Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire Gets Down With His Duality

"You got to ask my mother that. You wanna call her? Come on, let's call her." It's a rain-sodden Thanksgiving's eve and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire's goddaughter has just turned up at his Crown Heights apartment. Her appearance prompts the question of what the rapper himself was like as a kid—to which he's deferred to the wisdom of his mom.

Put on speakerphone, eXquire's mom says, "I'm not saying this because I'm biased, but actually he was a wonderful kid. He was extremely intelligent; you'd tell him something once and he had it. He liked to write—poetry, rhymes—and he did a cartoon series when he was about six-years-old, I think. I forget the name of it." Then, before hanging up, she says to her son, "Don't ever do anything like that again!"

The comic strip, eXquire recalls, was "about this dude that was like a space adventurer and he went to this planet and everybody's got a butt on their head!" As a kid, he wanted to be an artist. He used to "get girls by drawing their faces for them." But, he says, "I ended up not doing it; I ended up kinda rapping."

Today, eXquire is held in far loftier esteem than being known as someone who can "kinda" rap. His mixtape Lost In Translation, released back in September, is an off-kilter gem that harnesses the uncompromising attitude of Ol' Dirty Bastard (more on that later) with the chops of someone who can rhyme his ass off. It's book-ended by the "Huzzah" songs: the first, eXquire's solo ode to excess in the name of liquor; and the remix, which spawned features guest verses from El-P, Das Racist, Danny Brown and Despot and was re-christened "The Last Huzzah." The remix—which has a video that parodies the cameo-studded clip for Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" remix—has boosted eXquire's profile to the point where he's considered one of those New York City rappers tipped for wider success.

Looking around eXquire's apartment—which verges on the ramshackle and is filled with trinkets (a Pin Pression toy, Marlon Brando's face covering the peephole to his front door)—one thinks that he's been traveling a straight line to this point since his school days. Stacked neatly on his coffee table is a pile of coloring books (eXquire's somewhat expert at not going over the lines); his apartment walls are adorned with hand-crafted collages. In the corner is his lab: a microphone, speakers, and a computer that, he says, he only knows "how to press record on—I did my whole album just pressing record and delete; I don't know how to do anything else." Plastered above his work station are a series of motivational slogans ("Fuck egos"), a list of ten steps to making great decisions, and a large cutout of a female Grand Theft Auto character. On more than one occasion eXquire, suffering from a nasty cold verging on the flu, picks up a large light-blue towel off the floor and blows his nose in it.

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