I first met MeloMakesMusic about two and a half years ago on a cold mid-winter night on the fifth floor of Soho House in the West Loop with his manager Joseph Cabey. Like many, at first I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Wiley braided hair, painted nails, a cadence of speech that was unique unto itself, when I asked him if he rapped he seemed similarly unsure. While the exact lane may have been abstract then, confidence definitely wasn’t and in the time since, he’s develoepd into one of the most exciting young acts coming out of Chicago these days. After providing a steady stream of singles and short-releases, today finally marked his official full-length debut, Hold Your Tongue.
Whereas many of his contemporaries from across the country attempt to ruminate on the subject matter that Melo often delves into, it’s rarely done with the careful understanding that he brings to just about every track he touches. It’s a necessary part of the art today, with everyone having a voice there’s something to be said for the artist that can look at the larger context and illustrate a deeper understanding. Melo has made a name for himself with that lyrical empathy and continues forward here, pulling no punches.
I want listeners to walk a way feeling empowered. Like they can take on the world. I also want them to walk away with some insight to who I am not only as an artist but as a person. This mixtape is only the first step.
Explain the Hold Your Tongue title.
The title has a few meanings. I have this symbol tattooed on my arm that’s popular among the freight hopping communities that means “Hold Your Tongue”. These symbols are also called hobo symbols. I got the tattoo in a time where I felt like keeping my judgements and observations to my self. Practicing saying nothing at all. Overtime the meaning of the tape kind of took a new life when I began making serious cuts, and delays, after continuously being in satisfied. Literally holding my tongue.
Where do the themes for your work come from primarily?
A lot of the basis for my music comes from the power of thought. My goal has always been to be a light or a beacon for other folks who feel as though they have no light inside of them. I make my music to inspire. When making a lot of the early work that defined my sound I was going through a lot emotionally/financially and would refer to myself as a nomad. Just a 19 year old from Chicago trying to find his place in every arena of life. Dropping out of school was the catalyst.
How important is it to you to connect directly with your fans through music?
Fan love is super important. They are literally the reason that I can sustain my life off of my dream! I try to respond to every message and be as present as I can. I think when you’re an artist coming up it’s important for the day 1 fans to feel like they are on this journey with you.
Where do you expect this latest collection to take you? What’s next.
I think this tape is going to poisition me perfectly for what I have planned next. Let’s just say Martin $ky and I have been working on something crazy to say the least
How do you personally go about tackling sensitive issues like mental health in a way that feels real and authentic?
Mental health is such a highly stigmatized topic. One thing that I want to do is break down some of those walls with conversation. I think those struggling with their mental wellness need to be able to feel comfortable discussing what’s going on without the judgement or scrutiny from less understanding individuals. It’s hard to open with even your closest friends in these situations. When teens are suicidal they tend to keep it to themselves because of the way our society treats those affected. I just told the whole world I’ve been suicidal which is a really vulnerable place to be in. However There is a lot of power in owning your trauma, and I want to spread that message. Help find new conducive coping mechanisms that lead to healthier habits for those who experience depression and anxiety.