What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is rap artist, MNA . Raised in the small town of Olney, Maryland MNA (Matthew Nino Azcuy) watched and listened to all of the greatest rappers and musicians during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. During this golden age of music and music videos, Azcuy was inspired by both rappers and rock groups alike, and when he was sixteen years old decided to make his own music. After years of finding his sound, he teamed up with local producer nemo, to make his album “Diamond Dog”. Matthew Nino Azcuy is also a published book author, avid writer, and a professional movie actor. MNA'S making waves with his sound so we had to tap in with him. Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, MNA Your sound is dope. When did you start making music?
MNA: I started making music when I was 16. I needed an art elective in High School, and I was so bad at photography and drawing that I was placed into an electronic music class. I fell in love with making beats and recording songs. Never looked back.
Westleaf Staff: Salute. Shoutout to your high school for having an electronic music class. Much respect. What city do you represent?
MNA: Washington D.C, our nations capitol.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to D.C.! I love it there! So how did you create your stage name?
MNA: Just my initials. I kept it very simple. My full name is Matthew Nino Azcuy (MNA). It's also a nod to some of the greats though. Like NF or MGK.
Westleaf Staff: Nice. It's a fly name for sure. So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
MNA: I watched and listened to all of the greatest rappers and musicians during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. During this golden age of music and music videos, I was inspired by both rappers and rock groups alike, and when I was sixteen years old decided to make my own music. After years of finding his sound, I teamed up with local producer nemo, to make his album “Diamond Dog”.
Westleaf Staff: That's cool! You have such an interesting story. I can feel your love for the history of rap and rock. Super dope! So who is your biggest Musical influence?
MNA: So many, I would say Guns N Roses, Eminem, Kanye West, Falling in Reverse, Disturbed, Hinder, Lil Wayne, & Dr. Dre. A blend of rap and rock groups. Listening to all that in conjunction with one another, made the sound that I have when I go to the studio.
Westleaf Staff: Nice. Those are some legends! Next question! What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
MNA: So far, hitting 200,000 streams on my song Overtime, and having 30 TikTok's made using my song "You Got a Big Forehead" these things seemed very out of reach before.
Westleaf Staff: Wow! That's super dope. Congrats on the Overtime streams.
What makes you a unique artist?
MNA: I think the diversity in my sound, but more importantly I think the reason I do music is what makes me unique. As you and I both know, most are in it for the fame and fortune, but I prefer a different angle. For me, when it comes to my music, I would say what motivates me the most is the passion for growing as a musician. In today’s day and age, it’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers, likes, streams, popularity, and money. For me, I don’t focus on any of that. For me, there is no place I would rather be than making music. Not only is it therapy for me, but I enjoy the journey, and all the amazing producers, beat makers, artists, friends, and business associates that we meet along the way.
Westleaf Staff: I respect that! So what does art mean to you?
MNA: Art means to reflect the inner voices of the self. It means to be able to speak and be strongest while creating. It means to show the world who you are in some of the beautiful ways.
Westleaf Staff: I love that. Facts! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
MNA: My ultimate goal would be to be a songwriter and beat-maker for big artists. If I can make a living off the creation, that would be my dream come true. To be known in the industry as one of the best composers and lyricists.
Westleaf Staff: I believe you will be very successful. It's already done! Before we go, describe music in three words.
MNA: Love & My Everything.