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2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ – Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - Day 1

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Maino, born Jermaine Coleman, has collaborated with heavyweights like T-Pain and Lil Wayne, and is now releasing new music with Young Thug, (Jefferey Williams) who is currently on trial under the RICO act for allegedly leading a criminal organization.   The cosign highlights not only Maino’s artistic prowess but also his unwavering support for his peers.

Defense attorneys say Young Thug is not the leader of the alleged YSL gang nor responsible for the crimes charged in court.   In a controversial tactic, the prosecution is trying to use his rap lyrics as evidence in the trial, a tactic highly criticized by the Recording Academy, policymakers, and many free speech organizations as a danger to artistic freedom.

Maino chops it up with radio/TV personality Jazmyn Summers for Radio One about his life and support of  Young Thug .

YOU JUST RELEASED THE NEW SINGLE “POETRY” WITH THUG WHO IS FIGHTING FOR HIS FREEDOM.  A FIGHT YOU SUPPORT.  TALK TO ME ABOUT IT? 

I connected with Thug a few years back when he was in New York. We cooked that song up together from scratch. It’s all about that creative process, that energy you share with another artist. Shout out to London on the Beat for the tracks.  Right after we finished recording that song, he was like you wanna do another one? I was like, yeah, let’s do it. And then my Maybach got towed. I had to run out and go deal with that. So we never got a chance to do another. We’re all rooting for Thug.  Free Young Thug.

Young Thug Album Release Party For PUNK

Source: Michael Tullberg / Getty

YOUR LYRICS OFTEN DELVE INTO THE COMPLEXITIES OF LIFE AND FAME.  WHAT IS THE MEANING BEHIND THE LINE “HOW COULD YOU SEE WHAT MY DAYS LIKE IF YOU CAN’T FEEL WHAT MY PAIN’S LIKE”? 

That line speaks to the judgment and misconceptions that come with fame. People think they know you, but they don’t know the struggles, the pain, the journey that shapes who you are. It’s a reminder that everyone’s story is deeper than what meets the eye. You think you know my day? You think you know my life and I ain’t just speaking for me, I’m speaking for anybody in this situation who has some sort of popularity or a certain level of celebrity where people judge you. You don’t know what my pain is.

FOR THE LADIES, ARE YOU BOO’D UP OR SINGLE?

I’m single and ready to mingle. Always open to new connections and meaningful relationships. I’m trying. To get booed up, though, nobody want me.

THE DM’S ARE OPEN.  WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A WOMAN? 

They’re open.  I value responsibility, integrity, and a good sense of humor. Someone I can trust and rely on, someone who complements me in every way.. A woman that’s responsible. An asset. A woman I could count on just as much as she can count on me. She gotta understand the life.

WHAT ABOUT SEXUALLY?

One thing I like is for them to dress up Like a cop. I like women of power, like cops, correction officers, and authority figures. And any time I would like them to wear their uniforms.

Jazmyn Summers and Maino

Source: Melissa Stoll / Jazmyn Summers

YOU’VE MENTIONED SPENDING YOUR FORMATIVE YEARS BEHIND BARS.  HOW DID THAT EXPERIENCE SHAPE WHO YOU ARE AS A MAN? 

Prison definitely had a big impact on me.  I kind of grew up in prison, going to prison when you’re 17 years old, coming out in your 20s. I wasn’t even as tall as I am today. I didn’t have any facial hair.? You’re going through puberty, starting to see hair on your face, starting to get tall or starting to gain weight..  Spending so much time there at an early age made me strong. It taught me patience. It taught me how to survive off of hope. You can  live off hope. Having an idea, having a dream, and looking towards that saying to yourself, ‘One day I’m gonna get out and I’m gonna be able to do this’ and keeping that faith. I felt like if I could do prison, if I could spend my life in there like that then there’s nothing more that could be that hard so I could do anything.

WHO HELPED YOU GET YOU THROUGH THAT TIME IN PRISON?

I always had people coming to see me. The ladies were always there. My brother was always there. I was fortunate, my homies were like brothers. They would come see me; they would make sure I was good. Mommy definitely was always there; she was always somebody I could count on. I would try to not lean so much on her, but she was always there. She was always supportive. She always told me she was proud of me, even though I couldn’t understand what she was proud of, but she was always there.

YOU REFUSE TO LET YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES DEFINE YOU AND EMERGED FROM PRISON TO FIND SUCCESS IN THE RAP GAME WHICH WASN’T USUAL BACK THEN. 

I didn’t have an example of somebody doing what I did. Nobody had done 10 years and came home and got into the rap game. We knew artists had been in and out of jail before. This was a lot of time and this is a long shot. So me sitting in prison I’m saying damn, I’m doing 10 years. I’m gonna come out and be a rapper.  That had never happened before back then. That sends a direct message to people in prison.  Even if you wasn’t a fan of mine, you had to be motivated by the story, especially if you’re sitting in there having a dream. If you sitting there thinking about coming out, doing the same thing you can take a page out of my book.

Jazmyn Summers and Maino

Source: Melissa Stoll / Jazmyn Summers

IF THERE WAS A MAINO MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE TITLE BE? 

Telling my story, you would have to tell a couple people’s story at the same time. Off the top of my head, I I’d call it “God’s Children” because, when I think about my life, I think about a group of us, a group of my friends who were young. We got into the street early.  Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us went to prison. Most of us went to prison for long periods of time. We were just kids. We didn’t have the answers and were just trying to figure out life. How to deal with adversity and being from an environment that led us down a path and a life of ups and downs in the streets. I always think ‘we were just kids, we didn’t ask for this.’  But if it was strictly about me and my life, it would have to be something inspirational. Something like ‘Stay down long enough to come up.” I definitely have a story but I feel like I’m writing it. My story is in the making.

YOU SQUASHED YOUR BEEF WITH CAPO JIM JONES AND BROUGHT HARLEM AND BROOKLYN TOGETHER WITH THE LOBBY BOYZ COLLABORATION. WHY?

We ain’t got time for beef. Lobby Boyz is it.  We showing we could all be kings in New York and stand together and support each other, and still have our individualism.

THE BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ANNOUNCED THAT AUGUST 16TH IS OFFICIALLY  MAINO DAY. WHY THAT DATE?

It’s my late mother’s birthday. It’s special to celebrate my mother and give back to my hood, serve my community, and do something for the kids at the same time. I want to give them some motivation and at the same time salute and honor her memory.

WHAT ELSE IS UP?

I got an EP dropping with four or five songs. ‘Poetry’ is a part of that and then we’re going straight into the Lobby Boyz project.

The Young Thug Maino collaboration “Poetry” is streaming on all platforms.

You can check out the full interview in the video above and find out why they call him “New Maino” and some other juicy tidbits.

Jazmyn Summers 2024 Headshot

Source: Jazmyn Summers / Jazmyn Summers

Interview/article by Jazmyn Summers. Follow her @jaztalk1 on Instagram and Facebook. And please don’t forget to subscribe to Jazmyn Summers’ YouTube.