Nov 19, 2014

Interview: Maze Koroma (of The Renaissance Coalition)

I recently had a chance to interview Maze Koroma, one of the few Portland (OR) based emcee's who continue to make noise as both a soloist and as a member of a crew, The Renaissance Coalition. Myself coming from NYC, I wasn't sure what to expect of the PDX hip hop scene, but was impressed at the range of material and the overall live show put on by Maze Koroma and his RenCo crew at one of the first venues I checked in town (The Know). In the following interview, Maze shared his inspiration, some family history, and plans for the future. Check it out here:

When were you first introduced to hip hop?

My first introduction to Hip Hop I was about 2 or 3 years old, I remember hearing my older brother blasting Outkast and Wu tang records around the house. My family also tells a a story about me really liking "I'm cool like that" by the Digable planets and singing that all the time.

You are one of several MCs in the Renaissance Coalition, but do you play any instruments or produce tracks?

 I play a little piano, I'm alright with the chords but I haven't really studied any instrument yet. I wanna learn how to read music in the future.

Do you remember your first verse of the first song you ever learned?

 In 3rd grade I would rap the lyrics to "Lodi Dodi" by Snoop to some of my friends and classmates

How do decide which tracks to record as a solo artist vs. recording as a crew member with RenCo?

Well usually it goes by who would fit best on the track. Maybe we'll all be chilling and Ton and Bryce will be playing a beat and We'll all just start freestyling and it kind of goes from there.

Can you describe the movement or concept of the Renaissance Coalition.

Basically The Renaissance is a group of guys that all have their own identity and qualities that make us stand out as individuals and it reflects through our art. All these guys are genuine dudes who aren't afraid to show love and we give off a positive vibe wherever we go. There aren't any egos involved and really no leader. We're all really just a bunch of friends having fun embracing what makes us unique. There are no rules.

Which famous musicians/groups do you admire? Why?

Max B, Outkast, King Krule, Aaliyah, The remix to ignition, it's really all over the place I just like good music

Do you find it hard to do hip hop in a city like Portland, that historically ignores local hip hop?

No I don't see that as a barrier at all, the power is in the people. I feel like Portland Hip Hop is in a pretty good place. 

What projects do you have planned for the rest of 2014 and into 2015?

My next project Osiris will be dropping Early 2015. New visuals for the project on the way as well.
New Music with Zoo?, Soopah Eype, Grape God, Slick Devious.

Do you have any plans to make more mini-docs like the RenCo video shorts to shine a light on your crew?

Yes Definitely we just dropped one for the Paint Soup release Party. (Shouts out to Grape God and Slick Devious). In the process of expanding and getting a little more in depth with film Osiris will tie everything together.

You guys seem to sample throwback sounds, use more experimental sounds on some tracks and mix in some more modern elements like Trap production with your music. Is that intentional or does it speak to the different personalities within the group or your self?

I think range is very important, being able to switch things up and not stick with the same format for every song. I want every new song to be it's own experience and it makes more sense to work with other artist that also have their own sound.

What is your ultimate goal with your music? Run your own record label? Run for mayor?
Put myself in Position to make the best Art Possible, Establish the Renaissance as a brand and creative outlet. Travel the world, Become a spiritual figure, Get interviewed by Nardwuar.


Twitter: @SourMaze
Instagram: MazeKoroma

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