Diaspora

Don’t Call Mach-Hommy ‘Reclusive’ – Rolling Stone

By Andre Gee
The prolific Haitian American rapper Mach-Hommy is thinking about his craft. “They say mastery requires 10,000 hours. If that’s the case, I’ve been a master. I’m ascendant,” he says during a FaceTime call last week. He was preparing for the release of DUCK CZN: Tiger Style, which dropped on Monday. The album is a continuation of his work with frequent collaborator Tha God Fahim, and a follow-up to their 2018 project, DUCK CZN: Chinese Algebra. The title of the series is a reference to the course of nature come winter time, and producers Sadhugold and Nicholas Craven laced the two MCs with warm, neck-snapping production ripe for the impending cold months, which Mach says was intentional. “The ducks fly away. Motherfuckers got to escape the bitter cold, son. And sometimes it’s the bitter cold of your life,” he says. “You might be stuck in a trauma loop and sometimes the winter is a great time to exorcise demons, man, and get them out of your life.” 
DUCK CZN: Tiger Style is just one of several projects Mach-Hommy has released in the past few years. Some fans may have been introduced to him at one of his Dump Season, Dollar Menu, or Triz EPs, or with acclaimed projects like H.B.O. (Haitian Body Odor), Balens Cho, or Pray For Haiti, the Westside Gunn-assisted EP that sat at the top of many year-end lists in 2021. But just because his body of work has marked him as a supreme lyricist doesn’t mean that’s all he is. Hommy is an avid fisher, hunter, and a self-described “Haitian cowboy.” He donated the proceeds of Pray for Haiti to a trust fund for his native country that’s since been rocked by political upheaval. He tells me that he’s trying to find a way to save the country’s brightest young minds and help them learn technology, robotics, and programming.  

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And while he doesn’t often speak with the press, Hommy is repulsed by the idea of fans viewing him as “reclusive.” He’s simply making music and living life on his own terms. He spoke to Rolling Stone at length about his new album, what he hopes to achieve in Haiti, and what hunting and fishing have taught him about life. 
How does it go when you’re looking for beats that specifically elicit the feeling of winter?
A good healthy human body is like 76 megahertz, it’s vibrating at that. That rate of cycles. But then you got something that’s dying, the death process is 20 megahertz to zero. So I mean regardless of the tapestry itself, what I’m talking about is what it elicits, what it inspires, and where it directs the listener or the partaker. I feel like a lot of times, no matter what’s going on, a lot of the shit that’s made with that vibe and that intention is not created to get you out of the 20 megahertz and up into the 70s and 80s and hundreds. I’m trying to take niggas to 700, man. And beyond. So it’s just like, I think when I’m hearing the beat, it’s something in finality that kind of gives you an inkling that it ain’t over. Whether it be okay, this ain’t your first fall season, so you know the trees [are] gonna grow back, the leaves. But for some reason, the human spirit, it’s really emotional and motherfuckers be forgetting that they went through the fall before. Niggas forget that the trees is going to grow back in spring and then bear fruit at the top of the summer. So, just in general, in essence, if it was just about music and nothing else, then motherfuckers wouldn’t be getting murdered, niggas wouldn’t be killing niggas. So it’s a little bit deeper than just music. This has to do with wellness.

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Who handled the production on this project?
It’s mostly Sadhu Gold, you can hear that shit all through there. He one of those motherfuckers you could hear when it’s him. And then Nicholas Craven, and then Tha God Fahim.
Strong combination.
Yeah. I don’t really stray too far from the tree. The in-house is so dope, you know what I mean? The whole cast. I don’t be all over the place. Not saying that there’s not anything cool anywhere else, I guess I’ll work my way around to it, but these guys is young and they hungry, and they keep me loaded. This thing where I got all that protein in the deep freezer. That’s how I got the beats.
If it’s a fruitful, creative relationship, then there’s no use in straying just to stray. 
Right. Every once in a while you’ll see something different, but that’s because that’s just more than anything, life dictated that more than me chasing it or looking for it. If you see something different happening, any deviations from the set pattern are just natural occurrences. Anomalies.
Do you predominantly record in the same space?
No. It’s funny. Especially for this one, it was all over because I had to travel a lot. It’s like whenever something’s happening — and I can feel it because it comes and it ebbs and flows — sometimes I’m fortunate enough to be in one place. But these last two, I was all over the place. I was recording all over, up and down the East Coast, up and down the West Coast. But the funny thing is because shit is the way it is now, and I’ve been doing it for so long, everywhere I go we got the same equipment. So whether it’s me taking my shit with me, or my people that’s already in position, they already got the shit at they house or something like that. So it’s very, very organic, even when it’s not in one place. It’s kind of across the board, we dealing with the same processes. It’s just like automatic for me. It’s almost like a reflex by now.
I heard several duck references within the album.
It’s a lot. Winter is a great time, also just getting into that whole seasonal approach of your mentality shifting, even the animals and the birds. The ducks fly away. Motherfuckers got to escape the bitter cold, son. And sometimes it’s the bitter cold of your life. You might be stuck in a trauma loop and sometimes the winter is a great time to exorcise demons, man, and get them out of your life. You ever notice that sometimes people [are] like, “Oh, working on the summer body,” because they already know it’s time to change and then you want to present that change just like nature. We’re so in tune with nature that we’re fucked up right now because we’re out of whack. We don’t even understand how much a part of nature we are. We think we above nature and shit but it don’t really work like that, niggas. I promise you, I’ve been around. It don’t work like that. It’s like we are fucking inextricably bound to nature and its laws.

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It’s also duck season. I’m an avid hunter. I hunt big game. I’ve fucking raised cattle. I’ve butchered. I butcher my own beef, my own cows. The only reason people don’t see me doing the humdrum is because I’m busy. If I wasn’t busy, I’d probably be bullshitting like everyone else. But I got shit going on and it keeps my mind agile and it keeps me engaged. I know what the other thing is, like ‘oh you a rapper.’ It’s bullshit mostly. It’s really nothing. My life is not on pause in between making albums. I’m with my family. I’m with the horses. I’m with the cows. We huntin’ big game. We going on elk hunts. A fucking bear followed us for like a fucking hour and 40 minutes. Nigga was trying to take our kill, trying to poach our kill. We trying to go down the fucking river, and every time we look up, we think we good, the nigga is right there on the banks. On some like, “Yo, y’all good. Just give me that.” And you can feel it like you know what he on. He like, “Bro, give up the goods or get scraped, nigga.” A Grizzly bear never got the drop on y’all, so what are you telling me about life? And then, you never held onto your shit and didn’t give it up. We kept our shit.
How much does hunting and being in nature and fishing and preparing your own food carry over into other areas of your life?
I think the biggest thing that I understand about life more than anything is that anything you do with your life requires preparation. I feel like everything is now for real 99% prep. I see it so clearly because prime example: I could break a full-grown deer down in 40 minutes. But the first time, I needed a lot of help and it took several hours and I had three people helping me. So yeah, I just feel like preparation. I remember the first time we went big game looking for elk I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what 20 below, 10 below [zero degrees] really, really hitting on. Nonstop though. Not like, oh, when it’s night and after three in the morning it drops real low. No, all day minus 10 to 20. So for several days. And it’s just like, huh?
Everybody kept telling me, “Yo, you need this, city boy,” this and that. And I’m like, “Damn, I really should have packed some more shit.” It was cold. But the next time I went, I had all the right shit. Everything was sealed, double reinforced so that even if you got something warm on, once the snow gets in and wets you, you’re fucked because you walking around, everything is chest deep unless what’s carved out by vehicles. And then sometimes, the snow is about as tall as this room and you got to navigate to higher ground. It just, you get in touch with how important being prepared is and how important readiness is.

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I was wondering how you feel about people making such a big deal about you “being reclusive” and what that says about how we feel entitled to artists’ presence.
I feel like it’s part of the bastardization of the culture. The corporatization, the anesthetization. They want to take it and make it highly replicable and the least bit nuanced, as little different as possible from one another so that they can just interchange. It’s just some products that they want to be able to Lego niggas’ whole shit. Lego you the fuck out, build whatever they want with it. And what that does is kill the potential for you to have anything meaningful out of a career in this genre because you not allowed to create your own pathways. Well, not unless you want to be labeled and fettered by noun modifiers, modifying your name and your essence and the whole character of what you bring to the table. And just say something like “reclusive,” what does that mean? That is a very negative projection to the audience’s mind. Niggas is starting to think about Howard Hughes with the long fingernails. It’s fucking negative. It’s like niggas is cursing you, damn near. Just cause they don’t be where you be at. But that’s all a part of the corporatization and the bastardization of the culture.
What other things are you working on for the near future?
We got notorious Dump Legends, Volume Two. You know, that’s the same vibe. Dump Legends is part of that seasonal depression. That’s like the apex. That’s when it’s like, “Damn.” All the leaves actually done fell and gone type shit. That’s the deep freeze. You’ll see the difference when you hear that. That’s all this year. And then I got one more thing, but I might just hold it til next year. But I’ve got another thing. I don’t want to name it or whatever.
I’ve got another thing definitely coming at the top of the new year, and then I’m working on live shows. Basically, I’m probably going to be performing for like 36 months. I can’t just fucking bullshit, man. I’ve got to make the time, dedicate it, execute it, and like a lot of people don’t understand that they’re so used to this unintelligible, fucking cacophony of noise, insofar as all of the things that they commit to, that they have no good intention of following through on. It’s just a waste of peoples’ psychic energy.

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Is that like an extended tour, or is that multiple tours?
No, so what I mean by that is like, starting next year, for the next three years, I’m going to be performing on a regular basis. Now, that might mean once every 30 days or once every 60 days, or sometimes I might do four in a month. Who knows? I’m not going to be premature and describe what exactly what it’s going to look like, because you know it’s still in process. But I’ll mainly be focused with bringing everything that has preceded my physical presence in the form of music and conversation, bringing it to people in the flesh. I’m going to be focused on that. Even if I want to clear half the catalog, it would take about 36 months for me to clear half the catalog, as far as bringing it to the public. 
I’ve noticed your lyrics aren’t on Genius. Can you go into why you don’t want your stuff on Genius?
I’m a literary artist. Before we start to describe what kind, whether I’m a giant or a dwarf or whatever the fuck, I’m a literary artist and I’m a writer, number one. Before it ever becomes a sound, number one. And so that in and of itself is a work of art, and that’s published writing. Those words, they’re mine. For instance, a writer writes a book. Ernest Hemingway writes a book. Everyone loves it. It’s ill. Then they adapt it as a movie. Then the movie’s out, and some niggas just take the book and are like, “Yo, free book. Free book.” And not only “free book,” but a free book, and then monetizing it. 
Part of the proceeds from your masters for Pray for Haiti went to a trust fund benefiting Haiti. How has that been going?
I mean right now, shit is rough, man. The first part is to find out what to do. There’s no immediate relief that I was really trying to provide. I was trying to create a situation where I can build a facility to draw the proper resources for technology, robotics, and programming. I do the album. I don’t make a dollar. Everything is for the trust fund. Everyone involved knows the money’s still just there, sitting. But then, what do you do with it? I was like, “Y’all, making this school is dangerous and I want to just help the people right now because they really need food and water.” Right now, there’s a situation where no one can get any food or any water or anything, even people of means, even those that are well-to-do. Because everything is basically controlled and hijacked by certain elements on the ground, so now everything is being controlled by the gangs. If you don’t get it through them, you get nothing. This is all in light of some elections that are about to take place.

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So, yeah, people are literally being starved. It’s not the same thing, like the Holodomor which was state-sponsored death by starvation, but it’s looking like the beginnings of that. How the fuck I’m supposed to build a school there? So now I got to switch gears and think, “I need to build a school somewhere safe and extract the best minds, and spirit them away to safety so that they don’t fucking drown in the cesspool.” It’s a major point of destabilization, political destabilization, throughout the history of the New World, of the Western Hemisphere. Mother fuckers keep forgetting that Columbus landed there first. So there’s a history of violence there that’s before slavery. There’s some shit going on. And I make the album and it’s like, “Yo, yeah, that was cool. That was last year.” It’s like, “Fuck you, nigga. I made the album and they killed the president right in front of the whole world a couple of weeks later. You’re telling me it was last year.” Fuck that.
Yeah, it’s not a marketing gimmick. This is reflecting real life.
That’s why I don’t like talking, bro. I hate doing anything with this shit, to a certain degree. It’s just like, “To what avail am I speaking?” I just hope somebody hears me. It’s like, bro, Haiti is right there. You know what happens in Haiti always happens in America next? Y’all niggas ain’t listening. Pay attention. It’s like,
“Yo, there is a pattern of this as a testing ground or a litmus for what is going to occur in the U.S.” 
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