If there’s anyone who knows about battling through adversity and coming out triumphant, it’s Marion Bands. He went from being flat broke and sleeping on his grandmother’s couch to living the life he always wanted through mastering the rap game.
In his latest mixtape, I Remember Nights, Marion takes us through those dark days when he didn’t have a dollar and had to hustle his way to the top, from the block to the stage. While on the road recently, Marion took some time out talk with us about his new mixtape, working with Rocko/Nipsey Hussle and life before rap.
Tony Delerme: Where did you get the name Marion Bands from?
Marion Bands: From my dedication to making money. I call myself Marion Bands, like I’m marrying money (marrying bands = Marion Bands). It’s also an acronym for, Money Ain’t Real Its Only Necessary Because All Niggas Do Struggle. I came up with that after I came up with the name.
Tony Delerme: What part of Los Angeles are you from and how was life before rap?
Marion Bands: I’m from South Los Angeles, right there in the Crenshaw district. It was pretty rough, you know how everything go in the inner city. I had a single mom raising me and my sister. For the most part, everything I learned early on was from the streets. At times it got pretty dangerous. There were wars going on with the gangs so it wasn’t always cool to come out at night. Me and all my friends were tied up into that life.
Tony Delerme: What hip hop artists influenced you? Because when you rap, you don’t sound like you’re from Los Angeles.
Marion Bands: I had three big influences who inspired me, T.I., Jay-Z and 2Pac. T.I., because I felt like we had the same similar struggle. Everything that he was saying was everything that I was thinking and what my life was. Jay-Z, because of his street hustle. I always wanted to make some money to better my situation and circumstances for my family. And 2Pac, because of his intelligence. He embodied education, intelligence and I’m a fan of that.
Tony Delerme: Can you elaborate on your sound a little more? Because, like I said earlier, you don’t sound like you’re from L.A.
Marion Bands: I’m everywhere man, the struggle don’t got no one sound. The hustle ain’t one sound. I’m on the east coast, down south and at home a lot. So I embody the American struggle.
Tony Delerme: What’s your beat selection process like. I noticed that you rap over a variety of instrumentals from party beats to trap and drill music type beats.
Marion Bands: It just gotta feel good. I don’t give a damn what it sound like, who produced it or where it came from. As long as it sounds good and it grabs me, I’m a go record over it. Most artists are coined to a sound that they can be identified by with. I don’t have that.
Tony Delerme: Are you looking for that sound or do you not care for it?
Marion Bands: I don’t care for that, I just wanna do music and put something together that sonically sounds good.
Tony Delerme: How true to life is what you rap about?
Marion Bands: One hundred percent, aint nothing fabricated. If I’m talking about foreign cars, I got that. If I’m talking about jewelry, I got $40,000 worth. If I’m talking about a nigga aint having nothing and sleeping on his grandmamma’s couch, I did that. Me counting six figures of my own money, I have that. I’ll make it clear if I’m talking about somebody else or if it’s a place that I wanna get to, I’ll let you know. But I’m a let you know whats real, so I’m a give you me, no fabrication. If I’m talking about somebody who got killed or I’m in fear for my life, then those are real emotions. That be real shit happening because I’m in the stdio a lot but I’m in the streets a lot dealing with real shit and real people.
Tony Delerme: Does it bother you at all when rappers fabricate their lines, creating a false representation of who they are?
Marion Bands: I don’t have a problem with that because I’m not concerned with the next humanbeing. If that’s what you want to do, more power to you. If that’s what it takes for you to feed your family, then do what you gotta do to feed them. That’s your life, who am I to feel some type of way? I’m not feeding your family.
Tony Delerme: What do you want people to walk away with after listening to your mixtape, I Remember Nights?
Marion Bands: I want them to get a glimpse of my life and who I used to be. Now I’m at a place in life where I’m reflecting back like damn, look at what I had to do to get here. Just remembering those times when it was fucked up. I remember nights when it was all fucked up.
Tony Delerme: What’s your writing process like?
Marion Bands: My writing process is to go in on natural feelings and instincts. I never really have anything premeditated. I may freestyle the first verse and then write the second verse. And then come back to the first verse and modify it because I had some thoughts and ideas on it. But before all of that, I build the hook first. The hook is always first.
Tony Delerme: How did you link up with guys like Rocko and Nippsy Hussle?
Marion Bands: Me and Nippsy used to play AAU Basketball together when we were about 12-13 years old. We come from the same neighborhood. Rocko and I meet through a mutual friend. One day Rocko was in town so I went to the studio and through on some records for him. He actually chose that song, “Need Nobody”, to jump on because it was a heartfelt track. Rocko went in the booth and freestyled his verse. He went in the booth with no pen or paper, just his thoughts.
Tony Delerme: Within the last two years the west coast has had a resergance in hip hop and is now, back, on the map. As an artist, is that something you notice and can feel in a sense that more people are taking a closer look at you. Or does that not matter if you’re not grinding?
Marion Bands: It doesn’t matter if your region is jumping and has the spotlight. It may help a little, but if your not working then your not gonna see the results. It’s just simple cause and effect. If you’re putting in the work, then you’re gonna get results.
Tony Delerme: What do you have left for the rest of 2014?
Marion Bands: We’re working on putting together some shows. We also just linked up with Power 106 and Dj Carisma, so we’re gonna be putting our singles on another plateau. As far as new music is concerned, I’m working on an EP called South Los Angeles: The West Side Story Of Rich Porter. I should be done with that by December.
Tony Delerme: You came a long way from sleeping on your grandmother’s couch to where you are now. What advice do you have for any up and coming rappers trying to get into the game?
Marion Bands: Educate yourself about the business. Also, understand the true essence and law of cause and effect. A lot of time people try to change the effect without changing the cause. So remember, learn cause and effect, stay positive, stay working and learn the business. That’s all you gotta do.