Rising independent MCs Earlly Mac and Supakaine are core members of Detroit’s APX collective. Growing up on Detroit’s west side, Earlly Mac and Supakaine share a bond that’s deeper than music. Both men recently visited StockX to talk about their family, their music, style, and being from Detroit.
Check out the latest edition of “Off The Top” below, featuring Earlly Mac and Supakaine.
StockX: Thank you both for sitting down with us. Would you please introduce yourselves?
Earlly Mac: My real name is Earl.
Supakaine: I’m Supakaine. I’m an artist from Detroit, Michigan. I’m a friend; I’m a brother; I’m a son; I’m a leader.
Tell us about your family history. Where’s your family from?
EM: My grandma came from Mississippi. Everyone else in my family is from Detroit. My grandma migrated from Mississippi with my grandpa in the 1950s. They came to Detroit because of the auto industry. My mom is an educator and real estate tycoon. My dad is a scientist.
S: My family is from the east side of Detroit. Both my parents are from the east side. My mom’s brothers and sisters grew up on Mack Avenue. My dad passed before I was born. My mom ended up moving to the west side in her 20s. I grew up on the west side.
Would you two talk about where you grew up?
S: Growing up, I never went over to the east side. Detroit used to be real segregated: east on east, and west on west. When I was eleven or twelve, I moved to Farmington Hills. I was telling my homie that I was glad to do my high school years in the suburbs because I was able to deal with people I might not have met otherwise. My high school years is what I appreciate the most about my living experience outside of Detroit.
EM: I grew up on the west side of Detroit, in the Dexter-Linwood area. It was interesting, bleak, yet inspiring.
What is your most vivid memory from growing up?
EM: I would play basketball every day in the back yard, on a crate! I did that until I got a real, adjustable rim. I still play basketball.
S: I remember playing basketball, too. But what I remember the most is being at the gas station at Six Mile and Southfield. Every day my friends and I would go to the gas station and get candy and bullshit. It was a Mobile.
So let’s talk about the evolution of Earlly Mac and Supakaine. How did you two become the MCs you are today?
S: Around the tenth or eleventh grade, I started seriously recording. I was in a group with three other dudes. I was partying a lot with different types of friends, and the style of music I was making back then was different. I ended up doing 26 days in jail when I was 21. It was a transformation for me. I started to reevaluate what was important to me and kind of started over. I hooked up with Joe Robinson and APX about four years ago. Since then I’ve put out four bodies of work. My whole message has changed from that of a kid to a man who wants to make sure he’s in control of his life.
EM: I started as a thinker. From a thinker, I went on to be an experimenter. From there, I went to on to be a producer, a rapper, a songwriter, and an entrepreneur. I’m poly-dimensional. Basically, I don’t want my life to live me.
Kaine, you mentioned APX. What is APX?
S: APX is the label and the collective. We’re independent and put out our own projects. We do full in-house productions. We’ve been able to do a lot without taking a check from everybody. We’re just doing the Detroit hustle. You know Detroit hustles harder.
You both seem to have a great relationship with each other. What’s your relationship like?
S: Me and Earl is like a big and little brother situation. He was always inviting me to the studio. I had already known him, but the studio is where our relationship got even closer. It’s the same thing with everybody in APX. Beyond me and Earl, APX is a really tightknit family. I talk to [APX Management’s] Joe [Robinson] and Icepic every day. Family is business.
EM: Kaine is my little brother. When I was releasing music throughout my career, Kaine was always in a group. After a while, the two guys from the group faded away, and now it’s just him. It’s a classic little brother story. I’ve seen him turn into a man and I’m proud of him.
We’re just doing the Detroit hustle. You know Detroit hustles harder.
Describe your creative process. How do you put together a project?
S: When I go into the studio, I sit down with the producer, and we try to find the right chords, find the right sample. The music will usually spark the emotion and feed me the vibe and then the music. And then record and record until its time to put something out. Then I narrow it down to the ones I like the most and the ones that are the most cohesive.
EM: My process is just to listen to the beat first. My initial thing is to dance. Dancing inspires words. Mumbles inspire me, mumbling cadence and patterns. The first inspiration is whatever is going on and then the music. Shout out to Icepic!
Let’s talk a little bit about your personal history with hip-hop. What is your first memory of hip-hop?
EM: Tupac. My mom, when we first moved into our house on Puritan, she used to play Tupac’s “Don Killumanti” album. I remember being cold outside and her playing it.
S: That’s an interesting question. It was probably watching “BET: Uncut” and seeing Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video. That is one of my very earliest hip-hop memories. I was a little kid sitting in front of the TV thinking, “what is this!”
Growing up, who were some of your favorite hip-hop artists?
S: My favorite album is Kanye West’s “Late Registration.” It’s my favorite even though he’s on something right now. We’ll let him finish, though.
My favorite rap groups would probably have to be between UGK and OutKast. During my senior year, I was super into going back. My whole twelfth-grade year was UGK and OutKast.
EM: My favorite rapper, my most memorable rapper is Eminem. Growing up and being from Detroit, Em was huge. He’s what I needed to hear at the time, as crazy as that sounds, despite his clinical content. I went left when everybody went right, and he helped me keep it authentic.
What does hip-hop mean to you?
S: It means a lot. I want to mold my life around making music. I want that to be the foundation for the rest of my life. I learned a lot through hip hop figures, just listening to the music. I learned how to deal with people, deal with everyday life, and what it means coming from an urban neighborhood.
EM: Hip-hop is not even hip-hop anymore. It’s culture; It’s the culture of the work.
Let’s talk a little bit about sneakers and fashion. What’s your first memory of sneakers?
S: The first pair of Jordans I got was the “Flu Game” Jordan 12s. I have an Easter picture where I’m wearing a white suit and those shoes. I had a gold tie and white suit and these black and red shoes I would never take off.
My favorite sneakers are OG Jordan 1s. The Bred OG 1s. Any outfit, it don’t matter, they look good with anything.
What do sneakers mean to you?
S: Everything. I like waking up and getting fresh. It’s almost like a haircut. Shoes can make or break a fit. It’s just a lifestyle, man. You feel how you look.
Do you have a favorite watch?
S: That presidential Rolex. That’s every man’s dream watch, especially being from the D. For Detroit, ever since the 1970s and 1980s, Detroit people like to get fly and Rolex helps make you fly. I think Rolex just turned into this global symbol. I mean I saw a picture of the pope wearing a Rolex.
Rolex is also about quality. It’s not always about showing off. Sometimes you see a dude have a Rolex on, and you won’t even know!
Do you have any favorite clothing brands?
S: Bathing Ape is always classic. I like Gosha Rubchinsky, Gucci, and classic designer drip.
EM: My favorite brand is Atelier New Regime.
How do you describe your style?
EM: Minimalistic, I love minimalism. I like solid colors with small accent colors. My favorite color right now is orange. That was my favorite childhood color and the color scheme of my new album, “Big MF.”
S: For me, it’s simplistic. It’s raw. It’s creative. I like to try different stuff and go a little outside the box sometimes, but simple for the most part.
How do you represent Detroit?
S: I represent Detroit by the resilience I exhibit, the hustle, the determination, the grind. That’s what makes Detroit, the work. It fuels Detroit. Everybody you meet is going to be a working class person.
Em: All I got to do is breathe, and I represent Detroit.
Hip-hop is not even hip-hop anymore. It’s culture; It’s the culture of the work.
What should people know about Detroit?
S: That it’s not as cold-hearted as it seems. Lots of love in the city.
EM: That we’re totally authentic. Everybody that’s here is from here. That gives you a deep concentration of authenticity.
Do you think Detroit is accurately portrayed in the media?
S: To a degree. Like the violence, I feel like that happens everywhere. But that’s what the media only wants to focus on. I think it’s up to the new people that are growing up to change the shit and make sure everything is portrayed the right way.
What does success look like, for you?
S: It looks like happiness. It’s whatever I choose to make it for that day or week. True success is living happy. I don’t think people know what it is to be truly happy.
EM: Success is when everyone around has a shot of doing what they want to do, including myself. Essentially freedom and sovereignty for me and my people.