Brought to us initially by a pay-it-forward from resident feature and recording artist Loco Ninja, this next WBM feature is indeed a gift. Every one of our features are, as they have either been shared with us via a recommendation or gifted as a result of the inspiration that we have given to someone else. To us, the best gifts are the ones that are given. Because we’re so moved by this next artist, we’d like to share his story with you.
Developing a skill that time gave him, Madison shares what minutes, hours, days and even years have enabled him to give to the world. It is through his stories as told over music that Madison can generously give while inspiring others in the process.
WBM: Stage names, pseudonyms and monikers are what describe many of today’s modern super heroes. How did you discover your name?
MADISON: The name “Madison” was brought to my attention by my big brother [and] mentor Close. He had the STU setup in his crib, so we would always go there to just chill and record joints. At the time, I was only rapping for about three years, so I didn’t really have a stage name. Everyone just knew I could flow. So we were sitting around one day and Close suggested I use the name “Mark Madison.” I ran with it for like three days, then dropped “Mark” because I didn’t want my government in there. I still wasn’t sure about “Madison” but people caught on to the name and I kinda got stuck with it.
WBM: Where are you from?
MADISON: Born in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Bronx.
WBM: Hip hop means many things to so many people; what does it mean to you?
MADISON: Hip hop means the world to me. I thank God for it every single day. Hip hop is a way of life. It’s a way to share your thoughts and ideas with others. Most people think of the term “hip hop” and they associate it with what they see on the surface. Jewelry, money, cars, women, [and] clothes. Its much more than that. For me, hip hop has been there for me whenever I needed it. Almost like a form of therapy. I’ve vented out and let go of a lot of things through my music. I can honestly say I am the person I am today because of hip hop.
WBM: When did you know that music was something that you wanted to pursue?
MADISON: Towards the ending of 2005, I got the opportunity to experience a couple of sessions at Sony Studios, here in New York. As soon as I stepped into the studio, that’s when it hit me. I was Freestyle Friday champion at the time, which was mind blowing because as small as it may seem to others, it was huge confidence boost for me. So with that, and the Sony opportunity, I knew right then and there that music was it for me.
WBM: Who are your top 5 favorite MCs? Why?
MADISON: 5. Eminem – A lyrical genius. I was a huge Eminem fan growing up. He was so different. He was a risk taker, speaking about shit most MCs wouldn’t dare to speak on. He didn’t give a fuck, and that’s what I liked most about him.
4. Jay-Z – He’s not in my top five because of the whole “best to ever do it” thing. He’s so personable in his music; that’s what I like the most about him. His transition from drug dealer to iconic figure in the hip hop community is inspirational to people in general, not just those involved in the art.
3. Nas – One of the greatest story tellers of our time. You could visualize his words. I always thought that was cool and I’ve found ways to fit that technique into my craft.
2. Kendrick Lamar – I was introduced to Kendrick’s music at the end of 2011, and I’ve been listening ever since. He’s so relatable. The emotion he puts into his music is so raw [and] unlike any that I’ve ever heard. You can tell he feels what he says, and that’s what I respect the most.
1. Kanye West – “Ima open up a store for aspiring MCs, won’t sell em no dreams, but the inspiration is free.” A huge inspiration to me. He’s not afraid to express his thoughts, feelings, fears, experiences, [and] dreams on record. You can hear a lot of that in the music I make. To me, he’s the GOAT. One of my biggest influences.
WBM: You recently released the mixtape Vanilla Sky. Any relationship to the movie? What inspired that project?
MADISON: Yeah, there was. The whole idea came when I was halfway done with the project. I was fascinated with the fact that the entire film was a dream. So I took the concept and worked it into what I already had. The whole “abre los ojos” (open your eyes) snippet fit perfect because it gives the project that dreamy feel. If you listen closely, you’ll notice that the tracks that tell the story (“The Same”, “Vanilla Sky,” “Liar”, “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”, “Let You Go,” “Heartbreak Hotel”) all contradict each other. It’s all up to the listeners’ interpretation of what’s the actual story. A rough year inspired that project. I lost a lot in 2011, and I honestly couldn’t take it anymore. Vanilla Sky was just me venting out. I took everything that was troubling me, put it down in writing, and just started recording.
WBM: People look to creatives because of their ability inspire and influence. How do you plan to use your craft?
MADISON: I look to inspire. I look to influence. My main goal is [to] leave my impression on hip hop and provide for my loved ones while doing it. I’m not looking to be the greatest, or to make the most money. That’s not my focus. I just want to make music and share it with the world. The rest will fall into place on its own.
WBM: Speaking of plans, what do you have on tap for 2013?
MADISON: I plan to release “American Splendor” later on this year. A lot more visuals are on the way as well. My brother Oswin Benjamin will release “Choir Boy” in the near future as well. So look out for that, as well as more visuals from him as well. Features, shows, official website and much more. 2013 will be a good year for the Society Music team. There are a lot of things in the works.
WBM: If you had to share any words of advice to the artists on the come up behind you, what would you tell them?
MADISON: BE YOU! Don’t let anyone bring you down or destroy your dreams. The only person that can stop you, is you. Never take no for an answer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Stay humble, keep a good team around and never stop grinding. Hard work pays.