From time to time I get asked where the name Mission Man comes from, so I decided to answer it here.
Short version: When I was 17, I was looking for a name that would show I was on a mission to change the way people saw hip-hop. I now think that’s arrogant, and I am simply on a mission to keep doing what I love.
Long version: I was 17 in 1996. At the time, gangsta rap was huge. The lyrical content of hip-hop was often degrading to women, violent, and arrogant. This was never what hip-hop was about for me. I always loved groups like Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Sugarhill Gang, etc. My first ever rap album was Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest. It was on cassette. I loved the fun they had, and the self-expression they put into their music. To me, “The Message” will probably always be the best hip-hop song ever made because it really brought attention to social problems, while being very self-expressive and honest, and the music is still fantastic. The song has also been sampled by countless artists, most notably Ice Cube.
Once mainstream hip-hop became dominated by gangsta rap, it received a ton of negative publicity, causing a large portion of Americans to immediately connotate rap with violence and degradation of women. I simply wanted to change the American psyche back to believing that hip-hop was first and foremost about self-expression. I now think it’s arrogant to believe I could do that, for many reasons. So, my mission now is simply to keep doing what I love. That mission is challenging enough, and absolutely worth every difficult moment, as the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices.
As an anecdote, when I was narrowing down my name choices, I ultimately decided on Mission Man because it fell in between Method Man and Mo Thugs in the alphabet, both of whom were very successful at the time. I thought that if someone was browsing the hip-hop section of a local record store, they’d have to come across my CD because of it.