First Son of San Antonio: Milli Mars

The city of San Antonio is probably most famous for the historic battle of the Alamo and it’s 4-time NBA World championship team The Spurs. And while most of the country may associate the seventh most populous city in America with the site where Davy Crockett met his end and the place where David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili, and Tony Parker become superstar athletes, hip hop artist Milli Mars is working hard to put San Antonio on the rap map as well.

As a member of the whiz KIDZ (a local music group that’s a part of the larger collection of rappers, DJs, performance artists, and promoters known as Ghostpizza) Milli Mars is becoming one of the hottest underground hip hop artists in the Southwest region. He started to gain national attention in 2012 after dropping his video for “The Alarm” off his album YMID (Young Millz is Dead). The cinematic visual, which felt like it could have been plucked straight from the brilliantly maniacal mind of John Carpenter, led Milli to be featured on vibe.com, thefader.com, and complex.com. He recently dropped his single/video “Nah, Nah” off an upcoming new project slated for release later this year. As his star continues to rise DZI: The Voice wanted to pick the brain of the elusive emcee, so here’s our latest exclusive interview with Milli Mars.

You will find that the more that you give yourself to something the more it gives itself back to you.

Yohance Kyles: When did you first discover your voice as an artist?

Milli Mars: I mean as a kid every young cat that spits swears he is ill.  I’m still discovering it now. This shit becomes more about finding yourself.  You will find that the more that you give yourself to something the more it gives itself back to you. Whether it’s gardening, cooking, karate, whatever.  Find the spirit of it. 

YK: How did you meet the other members of the whiz KIDZ?

MM: We all came from different rock and rap groups from the city. We met at a studio were we all frequented; a notorious studio in San Antonio called “the Looney Bin”. While searching for something new we found each other and immediately contacted each other to start working on material. We were in the studio 3 days later and have been at it ever since. 

YK: A lot of hip hop fans’ image of rappers from the south is only that of a “trap rapper” or “comedic rapper”. How do you feel about being labeled a “southern rapper” and do you think that tag makes it more difficult to break away from the stereotypical image of rappers from the region?

MM: It’s not hard for me to break away from that stereotype once you listen and enjoy the music.  I am what I am and I’m honored to rep the south. But I do feel because of the stereotype that’s so heavily portrayed by some, that it can be hard at first for the listener to know this is dope music coming from the South. People get wrapped around the fact it doesn’t sound like Texas rap instead of “that’s some dope shit!”.

YMID Cover Art

YK: Your first digital album YMID had a real gritty, rapcore sound that’s kind of reminiscent of early 90’s underground rap. Why did you gravitate toward that particular sound when making that album?

MM: We are straight students of the 90’s era of hip hop and rock. One thing we clicked on when we met was that we were straight products of the 93-99 era; Bad Boy, Wu-Tang, Missy and Timbaland, No Limit. Watching the videos religiously, knowing Biggie and Missy verses, entendres and cadences to a tee. We’re from San Antonio so there’s no certain dominate style of hip hop. Everyone here listens to everything, so we believe we’re whats it’s supposed to be. 

YK: Two of the more popular tracks from YMID seems to be “Some Of These Girls” and “FDR”. What was the inspiration for those particular tracks?

MM: YMID 

YK: Your video for “Alarm” got a lot attention from various major music media outlets. What do you think it was about that particular video that commanded so much attention?

MM: The video team was coming off a successful video with A$AP Rocky.  “The Alarm” was their follow up. Filmmakers [Chris] Black,  Abteen [Bagheri] and Isaac [Bauman] are talented and cool cats.  And the video isn’t really a typical rap music video.  It had a lot to offer the viewer.  Plus a dope song doesn’t hurt.  It was all shot in our hometown of San Antonio.

YK: How did you come up with the treatment for your latest video for “Nah, Nah”?

MM: Total guerrilla style shooting. Recorded the song then the videographer, [Andrew] Goodwin, came by, heard it, and was like “lets shoot tomorrow”. Made a few calls. The rest was history.

I mean what is good and bad in the first place?  Everything is nothing and nothing is everything.

Milli bleeding for his craft

YK: Your shows are very high energy. How do you prepare for a performance?

MM: I think about it all.  Whatever is going on in my life, good and bad.  I mean what is good and bad in the first place?  Everything is nothing and nothing is everything.  I focus on that before a show.

YK: Besides your own team, what other artists are you listening to right now?

MM: Jay-Z, Missy, Timbaland, Rage Against The Machine, Pink Floyd, Deftones.

YK: What’s next for Milli Mars?

MM: I will build a time machine and smoke the same blunt over and over.  Other than that, a new EP, videos, and SXSW [South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals]. 

All photos courtesy of Milli Mars

For more info about Milli Mars click it

For more info about Ghost Pizza click it

To download YMID click it

To connect with Milli follow him @MilliMars

Check out the videos for “The Alarm” and “Nah, Nah”:

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