by Petula Caesar
Photos by Reuben Greene for Dubsciene Photography
I spent a few hours of my life that I will never get back with the man/the myth/the legend Kane Mayfield. This interview is the result of an over eight hours long epic odyssey that found Kane and I drinking whiskey at an Irish pub (shout out to the Occupy Barstool crew), walking through the woods late at night staring at the moon, and even sitting on a hill behind a Walmart parking lot trying to figure out the meaning of life. (And I think we may have watched some cartoons, the night got kind of blurry after 2 a.m.) Somehow, in spite of these adventures I managed to keep my journalistic composure, and I took enough notes to write this — I’m a professional dammit. Enjoy!
Kane Mayfield (born Christopher Reid) is a dude you interview in a bar. First, because he’s a drinker. Secondly, because he’s outgoing, talkative, opinionated, and has an engaging, intriguing way of putting his thoughts together. You can envision him deep in conversation with random assorted strangers late at night as smoke encircles their heads and the whiskey pours. His insights always make you think after you’ve laughed or shaken your head in shock or amazement. On our way to the bar, he played a new joint, “Shining Star,” which is a song that is an ode to his mom.
It’s not typical Kane Mayfield, best known for hardcore wordplay, precise as a laser, blazing through your ear canal and seeping into your brain, dripping with triple and quadruple entendres. As the heartfelt lyrics unfold, he sputters “y’all weren’t ‘spozed to hear this one. It was for me. It was something I had to get out.” While he is gregarious, Mayfield is also “obscenely private…y’all don’t need to know Chris Reid. Chris Reid doesn’t have a Facebook page.” When I ask about his love life after several Dos Equis’ and Jack Daniels’ shots, he says, “I am happy. That’s all anybody needs to know. Ladies love me. I love them back, even more when I’m drinking.”
Reid, a Guyanese immigrant’s son born in Long Island, was meant to achieve the American Dream. That’s what the children of immigrants do. Being an up and coming hip hop artist waiting for the money to catch up to the talent isn’t part of that. While his mother loved “Shining Star,” she tells him to give rap up and get a real job “at least twice a week.” Reid did try that. As a young man while dabbing in rap and dodging the tragedies that always seek to befall young men of color growing up, Reid studied hard to pass the exams necessary to become a stock broker. The combination of his natural intellect, his gift of gab and his broker’s license yielded financial success. At the height of his Merrill Lynch career, Reid earned a salary any immigrant mom would be proud of; although he still cashed his checks at the “neighborhood check cashing joints,” he says. “The girls in there LOVED me.” Consequently, big money led to more expensive diversions that amused and entertained Reid, but left him starving inside. After many twists and turns, including a move to Baltimore to work in the mortgage business, a close friend/mentor dying in a tragic car crash, a fiancée leaving him, and abandoning a $300,000 house, Chris Reid and his raps found their way to Mania Music Group. This creative home helped settle him, and Kane Mayfield, hip hop artist, was born.
Though he currently calls Baltimore home, Kane Mayfield is a New Yorker at heart. His borough gave birth to hip-hop royalty, like De La Soul and Rakim. Living in the shadows of such greats may be why he calls himself “mediocre…I’m a mid-tier rapper…I know real artists. I’m not one.” I ask why most of his work is distributed as free downloads, and his answer is similarly low-key. “I respect the consumer too much.” He considers the work he did on “Welcome To The Audience,” a Mania Music compilation sold through Bandcamp which includes his classic “Poor Georgie,” his best work. “I’m proud of that music. That’s was the best I ever sounded.” He also thinks he did well with his song and video “Middle Class” (check it out below). “Another one I didn’t wanna put out. But I have to get these feelings out or they’ll kill me.”
Mayfield’s banter is rapid fire like his rap style. He offers these thoughts on fame ‒ “exposure is the gateway drug…they tell you they’ll give you exposure instead of pay…fame is a hard drug and once you get addicted you’re done…everyone is getting exposure, and only a few gets money…I’m eating toast while he’s eating nice spaghettis ‘n shit…Kanye can’t just go to McDonald’s…Kanye can’t go fuck with the girl at the Dollar Tree…he can’t do regular shit, and I like to do regular shit…what do you see Kanye doing? Making music and beating paparazzi up…because fame isn’t fun…I need to get paid if I’m gonna be famous.”
At the bar, Mayfield enters public persona mode. He converses/flirts with nearly everyone in the room. He goes outside to cypher with friends, and is clearly in his element, standing in the twilight, eyes half-closed, lips managing to move at the speed of his thoughts, hands keeping time to his words as they part the air, spitting magnificently. His voice rises and falls; you see it, feel and hear it. Chris Reid may have been financially prosperous, but with an audience, a microphone, and his words, Kane Mayfield is clearly one of the richest men in town. (And his Facebook page is very popular too.)
Check out his latest music video, “White Collar”.
Check out behind the scenes video footage of the antics and injuries that occurred during Kane’s photo shoot by going to this link on Reuben Greene’s Dubscience Photography blog!