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MHD in NYC

Known for his high-energy onstage performances—which usually include bringing fans onstage, his signature dance move (think air guitaring, but smoother) and jumping into the crowd, MHD couldn’t be any more chill in person.

 

“Normally, I don’t like to talk a lot,” said the rapper about the difference between his onstage persona and who he is IRL. “I’m a bit shy, but MHD loves to dance and get crazy.”

 

With a staggering 2.3M Instagram followers (and growing), and having performed as many as 300 concerts in the last two years, MHD has created his own cult-like fanbase that is interesting in everything he does, eats and wears. But this level of fame was something the artist never could’ve imagined.

 

“I didn’t think I was going to blow up like this,” he admitted. “I didn’t even necessarily think I was going to do rap music.” The career he did predict for himself? “When I was younger, I thought I would own my own French restaurant.” Though we would’ve loved to try the delicious-sounding French spin on a hamburger he told us about, we’re glad he ended up choosing music. And so is MHD.

 

Last month, the rapper stopped by the office Newsstand to pose for some portraits and tell us about 19.

 

 

How was the writing process for 19? Did you have to put a lot of thought into it, or was it more like words spilling out onto the page?


It was much easier and I managed to write it very fast—it was very simple.


Why do you think that was?


Because it’s my life—my history. My album feels like me just having a discussion with someone, but in this case, the someone I’m having the discussion with are my fans—the public.


It’s a very personal album. Was writing it at all therapeutic, or was it all things that you were already aware of?


There are a lot of things I’ve never said before that I said on this album. There are things I can’t even really say in interviews because as a person, I’m a bit closed off and reserved. But on the album, I can say things through the voice of MHD, which really helps further my message.


In that context, do you enjoy interviews?


It’s not too bad. If people are interested in me, then I’m interested in other people, and I’m happy to talk about myself.

 

I’ve seen some really crazy footage from your performances. What’s the most insane thing that’s happened during one of your shows?


I had a show scheduled in Guinea and way too many people showed up—about 120,000. So, we had to cancel and reschedule.


What are you doing when you’re not making music or going on tour?


Right now, I’m making a second film.


Can you tell me a bit about it?


I’m the main character and it’s about some guy who’s at school, and over the course of the film, he has some problems and ends up in prison. From there, the story unfolds.


I feel like even pretend going to prison is pretty intense.


Yeah, it was, especially because usually I’m showing the happy side of my neighborhood, and you know, it’s a lot of dancing, its festive—it’s a happy life—but I’m exposing the other side of it through this film.


What’s next for you?


Right now, I’m preparing for a tour in America and Africa.


Will you be hitting NYC?


Yeah, it’ll be about 10 dates—NY, LA, Chicago, all of it.

 

 

19’ is out now.