Most people would need to hold a séance to invoke the spirits of two of America’s most notorious mobsters, but all rapper M.I. and producer DJ Cutt (collectively known as Constant Deviants) needed was some studio time.
Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky make fitting muses for Omerta, the latest offering from the hip hop duo. Their own Italian / Russian roots and well-documented partnership have uncanny parallels with the old school gangsters credited with shaping organised crime in the States.
But rather than glorifying the lifestyles of the fabled twosome, Omerta uses them allegorically to explore past experiences making it a truly conceptual piece.
“I feel this is what hip hop lacks right now”, explains M.I. “There are a lot of beats and rhymes and people who are lyrical, but they don’t conceptualise anymore”. This has resulted in what M.I. describes as: “Albums sounding like mixtapes with a bunch of songs that are not cohesive sonically”.
To make the point M.I. says of Omerta: “Even if it takes you on a train ride, it still brings you back to the same place”. That place is the metaphorical criminal underworld home to the modern Luciano and Lansky portrayed so cinematically, it could almost be described as Golden Era meets Silver Screen.
The movie-like quality of Constant Deviant’s approach could have something to do with M.I.’s recent foray into film. Currently shooting a comedy called I Can’t Live Without My Radio, M.I.’s acting career is budding and could eventually take full bloom if the reception to Six 2 Six is anything to go by. The film has been accepted by the Hip Hop Film Festival with a 24 karat gold stamp of approval – something only reserved for entries which exceed judges’ expectations of an independent offering.
Paying homage to his ever expanding Six2Six empire, the film charts events taking place in the space of 24 hours, 6am to 6am.
“The character I play is based on my life, and the other main character is based on the life of one of my artists. The situations are made up but the storylines about the characters are true”, say M.I.
Venturing into film is an idea the rapper has always toyed with, and his ambitions do not just lie in front of the camera. “I want to learn the entire industry”, he says listing directing, producing, script writing and wardrobe as areas that capture his imagination.
Constant Deviant fans need not worry that M.I. will be hanging up his mic in favour of a clapperboard any time soon. In fact the opposite is true. Movies are just another creative outlet for the Baltimore rapper to make his musical mark.
Lending his production skills to the “Six2Six” soundtrack and scoring the entire movie, M.I. says: “It’s dope for me as an artist because it gives me a chance to play around with songs and sounds that are a little different”.
In true Six2Six style, M.I. reveals that the notion of rest might be a myth for him and his Jersey-based partner. The pair are already working on another Constant Deviants album slated for release June 2017.
With the Constant Deviants output at an all-time high, it will be a while before we see the credits roll on this veteran hip hop syndicate.
By: Taytula Burke @realspieldotcom
Omerta is released 28th June 2016