Coming out of Stockton, California, MBNel has been a problem within the past couple of years. He has made a buzz for himself in just a short amount of time. From his collaborative projects, Yellow Tapes 1 & 2, with Long Beach’s $tupid Young. To his 2019 album ‘Born To Win’ which featured artists such as Mozzy, Lil Poppa, and Teejay3k, among others. Since 2018, MBNel has released five solo full-length projects, the consistency to put out music has never been a problem. With that being said, the Stockton native has an abundance of music on the way for the rest of 2020.
MBNel took time to chop it up about his origins and musical influences, the direction of Asian’s in hip-hop, how his relationship with $tupid Young started, and his latest single “Heroic” featuring Blxst. Not only did he talk about his past music, he also spoke on what’s to come musically, which features a 6-track EP titled Child Of The Trenches EP releasing on July 17th.
Who were your musical influences growing up ?
Growing up I was listening to Nipsey, Lil Wayne. In high school I was listening to Chicago shit, Chief Keef & Lil Herb when they came out.
Growing up from Stockton was there any local talent you would listen to?
I listened to more Bay Area, so Livewire, Philthy Rich, Lil Blood, and IamSu & Plo when they were coming out. Then Mozzy became an influence a little bit later on.
Do you think with the rise of artists like yourself, $tupid Young, and Ching, more Asians will start taking hip-hop seriously as a career?
Yeah forsure. To be honest I feel like even before us there wasn’t really any look on Asian rappers at all, so now it’s crazy to see rappers reaching out to me that I used to listen to before I even started rapping, rappers that I used to look up to.
When did you realize that this is a legitimate career for you?
Last year (laughs). Someone had hit me in LA and it was the most cash someone had threw me for my music, he threw me like 10 thousand for like a couple songs, and I was like damn foreal? This shit crazy. That’s also when I met Matt (Nel’s manager), and just a whole bunch of people, so I realized this shit’s a career now.
How did your relationship start with $tupid Young, and do you remember the first interaction you had with him?
So it was crazy, I get a DM from Young, and this was before “Mando” came out. It was crazy, because I already knew of him when I was a kid and shit because of YouTube. He hit me and said that I was hard and he wanted to do a song, so I just said fuck it and we did a song. We did the video too, but before we shot the video, he dropped “Mando”, and that blew up, then we dropped the video (for “On Me”), and it just went up from there. It was just genuine love after that, and he knew people that I knew in Stockton.
“Heroic” featuring Blxst just dropped, it’s the lead single for Child Of The Trenches, how did that collaboration come to be?
I was just in the studio in LA, and he pulled up, we just had good ass vibes, and we fed off each other’s energy. We actually got like five songs that we made that same day. They’re gonna be on the new projects.
When did you start recording tracks for this new project?
Just recently actually, just on some quarantine vibes.
You said this is the first part of two EP’s?
Yeah the first part is dropping July 17th with six songs, I don’t have a date ready for part two yet, but that EP will have another six songs. All of this is leading up to the studio album.
How far along are you in the process of making this studio album, and when can we expect that?
I’m only a couple songs in, it’s still in the works. I’m trying to make it more of a coherent project, then just a bunch of songs. I’m trying to release the album hopefully by the winter, or just before the year ends.
Do you have a wishlist of artists you want to work with?
Oh yeah, definitely. Polo (G) for sure, he’s one of my favorites right now. We might have one with 42 Dugg, I also got one with Fenix from Shoreline.
A track on this upcoming EP that stood out was “Dividends” which has a Redbone sample, do you come up with the ideas for the samples?
The track was produced by a guy from Stockton, he goes by Poodah, he sent me a bunch of beats and that one just stood out because it’s hard. On other tracks though, I definitely get my inspiration from Lil Wayne, I’ve just been a fan of that kind of sound. I got a couple more songs on the album that have that pop sound.
Do you think you benefited at all from this CoronaVirus situation?
Forsure. Staying at home, and just peace of mind, and just writing, and hitting the studio doing nothing but working. Also just saving money, and in investing myself, and not going out, and all that. It helped me stay focused.
Child Of The Trenches EP releases on July 17. A follow-up EP is on the way, so stay tuned for a release date for that.