MentPlus
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Label: High Water Music

Give the Man Behind the Boards Some Credit…

MentPlus’ passion for music is rooted in his upbringing in Brooklyn and New Jersey. In his early days in BK, which he called a war zone, he discovered his love for music listening to the genre-swapping radio stations at his grandma’s home. He was also introduced to turntables through his older brother’s friend, a local DJ with a penchant for the Golden Era classics, and needed a place to store his equipment, where meant would soon learn to navigate his way around a pair of 1200s.

His family’s move to Jersey warmed his ears to the growing house scene as he (and his music) bounced back and forth from there to Brooklyn, in the early-to-mid ‘90s. He and his friends used dusty samplers and tape decks to craft beats, first from Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilations and soon after from their own crate-dug collections.

But it was the MPC that became his obsession, the young producer dedicating his days to mastering the drum machine. He and a friend became so confident they thought they could hang with the cats on the radio, and it almost happened around the release of Lauryn Hill’s lauded solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Unfortunately, their music went uncredited, a lawsuit followed, and the friendship went sour.

A true Hip-Hop head, he tagged every so often and used the letters “M E N T,” hence his deejay/producer moniker. He now added Plus to give himself the strength to focus on his work amid the industry BS.

The burgeoning artist kept honing his craft while becoming a regular at the legendary Fat Beats, where he noticed a flyer for the IPA Beat Battle. “I thought I could roll up there and do my thing, but it ended up being a humbling experience,” he says. Those who popped his balloon include DJ Static (Immortal Technique’s DJ) and Metaphysics (known for his work with dead prez), and the event inspired him to hit the lab and change everything up.

More beat battles followed, MentPlus honed his technique, and his place in the scene grew—but he then took a nearly two-year hiatus. “I needed to keep the lights on,” he remembers. “I wasn’t selling beats; I was just making music and having fun.” Instead, he focused on his education, and eventually earned a full-time job, after earning his engineering certification.

But music wouldn’t let him go. Just as he earned his certification in 2005, the beat scene in Jersey was exploding. Ment was back, and his music eventually reached Mr. Len and Sucio Smash, who played his music on Squeeze radio. ”Those guys were my Yodas,” Ment says, crediting them with increasing his impact.

The beat battles continued, including a huge IPA win that led to a one-on-one meeting with Sucio Smash, who connected the producer with a slew of artists. But as the IPA and Banging Beats events died down in 2007, the iStandard beat battle was announced—another huge turning point for the East Flatbush native. After defeating his competition, MentPlus got the chance to speak with Just Blaze at the Beast of the Beats championship. “He told me my stuff was really good and the chopping was on point, but that my sound is all over the place,” Ment says. “ Basically, he told me to get my own style.”

Two years later, Ment brought a more organic sound to iStandard, where he wowed audiences and sat down with a Bad Boy Records A&R. However, due to his past experience, combined with the label’s checkered reputation for stealing Pete Rock’s original song idea for “Juicy,” MentPlus decided to pass on the opportunity, and so he walked away.

No one knows what could have happened if that meeting took a different course, but the iStandard event created another great opportunity—when MentPlus got a call from Duck Down Music. They wanted to buy one of his beats for placement on Survival Skills, the then-upcoming album from two living legends he worshipped growing up, Buckshot and KRS-One. The track ended up being the K’naan-featured “Think Of All The Things.”

As for the future, Ment’s excited to release his Stormy Nights EP and full length instrumental LP, and full length instrumental LP, in addition to collaborating with El Da Sensei and Sadat X on their forthcoming project. Ment and El have their own effort in their works, too. Keep an eye out for his upcoming shows on both coasts, too; his days as a party-starter aren’t behind him yet.