Why Martin $ky's 'If Anybody Ever Told You That They Know Me, They Lied' Is His Last Project As A Rapper

Photo by Michael Brandt

Photo by Michael Brandt

Martin $ky has been figuring things out. Look at the trajectory of his career and the themes of his work, the search for change, meaning and drive has been central throughout. He’s been looking for his place, and this isn’t new; his first project that broke him through was titled Everywhere But Here. While the project made Martin $ky a name among fans of Chicago hip-hop, his compass was actually moving him in the wrong direction. Moving past the cognitive dissonance and ennui was only possible once Martin $ky was able to get to the heart of the matter with a bold move, a move that I’m inclined to agree with. His new project is titled If Anybody Ever Told You That They Know Me, They Lied, and it’s his last work as a rapper.

Breathe deeply, he’s not quitting music, but his time as a rapper is over as he moves back to an emphasis on his first love. It's what set him apart on day one, production. The truth is, production is why we know Martin $ky, why you’re reading about him, why I’m writing about him (or writing, period – my first piece was on his Everywhere But Here release party). His production has always been something different, creating worlds where others create beats. This hasn't changed on the new project, except the range of sound and emotion has diversified greatly. While Martin $ky has always had a sound of his own, on If Anybody Ever Told You... he takes chances to expand on this, going far beyond the heavy Martin $ky beats he first cut his teeth on with Everywhere But Here. Those beats were bangers, but this album sees $ky creating a universe out of thin air. 

And that gives you an idea of why he's taking his career in this direction. While some of the write ups for If Anybody Ever Told You... have expressed disappointment at his decision, I can't claim to understand this sentiment. Since his 2015 debut, Martin $ky's talents have been continuously underrated. It's difficult not to share his conclusion that being being stuck on the mic played a role, ultimately proving the dual artist label to be more curse than blessing. Would he not know best? That's probably where it gets twisted; usually, rappers' message comes in the vessel of lyricism, wrapped in a beat to be easily consumed by listeners. For Martin $ky, it's the opposite, we did not recognize this and as such had it completely backwards. Continue reading below for a conversation with Martin $ky on the big question, "why"?

What does producing make you feel, and how did rapping make you feel?

"When I produce, I feel invincible and at true peace. I'm doing what I love and I'm fully consumed by it in that moment. Can't really explain how at ease I am when I'm creating. It's where I wanna be. When I rap though, I feel like I'm just doing it because I have to. It's not even real sometimes and since I didn't truly love rapping, it drained me mentally."

Where did your expectations of rapping not match with the reality?

"It wasn't even about my expectations. I'm happy with how far I got. I knew I could've kept going and went further, but at what cost? My mental health and happiness is all that matters to me. I lied to myself for years telling myself I kinda like to rap. I don't enjoy it at all at this point. Not even performing. I just rather not. Just isn't my passion. When I was younger, I was all about it since I figured no one would listen to my beats alone, but now I know that there's a lane for artists to do so and I have a platform that I've built for myself to share my thoughts instrumentally rather than lyrically. I just had to get the courage to actually say it out loud. I don't want to be a rapper anymore. I just want to produce."

What’s different about production for you when it comes to self - expression?

"When I produce, I can say so much more without even speaking. I can let you into parts of my mind that aren't so accessible to just anyone. I can show you every shade and color of my creative self through sound. Plus, I'm not a big talker. I guess you could say I'm shy at times, but I'm confident in my work as well. I'm just not very outspoken. I don't thing of it as a weakness either. I speak when I feel the need to rather than saying things just because. And over time, I learned that I just don't have much to say literally, but I have so many different vibes and feelings I want to share. Words just aren't my tool. I've always known this deep down. But people seemed to enjoy me rapping. It's cool, but whatever."

You had mentioned that rapping was becoming toxic to your mental health, because you were telling yourself it was your passion when it wasn’t. Was there a specific moment that brought you to this conclusion?

"I hated rapping so much that all of my music became dark this year and this character that I created began to consume who I was as a person. All year I was depressed and dealt with some really shitty anxiety and insomnia on top of it all. It sucked. I stopped hanging out with my friends so much and I kinda cut a lot of people off thinking that I could just deal with it all and sort it out on my own just being in my head. Ever since I've stopped though, I've been the happiest I can remember in years. I wouldn't trade this feeling for anything. I can hear the difference in the music I've been making recently which I plan on sharing with you all in the new year. My friends that I've played the new music for agree as well. They hear exactly why I switched my focus to production." 

As the newly refocused Martin $ky, what do you now hope to accomplish in 2017?

"At this point, I'm making music for me. I just want to share how I'm feeling with the world through my beats. I'm doing what I love and I'm happy. I just wanna stay happy next year. Production is exactly what I need to accomplish that. And any of my peers that believe in me and trust my sound have came to me for production and you'll be hearing these songs eventually. I also plan on placing records with bigger artists which I'm already working on as well. Some DJ sets too. I've really been practicing and getting into that. It's way more fun than jumping around yelling on stage. 2017 should be a fun one for sure. I'm excited. :)"