For M1, it's always been about the message. As he raps in the classic anthem, as one-half of Dead Prez, "It's bigger than hip-hop." But hip-hop itself is suffering in his eyes, so he's on a mission to bring it back to a place that he misses; where it can offer change and elevation. To that end, he reaches out to one of the scene's young stars, Joey Bada$$, and in the first episode of new series, M1's The Message, they work together to express it with paint at Tuff City, a graffiti and tattoo shop in The Bronx.
Additionally shot both in 3D and 360 VR, M1's The Message is executive produced by JLove & M1 Productions and directed by JLove Calderon. In the pilot episode, which premieres today on The Creators Project, M1 chats with Bada$$ about his goals as an artist. Bada$$ states that the name of his group, Pro Era, is actually short for progressive era, and that his main purpose with the larger Beast Coast collective is to unite the East Coast. "I'm just trying to deliver a positive message to my whole generation, 'cuz I feel like a lotta them is misguided, misled," says Bada$$.
They next withdraw into meditation, so that Bada$$ can seek out what his personal message of the day will be. M1 points out that this isn’t religious, but simply a way to clear your mind. Bada$$ ultimately has a vision of a multicolored face with the sun in one eye, the moon in the other, and the world on his ear.
Next, he draws it with markers and sits down with OG graffiti writer Sen One to figure out how they'll translate it to a wall piece. They then set to it, with Bada$$ himself picking up a few cans. Beside the multicolored face is the word "Zenith," painted by Med, Bids, Seize, and 0283. It's all about "humans rising to their highest potential; the zenith," Bada$$ explains.
M1 first started thinking about the show while traveling around Italy on a speaking tour, where he got some painting in with Sen One, who was also there at the time. "I thought to myself how liberating painting felt and wondered how many emcees had ever felt this feeling," M1 tells The Creators Project. "I also began to wonder about how to elevate the vibration produced by emcees and graf artists."
This is M1, otherwise known Mutulu (which translates to "follow the path for the love of your people"), on his regular wave of revolutionary action. The show is about personal change, but his new album, a collaboration with Italian producer Bonnot called Between Me And The World, takes a larger view of the concept. On one track, he raps, "The president has to go / The governor has to go / fill-in-the-blanks has to go." He calls it "cultural propaganda" to prepare the world "turn a new page in this chapter of Herstory."
"With our blend of political background, ears tuned for the masses, and production savvy, we will produce what will become the future of music…not just hip hop," he says of the collabo. It also features appearances by fellow New Yorkers like Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Jahdan Blakkamoore.