The man, the myth, the mack: Makzilla has been somewhat of an enigma for many fans of Tech N9ne and Strange Music. From making guest appearances on records, stage appearances at the shows, and the brains behind much of the music and activity of Strange, Makzilla, despite his often-comical outward appearance, is a man that makes things happen. We decided to sit down with the man himself in an attempt to decode the legend.
My first question is…what is it that you do exactly here at Strange Music?
That’s a good question. It’s funny, I just answered that to someone on the forum.
Yeah, I saw that.
I think the question they asked me on there was “what was my role” and the way I answered that was to say “it’s not a role, it’s a contribution.” With Krizz and Tech, when we were doing the album Everready we all stayed at one of my rental houses down on South Benton when we wrote that album and it was like–for me, I’ve been a writer my whole life you know? It’s been a gift that God blessed me with. Having these two musical and creative minds tuning in on your gift to write, that’s what transcends me from being a writer to writing these hooks and things like this that we do on the album. That’s been one of my great contributions to the sounds that’s already become Strange Music. I have an ear and a gift for songs that I know that are going to be a hit, coming up with creative ideas for doing songs, and just writing dope hooks. That’s what we do here, as well as giving that comedic element to a lot of our albums through doing skits or participating with the fans.
So you’re Krizz Kaliko’s cousin?
Yeah that’s my big cousin man, my blood cousin. He done watched over me when I was a little kid getting in trouble.
So is that your point of entry basically into the world of Strange Music?
Yeah, that’s pretty much how I stepped in. The funny thing though is Tech’s Uncle Ike, who’s like a father to all of us, he was best friends with my father growing up, so my pops actually used to watch Tech when he was a little kid. It’s funny how a lot of our families are so intertwined together, that’s why a lot of people are saying like: “That’s my cousin” or whatever. E-40 said it best when he said “You don’t even have to be blood to be kin” especially when your families are so tight-knit like that and they grew up together. My little sister and Tech’s brothers, they’ve been best friends ever since they were little kids growing up.
Going back to your writing and with hooks and what not, do you get to hear a lot of the beats before they’re even on the album?
Yeah. A secret that a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of times how we come up with a lot of the material is we’re just in the car riding together and cracking jokes and just being silly and that’s how we’ll make up a lot of the hooks or a lot of the songs. It’ll be like we’ll get the beats from Trav and we’ll just ride around listening to it all day just going through saying “which one has got the sound that is best going to fit this album?” Usually nine times out of ten I’m probably–whether it’s Tech, Krizz, Scooby or whatever–we’re one of the first ones to hear the beat in that setting whether we’re just riding around in the car listening to it or whether it’s Tech and I down at the house and we’re just banging it so loud that the neighbors are getting pissed off and knocking at the door talking about “Please turn the music down.” That’s what we do man and that’s our everyday life. Our new neighbors are actually cool now. They aint really been knocking at the door as much. I gotta say that ever since bro got back from overseas we’ve been bangin’ the music quite loud, like real loud, especially with these beats we just got–working on this new All 6’s And 7’s project.
After a lot of the songs are said and done, are you a contributing opinion as to which song is going to be a single?
I think we do that collectively as a group. I don’t think we look at one individual. I think collectively as a group we probably already have an idea of which one is going to be a single. You can kind of hear it. Not trying to be funny, but we never go into a process saying “This will be the one.” Once the album completed and finished you’ve probably already got that feel like “That’s the one right there.” Usually we’ll all be in agreeance like “Yeah, that’s it right there.” There’s been some, especially when you got Kali’s album. His whole album is full of singles. His is a lot harder to pick. You could pick anything but it all depends on what genre you’re going to go to. With Tech he’s going to have his singles on there but he’s also going to have stuff that’s for a certain group of fans and certain genre of listeners. It’s more sectioned. That’s the only difference when it comes to doing that but for the most part, whether it’s Kali, Tech, Scoob, Kutty, whoever, you kind of know what the single is going to be in an instant. Everybody’s ears are like; “Yeah, that’s the one.”
I gotcha. I saw in the forum you put a list of songs that you contributed on. I picked one out: “I Love You But Fuck You”.
What did you contribute to that?
To be perfectly honest, a homegirl of mine who I’m really cool with, I was just going through something right there at the time while that beat was playing. I just got off the phone arguing like “Motherfucker, ahhhh.” A real heated argument. I said when I got off the phone “You know what? I love this motherfucker but FUCK YOU for real!” I said “You know what? THAT’S the name of this song! ‘I love you, but FUCK you!'” Tech just bust out laughing and so then him and I wrote the hook and that’s really how it came about. It just so happened, like I said, I just finished arguing with her while we were going through listening to the beats and that’s just how it came. It’s one of those songs that, it’s like somebody that’s your best friend, or you know, somebody that’s real close to you and you have no choice but to love that person but they make you so mad and they irritate you so bad to where you’re just really like “Man, fuck them for real.” You know, “I’ll always love them, but FUCK them for real.” So, that’s where that song came from [laughs]…that’s fucked up [laughs]. That’s real fucked up.
It sounds like the antennas were up and it just came through you guys. Does that happen a lot?
ALL the time, man. It happens all the time. It’s funny because a lot of stuff that comes is from my life. That’s what we write from: stuff that’s going on in our life at the time or stuff that’s going on around us. With Tech you know he’s the King of Darkness. It’s so funny though because I love all of our Juggalo fans because one thing I’ve noticed about them is that they love the dark stuff and the pain but they love to laugh too and that’s me, you know what I’m saying? I’m that laughter, that joy, that light. I’ve been a class clown forever. I aint about to change now, we’re still about to party, have a good time, crack a lot of jokes, and we’re going to laugh. So that’s what I do.
[Totally serious] Uh, are you the Godzilla of macking?
[Laughs] Wow. Umm…yes [laughs harder]. Yes, because that’s actually how Makzilla came to be. Tech and I would sit there and argue because my first name is–I was named after my grandfather who was actually one of the first black dentists in Hannibal, Missouri, and his name is Manzilla. I never like using my first name because my grandfather died in the house with me when I was real young, when I was like five years old, and it was just him and I in the house, so that first name always reminded me of him so I never liked using it. That and then you know, growing up, we’re from the projects. Kids wanna crack and stuff. That’s probably how I got so good at cracking jokes and stuff because I was always in defense-mode because of my name. They talk about my name I’ll talk about they mama. That’s usually how it went. Anyways, Tech loves my first name so much to where we had this big old conversation. He’s like “Man, you trippin! My fist name…is Aaron! Your first name is Manzilla! That’s like you a God, you a king!” He’s like: “You be like Godzilla and you be macking on these–man! That’s it! MAKZILLA! You’re a motherfuckin’ monster on these hos! That’s your name from now on!” From then on it just stuck. It made sense though because I feel what he’s saying. I do what they call a “Ten Minute Mack.” I come in the room and if there’s something that catch my eye I’m real quick. They’re like “Wow, that quick he just picked up that woman that quick. He’s got her.” So Tech is like: “Man…you Makzilla because you’re a monster on these hos!” That’s what he always say so I aint really arguing with him, I couldn’t argue with him. It’s something that we always say too, Makzilla isn’t just a name, it’s a way of life. That has been a slogan to live by I can tell you that because I am a monster at times. You know I’ll calm down here and there but when I’m in that mode…when I’m in Makzilla mode…yeah…you’ll probably want to keep your broad away from me.
[Still serious] How is it that you drive such a nice car and get so many bitches?
I guess that’s a little “none of your business” but what do you do on the side when you’re not fucking with Strange?
On the side what I do is I have some real estate properties that I own on the side so I collect my Section 8 rent money and stuff like that from them. I do political work sometimes. A lot of times actually I’ll do political advisory work. I’m also smart so I know how to make money. That’s always been a gift that I’ve had since I was a little kid. My uncle and my pops instilled that in me ever since I was young: get out here and hustle and get your money. I do that on a daily basis.
Would you attribute that to being shrewd or a hard-worker?
Nah being a hard-worker. All hustle’s hard work, period, no matter what anybody try to tell you. I look at a cat like Puffy or I look at Birdman from Cash Money Records–it’s like, they’re not sleeping. They’re not sitting there; they’re not settling for nothing. They’re like: “Hey, there’s money out here to get and I have to figure out how to get it” and that’s really what I’ve always done. With me, I’m one of those people that you can’t tell me I can’t do something, because if you try and tell me I can’t do something, I’ll not only do it but I’ll do it ten times better than you ever did just to rub it in your face. That’s just how I am. That’s part of that determination, that drive, that hustle to get out there and go get it. Kali and I actually have a TV show that we’ve written, directed, and produced–we’ve actually shot four pilots for it and it’s called What It Is, which is a sketch-comedy show. It’s the same thing with that, it’s just like: “Man, let’s see if we can do this.” We’re always cracking jokes and having a good time and it’s like: “C’mon man. Let’s write these scripts and let’s see if we can put this on film” and it came out wonderful. We’re actually going to release some of it on YouTube for the fans to be able to watch but then hopefully we’ll find a home for it after we shop it around. I’m not even just stopping right there: writing music and TV shows, I’m not going to stop right there, I got movie scripts that I’m in the process of writing right now. It’s like, there’s money out there to get but you’re not going to get nothing sitting on your thumbs, that’s my thing. Shit. God gave this gift to put these stories together, write them, and get them out there. That’s me, that’s what I do, and I’m not going to stop doing it. Whether somebody comes with something else that sounds like it may be good or sounds like it may be better–nah, I got a plan and I’m going to stick with my plan and I’m going to see my plan out because I know that it’s a plan that will win…period.
If I were to ride around with you for a day and see “A Day in the Life of Makzilla,” what are some of the things I would see?
Are you married?
Ah okay. Well shit, you’re good because I was about to say if you ride around with me for a day you might be divorced. Nah man…[laughs] you ride around with me for a day you’re going to see a number of shit, a number of things. You’re going to see a side of me that’s loving with my god son and my little cousin–you know, his father’s not around. You’re going to see a side of me that takes care and provides for my moms. Whatever my mom needs, it’s there. Whether it’s my sister and her kids, whether it’s my brothers and them, whatever they need. You’re going to see that side of me. You’re also probably going to be catching a plane somewhere. Getting on a plane, flying to D.C. or somewhere to do some work, whether it’s for a union or an activist group. You’re going to see a strong-minded individual who has an outlook on life that needs to be shared with the youth–and when I say the youth I’m not just talking about the black youth, I’m talking about youth in general. Our country is in a state right now that if we don’t start unifying and coming together, we’re going to be in a world of trouble. You’re basically going to take a ride with a natural born leader, somebody who’s a go-getter, somebody who’s going to tell you what it is with no filter. You’re probably going to come back at the end of the day and get out of the car and have a different outlook on life and you’re going to say “Hey man, what time are you picking me up tomorrow?” You”re probably going to laugh a lot, and once again you’re probably going to see some female activity. I’ma make sure you see that. Your life’s going to be changed, man. I’m one of those type of people to where, not to toot my own horn, but it’s a pleasure to be around me. I appreciate the outlook on life that was instilled in me from my moms and them. I like to share that with people. I always got a smile on my face. I’m always happy–granted I have problems just like anybody else but the reality is, I look at life like, if you can’t smile you might as well be dead. So for me, I’m always going to have a smile on my face regardless of what’s going on because, hell, at the end of the day God’s going to take care of that and it’s not really in your control anyways so you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride. Shit, put your seat belt on. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen because at the end of the day you’re going to come back to this mug in one piece and you’re going to be safe.
Last question: you kind of already answered it but what’s in store for the future of Makzilla?
Man! I know the fans have really been on me like, am I going to do a solo project, are we going to do this 816 Boyz project, and all these other things. I’m going to answer it like this man: I’m going to do all of that. I’ma do a solo project. I’ma do an 816 Boyz project. But I’m not just stopping with music. Like I said, Kali and I are going to do our show What It Is. I got a cartoon that I’ve been working on called Little Show-Mes, I’m going to put that out. Me and a good friend of mine who also does our video production, Dan Gedman, we have two movie scripts that we’re working on right now, so we’re going to get those written and put those movies out. Everything on my list will get done…period.
That’s just how you do things, eh?
Hey man, that’s me. I don’t like to start something and not finish it. Scooby with his Damn Fool TV, you know what I’m saying? Hey I’m going to be there with him doing that as long as it’s in existence. Any project I start I finish it. Calling my homies that I got down south to get us in that southern market with our music because that’s the only market that we’re missing now. However I can help and whatever contributions I can make to our team that we built here I’m going to continue to do that, but everything on my list, everything on my to-do list, will get done.
Well thanks man, I appreciate the interview.