Maylay Sparks

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In the world of hip-hop, Philadelphia has always been home to musical talent ranging from The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Dice Raw to Beanie Sigel and Freeway. Years ago, Rahsheed aka Maylay Sparks joined up with Baby Blak and formed the Philly crew, Ill Advised. Gaining critical acclaim but not much worldwide recognition, the group created quality hip-hop that both underground backpackers and hardcore street emcees could love.

On Rapster Records, Baby Blak (of Ill Advised) released his solo album "Once You Go Blak", but fans were wondering about and yearning for Maylay Sparks. In the past, Maylay has worked with Mr. Complex, C Rayz Walz, Louis Logic, The Roots, Last Emperor, Canibus, Masta Ace and more. He was even involved with Eastern Conference Records and B9000 Records for a while. Just like another Philly emcee Grand Agent, Maylay Sparks moved to Europe. Many underground emcees and producers have moved to Europe and became very comfortable. Grand Agent and Fat Jon of Five Deez have made Germany their home. Maylay Sparks has found a new home in Copenhagen, Denmark. Finally in 2004, Maylay Sparks released his debut solo album "Graymatter" on Rapster and K7! Records. Omni, DJ White Shadow, DJ Noize, Chaos, Context, DJ Jazz, Rick Smoove, The Prunes and Maylay himself handle production. Guests include Malik B of The Roots, Crush, and Kid Swift. "Graymatter" is an intelligent, hard-hitting underground independent hip-hop album filled with hungry rhymes, truthful emcee skills, and vivid production. Musically, "Graymatter" is rich, jazzy, and respectful towards the art of hip-hop. "Robin Hoodz" has live bass by Mike Tyler and scratches by Kid Swift. "Konnichiwa" has an Asian flavor while "Black Sheep" is about pride of his area. On a cool afternoon in March 2004, I had an overseas conversation with the Philly native. From Philly to Copenhagen, Maylay Sparks has been rocking mics and crowds while sparking his love for hip-hop.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Chilling. Smoking as usual."

T.JONES: "Your solo album is called 'Graymatter'. Tell us about it. Who is on it? Who produced it?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Well, the title is 'Graymatter', a collective piece from myself, DJ Noize, DJ Jaz, The Prunes, Omni and DJ White Shadow from Norway. It just a paradigm of real hip hop!"

T.JONES: "What is the meaning behind the title 'Graymatter'?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Gray is my last name and since the project is so ill mentally, I called it that. It is just a play on words."

T.JONES: "Why and how did you hook up with K7! & Rapster?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "DJ Typhoon and Peter from Blvd Connection linked me with Horst, the man behind k7!"

T.JONES: "Do you have a favorite song on the title 'Graymatter'"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Yes, '5034'. It's just me."

T.JONES: "What song took you the longest to do? Why? The shortest? Why?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "All were about the same. I just knock them out."

T.JONES: "You recorded this in Copenhagen? Why? How was the recording process different than in the U.S.?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "A lot more weed for a lot less money."

T.JONES: "Did you fully re-locate to Copenhagen? Why?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Not totally but Copenhagen is special for many things, especially the arts."

T.JONES: "How is Copenhagen different from Philadelphia?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Very similar because of the people. Philly is laid back."

T.JONES: "How did you meet and eventually form Ill Advised?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "We are from the same hood and have common friends so we united in 1995."

T.JONES: "What is going on with Ill Advised now? What is the status of the new album?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "I have no idea."

T.JONES: "When making hip-hop songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics, and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "It depends, but usually the beat writes the song for me while we're recording."

T.JONES: "Can you expand on the song 'Al Dia'?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "It is Spanish for 'To date', and it's just a day in the life of Maylay Sparks."

T.JONES: "Baby Blak is a member of Ill Advised. How would you say your rhyme-style or creative process is different from Baby Blak?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Personally I can't say for sure especially if he still smokes as much as I do."

T.JONES: "How did you hook up with The Prunes?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "We met here in Denmark and have been recording every since."

T.JONES: "Can you explain the song 'The Suare'?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "It is exactly what the term means. Just a genuine good time with friends. Jamming!"

T.JONES: "Malik B of The Roots is on the song 'Black Sheep'. How did you get involved with Malik B?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The Roots are friends and inspiration so we clicked."

T.JONES: "How is BBE & Rapster different from other labels?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The fact that they cater to good music and not trends is the answer in a nut shell."

T.JONES: "Are you still involved with B9000 Records? What happened?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "B9000 and the people are great. We just did the single thing, hopefully another is in the works or something."

T.JONES: "What is your favorite part of your live show?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The fans, when they are really feeling the music and vibe, but mostly when they know the material. It goes over a lot better. Also, if I'm not to intoxicated before a late performance. 'Promoters, get me onstage early!'"

T.JONES: "How has your live show evolved?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The fact that even though you still get the few minutes of stage-fright. Now, I have the sense of where I want to be on stage and who to focus on to draw good energy. Focus on the hype. Never try to work the unimpressed."

T.JONES: "What song made you fall in love with hip-hop?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Every hip-hop record made since 'The Message' Block parties. The title 'M.C.', and style was fresh to me. Plus, that got you the ladies."

T.JONES: "How did you get the name Maylay Sparks? What does it mean?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Baby Blak actually called me 'Rah Maylay' at first because I was total chaos and I spark a lot. So, Maylay Sparks it became."

T.JONES: "What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "EPMD, Redman, Ol Dirty Bastard, Ghostface, and Raekwon too."

T.JONES: "What producer would you like to collaborate with in the future?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Eric sermon, all of the favorites we all know. Pete Rock, etc. Or just anyone who has got some innovative sh*t!"

T.JONES: "What are the 3 best things about living in Philadelphia?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Cheese steaks, hoagies, and the bar."

T.JONES: "What was your childhood like? What kid of kid were you?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "My childhood was very nice. Both my parents are professionals. Mom teaches and my pop worked for Smith Kline Pharmaceuticals. They divorced but I still had a lot of love. I was a really fortunate child. I've always been outgoing and had a lot of friends. I liked, and still like, attention. That's why I do what I do now."

T.JONES: "What was the lowest or dirtiest thing you ever did for money?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Sell crack to my neighbors. Maybe went along with a mugging or two."

T.JONES: "What has been in your CD player or on your turntable recently?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "St. Germaine. I love the 'Tourist' LP."

T.JONES: "What was the last incident of racism you experienced?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Not being able to get a cab, as always. Just the regular sh*t when you're someplace you're not wanted. Surprisingly, it's been in places I would not expect. Not Germany or some Eastern block country, but right here and at home. Danish people are becoming a bit racist over the past years that I've been here, but for the most part, only the uneducated, who can be swayed by fear, or that lack of knowledge."

T.JONES: "Abortion - pro-choice or pro-life?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The decision should be the mother's and her decision alone."

T.JONES: "Death Penalty - For or against?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Only for those who commit unspeakable crimes."

T.JONES "Where were you on Sept. 11th (The World Trade Center Terrorist Attack)? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected music?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "I was here in Denmark when it happened. I watched it on BBC like it was a movie, man. I thought it came later than we expected. I feel sorry for the families of lost ones but not America. It's time we realize that we're the biggest terrorist in the world."

T.JONES: "What collaboration are you most proud of?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "The Malik B joint because he's been out of the picture for a minute on The Roots project and we're both black sheep."

T.JONES: "Word association time. I'm going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say 'Chuck D', you may say 'Revolution'. Okay?"

T.JONES: "Declaime."
T.JONES: "Grand Agent"
T.JONES: "Eminem"
T.JONES: "Freddie Foxxx"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Ruff sh*t."
T.JONES: "C Rayz Walz."
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Wild spaced out n*gga. My man!"
T.JONES: "Del The Funky Homosapian"
T.JONES: "Common"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Rahsheed."
T.JONES: "George Bush"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "*sshole."

T.JONES: "What do you think hip-hop or music (in general) needs these days?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "More innovative producers and extinction of the wack ass emcee."

T.JONES: "What is the biggest mistake that you made in your career?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Not making enough to live on at times and splurging like P. Diddy."

T.JONES: "What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "Because I drink a lot and act a fool occasionally, people think that I don't know my B.I. business, but they are at home, making no cheddar, complaining about my drinking habits."

T.JONES: "What do you want on your epitaph?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "He was here than, he left happy!"

T.JONES: "What is next in the future for Maylay Sparks?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "I want to be more on the administrative end and try to get my own label distribution deal with a major."

T.JONES: "Any final words for the people who are reading this?"
MAYLAY SPARKS: "They are the best and they are the life of hip-hop. Please stay true to the culture and please cop 'Graymatter'."


Interview by Todd E. Jones

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