The Mahdi is Here
Have you ever listened to music that evokes emotion even without lyrics? Kind of like classical music but deeper. More like that song that used to play on your most remembered video game, or how about that one summer you and your "besty" had the most memorable experience? Well Mahdi has found a way to tap into that energy. Some would call this nostalgia, but what is it called when you feel this way for something you've heard for the first time? I call that artistic Awesomeness! We caught up with Mahdi in the midst of his creativity, and he decided to give us a word or two.
Interviewer: Tell us a little about yourself.
Mahdi: I am a St. Louis native/current Chicago resident. I grew up on the Northside of St. Louis and have been living in Chicago for the last seven years. I moved here for college and stayed afterwards. I founded and belong to a collective by the name of MidWstCst that consists of other producers and vocalists. I make music that is simultaneously inspired by 90’s RnB and retro video game sounds.
How and when did you star making music?
I started making music when I was 16. It was the summer before my senior in high school and I really craved some sort of outlet. So, my friends and I decided we were going to start rapping. However, we did not have beats which caused me to learn how to produce. I found this app on my Android phone and that pretty much initiated my process.
Who were your early inspirations and how have those changed since then?
My early inspirations were definitely Kanye and Kid Cudi. Kanye was and is the quintessential producer/rapper so musically, I aspired to be like him. Specifically, his production on his Graduation and 808’s & Heartbreak albums were sounds that I was chasing in my novice stages. Kid Cudi was coming up around the time of the latter album and was also heavily involved as well. The sounds were unorthodox and trippy and I loved it. Both of those guys are still pushing boundaries and remain personal inspirations. I saw Cudi recently in concert and almost cried.
If you could work with anyone who would it be?
Currently, I would love to work with this upcoming singer named Abra. Her voice would complement my production so well and we could make some grooves. Whoever is reading should check her out, she’s a breath of fresh air in this current music environment.
What do you like most about the industry?
The fact that hip hop has elevated itself to be the top genre in pop music is something that I really enjoy. We all knew how influential black music was but now, the statistics back up the thought and can’t be contested. The struggles and mindsets communicated by the genre were viewed as not being universal at some point and now, the whole world engages these artists. That’s remarkable.
What do you hate most about it?
I hate that the people behind the business of the industry have no clue how to make music themselves but somehow are the ones making the rules and boundaries. There’s a Dame Dash interview where is says, “what the fuck does Lyor Cohen know about hip hop” and in my mind, that’s spot on. *Look up Lyor Cohen and you will get how I feel.*
What message do you want to send with your music?
Truly, I want to express myself without saying any words. If the atmosphere I create with my music entails an emotional response or sense of empathy, I am accomplished.
What's the biggest challenge you face as an independent artist?
The biggest challenge for me is finding the niche audience that will engage, uplift, and support me in my ascendance. The type of music I make is definitely something that a certain crowd will listen to. However, that’s also a fun element of the come up.
How do you overcome those obstacles?
“Just do it!” - in the Shia LaBeouf voice
What else would you like your audiance to know about you?
Retro video games, 90’s RnB, and women inspire anything I make currently. With that knowledge, you’ll get me a lil bit more haha.
Where can people listen to your work?
Look me up on Soundcloud at ‘Mahdi Chan.’ To see complementing visuals, peep my IG at mahdichan. Also, don’t sleep on my collective MidWstCst. (found on Soundcloud and IG as well).