Interview: Mango Juice
Minnesota's Mango Juice emerged into the Hip-Hop scene with his debut release 'Young Life Saga' in September last year - hitting 43,000 streams on Spotify and marking a huge milestone in his career in the process. January welcomed the arrival of his nostalgic single 'Nonchalant Flow' - a glistening affair that featured a heartfelt interlude of his grandmother and welcomed another sure-fire addition to the artists growing discography.
We caught up with the highly impressive talent to hear about his 'Long Road' EP, the production processes behind it, artist influences, and much more.
Hi Mango Juice, thanks for joining us here at Flex. You’re currently based in Minnesota, can you tell us about the Hip-Hop scene there and any of your favourite venues?
Honestly, right now I’m not too familiar with the Minnesota Hip-Hop scene. I started my first project, Young Life Saga, last summer in my closet and by the time it was getting close to dropping I had to go back to college at Madison so that’s where I’ve been spending most of my time. Venue wise however, my favourite venue would have to be The Armory. I like going to concerts there because it is a smaller compact venue, so you really get engulfed in the energy of the room.
We are aware that you take strong influences from the legendary artist Juice WRLD. What was your introduction into Hip-Hop?
In elementary school, the black-eyed peas, B.O.B, and Flo Rida were my first introductions to hip-hop. I really started listening to hip-hop in middle school when “Forever” dropped. I bought that on iTunes and found other songs I had on repeat such as The Show Goes On, Whatever You Like, and Trophies.
By the time, I got to high school I was listening to everything and able to add songs to my playlist on Spotify. I’ll give credit to my friend, Ethan, for putting me on to Juice Wrld during two-a-days in the summer. He was showing us Lucid Dreams and All Girls Are The Same in the summer of 2017 way before they went mainstream. I’ve been listening to Juice ever since.
You’ve recently dropped your ‘Long Road’ EP. Can you walk us through the production processes behind it?
This project has a long story behind it. Extremely long story short, I was trying to do too much too fast before school was going to start again and it was draining me. I came to the realisation that I am only 20 years old and there is lots of time left on the Long Road of life. I was pretty stressed out because I started by making three songs for myself this summer and built off them step by step, which eventually led me to be connected with a non-profit cancer organisation and launch a campaign in memory of my Mom, which I never saw coming. I knew my project was going to be called Long Road and be a story of what got me to this point. From there, I had to create the songs. At this time school was starting again and I was pretty stressed out trying to balance both, so I just went song by song as they came to me. The actual production process for this project was unique.
I would go about my normal day and student work but then at night I would have an idea for what I want to portray but no beat yet. I would go through beats on YouTube and freestyle in my head a few times and have the song envisioned in my head. From there I would start recording/writing and finish the song before going to bed. For some other songs I would just play a beat in my AirPods throughout the day and have a vision for a song to record later at night. I basically repeated this process when I had time and finished it before thanksgiving break. From there, I would send the stems to Sunny, my engineer and then we would go back and forth with revisions as he mixed it until I had a finished product.
One of the tracks from the project ‘Nonchalant Flow’ is a personal favourite for us - what’s the meaning behind this track?
I knew I wanted to do a personal outro again like I did on Young Life Saga. I’m pretty laid back, so I knew I wanted to name it Nonchalant Flow. One day I was chilling at the house and a friend wanted to show me some of his beats. When he played the beat, I ended up using for Nonchalant Flow, I knew I was going to use it as it fit the vibe, I had in my head perfectly. At this point, it is still earlier in the semester, and I was overwhelmed by a variety of factors and couldn’t sleep at night because my mind kept racing. So basically, I just put it all into a song so I could clear my head, which really felt like a weight off my shoulders. The track is separated into three parts. The beginning, interlude, and end. The first part is me in present day. I rap about some of my current experiences, thoughts, and worries. The interlude is a voicemail from my grandma. It’s a calming tribute to the song that I needed to hear at the time. I am my biggest critic so hearing that someone else is proud and praying for me really eased my nerves.
Additionally, it serves as a reminder that other people are watching/care when she suggests I congratulate my brother. Lastly, the end is me as my future self. Once again, I was very overwhelmed at the time, so it was my way of telling myself it will get better/envisioning the future when the hard work pays off. I like to listen to the song when I start getting stressed out it calms me down.
What’s the three biggest records that have influenced you as an artist?
This is a hard one to answer but I would say:
Shock Da World by Rod Wave
One Man Can Change The World by Big Sean, Kanye, and John Legend
Pound Cake by Drake and Jay-Z
Every lyric in Shock Da World was pretty much speaking to me. I was pretty uneasy about opening up and releasing my project and campaign last fall but listening another person’s experience helped a lot. With one man can change the world, I think it’s a song that everybody should listen to. I like the storytelling to it, and it has a great message and meaning behind it. Lastly, Pound Cake is a timeless song. It is full of entendre and Drakes closing verse is one of my favourites of his.
You created the Cari Ashford Cancer Relief Project in memory of your mother and to raise awareness for Family Reach - a non-profit organisation that removes financial barriers between cancer patients and their treatment. You’ve also provided financial assistance for one child - what does this project mean to you? And how would you like to expand it?
This project means everything to me. I’ve always wanted to do something to make a difference and positive impact on people and honestly didn’t expect the chance to come this soon. When I got a letter from the Family Reach founder telling me a child’s family will be getting much needed financial assistance, it was kind of a full circle moment, and I knew the struggle was worth it. When I saw Spotify allows you to support a charity, I knew immediately
I wanted to find a non-profit cancer charity, so I did some research and sent them and email. I was surprised by the reaction they had and that’s when I knew I was going to have to do some type of campaign to lead people to them because a simple go fund me link wasn’t going to cut it. After that I started making a website with my friend Anthony and when everything was finished, I released it with the project. As for the future and expanding it, I guess we will see what’s in store. I wanted to have the campaign established from the beginning so I can keep focusing on music and school and see where the future takes me.
Other than being an artist, do you have any other passions or hobbies in life?
Yes, growing up football was pretty much my life, so I’ve always been into all types of sports. Aside from that, travelling and going to the movie theatre are some of my other hobbies. I’ve always had a passion for the medical field and took a good number of medical courses in high school. I am currently a junior biomedical engineering student at Wisconsin and taking the pre-med route. So right now, I’ve been busy juggling school, MCAT studying, and music.
What can we expect to see next from Mango Juice? Are there any upcoming releases you’d like to mention?
Right now, I have two more singles I am going to drop. One of them is called “All Star Weekend” and I am going to drop it on the 23rd. I like that none of my songs sound the same. These next two are different from anything I’ve released yet, and they contrast each other. In the future, I want to keep experimenting with new flows and sounds. I’ll probably keep dropping singles and then maybe a project at the end of summer but who knows. Every-time I make plans far out there’s always changes.
Check out 'Long Road' EP by Mango Juice here: