Take into account the method of the American Black Bear. The copious animal is careful about his existence. So meticulous is the creature that by nature during a season not built to his comfort he lumbers away into his liar built around his preferences, not to show his countenance again until spring arrives. Maybe the animal would be unstable without said ritual. Possibly explosive, whatever the biology, this is how the bear lives; he is not to be disturbed. Then at the chosen time as if a god amongst beasts, all species are graced by the reintroduction of the bear’s prodigious presence.
I was reminded of the rousing character of the bear when I sat down with exploding new rapper, Maff Test aka Young Harvey one Atlanta afternoon. Even in the hot Georgia sun there was a darkness that surrounded him. Let me send your minds some ease for I’m not alluding to anything sinister when I speak of this darkness. But the kind of black that comes with inscrutability. A darkness than comes from a solid “No BS allowed around me”, attitude. Have you ever tried to boss a bear? It’s a laughable idea. And just like the bear, you will never boss Maff. Yet this lack of sunshine is okay for the poised young star who has already worked with the likes of super producer, Drumma Boy & written for several artists. Besides he’s not a meany. It’s just that this is not your “Will Smith” rapper, half rapping half singing about “getting jiggy” and the joys of summertime. That’s not what you look for in your favorite artist these days anyway is it?
I wrote about Harvey a couple months back after a brief introduction. I was immediately intrigued. He was more than familiar with the same crazy Chicago streets as me being that both our families reside in the South IL suburb of Harvey IL, also where the young man gets his moniker. You know how it is when you meet someone from your hood. You feel an instant kinship “A brother from another mother.” But I knew I needed more than a passing albeit strong meeting to really understand where he came from. Despite his attempts to hold onto a piece of his anonymity on a personal level, forces beyond nature are pushing him center stage as the talented performer he is. He wants to be known but it will be in his way. He wants to be private and that won’t be compromised. Such a paradox makes for an interesting case. Maff Test gave me his time that dark and sunny afternoon and I ran with what was allotted me.
I brought my own little sunshine. It worked out well for us. Intrigue begs you to learn more as it did for me. This is part of his journey. It’s not yet spring time… But let me reintroduce you to Maff Test because he is definitely here for all the seasons.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Guess where I went two weeks ago?
MAFF TEST: Uh where?
SOCIAL ADDICTION: You’ve got to guess!
MAFF TEST: Ummm I don’t know…Paris?! (slight smile)
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Harvey!!
MAFF TEST: (Smiling) What?!
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Yes! Since you’re known as Young Harvey, what was it like growing up in Harvey, IL?
MAFF TEST: I just wanted to get out. That was my main focus for the most par of it. Stereotypical peer pressure you know what I mean? You stay focused and get out. I guess I’m accustomed to it. It is what it is. It wasn’t so bad if you ask me. But it’s Harvey. Winning the lottery do you get a crib there? Naaaaw!
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Both of my grandmothers still stay there. One on Lincoln and one on Winchester. You know where that is? Right by Halstead, It’s like longest street in Chicago.
MAFF TEST: Yeah! Right by me.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: For real? When’s the last time you went home?
MAFF TEST: About a month ago.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: What’s the difference now when you go home seeing that you are starting to build your success and with you being in Atlanta now?
MAFF TEST: As soon as I come back everybody is ready to kick it. Yeah… yeah! They want to know the latest on what’s going on. I definitely keep them posted you know what I’m saying? I have a few main people I keep in touch with and tell them I’m on my way back home. And by the time I get there they already know. Yeah!
SOCIAL ADDICTION: So you have lots of supporters. Not hate going on?
MAFF TEST: Yep. I mean hey you’re going to get that here and there with people that feel like they should be in your place or some people just aint supportive people. Some people are not like your blood I feel like I need haters anyway.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: I want to know your direction. It’s 2009 and over the last few years you’ve had so many rappers come out and often not last. What’s your method going to be to make you stand out?
MAFF TEST: I have a purpose. As far as, I’m not just putting out music. I want to put out something where they can dance. They may not want to dance to that record so then give them something they like and keep going, be on to something.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Who do you respect in the game right now?
MAFF TEST: Right now? I like a lot of hip hop heads like Talib Kwali, Nas, of course I have much respect for Jay Z as an artist and business man but my all time favorite and this may surprise you but it is the legendary Sam Cooke. Hip Hop is not just hip hop. Rap is just not rap. You know, you’ve got your dance music and people that just cater to that and you got other situations where people are just trying to stay relevant.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: You are looking for relevancy. The guys you mentioned haven’t been on the scene for just two years.
MAFF TEST: I mean it’s not even that being the reason, I mean I like specific stuff in R&B and rap right now you know what I mean? I’m not just a rapper I’m also a writer so I appreciate both genres. So there are a lot of new cats that haven’t been in the game so long that I can appreciate. I like what Kanye is doing right now. He has great substance being relevant over a track or actually meaning something on the track. Not just like, “Why they put this guy on this song?” I like a lot of rappers like that.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Speaking of Kanye West and since he is from our home town, what do you think about him recently introducing himself as the new “King of Pop”?
MAFF TEST: You know sometimes you have to aspire to be something before it can really happen for you and I believe this is the case with Kanye. See if it’s just opinion or not. You know someone could have told him that. He might have had plenty of people tell him, “Yo I think you’re the best, you are the greatest.” He might be living up to it or starting to live up to it you know what I’m saying? So I don’t knock nobody’s hustle or what they believe. With T.I. saying he was the King, everybody at first was like, “Yeah right”, then after a while he started getting ahead in the game so I can’t knock it.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: That’s true. Being outspoken, Kanye is known for that. So what are you known for?
MAFF TEST: I’m known for giving people a sense of security, not being scared to be who you are, I would say. A lot of these new cats get caught into being what the media wants them to be and lose being themselves.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: From what I can see from your project and the buzz you are about to be a big star. So how will you deal with all the press you’ll be getting? You see certain celebrities out and maybe attention hungry. You seem rather quiet so where will we see you?
MAFF TEST: It comes with the territory and I am not saying that to be cocky but when I got into the rap game I understood it would entail being in the public eye so realizing that, I kind of was preparing for it to happen someday…better now than later. Other than that I’m real secluded. I’m a homebody from time to time because being on the run a lot you don’t get to enjoy the small things, you know being at home with your family or going to see moms, whatever the case is. So I’m a little private. But you’ll see me. You’ll see me when needed or when necessary.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Let’s talk a little about your project. First of all you’re the president of Lock Out Records and the project you recently put out is called, “Big Bizness vol. 1”. Let’s talk about a couple of songs that mean the most to you on on that record.
MAFF TEST: One of the songs off that mixtape is called, “I Know” and it’s basically about what’s going on in the world, but even more so what’s going on in my world. I see this stuff going on in other people’s worlds too, something they can relate to. It’s one of my favorites. And then there’s “Come Like That” a song about how you take something and make it into something else because it didn’t necessarily come like that. Like material things, you have a car and you customize it, throw the rims on it and put the wheels on it. It didn’t come like that. Or a female that you make your wife or put a ring on her finger, she didn’t come like that, you did that, you know what I mean? A lot of times you’ve got to mold things how you want them to be. I think people feel that.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: What’s the best and worst part of this game?
MAFF TEST: The best part is living your dream. I don’t have a problem with the worst part which I would say is the stipulation of staying on top and being consistent. So it can be easy to be accepted at one point and then you’re not. So I would say that’s the worst part, being consistent. You can make a hot song and then suddenly it’s like, “Aaaaah we aint feeling that no more.”
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Well it seems stressful keeping up with everybody else in rap. How do you plan to do that?
MAFF TEST: I’m actually a songwriter so I’m good. Even right now I’m a songwriter for a lot of your favorite artists so personally I’m relevant anyway so that’s how I plan to stay relevant and consistent, just by writing.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Hey the writers make most of the money anyway! So where does your music inspiration come from?
MAFF TEST: Not only real life experiences but also my family, I’m a provider, I take care of my family. So the drive to continue comes from that. You know if it was just me alone, I might not have the same drive to go on but I know my family depends on me and I am about family so that is really a driving force for me.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: That’s awesome. If weren’t for rap or writing, what would Maff Test be doing?
MAFF TEST: Designing properties, buying up all the properties and renting them to you, your mama, and your cousin. Man! Haha! Yeah definitely I’m into real estate so even that, it’s not before music but definitely I’d have it cover for the time being.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Well I have to ask this for the ladies…what’s going on, what’s the status? Because you know it’s going to be crazy…
MAFF TEST: You know…It’s business right now. (Smiles)
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Come on! You are young I know. So I know you’re not staying home every night by yourself! Haha! Well what are you looking for in a lady when you’re ready?
MAFF TEST: Somebody that has something going on for themselves is a major. You know what I mean? Someone who doesn’t mind being supportive of my goals but has theirs too. I don’t mind dating in the industry or out of it, it all depends on who would be more supportive or what I am doing in my career right now. So to answer your question I don’t have a particular preference as long as they meet the basic criteria.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Don’t you think it’s going to be hard to balance a family or a girlfriend in this industry because you are always on the road and there is so much temptation out there?
MAFF TEST: Yeah but not even that temptation would be an issue but just being so busy on the road! I wouldn’t want somebody to be in the position that if you aint got time for them, you aint got time for them. Hey let it be what it is and if I got time and you that one, I’ll holla at you.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: Before we go what appearances do you have coming up? Where are you going to be?
MAFF TEST: Definitely! You can log onto www.mafftestmusic.com, we keep that pretty much updated. Also www.myspace.com/mafftestmusic.com If you want to check out some of my videos you can log onto: www.youtube.com/mafftest or www.Twitter.com/MaffTest and I’ll give you what I’m doing on my daily. And also just Google me. When you’re relevant or keeping your name out there your name will pop up on the sites so hit up the search engines. How many more you need? Keep up with me, come on Social Addiction (your website), Before I forget to mention it, I am going to be in the upcoming issue of Hip Hop Weekly which that’s a real good look for me…(laughing)!
MAFF TEST: So come on and holla at ya boy! Your favorite songwriter for your favorite artist! I appreciate the love Social Addiction.
SOCIAL ADDICTION: We look forward to seeing more of you.
MAFF TEST: No doubt. Thank you.
After our interview I reflected. He may not have the bulk on a bear but he gives the presence of being serious and that much of a threat to the rap game. Yet I respected he wasn’t trying to find his way in by starting beef or claiming to be the best there ever was. His confidence didn’t have to take him there. Plus his freestyle was on point. And I dig it. You will be seeing much more of Maff Test in the years to come.
Watch above video, Maff Test freestyles for Social Addiction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGla9RLWejU (Check out Maff Test's video "Blueberry 5" via link)
For bookings or interviews contact Dennis Byron Management at 404-577-8800
The socially exempt butterfly