One could say that Mel Carter is in a Catch-22. The fact that he's Jay-Z's nephew gives him instant attention, some of which can open up listeners' ears to his music. On the flip side, having a real-life Uncle Hov sometimes gives free reign to the haters' hate. Still, Ramel Carter doesn't bother with the critics. He keeps working instead. After dropping his mixtape, Popular Stranger, earlier this month, Mel hopes hip-hop heads give him a chance...and not because of his famous uncle, but instead because the music is flat out good. Here, Mel Carter, 24, goes on one with, talking about his music, growing up in the same Marcy Projects as Jay-Z, having Hov as his uncle and what the death of his cousin, Colleek, meant to his life and rap career.

On Popular Stranger Mixtape:

It’s my second mixtape. I did my first one about two, three years ago and felt like I got a good response. With this one, I feel like I grew more in every aspect, whether more experienced, life situations, more things to talk about. But my sound…I don’t think I sound like nobody. We came up with our own sound.


I grew up in Brooklyn, Marcy projects. I didn’t know what I was in until I got out of it. Gunshots, crimes. When I moved here, when I moved to Jersey, it was quiet. It was like a culture shock. Everything was quiet, slowed down. It was just like a culture shock. I credit both of them for breeding me.

How Listeners Can Get Familiar:

To get familiar, I’d tell them just to get the whole Popular Stranger. To me, the most complete song I did is "Diamond Rings & Porsches." I think in every way of a rap song, it’s a complete song: the flow, the delivery, the message, the metaphors. That’s my most complete song.

Catch-22 Being Jay-Z's Nephew:

It definitely is. It’s a catch-22. You got the haters, who are hating, so automatically once they hear about me, they already throw me in that box. Then you got people who are stans who love him, so automatically they throw me in a box and won’t give the music a chance. It’s a catch-22, a funny situation, but you gotta do what you do. I used to get more frustrated, but now it’s like, ‘I can’t do anything about it.’ I am who I am. I can’t keep running away from who I am. Then, I’m going to spend most of my time talking about running away from it, instead of talking about the music. It is what it is. I can’t control it. I feel like my story is different. As an artist, I just want to people to give my music.

Uncle's Advice:

He told me if I wanted it, to go get it. That’s what he told me and hard work will pay off.

Impact of Colleek's Death:

I always did music, but it was always a hobby. But when he passed, I took everything in my life more serious. It was like, ‘Yo, life ain’t a game. I gotta get it.’ My family thought I was going to go crazy, so they kept a close eye on me.