The road to the top has not been an easy one for Louisiana born rapper Martyr Man. From an early age he has faced challenge after challenge, and he has met them all head on. These include having to deal with becoming a father at a young age while at the same time trying to find his way into the rap game; as well as being hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, which forced him to relocate and refocus.
However, Martyr Man maintains that each challenge has only made him stronger, and has made him even more determined to reach his goal of hitting the big time as a rapper. Having just released his second studio album, Stranded, things are finally really starting to come together for the rapper. However, ask him and he’ll tell you that he’s still not quite where he wants to be yet.
What was it like growing up in New Orleans for you?
It was rough but fun and you always felt like you had to be on guard for what may happen because New Orleans will eat you alive if you don’t know the ins and outs/dos and don’ts. New Orleans streets prepared you for the world. If you can conquer the streets in New Orleans, you can make it through anything in life.
Did you listen to much rap music when you were younger? If so, who were the artists that you really dug at the time and why?
Scarface was my favourite because he was the greatest storyteller of all time. I love Tupac because he rapped about real life issues. Both of them opened themselves as artists and let the whole world know who they really were. I think that is what's missing in a lot of artists these days. It's all a facade.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a professional rapper yourself?
I knew from the first time I fell in love with hip hop that this was what I wanted to do. Music can bring out so many emotions. It has the power to darken or brighten your day.
Do you ever regret the decision to drop out of high school in your senior year?
All the time! That’s why I push my kids so hard to do well in school. Even though I have a rap career moving, I still to this day regret the fact that I didn't finish school. I thought about going back but life and opportunities wouldn't allow it.
You became a father at a fairly young age. What was it like raising a child while at the same time trying to pursue your goal of becoming a rapper?
Very difficult because dreams don’t pay the bills so I had to work and record and hope that I would get the break that I so desired. I always kept my focus on music because jobs come and go but music is forever.
Did you always believe that you would be able to make it big and support a family through your craft, or were there times where you thought about just giving it up and taking a normal 9-5 job?
I knew that I would always push to make it big because a 9-5 job was not my M.O. At the same time, I did have a few doubts, not about will I make it, but when will I make it.
In 2005, you were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Katrina. How did this affect your aspiring rap career, as well as your life in general?
Losing everything and having to move to another city would slow anyone down. My music had to be put on hold for a while to get my family situated. Katrina was a blessing because it took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to be a trailblazer.
Your first album, Bleed’n Soul, was very personal and deep. However, it didn’t perhaps breakthrough the way you have hoped. What do you think the reason for this was?
Lack of marketing and promotion. No mystery to that. No promo, no success.
Did this make you second think your rap career at all, or were you determined to get straight onto the next album and prove the naysayers wrong?
This just made me re-evaluate my plan and re-up’ed to push my next project.
The video for your new single, Shadows, was shot by a director straight out of college, Tyler Yee. How did you find him and did he have any reservations about using someone so inexperienced?
I was introduced to him by a producer and I checked out his work and was impressed. So no, I didn’t have any reservations because I could see that he was ahead of his time. His work stood out from all the other video directors in the South.
The gamble paid off and the single turned out to be a huge success, gathering over a million hits on YouTube in a few months, as well as receiving some major record station exposure. Does it feel like all the hard work is starting to pay off?
No not yet. Not until I touch television. I feel that television is the greatest promotion. Television has always been my goal and until I reach it, I will not be satisfied.
How is the new album going?
The album is doing great. The album has been a feature in indie discovery for six weeks on iTunes. I have had several major radio interviews and write ups since the release of the album. The feedback has been insane. The album was released on April 24th of this year.
How can people follow you and your music?
Everyone can find pictures, bios, interviews, videos, upcoming events, and purchase my album on my website www.themartyrman.com. You can go to any social media to find the martyr man. I'm working hard to put myself in as many markets as I can.
- By Marcus Hannah