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As a long-standing voice of Brooklyn, Maino's reach goes far past the borough he calls home. First breaking onto the Billboard charts with the cocky street anthem "Hi Hater" in 2008, the Bed-Stuy native has worked with everyone from T.I., Swizz Beatz and Fabolous to Kid Ink, Meek Mill and Troy Ave, all while keeping his authentic city kid grit intact.

Maino dropped his latest project, King of Brooklyn 3, in August, a continuation of his King of Brooklyn mixtape series which boasts Maino's melodic-yet-militant raps as well as features from Vado, the late Chinx and a slew of the Empire State's newest faces. With King of Brooklyn 3 beckoning another fall in the borough, Maino stopped by the XXL offices to talk about his new project, give his forecast for the state of New York hip-hop and sound off on some rumors concerning him a certain married basketball wife. —Sidney Madden



XXL: Your new mixtape King Of Brooklyn 3 is so extensive; 17 tracks, all those features. Why did you want to make it a mixtape instead of an album?
Maino: Well, I believe creatively a mixtape and an album nowadays, creatively is the same. You can call it whatever you want to call it. I call it a mixtape, you call it an album. Call it a project; just call it good. It doesn't matter what it's called. I just believe that people need to have it. I wasn't concerned with what to call it, not how to define it but just actually making sure that the people had it.

Why do you think it's creatively the same these days?
There was a time when you did mixtapes, it was all about freestyling over other people's beats. It was nothing new. What's the word when you freestyling over someone else's beats? Covering? Nowadays people take their own music that nobody ever touched and make brand new songs. The mixtapes people making, it's all new music. It's all fresh. No covers, no freestyles, so that kinda makes it more album-y.

Take me through a few of your favorite tracks on the album. Or mixtape, sorry.
No, call it whatever you want to call it. If it felt like an album to you, call it an album because it's that good. I'm glad people are saying, "Ah, man, this should be an album." Because quality-wise, that's where I want to be. Some of my favorite joints... The intro. "Mama Loves Me." "Love My Niggas." There's a few. I love everything and I'm connected with it and my favorites change. Sometimes I fall in love with something else.

What was it like working with Chinx on "PNP"?
Shout out to Chinx. We just shot that video yesterday, actually. And it was interesting how it all came together, you know? It was just so crazy. I'm not a heavy spiritual person, religious person, but I just felt like it was a different vibe. We were having some dysfunction, some issues on set, you know how videos are.

You shot it in New York?
Yep, right here in New York yesterday. So, yeah, we had to move locations. And we just happen to move to a location in a club that French was going to be at at the same time. What are the odds of us shooting the video of a club that he's booked to be at at the same time? And with him wearing a "Rest in Peace Chinx" shirt?

But about the record, Chinx had reached out to me because of what I was doing on Instagram. I was making those videos about Pussy Nigga Problems, just being funny. And he told me he had something. And we talked about it and he sent me the hook and it was just crazy. I thought, "This is dope. It's a dope record, it's a hit record, it's melodic." And you know, obviously it's unfortunate that's he's not here and didn't get to see it. But I've worked with him numerous times. Numerous times. And I'm one of the few dudes who that had a chance to work with him and Stack Bundles. So it's definitely bittersweet, you know?

"If I Die." I'm more inclined to like a lot more stuff that's personal, you know what I'm saying? But there's street anthems on there. Like "Harder Than Them," that's taken off across the country. People are connecting to it and doing workout videos to it. So that can be classified as a street anthem, but for me, personally, I like the music that I’m speaking about things that are probably more personal to me.

“Die A Legend,” for me, is a dope record because it’s not talking about me wanting to die but just going so hard in your life. Going so hard and establishing yourself in your life that you in now that when you do go, you gon’ die a legend, you understand? So that’s what that one is about. I love the whole project though, front to back.

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What are some of your essential Brooklyn tracks?
First and foremost, anything B.I.G. Anything Biggie. You just feel Brooklyn. “Juicy,” “Warning,” “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa,” all those. I’ll even go back even further; “Ain’t No Half Steppin’,” Big Daddy Kane. HOV, “Where I’m From.” Just so many... Fabolous, “Brooklyn.” There’s a few.

And why are these Brooklyn-defining songs? Like, what is the Brooklyn sound to you?
You know, the lingo. In Brooklyn, we got a certain way of talking. It’s the style of speech and it’s the outlook on life. We think different. People that come from Brooklyn, we have a certain way of thinking. You know, we very prideful. Like, for any question you ask, it’s like, “Nigga, what? I’m from Brooklyn. What you mean what am I doing over here? I’m from Brooklyn.” That’s our answer for everything. And it comes across for me in the music. It’s the attitude, it’s the style. It’s the swag, it’s the feeling.

Who are some new Brooklyn acts that you see poppin' or you think having potential?
2 Milly. Troy Ave, obviously. Some brand new artists; Tweezie, Dios Moreno. These are the young artists that’s coming up out of my city and out of my borough that’s very talented.

What do you see changing in the rap scene in New York? A lot of people have made the argument that the sound of hip-hop has moved to the South.
But the sound has always, for the last 10 years, been real broad. New York doesn’t have it’s own nostalgic sound like it used to have.

Why not?
We never passed it on. We never kept that sound alive. There was a disconnect between that older audience and the newer ones, you understand? Like A$AP Rocky came out, who people were saying his sound was Houston-ish at the time. This is because this is what he grew up listening to, because it was the sound of the day. Our sound wasn't prevailing. This is the city that has rap gods. Jay Z, Nas, those dudes were so high up in the air that the sound, there's no connection, you understand? No connection between the younger artists that were coming up and the ones that were on another planet.

So that sound wasn't preserved. You definitely can't blame the artists that's coming up now in the last 10 years that were influenced by other, outside sounds, because those were the sounds that they grew up listening to and they were influenced by other things. I just think that it's dope music. I don't think that there's a particular sound anymore. Not for this region.

Do you think there are regions in hip-hop anymore?
Yeah, there are, but now I'm starting to hear songs that I really can't detect where they from. It may be somebody from the Midwest and you hear his song and you don't particularly know where he's from. Whether he from North Carolina or Atlanta. Whether he from L.A... No, but then again, L.A. and the Bay, they still have a distinctive sound. New York, not so much. The distinctive sound we have is considered old. It's considered Golden Era boom-bap hip-hop. And I guess it depends on the type of artist. I rap those kinda beats, but then I rap over beats that may not be considered so New York-ish. So I guess it's to each his own, the sort of artist the person is, you understand?

Do you think there's anything that can be done to bridge the gap between the generations?
Nah, it's already been done. It's already been done.

So do you see that as a positive or a negative?
Well, I mean, it could be positive, because what happened was the young artists learned how to do it for themselves. We had to learn how to find our own. There's no real unity here. There's no real, "I want to preserve the sound, I want to preserve my city, I want to make sure my city rocking." So, you know, I don't think it's a bad thing. We got artists from here right now doing their thing nationally. Nicki Minaj is from New York, I don't think people realize [that].

Where do you think New York hip-hop is going?
I think New York hip-hop is in a good place. I think there's a resurgence of a lot of young new artists coming out of New York. It just depends on what you looking for. If you looking for the old boom-bap sound, then maybe not. But if you looking for the awareness... There's a lot of us coming out of New York. You turn on the radio you start to hear a lot of new New York artists.

Okay, we got the old school sound, Pro Era. We got young artists out here making strip club anthems, so we in a good place. We got a dance craze. The Milly Rock. 50/50. Fame School. Manolo Rose, c’mon. We in a good place. I’m not complaining, I ain’t worried about New York. I don’t perpetuate that bullshit about New York being dead. I don’t like that. I think we growing and the independence of artists that I named, all that... Everybody’s not supposed to sound the same, everybody’s not supposed to do the same thing. You shouldn’t have these sets of people that make these sounds of music and this person that makes this. We should all be able to make the music that we want to make, as long as it’s good.

I have to ask is concerning the rumor mill.
I ain’t heard no rumors. What? What happened?

There’s a rumor about you going on a date with a certain basketball player's wife. LaLa?
Not true. 100 percent false.