For MFnMelo, the adage that you’re only as good as who you surround yourself with seems to hit home in a way that’s different than most people’s interpretation. It’s more about looking out for everyone in his inner circle over himself, only feeling fulfilled if those around him do too. This value for looking out for his loved ones holds true so much for the Chicago rapper that it comes up as the central theme of his latest project, ‘Everybody Eats’–an impressive sophomore effort from the Pivot Gang member that positions his consistently strong flows and ear for melody at the fore.

2019 marked a busy year for MFnMelo, marked by both the releases of ‘Everybody Eats’ and Pivot Gang’s group project ‘You Can’t Sit With Us’. On both projects, Melo came into his own, distinguishing himself sonically while proving to be yet another powerful weapon in Pivot Gang’s homemade arsenal. With 2020 ahead of him, Melo stresses to only expect “more muhf**kin” in the near future. Find out exactly what to look out for from Melo and watch him break down the process of making ‘Everybody Eats’ in our new interview below:

*interview by Mike Del Ro & Elliot Montanez*

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

Melo: One of my first influences was either Nelly or Juvenile. They had some of the first CDs I ever really sat down with. Lil Wayne’s probably my favorite rapper and Jay Z’s up there as well. Young Thug is probably a big influence on my music believe it or not.

EM: I was know how you first met the Pivot Gang members. How did you guys first come together?

MDR: Between your last project ‘Melodramatics’ in 2017 and ‘Everybody Eats’, how else have you evolved musically?

Melo: It’s all about being more comfortable with everything.. When it comes down to me expressing myself more, I wasn’t so free to do that on the first project. I don’t feel any restrictions now. I just let the feelings be what they are now as opposed to spending too much time thinking about it.

EM: Do you have a personal favorite song of yours on ‘Everybody Eats’ and in general?

Melo: “Praise” is probably one of my favorite songs which was off ‘Melodramatics’. But with ‘Everybody Eats’, I feel like it changes. For a while it was “What a Life”, then it was “Notice”, and “New York” is always one of my favorites. It kinda just depends on my mood. That’s one thing that I really like about the album–it reflects a lot of different feelings that fit me on different days. 

EM: I’m curious about the title of your project, ‘Everybody Eats’, and also the cover art. What inspired the title and how did the cover derive from that? 

MDR: I think how close the project is to you personally definitely comes through in the way you rap mostly from personal experience. Are you naturally vulnerable when it comes to making music?

Melo: In music, yes, ‘cause I don’t do it any other place. In interviews and when I’m upset is probably the most you’ll ever hear me talk otherwise. Music is my space to get out all these emotions and thoughts and a lot of these things that most people probably don’t understand what I’m going through. It’s my way to let people know that this is me, because I probably wouldn’t talk to about it at all.

EM: One thing I notice about your music is that you rap very well, but your singing is also really good. Is that something that you had to practice and craft or did it come naturally?

Melo: I definitely had to practice. I think more so I had to get comfortable with my voice. I had to understand that this how I hear something in my head my not be how my voice is gonna sound, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In my earlier career when I would have a melody, I would always get somebody else to sing it. [John] Walt was one of the first people that encouraged me to do it myself. He made me feel comfortable with my voice and enjoyed my voice. I just got used to doing it without thinking too much. I still don’t think I sound that good, but it’s cool to see people acknowledge it. 

MDR: ‘Everybody Eats’ has a range of flashy, upbeat songs balanced with really introspective ones. When you get in the studio, do you know what mood you’re going for?

EM: How did you go about choosing the features on ‘Everybody Eats’? Did you know who you wanted on the project or did you just go into the studio and see what sounded good? 

EM: Are there any other Chicago artists you want to work with in the future?

Melo:

I wanna work with as many as I can. It’s just making sure the timing is right and the song is right–I don’t wanna force anything. I’m definitely trying to work with more people in the city. I think earlier in my career I didn’t do that, but I was really just trying to get my stuff right. I do want to circle back with people I’ve always wanted to work with, though. Like I’ve been trying to link up with Supa [Bwe] for months now, we’re just all working on our separate things. Mostly all the Chicago acts that are doing something and on their way up, I’m more than down to f**k with it. 

MDR: I’m curious about your cooking show. How did that all start?

Melo: I had just shot a video for “White Cheddar” off ‘Melodramatics’ and in the midst of it I had a little commercial where I was cooking. I liked that part of the video, and a friend had told me I should do a cooking show. At that point, I was only a fake chef, but over time as that love for cooking grew it felt like it made sense for me to do the show. I never really had a purpose for it and even now, I just enjoy doing it and having people on. … Imma probably keep that going just ‘cause it’s something I like to do. I don’t wanna tie it in with the music too much ‘cause I don’t want it to be a thing. I just really enjoy cooking and cooking with my friends.

EM: What can our audience expect from you in 2020?

Melo: More muhf***kin. There was two years between my last two projects, but there will not be that long of a window until my next project. I’m gonna try to make up for lost time, so just expect more of me. I got a couple of small projects I’m trying to release in 2020.

EM: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Melo: I see myself on the Food Network. Or Vice. Whichever one. I definitely see myself taking this cooking show into a broader range. I’m trying to get into acting. More music, more collabs, I’m trying to be a plus-size model. I just wanna do more of what I like to do at the highest level.

MFnMelo is performing at Schubas in Chicago on Feb. 9 in support of Kembe X. Check out tickets for the concert here.