Showtime with Miami's Funky Hip-Hop Bunch ¡Mayday!
It's a humid Friday morning in Miami Beach, and the guys of the group ¡Mayday! respectively give a stretch and yawn, attempting to shed last night's hangover. It's been nearly two years since the crew dropped its acclaimed solo album but continued along the independent route.
Now there are four new band members, including your favorite MC's favorite MC, Wrekonize. Beside him on the mike is founding member Bernbiz. The group's other founding member, Plex Luthor, remains on the keys. And then there's Primo on bass, Gio on congas, and L.T. Hopkins on drums. With the new instrumentation, the band has dropped its samplers of old for a more live-performance-oriented, organic sound.
Today they're not calling in sick or taking the day off to work on their suntans. Instead, they're putting together the final arrangements for their bimonthly Friday-night appearances at Jazid, taking place again this weekend. Amid trips to the studio warehouse and some of the Beach's best burger spots, plus a few heavy games of Mario Kart, New Times counts down with the band to showtime, a day and night complete with beards, booze, and boom-bap. Rock with it!
10 a.m.: Getting started.
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After a night of late rehearsals at their warehouse space in Little Havana, most of the bandmates are awake for a day at the office. "We're all pretty hung over after practice the night before, but still able to hit those morning pushups — 105 on the daily!" Bernbiz says.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Putting in work.
"All of us have day jobs, from acrobats to gynecologists, whatever we got to do. The day of the show, we're getting ready, chillin'; some of us are working. But we're also reminding everyone to come out — it's that last-minute promoting day. When we post bulletins or send a text on Monday, people aren't going to remember. Friday is that scramble," Wrekonize explains.
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Lunch hour.
The morning of mouse-clicking and tightrope-walking is over, and it's time for lunch. The generic South Beach fast food doesn't cut it for these guys, who head to Cheeseburger Baby, and then Jimmy'z Kitchen, while Janelle Monae, Chromeo, and the new Nas blast on the car stereo. Passing by Fatburger, Wrekonize recalls his initial love affair with the place, "but it doesn't stand up anymore," he says. "I still go for the shakes, though."
2 p.m.: Studio session.
It's on to the studio to hear some of that new ¡Mayday! magic. For their recent live shows, the guys have expanded on the neck-snapping vibes of their hits "Groundhog Day" and "Watching Me," continuing to fuse rock, soul, and hip-hop. "Our new production is coming out a lot more organic-sounding," Bernbiz says. "It's all recorded live, but don't get that twisted like it's going to sound like a Led Zeppelin record. It's still going to have a lot of electronic and programming feel to it, but will have a lot more of an organic swing. That's just part of Plex's genius as a producer.
"It definitely was a conscious decision after a year or two in the game as being somewhat of a national act to change up our style," Bernbiz continues. "For lack of a better word, we were feeling like posers after a while, up there onstage and not working as hard as we could. It was a conscious decision to jump over the cliff, and that's what we're doing: balls to the wall, change the sound. We're getting ready to put a release out probably by the end of this year. We really want to take over Miami again. People want to see us step it up, and that's what we're going to do."
3:30 p.m.: Late-day Internet browsing and promotion.
"We're checking The305.com site, Kanye's blog, and a lot of blogs of local artists. Wrek gets more fanboys than any of us on MySpace; with the MC battling circuit, it's allowed him to get the crazy online fans," Bernbiz says.
"The group is on Imeem, Facebook, and has a YouTube page up for ¡Mayday! TV," Wrek adds. "We haven't officially launched ¡Mayday! TV, but we're thinking about doing a web program to promote the music."
5 p.m.: Sound check.
"Jazid just sneaks up on us. We go pick up our gear, get dressed and ready for an early sound check," Wrekonize says. "After that, we kick it before we go back onstage in our unofficial greenroom upstairs, and that's when the [Nintendo] Wii tournament begins. The Mario Kart saga continues!"
12:30 a.m.: Lights, camera, Jazid.
"We start at 12:30 a.m. and do three hourlong sets with breaks in between. There's no real set list; everything just falls into place at Jazid. It's some off-the-cuff, crazy improvised shit," Plex says. "The night is real loose, like a songwriting session where we get a lot of ideas and test things out from our catalogue of almost 80 songs. We invite a lot of our friends and local musicians to perform, from Name Brand to LMS, Alphanumerics, and Major League. We kind of want to make the night a home for people who want to come out and try out new stuff."
2 a.m. till closing: We've heard how ¡Mayday! gets down....
"Well, the first set is a good mixture of both people who are there to party and people who are there to hang out and watch the set. Once you get past the first set, you get to the warriors. The last couple of sets it gets pretty severe and everyone wants to get down," Wrek says. "There are girls making out with girls, our friend Beanpie falling down drunk on his face. I don't want to sound like a frat boy, but there's a healthy dose of partying going on. We probably have more female fans than males."
Plex adds, "The music has always connected with them in a cool way, but they're also feelin' the beards. There's a lot of manscaping going on in this group."
"We go find the closest, greasiest joint around to grub down, and then shit don't end till the sun comes up," Bernbiz says. "We'll head out to someone's house or the club du jour of the evening and get ready to do it again."
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