After appearing on over 500 mixtapes, Maino has made a home for himself with Universal Records. With a fire mixtape that already flooded the streets accompanied with a bonus DVD, Maino has cause major controversy with his underground smash “Rumors”. Check out what Maino has to tell WHO?MAG about what’s further!
Interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: What separates Maino from other artist?
Maino: I give the streets myself. I’m a different artist. I come to the people as the people. I give people my pain, my soul, my everything. I don’t come above them or come beside them. I come up AS them. I talk to them on some real shit. They expect that. Real recognize real.

WHO?MAG: If you could change one thing about the rap game, what would that be?
Maino: Fake cats. All the lies, the snitching, all this stuff that goes on in the industry. All the fakeness, all the backstabbing, the lying, the snake characteristics. All that. I would rather people be more straight forward.

WHO?MAG: How did you get your deal with Universal?
Maino: Hit the street hard with the mixtapes. Going out there and trying to get my name and my company name. I dropped the song “Rumors” which put me in a position where not only the streets were looking at me, but the labels started to look at me. When I dropped that single, everyone started hollering at me. That’s how I got the deal with Universal.

WHO?MAG: How does an upcoming artist get their material on mixtapes?
Maino: The mixtape circuit is a hard circuit to break. If you can successfully break it, then you have a shot of creating yourself a buzz. If you can make it in NY with the mixtape circuit or even the DVD magazine circuit right now, then you can definitely make a buzz. But in order to even jump into the circuit, you need to grind, meet the DJ’s create relationships with the DJ’s.

WHO?MAG: The song “Questions” was pretty much an introduction of your self to listeners. What’s the number one thing you want listeners that have yet to hear Maino, learn about you?
Maino: There is also another side of me that I am so honest that I don’t only discuss my wins, but I also discuss my losses. I just don’t tell you how I got this car and this watch. I express the struggle it took for me to get that. I tell a whole a story, even if its things that the really don’t want to know. Even if it was things that I felt ashamed of growing up, I am comfortable now discussing it in my music.

WHO?MAG: What’s the strongest piece of advice you can give an upcoming artist?
Maino: Stay focused and true to yourself if this is what you want to do. You have to do it hard and give 200%. You can’t just only do it on a weekend. You have to give it everything. You have to give it your soul. You have to burry yourself in it and get lost in it. You have to stay focused and keep working.

WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the next level of hip-hop?
Maino: The next level of hip-hop is even broader. Hip-hop went and crossed mainstream lines. We are the biggest thing in America right now, but there is still room for growth.

WHO?MAG: What is the major difference between writing a song for a mixtape rather than an album?
Maino: In writing a song for a mixtape, I know exactly who I am talking to. I try to go hard and get these streets to feel me. Writing a song for the album gives me the opportunity to express myself to a wider audience and I can really go deep and dig in. I can also make more songs more personable because now I can touch different people all over.

WHO?MAG: Do you feel that the increase in technology has helped or hurt hip-hop?
Maino: I think it helped it because now it’s more viable and more accessible. It may hurt sales, but at the same time overall, people are hearing it and the market is just crazy. The competition now is hard to even get a buzz, but if you can, you got a shot.

WHO?MAG: What’s next for Maino?
Maino: I’m dropping my album beginning of next year “Death before Dishonor”. The people who don’t know me know need to know me know. I ain’t going no where, you heard?