show date are you looking forward to most?
I’m most looking forward to the L.A. show. The last time we played California was like last June, months before the album dropped and it was PACKED. Cali loves Denzel and the feeling is mutual. Cant wait to get out to the West Coast again. Our energy is crazy out there.
What’s on Denzel’s schedule this year besides the tour?
As of right now we are set to do SXSW next month in Austin, TX! Show dates will be announcing soon so look out for that. The main focus right now is this Tour in April and finishing up the next album. A couple major labels have been reaching out, which I won’t name yet, we’re just taking our time and weighing our options. Possibly doing some dates overseas before the year is over with and we may end up on another tour as well. All in the works.
Favorite musician of all time and why?
Hip-Hop plays a big part of my life. My favorite rapper of all time is a draw between 2pac & Jay Z. I was raised off Pac, I loved him as a kid. His interviews were always so real and I loved the messages in his song. As a fan of hip-hop, Jay & Roc A Fella played a huge influence on me being in the position I’m currently in. Jay is my favorite lyricist on the technical side of things and his business mindset & track record is incredible.
Random Question: How did you feel about Macklemore winning the ‘best hip-hop album of the year’ award over Kendrick Lamar?
I’m not surprised at all, The Grammys don’t respect hip-hop and never has. All that does is bring me back to Jay & Roc A Fella, they used to boycott the show no matter how many awards Jay would win or albums he would sell. The biggest hip hop artist in the game, boycotting. He plays fair now because he has to but he could give a shit about them and he shows it, referring to the award as a “sippy cup” for his daughter this year and drinking cognac out of it last year. A Grammy doesn’t validate success to me anymore, only in White America’s eyes, but our culture didn’t start in White America so I could care less. I’ll take the respect and legacy over that award any day, there are hip hop LEGENDS that have never won.
What was your favorite album of 2013? What’s your favorite album of all time & why?
I think the best album of 2013 was Nothing Was The Same by Drake. He gets a bad rep & random hate from critics but he is the best in the game right now hands down in my opinion. Favorite album of all time is very hard to answer… I have a lot.
How did you become Denzel Curry’s manager?
I found out about Denzel in December of 2011 through Purrp. I met Purrp in NYC and we became cordial, he tweeted a link to a freestyle [of Denzel] and I instantly fell in love with his flow. I searched his name on Facebook that same night and added him as a friend. I met Denzel the next month at a Purrp show and we became cool ever since. He asked me to manage him a couple months later in September of 2012, we started working on Nostalgic 64 the next month.
What do you look for when looking to acquire a new artist to represent? Musical ability must be a major part of the decision, but what else do you take into consideration?
When looking for new artists I look for originality the most. We are in 2014 right now, I met Denzel in 2011 at 16 years old and his flow was insane. I had heard nothing like it, the flow he was using at 16 in 2011 is the flow everyone in the game is using now. Everything starts in the underground first, Raider Klan is responsible for the resurgence of Memphis hip hop’s sound, Denzel being one of the main guys in the crew he looked up to Lord Infamous, Tommy Wright III, he mastered that flow. When I hear people like Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj or Ace Hood use it now I just laugh, like it’s cool but Denzel will probably never get credited for bringing that flow back. So he’s creating new ones, that was his old style years ago, again… at 16. Most these new artists don’t even know where this flow comes from. The thing I love about Zel is he studies music. Versatility is also very important. Versatility is the key to longevity in my eyes.
Thanks again to the homie Mark for granting us the privilege of interviewing him. Be sure to cop N64 if you haven’t already – it is a spot on project that needs to be listened to. Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled for more news surrounding his forthcoming project, Planet Shrooms. Lastly make sure to catch Denzel Curry on tour with The Underachievers and Dillon Cooper coming to a city near you SOON enough, and look out for him at SXSW as well.