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The Rap Game UK: Meet Mayo

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Scotland-based Mayo (pronounced Mai-əʊ) has lived a little bit in a lot of places since moving to the UK from his native Nigeria at the age of one, and it’s this wealth of experience of different environments that make him one of the most ‘conscious rappers’ this series. Drawing from his real life, the 21-year-old biomedical graduate, who only got into rap aged 14 when his family settled in Scotland, wants to spread positivity with his music, whilst also writing songs people gravitate towards.

What’s the rap scene like in Scotland at the moment, is there one?

The rap music scene in Scotland is just starting off – there’s a lot of rappers around now, but aside from that [creatives] are starting to come together to make music, create visuals and just get to know each other. I think it’s bigger than rap, really, it’s just the beginning of an era and that’s what we’re witnessing now – the growth is great to see.

You stated that your style of music is ‘real rap’ – can you explain what that is?

What ‘real rap’ means to me is that anytime I write a track, I aim to write it coming from a personal place and standpoint, and people usually can relate to that – especially when you’re talking about sensitive topics. ‘Real rap’ is a record that really helps you express yourself the best way you can in the music. That’s not to say I wouldn’t make club bangers or something that would get the people moving, but I’ve had a lot of life experiences because I’ve lived everywhere, so I’ve experienced a lot of things, you know, and I feel like a lot of people can relate.

Who or what inspired you to start rapping?

One of my idols is Dave, and I was listening to him early, like when he was 16 and still starting out and I knew from the jump that this guy was gonna be big – the passion and the raw energy was there. I feel like if you’re just being unapologetic with it and you’re just going for it, you’re just going to get heard you know, so I think Dave 100 percent encouraged me to become more conscious with music.

How did you hear about The Rap Game UK?

I heard about The Rap Game UK when I was in uni – I stumbled upon it on Instagram and thought, “this seems like a bit of me” – and I had just started rapping at the time so I would watch it and be judging like “I can do this easy”. That’s until you really do it in real life, it’s a tough experience.

…and how have you found it, from seeing it on social media and TV to being on it?

I expected a lot of the memory challenges, having to remember your bars on short notice, so that wasn’t a surprise. Also, watching the show it’s easy to think people are alone and doing it by themselves – but it’s not like that at all, everyone is around and there for you, and you’ve got lots of support.

What would you say your favourite challenge was – what brought you the most out of your comfort zone?

It was a lot of challenges, really. I’d say the clash because even though I’ve done clashes before the pressure is different when you’re on TV, and you only get one chance.

What’s something that Krept, Konan, DJ Target or one of the guest mentors told you that you’ll carry in your career going forward?

There were a lot of things said that I’ll take advice from, every challenge, every advice from a mentor. I feel like I’ve improved from the whole experience.

How do you feel you’ve personally grown through the duration of filming the show?

It’s really been a great experience – I feel like a lot of these things I had within me anyway, but on the show, you have to really try and find your feet because coming from Scotland with a scene that’s still emerging there’s not a lot of competition, so I’m in the bad habit of taking it easy. But on The Rap Game UK the other artists are very talented, so it forces you to work harder.

What was it like working with the live band in one of your challenges?

I felt like when I was in church performing with the choir like I used to. My love for music started in church and that’s how I learnt to drum, so it was like being back in that family type of environment.

What did being on the show teach you about the industry?

Being on The Rap Game UK taught me that collaborations are crucial, 100 percent, because as much as you’re an incredible artist, you just can’t do everything yourself and be everything that people want. Say you want to do a Reggaeton track, instead of doing that yourself – because your genre is ‘real rap’, for example – it’s better to collaborate with an artist of that genre rather than force something yourself. This really taught me that you can’t do everything, just do what you’re good at, be the best at that and work with other people who are the best at what they do, as well.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In five years, I see myself at the top of the scene with numbers ones – I would have dropped an album by then. I’m really focusing on being number one and making music that I’m happy with because it’s about legacy for me; legacy is so important because it could take me five years to blow, but if I blow on the fifth year then I’m in the game for life.