A Conversation With Myquale: A Diamond In The Rough

Myquale is an unbelievably talented artist who is based in Chicago that I have been a fan of for a few years now, so as I started to do more of these on-camera interviews here at Lyrical Lemonade, I knew I wanted to bring him in as a guest. One of my favorite projects to come out last year was Myquale’s tape XX Winters that he created along with the legend Thelonious Martin, it’s a solid body of work that I found myself playing on repeat over and over again for months, making him one of my favorite rising artists that resides here in the city. Myquale has an unreal amount of talent and potential, I see him continuing to thrive and prosper as an artist in the years to come, so if you’re unfamiliar with him now is a good time to get in tune. Listen to some of his music and read/watch our brand new interview with him below!


*Interview by Elliot Montanez + Mike Del Ro*

EM: When did you first start creating music?

Myquale: I’ve been rapping for play since I was a jit, maybe 7 or 8 years old. Rap was something that I assumed that everyone could do, so I never took it seriously, just for fun freestyling on the school bus. Then when I was about fourteen, around the time you start thinking about college I would go to these pre-college seminars, and they would always say “You should do something that you love as your job.” So around the age of fourteen, I started making beats, I downloaded FL Studios to start producing + rapping.

EM: Who or what inspired you to first start rapping.


EM: I was wondering how your upbringing in Queens influenced the way you approached music, if at all.

Myquale: That’s a good question bro, so even before Queens I grew up on the north side of Milwaukee, it was majority black out there. Then I moved to New York, but even before I moved there the New York influence was there because that’s where hip-hop began. Once I moved to New York that’s when other things outside of hip-hop started to influence me like afrobeat + Reggae, basically more world wides. If you’re out on a Friday or Saturday night at a club, there’s hella pretty girls out & the DJ is going to play something that makes the girls want to dance, so that was my introduction to afrobeat + Reggae & that influenced me for real.

EM: What was the creation process for XX Winters like?

Myquale: Actually before I linked with Thelo he DM’ed me on Instagram and I was in Jamaica and I had just lost my job, I was in another country but I knew once I came back I had to get to it. So I ended up linking with bro, I pulled up to his house with my pen and pad around ten or eleven, I had called him three times and he finally hit me back like “my bad bro I just woke up”. Bro came outside in an all-blue robe haha, and he’s bald too so he was just giving me uncle vibes haha, but he rolled up & just started cooking.

He was going through samples and originally I was just going to be getting on his project, and he started making beats + going through some he already made, and before I knew it I had twelve beats from bro. I basically picked the best five out of those and made the project, I definitely got some unreleased stuff with him too though. I did a bit of additional production on there myself. a majority of them were mainly loops, so I added a bit of movement + harmonies to it.

It was a dope process, it definitely helped me learn about collaborating with other people, because before that all I did was make beats and create music in my room. I wasn’t very open to working with other people, but one I worked with him, he helped peel back those layers and help me get out of my shell.

EM: What is it like to have a mentor like that? Thelo is at a certain place in his career, he has worked with plenty of huge artists, I think it’s dope from an outsider perspective that he’ll come through & fuck with the smaller Chicago acts & give them that platform. So what’s it like having that OG/mentor figure?


EM: What’s your view on the current state of hip-hop in 2020?

Myquale: I don’t feel like classic rap has ever went anywhere unless we are talking mainstream music, classic rap has always been around. Recently, we have seen people like Griselda making names for themselves, even Drake’s most recent record was rappity & he said that he’s planning on rapping over some DJ Premier beats soon. In terms of the current state of hip-hop, I don’t even know if I can speak on it because my pallet is so diverse. I obviously know what’s popular, but on a day to day basis I’m listening to artists in the UK or artists from Jamaica or Nigeria. I love the current state of hip-hop, for me in my predictions, music is starting to not have any borders. We still that with people like Juice WRLD (RIP), he would make music that has pop or punk influence, and we see that type of sound really start to transcend. Even Drake rapping over UK drill beats, or what Pop Smoke + Fivio and Sheff G out in New York. When I say it doesn’t have any borders, you will see people rap over UK beats or make Dancehall records or Afrobeat and it’s acceptable. In that aspect, I really love it because it doesn’t limit creativity, hip-hop is in a great place.

EM: What’s your favorite song you’ve made so far?

Myquale: That’s shits unreleased, it’s on this upcoming project I got coming. But songs I’ve made before this tape, I’d say Pangea or this thirteen-minute freestyle I had called “Melvina”.

EM: Can you speak on that upcoming project?


EM: In your songs I’ve heard you speak on Melvina a ton in your music, can you expand on what that is/means to you?


EM: I wanted to ask you about the Outer(net) collective, what made you decide to connect with those individuals.


EM: I wanted to ask about the show you guys just did at Schubas, how was it?

Myquale: That show was dope as hell, it was a cool turnout. It was a Monday and hella people showed up. It was a good vibe and that was the first time we shared a stage and told people what our movement was. The flyer was circulating and if you knew you knew, but a lot of the public didn’t really know what it was. They didn’t really know what to expect and it was a trail of sorts, but there were a ton of people in the house + you could feel the love. I enjoyed it and I am a big fan of those other guys, so aside from myself performing I liked what them more.

EM: What can we expect from those other individuals?


EM: You know how in sports there is this thing called player comps? Who would you say your player comp is?

Myquale: I would say, Michael Phelps, I would definitely be the Michael Phelps of this rap shit. I feel like he’s just relentless at his craft and his reputation proceeds him.  Muhammad Ali as well, I read all of his books and watched his movie a ton growing up, he made me want to become Muslim. In the NBA, I’d say Russell Westbrook or Damiam Lilliard, they’re just hungry.

EM: Who are some other Chicago based artists that you want to work with in the future?

Myquale: I fuck with theMIND, Hurt Everybody, Saba, Mick Jenkins, Jean Deaux. Pretty much, anybody who has a name for themselves in Chicago, I rock with.

EM: What do you think (if anything) is missing from the Chicago music community that can be beneficial for artists, that isn’t currently here?


EM: What is some advice that you would give to your younger self?

Myquale: Damn near just find a mentor, because once I met my homies Thelo & Lon, we would have these conversations that were so helpful for me.

I have never been someone to ask for advice, I’m the oldest so I always felt like I’m going to go out, experience life and make my mistakes so I can teach them. Then my one homie said, “I hear you but you don’t have to make mistakes if we’ve already made them, obviously you’re going to make mistakes but don’t just go out and do shit because you have people who have been in your position”. So yeah, find a mentor, and that applies to everyone. Surround yourself with people that you want to be like, or that are in positions in power that you want to be in. I’ve always had the drive and the hustle, it’s just been a matter of figuring out the business.

EM: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Myquale: Self-made bro, it’s already mine. Definitely going to work with a few of my mentors + people that I look up to. I will have spots in different cities, I’ve always wanted to own properties back in Africa, so five years from now you’ll see me making that happen. My passport will be filled, damn near on my second passport. I am just going to be living life man, might start entertaining having kids of my own. Just becoming the person that I’ve always looked up to, still remaining a humble dude, remaining in good shape + cultured.