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Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Engage in Some Friendly Competition on ‘Magic & Bird’ Mixtape

Michael Fequierre
Michael Fequiere for XXL

Like any good friends, rappers Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed have a affable rivalry going on. The two MC’s showcase their competitive spirit and go head-to-head as Magic & Bird on their first joint mixtape, aptly titled Magic & Bird, out now. Based on the early 1990s basketball rivalry of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Magic & Bird features Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed (who’s the first signee on Mineo’s label Miner League) bringing their funniest bars to the 13-track project.

“There was a rivalry in the early ’90s and they’re just two icons of basketball,” Mineo tells XXL of the inspiration for the tape. “So to be best friends but have that rivalry on the court, that’s very similar to me and [Wordsplayed].”

Preceded by singles “Kidz” and “Dunk Contest” and comical music videos to match, Andy and Word aim to show fans they can poke fun at themselves and still be competitive. Mineo credits Miner League’s Creative Director, Deglis Mustafa, for coming up with the theme of the mixtape.

“It was just one of those ideas that we were in the studio and it just hit me and I was like, ‘This is perfect, how come we haven’t done it?’ And everyone I would share that with would have the same exact response,” explains Mustafa.

XXL chopped it up with the duo about locking themselves in the studio, their favorite hip-hop duos and more. After they finish basking in the glory of this first joint project, the guys will take their show on the road this fall for a 29-city tour, fittingly dubbed the Friends & Family Tour. Best friend goals for real.

XXL: Why and how did you guys decide to form this duo, Magic & Bird?

Andy Mineo: We formed Miner League Co., a brand I started a couple years ago that’s been under wraps, and really this is going to be the new outlet for me to do music, film, comedy and all the other creative stuff we’re interested in under kind of a new identity. Wordsplayed was the first artist signed there. And I was in the middle of working on my album and I’d hit a bit of creative halt.

And so, Delgis Mustafa, he’s the Creative Director at Miner League and he came up with the idea. He said, “You guys have a handful of songs that are hype, turn-up records already. Why don’t you just release it as like, a five-song EP?” So I hit Wordsplayed, he came up with the concept of Magic & Bird.

It was more of a holistic perspective. He said it’d be a fun little project for me to do and it would give me some breathing room between the next album. So we thought it was a good idea. We went to Atlanta for three weeks and the project kind of grew legs and turned into 10 songs.

Three weeks in Atlanta. When did that happen?

Wordsplayed: That was February, March. And a few weekends too, actually after that.

Andy: We’d be at the crib trying to put the finishing touches and stuff.

But most of this was done on the fly?

Andy: Yeah, well, we worked out of a studio that had bunks there. It was actually the studios that the Reach guys asked what we wanted to see happen in the studios. We wanted four studios and we wanted bunks in there because we wanted to sleep and get up and get back to work. Literally that was the process. We had four studio rooms. And we worked with basically a couple producers for the whole project. This One guy BEAM and Gawvi.

So basically that was the working process. I brought my assistant, he’d go out and get food for us and we pretty much lived in the studio for a week. We’d all be in different rooms so I’d walk in one room and listen to a beat, try something to it. Go to the next room, same thing. Jumping back and forth. [Wordsplayed] would be in another room doing remixes, creating new ideas, laying choruses. So really it would be us just going to room to room, kicking ideas around. It was really fun. We actually made 24 songs or something. Boiled it down to 10 and then there are skits on there too.

Wordsplayed: Yeah, if you could sum up those three weeks, that’s “Dunk Contest.” Every feeling you get from that song, like anger but laughter but you wanna dance, it’s all how it was those three weeks. It’s a great summary.

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Discuss the concept behind Magic & Bird. Why’d you go with that theme? What’s the 1990s connection and the basketball theme?

Andy: Well, you know there was a rivalry in the early ’90s and they’re just two icons of basketball. So to be best friends but have that rivalry on the court, that’s very similar to me and [Wordsplayed]. We’ve been friends for almost 10 years. Plus we knew visually, we wanted to go with that ’90s aesthetic. We wanted like golden era hip-hop and that late ’90s, early 2000s when the NBA players would get drafted and just wear these absolutely huge, terrible suits [laughs].

Wordsplayed: With the hats.

Andy: The hats! We were cracking up at that shoot. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. So, dressing up in that stuff…we thought it was just, like, a whole package. We were thinking, What are some of the best horrible things about ’90s hip-hop and fashion?

Delgis Mustafa, Miner League Creative Director: Yeah, we put this ’90s, almost-Pinterest board together to work off of. Just pulling back the nostalgia, character T-shirts, the shoots with the awful backgrounds. Our merch is going to be insane too.

How’d you pull this team of producers together?

Andy: It was basically three guys. BEAM, he’s from South Florida, based in Atlanta now. Gawvi, and then another South Florida dude based in Atlanta. That was the sauce we were cooking with. And then Alex Medina did a couple records that we collabed on. !llmind helped out. Other producers stepped in and provided their sauce but those were the main guys.

They’ve been a part of my sound for a long time. Both of those guys have been on almost every project I’ve ever put out. I found BEAM when he was 16 years old. He dropped his SoundCloud page onto my Facebook. I listened to it and was like, These tracks are actually dope. And I hit him up and we started working together. He’s actually the son of a legendary reggae artist, Papa San from Jamaica.

Wordsplayed: He’s on it too. BEAM actually produced and performed on the tape too on “Break Bread” and “Team.”

Miner League, Reach Records
Miner League, Reach Records

Who are some other features you were excited to get on the tape?

Andy: I was really excited about having [Wordsplayed] on the tape.

Wordsplayed: I loved Andy’s work on it. Best feature I’ve heard in awhile [laughs]. Any time you get Andy Mineo on a record, you know you’re getting sonically baptized. It’s a combination of a plane crash, a first kiss and Slime Time Live. It’s the three combined. No, but I will say that I think BEAM saved the album in a way. Not that it was bad but I think he took it from good to great.

Andy: For sure.

Wordsplayed: He took it to a new place so that’s my favorite feature. Judo’s a good feature too. Getting him on the tape.

Andy: I was like, Yo, I’m trying, I’m fighting, I’m scratching to do something creative and different and progressive and interesting and then there’s part of me that knows it takes five minutes to put together one of these turn-up songs and just freestyle and have fun. Those guys all come with the heat when it comes to those records. So, yeah, this is a good outlet.

The !llmind record, “Legend,” stands out from all the other songs on the tape.

Andy: Yeah. Basically, when we made this record I was thinking, If I’m going to go play basketball at a summer court and I want to plug in the aux, what are we going to play? Magic & Bird top to bottom. But soulful boom-bap is also very basketball. It feels out of place on the tape but not out of place with the idea. So, I was like, soulful boom-bap? I know who to call.

I was actually at the gym and I hit him talking about DAMN. because his sounds were all over that album, so I was hitting hitting him to say congrats and he was like, “Yo when are we working together?” And I said, “I actually need a boom-bap type record now.” And then that same day, he sent me a folder of records. I emailed the records over to [Wordsplayed] and picked a particular record that I had already liked from it. Next thing you know he sends me a verse on the same beat that I had picked, but we hadn’t even talked about it. We both instinctively went to to same record.

Wordsplayed: Best friends [laughs]. I was on my way to a graduation in Cali. So I was obviously breaking the law being on my phone while driving and I got his email and I started wiggin’ out. Like, this early in my career I get a folder full of !llmind beats. Definitely a privilege. And then I played that one and automatically, I was like, This is the one.

Which hip-hop duos do you guys really respect in the game?

Wordsplayed: I mean Mobb Deep, without a doubt. R.I.P Prodigy. And JAY-Z and Memphis Bleek is one of my favorites.

Andy: He’s one of my favorites too, Memphis.

Wordsplayed: “Coming of Age” Jigga and Memph!

Will this be the only project you guys do as a duo. Will there be a Magic & Bird Pt. II?

Wordsplayed: We’re working on eight albums actually [laughs]. No, I don’t know.

Andy: The ideas are endless. We’ve thought about the potential to continue to collaborate but with a complete different aesthetic and sound for each project. Have a different theme for each one. It’s really just about timing. We both have individual careers and stuff but yeah, it’s just about timing. We were flirting with the idea of dropping a Magic & Bird: Game 2. But first we want to see how fans respond.

See New Music Releases for August 2017

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