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Detroit rapper Munch talks about connecting and innovating in his city

I had the opportunity to talk with local rapper, producer, event promoter, and visionary Maher Hachem, known as Munch, about his experience making music and creating in Detroit.

His charismatic energy, work ethic, and whole-hearted commitment to spreading positivity allow him to create really special projects for Detroiters. It was great to hear from him about how being open to exploring new creative ideas and fostering genuine connections can yield results that get everyone excited about art and music.

Check out the full interview below.

Chesney Walters: I’ve heard you describe yourself as a fusion hip hop artist and I can definitely hear the influences coming in from several genres. Is there a genre you haven’t explored that you want to get into or anything new coming up we should know about?

Munch: Yeah, I mean, the music I’m making now is very hands on. Over the last few years I’ve gotten way more into the production side, which has allowed me to explore different types of genres. On my last project Full Circle Pt.1 there was a lot of jazz influence. It wasn’t just hip hop influence, there was more live instrumentation and raw organic sounds throughout the studio. Constantly, with each project I’m working on there’s different sounds, which is cool. Looking forward, I think the music that I’m creating is gonna be really organic.

CW: Do you play on all your music or use midi instruments, or do you hire out session players for those different styles?

M: So a lot of the music I make nowadays is me and my friends. So we’ll either link up or send stems between each other and it’s pretty cool, you get to make music with people that you just enjoy being around.

CW: So since you are an artist and you’re working with your friends, but you’re also throwing shows for your events company Big Pink Media, has that changed your personal approach to anything on the artist side going into a show? Do you do anything differently knowing both sides of it?

M: Yeah 100%. When I approach from the artist aspect, initially you don’t know that you have a lot of control in the situation. And, from the promoter side you always want to be pleasing the artists, because they’re the ones who are going to be bringing the show together, right?

So understanding the value of myself as an artist throughout the whole process of just throwing shows, playing shows, making music [has been important].

Both sides have taught me different things about the industry too, in terms of how to interact with the artists, how to properly approach shows, and just proper etiquette and how to be able to go into different cities and play different shows and have them be successful.

CW: So managing your music, managing your business, and managing shows, do you ever find your business responsibilities and music needs clashing? Or is there a synergy between your creative flow and your business flow?

M: I feel like there’s definitely a synergy because my whole life I’ve kind of just pursued creative things that have inspired me, and it’s never been like ‘I want to do this and this is the only thing I want to be doing.’ I’ve always been interested in all sides of stuff, you know? So I started off as a musician, and then as a musician I learned, you know, we’re not gonna be making that much money off streams, so we gotta focus on selling merch and playing shows. And then eventually I was like ‘wow, so these are two completely other parts of music that I didn’t even think I would be getting a part of.’ So I started throwing shows in college, and playing shows… I mean I’ve been playing shows since I started making music, but I started throwing shows in college and then that kind of transformed into Big Pink, which we kind of explain in an episode [of his podcast Big Pink Loves You], but…

Yeah, I expanded into that and then I was like ‘okay I wanna sell clothes’ so in order to sell clothes, I don’t wanna just slap my name on these products, I want it to be deeper, I want it to be more productive and have a bigger impact than my music. And mental health really connected with me, and I was like ‘you know what lemme try to figure something out with mental health.’

So there is that synergy, that it all just comes together naturally, cause I’m just filled with curiosity on how I can do these other sides of the industry.

munch01Note: Munch’s clothing line, Love Yourself, gives back a percentage of all profits to mental health organizations in the community.

CW: Yeah, I think you can really tell as a consumer, on the outside, that everything you’re doing is connected, and I think that’s so valuable. Because obviously the industry’s always changing, but it’s so reassuring to find an artist who’s genuine about what they’re doing.

It’s hard for a lot of people to ‘sell themselves’ but it doesn’t seem like you have that issue, it all just comes naturally from you and it never feels superficial. It’s always an organic environment of sharing and creating, so that’s really special.

M: Thank you, I appreciate that so much. Yeah, I mean we really focus on just keeping it as organic as possible. And, you know, I’m not selling thousands of products, but I know that the people I am selling products to and that are coming to my shows, I’m really engaging with them and I’m seeing them want to continue being a part of whatever I’m doing, which is cool.

CW: That’s awesome, that actually kind of answers my next question as well… So would you say that transitioning from wanting to do this to now, when this is your whole life and your income comes entirely from your creative projects, would you say that it’s been important that you were willing to branch out and diversify like that?

M: Yeah 100%. I feel like just understanding how I can capitalize on these different projects and… I don’t know, just being able to have that balance where I don’t just have to rely on music to make an income and pay my rent which is nice. You know, I can rely on my creativity and my productivity and my motivation to do other projects, right? Does that make sense?

CW: That totally makes sense, yeah. So, switching gears, I know you’re also part of the collective Raresounds World and Hard Car Kids as well. I can tell there’s a really tight knit community there, will you tell me a little bit about how that’s benefited you creatively, but also administratively? Do you guys have an administrative team, or is that all you guys behind the scenes?

M: So there’s two answers. For Raresounds World, I started that with my friend Datsunn. We started it together because we were making so much music and we wanted to put it out under an umbrella company, so we created Raresounds. And we were like ‘hey we’re collaborating with so many artists, let’s just put them under this umbrella too, all the music we make together.’

So the next thing we know, we’re working with 6 different artists, 7 different artists directly, where we’re putting out their music. So we do all the stuff from marketing, putting out the projects, working with them on building release plans.

And then on the other hand Hard Car Kids kind of just started… on my instagram I kind of explain the story of how it started. So that’s just all of us in a group chat, coordinating, sending stems of the newest stuff we’ve recorded, the latest versions, and just confirming, ‘okay we all agree on the artwork, all agree on the master.’ I feel like it’s very present the way we interact, it’s not like emails waiting weeks, it’s like, okay, instant, boom we like this, okay, release it!

CW: So for the administrative tasks, you were talking about the marketing and the release plans, is that all just you guys?

M: No yeah I don’t have a manager, it’s just me that does all my stuff for Munch, so I’m solo on that. But I have a really cool network around me where… Big Pink thrives because it’s me and a friend, Raresounds thrives because it’s me and my friends, Hard Car Kids thrives because it’s me and my friends, you know? It’s a really tight network where we can rely on each other. I’m able to associate with all these projects because we trust each other’s work ethic, right? And we represent each other properly.

CW: So this is my last question… What’s your favorite part about making music and throwing shows in Detroit, because I feel like there’s such a good community here, what’s your favorite part about that?

M: I think you answered the question, the community. And it’s the people within the community that push you, and accept you for who you are, and are willing to support you no matter what. And I think that is what motivates me everyday and always when I want to throw shows and do more engaging things for the community. Because it’s reciprocated so well.

You know, people get excited to come to your shows, people get excited to share your music and wear your clothes, and when they hang out with you they’re wearing the merch, because they’re like ‘yo check it out, I believe in you!’ And it’s just like wow, why would I ever leave here?

CW: Totally. So you see yourself here in the future?

M: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, until it does me wrong, and right now it’s not doing me any wrong.

After speaking with Munch there was a clear energy still present, left over from the passion he exuded when talking about his city and his many upcoming projects.

To keep up with what he’s doing next, follow him on Instagram @munchmusic where he plays a virtual show every week. And don’t forget to stream his music wherever you listen.

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