One year ago, the Brooklyn rapper Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire was working as a security guard in Park Slope, handing out parking tickets not far from his native Crown Heights. He wrote rhymes during his downtime, he recounts, which turned into the grimy bravado of his mixtape, which turned into a record deal.
Today, eXquire is one of the most highly regarded figures in underground New York rap – but he hasn't left his Brooklyn roots behind. The rapper pays tribute to the borough on gritty tracks like "Pissin' Between Train Cars" and "Chicken Spot Rock."
In this exclusive video with Brooklyn photographer Jamel Shabazz, eXquire discusses his stage name ("I just came out of the womb with a fuck-the-world mentality"), his friends ("We were all in here splitting chicken wings every Sunday") and his guiding philosophy ("You do what you do, and you follow through with that"). He also shows off the apartment where he has lived since he was 11 and poses for Shabazz's camera on the block outside – his first official photo shoot.
During the clip, Shabazz asks the rapper how he became interested in hip-hop. "How can you not be involved in hip-hop?" eXquire replies. "You from the projects, you from the ghetto. That's just your voice. . . . Your lifestyle's hip-hop."
Mr. Mothafuckin' eXquire recently finished a tour with El-P, Killer Mike and Despot. Power and Passion, his debut EP for Universal Republic Records, comes out in October.