Rapper Murda Mook Is Adjusting To Fame
A rap battle in front of rap fans in Harlem with Jae Millz made the then-18 year old John Ancrum into Murda Mook, now a household name among rap fans lovers. He ran through more such contests with the likes of Serius Jones and Loaded Lux, and today, at 25, Mook plans to take the scars and lessons learned from the battlefield to propel him through the music industry. A recent deal with Ruff Ryders has given Mook his platform, and he’s just hopped inside of the spaceship to blast off.
Mook had no early aspirations to be a rapper. Mostly all of his aspirations consisted of him making money. Being from 116th and Manhattan Avenue would have that kind of influence on you. A talented basketball player in his youth, Mook had his eyes on the NBA early, because that was where the money was. Regardless of Mook’s talent for handling a Spalding or two, his talent for putting words together was never too far behind. “I was always in school and came up with creative little stories, winning contests and stuff. By like age 12 I started listening to Wu-Tang. I liked Ghostface the most, maybe because of how vivid his stories were.”
Mook didn’t see rapping as a breadwinner just yet, which is why his focus remained on the court. But by 16, 17 his focus would be broken up by days when he broke nights, staying out making money. The same hustle that was keeping Mook out late at night was what changed Mook’s mind about going to the NBA. Marijuana. This, along with staying out late, slowed down those hoop dreams. “I wasn’t aware of what it was doing to me. I may be a little farfetched but I started weed at like, 10. I would smoke, and go out on the court, and dudes that I was better than before was better than me! I was like, ‘What the fuck!’ So that’s why the basketball thing didn’t turn out for me.”
A “sporadic” writer/rapper at this time, the pen and the pad took on the starring role after his coach, Paul Suber, heard him rhyme in the locker room. At 17 he would be introduced to Pop, who’s still his manager today. “He taught me about the game, and rhyme structure, and other things. He had a real good ear. That’s when things with ball really started folding, and rap became the main focus. Pop gave me that confidence.”
That confidence Pop had in his newfound potential led him to a $5,000 bet with a friend of his named Nigel, who was managing Jae Millz. The bet was that Mook could beat Millz in a battle. Another hot, up-coming rapper from Harlem, Millz had been on Diddy’s Making the Band battling, as well as other venues, but this would be Mook’s first one, in front of a crowd of people on a sunny Harlem day, at the ripe age of 18.“Millz was used to this, but this was my first one. I just went for what I know. Around a couple months later dudes in the street was running up on me like ‘Yo, we seen you on YouTube, you went crazy in that battle!’ That’s when it took off for me.”
Only thing to do after that was get more noteriety and more money and Mook did just that. He appeared on more battles on Smack DVD’s, but he never prepared himself with music for a deal, even though he could get one. “I could get a deal, and even though that was Pop’s vision, I aint notice it. Mostly I was doing freestyles over beats and stuff. I had no problem with grinding; I was just still young, being attracted to the money.”
Even though he’s comfortable in both arenas of battling and recording music, Mook admits that you could be a little nervous in the booth because songs may not come out how he wants them to. That’s where a good support system and a lack of “yes-men” come in handy. “Everything can get better with them,” said Mook of his current team. “When they say they don’t think something’s hot, that’s what makes me hungry.”
He’d wanted more and more plates in front of him when he was 13, 14, and Mook would run into Dee and Waah, CEO’s of Ruff Ryders on 125th street all the time. He would spit bars from the caliber of someone older, but always get told he was “too young,” when he asked them to sign him.
In a crazy turn of events, Mook got a different outcome the last time he saw Waah at a club. “It was all in God’s work. Waah don’t really mess with the clubs and I wasn’t even supposed to be out that night, but when I saw him he told me he wanted to hear some music. The next day I brought him some, and the deal went down from that, as of September 2009.”
Mook’s lyrical craft and story-telling will set him apart from other rappers, and his first showcase of these abilities is on Countdown to Murda, his first mixtape on Ruff Ryders. This is only the beginning a career that Mook wants to encase rapping, as well as entrepreneurship. “I want people to respect me as an artist. I understand my talent and hope to be one of the greatest lyricists, as well as businessmen. It’s all about your hustle. If you know how to hustle, you can adjust.”
He’s adjusted from ball to rap, and balling out through rap is the next step.
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