Music Features

Interview: Medhane's Moment Has Finally Arrived

The alternative rapper is finally seeing his work pay off, just don't try to box him in


Medhane prides himself on being a Hip-Hop antithesis.

Full Circle, the rapper's enigmatic new EP, is produced entirely by him, and the project's dense 15 minutes offer little breathing room. As the polymath sips on a Chai latte in a crowded cafe in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, he explains to me that his stream of consciousness raps are purposefully devoid of certain contexts. "It's open to your perception. It's just art," he said. "You don't look at a painting and say, "Oh this painting is about this." Like a painter, Medhane's music ebbs and flows moment to moment and portrays an artist unabashedly present in the art he's creating. I asked if he would describe his music that way, like a painting. "Kinda, but like not really. It is, but it's not, it's just expression." When I asked him who Dan Freeman was, he told me that he was the protagonist of Spook Sat by the Door, a profound 1964 novel about a black CIA agent trying to overthrow the white establishment. When I asked him why he named Full Circle's opening track "DAN FREEMAN," he smiled. "I don't know, that's just what I thought it should be."

As a Brooklyn native, Medhane was raised on the sounds of Soca and Reggae, along with acts like Nas and Indie.Arie. But when he was 11, he admits, he was mostly into screamo. "I forget the name of this band but they had a song called "Daddy's Fallen Angel," he said with a laugh, "and I just thought that was the hardest sh*t ever." After getting in trouble at school, Medhane's father took him to D.C. for the weekend to experience President Obama's inauguration. While they were in town, they also went to see Notorious, a buzzing new biopic about the late Biggie Smalls. "I just went fully down the rabbit hole after that." He started making freestyle videos on his phone, and by his senior year in high school (he graduated when he was 16 after skipping a grade) he was incredibly committed to the genre. But his mom insisted he get a college education, so he reluctantly applied and was accepted into Carnegie Mellon's civil engineering program. As he dragged his heels academically, his music started to buzz, and he recalls flying to London to perform at a sold-out show with Lex Records, only to fly back and return, nameless, to his classes. "That sh*t f*cked me up."

His free form art thrives on unpredictability, so as a result, Medhane can't stand when the press, myself included, tries to decipher it. His lyrical meandering is often boxed in with that of Earl Sweatshirt. The comparison is often intended as a compliment, but all of it just frustrates him. "They always try to be like, "This is about depression," or, "On this song [Medhane] recalls a three-day bender." He scoffed. "There was no 3-day bender that ever occurred in my life." He refers me to a lyric from "I WAS JUST IN THE MARA." "Still speaking in code, I know how them riddles go? That's kinda what that means."

Did you see things start to change after Pitchfork reviewed Ba Suba, Ak Jamm?

"Kinda, but not really. After that project, I went back to school and...I was just going through it. I stopped putting out music, I dropped "Sky," but I was just so stressed that I went ghost. No tweets, no music for like six or seven months."

What was that experience like? What did you do to take care of yourself?

"I ghosted a lot of my friends. I was just overwhelmed. I watched a lot of Blacklist, and that show sucks. I was watching bad TV, bro, when I should be making beats. I was on some self-doubt s*it. That's what I was doing."

When did all that start to change for you?

"I graduated and got back in touch with MIKE and Caleb [Giles] and just kinda started making tracks again. I also took a family trip to Kenya, and it restored me somehow. Just coolin' with my family really brought me back. When I got back from [that trip] it was go time."

Then you dropped Own Pace?

"Yeah, and that album did numbers. That was kinda me explaining what I had gone through during that time, and people really related to it."

So what's different now with Full Circle?

"It's totally self-produced, and it's just getting more in-depth. More in-depth with certain topics. I'm just exploring that time more and exploring what really happened.

Creatively, Full Circle is a lot denser than your previous work. What inspired you all to head in this alternative direction?

"I don't know, bro. I just try to mix everything I f*ck with. I feel like out of all the homies I'm the most versatile. I could play you five songs of mine that all sound different, that all slap, and I'm not switching my style on none of them. I listen to all types of sh*t.

What's next for you?

I'm tryna run it up this year. I'm 23, I gotta be on my Jordan s*it. I'm putting out three projects this year.

It seems like things are really changing for you.

"It seems like it. I don't know. There's always that skepticism that comes with life when good s*it starts to happen to you. But everybody just keeps telling me like just keep going, which is kinda what I'm doing. We not falling off no time soon, ever."


Follow Medhane on Twitter, Instagram and Bandcamp


R.I.P. Juice WRLD: His Best Songs to Listen to Today

"Lucid Dreams" is iconic, but let's pay homage to a few of his other hits.

Photo by: Alphacolor / Unsplash

"I always had my own lane regardless of who I was around."

Following the deaths of XXXTENTACION and Lil Peep, Juice Wrld was very much seen as Emo-Rap's vibrant successor. His lyrics were soaked in teenage melancholy but were never ostentatious, with his voice always distinct from those of his Soundcloud peers. He could at one moment croon with the angst of Dashboard Confessional, yet go bar-for-bar in freestyles against any of his hip-hop peers. Everyone from Future to Sting praised his music as a teen, with the latter calling Juice Wrld's 5x platinum hit "Lucid Dreams" an "impressive" take on his song "Shape of the Heart."

Juice Wrld was destined to be iconic in life and will undoubtedly achieve that distinction in death, but it still hurts to know that, once again, we find ourselves mourning the loss of a monumental talent whose story wasn't supposed to end yet. Here are a few of Juice Wrld's best, if severely underrated, offerings that now carry a larger-than-life meaning.

"I'm Still"

One of the fan favorites from Juice WRLD's debut album, I'm Still, is an infectious amalgamation of pop punk and Hip-Hop. His distressed "oh's" are heartbreaking and ring as cathartic air horns for the emotionally perturbed. The Goodbye & Good Riddance deep-cut equally demonstrates Juice WRLD's talent for song-writing. "I'm holding my breath and watching my step, I'm listing regrets, and you made that list," he sings to an old flame. "You're my depression, your first impression wasn't deception."

"Wasted (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)"

Juice WRLD and Uzi go together like caffeine and nicotine. "Wasted" allows its host to croon with raw emotional efficacy, while being malleable enough to allow "rockstar" Uzi to come in and thrash around. In hindsight, the duo was destined to make an incomparable supergroup.

"Rich and Blind"

Released as part of a two-track bundle dissecting the death of his peers Lil Peep and X, "Rich and Blind" is Juice WRLD at his most raw, and now seems particularly haunting. "They tell me the death of me gon' be the Perky's" he sings. "I know they lace pills I bought them on purpose." Laced Percocet pills are now suspected to have triggered Juice WRLD's fatal seizure.

"Jet Lag"

As part of his unexpected and grandiose collaborative project with Future, "Jet Lag" shows that despite his pop-punk sensibilities, Juice WRLD can fit right in with today's biggest rap icons and make some bangers if given the chance. "Got a bad bitch like Megan Good, choppa long like a golf club, hold that bitch like Tiger Woods." Future was also sighted as one of Juice WRLD's most major influences as a kid, making the album particularly special.

"Lean Wit Me"

Another eerily morbid song in hindsight, "Lean Wit Me" finds Juice WRLD frankly discussing his drug abuse and exploring his fruitless journey to sobriety. The song is one of Juice WRLD's most raw and honest tracks, and it's an impressive tribute to Dem Franchize Boyz's 2006 hit "Lean wit It, Rock wit it." His voice wavers as he calls out, "If I overdose, bae, are you gon' drop with me?," as if he is on the brink of tears. The track's video paints a more vivid picture of Juice WRLD's journey, portraying him at a D.A.A. meeting and unveiling that his ex-girlfriend overdosed.


In another song that captures Juice WRLD's talent for frank and open story telling, he discusses his hesitancy to pursue a new relationship, but admits he can't pinpoint the reason for his reluctance. Instead of searching for answers, Juice WRLD self-medicates to avoid these difficult questions.

"Bandit (feat. NBA Youngboy) 

Juice's final single is also one of his best; it teased at a refreshed Juice WRLD ready for war. The upbeat swaggering track finds Juice WRLD and NBA melting together like bread and butter, and both parties have never sounded more in their zone. Additionally, the record debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Curated for Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, the pop-leaning single is a perfect addition to the soundtrack's stacked roster. Not to mention it was featured in the film during the apex of Mile's origin story. The film's emotional climax is anchored by Juice WRLD's uncanny ability to convey raw heartbreak in his voice.


Apparently made in about 15 minutes (along with most of his songs), "Fast" is an absolute ear-worm and standout from his expansive sophomore album Death Race For Love. The track finds Juice WRLD, while still a heartless Lothario, embracing the role of full-fledged pop star. It's songs like "Fast" that demonstrate the expansive versatility of an artist like Juice WRLD and reminds us that he's always in on his own jokes. "It's okay 'cause I'm rich," he sings. "Psych, I'm still sad as a b*tch." It hurts to know he won't continue making songs this delightfully infectious.

"All Girls Are the Same"

There is no other song that more perfectly captures the ethos of Juice WRLD. The hook is melodically contagious, while Juice WRLD offers some of the most candid songwriting of his career: "All this jealousy and agony that I sit in
I'm a jealous boy, really feel like John Lennon." It's an anthem for hormonal middle schoolers everywhere and has no doubt been the remedy for a plethora of teen heartbreaks.


THEORY's Tyler Connolly Discusses the #MeToo Movement and Going Pop on New Album

Frontman Tyler Connolly spoke with Popdust in an exclusive interview.

Jimmy Fontaine

Theory of a Deadman's first album feels like it was released a lifetime ago.

In 2002, the band's debut was soaked in the heavy guitars and post-grunge workings of the early aughts. Tyler Connolly's gravelly growl was notable, his jet black hair, tattoos, and all-black attire signifying the arrival of a new bad boy in rock and roll. The band's hit project, Gasoline, expanded on the post-grunge fixings of its predecessor but dipped into a previously untapped commercial sensibility. "No Surprise" was filled with the angst of a relationship turned sour, but the band's unique fusion of country and rock, combined with an ear worm of a chorus, made for commercial success. Meanwhile, tracks like "Santa Monica" and "Since You've Been Gone" showed the versatility of Connolly's range: at one moment coarse and abrasive, the next open and cathartic.

Over the next 20 years, the band would slowly shed their post-grunge skin and lean more into these radio-friendly sensibilities. Now, after six albums, Theory of a Deadman isn't even the same band anymore. They've even shortened their name. "The darkness is definitely still there," said frontman Tyler Connolly, "but what inspired the change? I think I had written every riff there was on the guitar!" After 30 years playing guitar, Connolly has transitioned over to the piano. "It awakened this creativity," he said. "It also allowed the kind of room for us to be a band where we all have our effects." The frontman sat down with Popdust to talk about the band's new album, Say Nothing, their drastic change in sound, and the effects of the #MeToo movement.

THEORY - History Of Violence [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

What transpired between Wake Up Call and Say Nothing? It seems like you guys got back into the studio pretty quickly.

"I think it was just a lack of time off. We weren't allowed to decompress from Wake Up Call, so a lack of sleep, and [going back into the studio] is where a lot of the inspiration came from. The creative process was very similar outside of having time off."

Sonically, the two sound similar. Who produced them?

"Martin Terefe produced Wake Up Call as well as Say Nothing, and I think he was much more timid on the earlier record, not really knowing us. [On Say Nothing] the only difference was that he really went gangbusters! He really spent a lot of time with the songs he was sent. We were so blown away by how much input he had. It was really amazing."

What inspired your lead single "History of Violence." What's the story behind its creation? Why did you choose this song as the lead single?

"The #MeToo Movement inspired it. I think the #MeToo movement is so large and powerful, and it's fantastic that women are gaining strength and [fighting for] equality. Being an all-male band, I think for us to support that is what we're looking to do with "History of Violence." There was no story behind it other than the fact that we wanted to create something to help women. The label chose the song as the lead single, and we're very happy they did; we love the song and it's great that it's out there."

Jimmy Fontaine

What should listeners take away from it?

"Empathy for the character, but, also, I think it's going to help people, help women, come forward. Like "Rx," we hope it gives people strength to talk to somebody and say, "Hey, you know what? This has happened to me." Sometimes people need a lighthouse, something to direct them, and, for us, hopefully this is something we can do to start that."

Tell me about "Strangers," your latest single. It seems to be a similar sort of rallying cry.

"That's exactly what it is—it's a cry for help, a cry for unity, a cry for everyone to get together. It's not about necessarily who you vote for or which side you're on, but it's really just about trying to get to the middle and agree that we're all human beings and we can all have our own opinion. It's just gross how biased the news is. So [the song] is me trying to process how I can say something without sounding like I'm complaining or picking sides. You have to be very careful not to pick sides [and] try to get everyone to come to the middle."

THEORY - Strangers [Official Visualizer]

Tell me about your tour. How's life on the road?

"It's awesome! I recommend it. We get to go all around the world. I think people assume that every night we're playing Paris, New York, or LA, when in reality, we're actually going to every corner, every state, every province. We go to a lot of places that maybe don't have internet reception, because that's where everybody is. I think now, more than ever, we've really hit our mark. We've been doing this for almost 20 years, and I think we feel the most at home now finally up on stage in front of all our fans. It's really a blessing."

How's your chemistry as a band after all these years? You guys are veterans now, it seems like.

"Well, it's interesting because when you start a band, you get on a tour bus and there are 4 guys that you've never lived with before and now all of a sudden, you're with these people 24 hours a day. So, in the beginning, it was definitely tough. You have 4 different personalities that maybe don't mesh. I think after all these years, we're brothers now. We love each other. It couldn't be more fun. We have a blast. And yea, guess that's what we are now, we're veterans."

You called Say Nothing your most "honest" album.

"I think I'm just talking about things I really want to talk about. I used to shy away from certain topics in the past, being afraid to upset fans. On [Say Nothing], I just dove right into topics like politics and stopped thinking about what upsets people. It's just a perspective that I think people need to hear. I think sometimes that's what music is for, outside of being an art form or a creative process, it's also sometimes a voice for a generation. I grew up listening to guys like Bono and Rage Against the Machine and you wonder if you could do something like that. Maybe as you get older, you get braver."

Say Nothing is set for release on January 31st, 2020

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