Long before it was “the norm” to be an independent artist, Myster DL was independent. A veteran in the game, Myster DL has never been signed to a major label. Instead, he has served as the head of his own label, Ill Mannered Records.
Unlike many artists who call themselves “independent,” Myster DL is completely independent. For the most part, Myster DL works as a one man team, doing everything himself. Not only is he rapping, Myster DL also produces music videos.
With his own methods of getting his music out, being the owner of several websites, and his own video production, Myster DL does not need major backing. Since he does everything on his own, Myster DL does not want major backing.
Myster DL spoke with Hip Hop Vibe about his independent movement, and much more.
Read the entire interview below:
Why did you choose to stay independent, as opposed to signing with a major label? I like to be in control of my music. I don’t want anyone telling me how to make my music and when it is coming out. I never sent out a demo, never contacted a major label, I wasn’t in it for the money, so I didn’t need a major label. On a major label, once you fall off, you’re done. It doesn’t appeal to me.
Now, many more major artists are going independent, including 50 Cent, do you think they are tired of the majors, too? Yeah, for sure. They don’t make as much money as they used to. Most artists are only making ten percent of what they used to. But, now, they have to give up around six percent to the label, who did nothing to help out. With iTunes, and other sites, you could put your music out for under $100. Artists are seeing this, and leaving major record labels. Tech N9ne has been doing this for years, he owns the factories where his albums are made, he doesn’t have to pay for anything. Independent is the way to go, I would never sign with a major label, unless I had full creative control.
Your quest for independence led to the launch of Ill Mannered Records? Yes, I launched the label in 1998. I went to school for audio engineering and I met the right people who helped me out. Most of the music I made, I liked. I went to school to learn how to run a studio and do this stuff myself, along with putting out other artists who share my vision. Some artists on my label, do not make the same type of music as me. Sticky Fingaz released his last album on my label. Now, I have films, employees and everything.
What was it like working with Sticky Fingaz? Oh man, it was crazy. Sticky Fingaz is my favorite emcee. He, along with Onyx and Cypress Hill are the rappers I grew up listening to. Sticky Fingaz, I am his number one fan, he is the reason I rap. Working with him was crazy, I consider myself to be a strong lyricist, but I had to step it up when I shared the mic with him. Working with him made me a better writer and watching his work ethic is strong, he takes his time will recording. It was one of the biggest collaboration with Sticky Fingaz. I have a song with Sticky, B-Real, Kool G Rap, and Loch Ness Monster. I might to a video for it.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with B-Real? Yeah, B-Real is on the song, “The Coalition,” with all the artists I mentioned about. I am always promoting for him, there is a video of me and B-Real on YouTube for one of our songs. The song was recorded years ago, but I did the video last year and it has thousands of views. If things go well, I will be able to lock down B-Real’s verse at Rock the Bells. Cypress Hill is bigger than legendary, they are icons, straight up icons, they will still sell out stadiums twenty years from now. So many one hit wonders, who were the “next big thing” have come and gone, but Cypress Hill is still here and selling out shows.
How many artists are currently signed to your Ill Mannered label? Right now, it is just a few. I have had more over the years. Right now, it is me, Cro, from Croatia, I have producers, graffiti artists, breakdancers, I have sick graffiti artists on the label. I love doing overseas stuff because I am already out here in Boston making noise for me. I am already taking care of things on my own in my area. I had an artist from Slovenia on my label, I made her famous in her own country and I have never even been over there. The fame went to her head and she left the label. I told her she could leave the label at anytime, and she did, we helped each other out, because it built my label name up.
When I sign an artist to my label, they have to be real. If you’re fake, I’m not going to fuck with you.
How would you compare your movement to other movements? I really don’t know. If you want to hear stuff about what’s really going on, check me out. We provide stuff the radio does not play. I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone, I see my movement getting a lot bigger. I need to build my internet hustle up. A lot of the other movements have more subscribers, followers, and things of that nature. My movement compared to other movements, I have less internet followers. But, when it comes to my stuff, no one is fucking with me. Space Cadetz movement is what I’m on with Redman, Justin Case, Devin the Dude, it’s the movement right now, and other movements going on.
Earlier this year, you began shooting videos? Yep.
How many clients do you have for Ill Mannered Films? I stated in March, I have Sean Price, Cormega, Termanology, Loch Ness Monster, Dramatic, Wolf Gang, N.E.O., Slain, Onyx, soon, and a bunch of local guys.
Are you surprised you have gained so many clients so quickly? Not really, because I’m in the game. People know who I am, it’s not like I came from nowhere. I already had a following and I was tired of using pictures for my videos for song. I bought a camera because I wanted to hold it down for my friend, who was shooting a video. The producer didn’t show, so I filmed the video with my camera. From there, we began shooting multiple videos. Most of the guys I did videos for, I already know.
By next year, I will be doing videos with some real big names. I hit up Sean Price when he was in my town and we did it.
Do you see yourself putting movies together too? I actually wrote a movie based on true events. A bunch of huge people are going to be in it, major actors and rappers will be in the movie. It’s a weed movie, but it is not a corny comedy movie, it’s funny, but it’s all based on a true story. Yeah man, we have a bunch of big people, Loch Ness Monster, Sticky Fingaz, I don’t want to give away too much. Two old guys who are known for smoking weed will be in the movie, but I don’t want to give away their names just yet.