Mac Irv
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Mac Irv

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Hip Hop




"Mac Irv: I'm creating something out of nothing but a pen"

Mac Irv has been steadily building a following since releasing his free debut Certified Magnet in 2011, thanks to a unique approach to storytelling raps and a mass quantity of music videos. Ahead of his slot at this Sunday's Soundset at Canterbury Park, Gimme Noise sat down with the Northside rapper to ask about his upcoming project Sincerely Mac Irv.

See also:
Soundset 2014 set times revealed via official app
What was your reaction to hearing you made the Soundset lineup?

I was excited, just for the simple fact that we didn't expect to be on there this year. We were kind of past it, we were thinking about the next move. [When] we got the e-mail, it was an exciting feeling. Of course [the line-up] didn't come out yet, so we couldn't tell nobody for like two weeks. It was hard to hold it in. I was really excited about it, man.

I've always liked the way they incorporate local artists from different sides of scene.

Definitely, I think that's dope. It gives people the opportunity to see the local talent at a large scale. At Soundset, they have people from all over the country come. You could do something that will stick with these people, now you gotta fan in maybe Lousiana or maybe Texas... I think that's how artists grow like that.

Plus being on the same bill as rappers like Nas or 2 Chainz...

Just to be on that same list, on the same bill as them, it's amazing. If I stop rapping after Soundset, I can say I was on the same bill as Nas. That's dope.

You recently released a video for "No Place Like Home." Is that from an upcoming project?

Yep, that project is called Sincerely Mac Irv. It's basically gonna be like my letter to the people, asking for support, telling them what I'm doing, this is how I've been doing his life... It's sincere, everything that I do is sincere.

"No Place Like Home" uses a relationship with a woman as a metaphor for Minnesota, but you've done a number of local pride songs.

[I] hated when people say they hate Minnesota. When [I] grew up, people would say that, like, "I'm getting out. I don't like this, I'm ready to leave outta here." I'll just be like, well, leave! I've always been the type to love my city. If you don't want a place to be looked at a certain way, that's our job to change that. And I'm prideful. Minnesota to me is cool. I like the diversity, I like how laid back it is, I like how cool it is, and you know what? This is what we're gonna represent, and we're gonna make it look cool. People are gonna respect what we're doing here. That's why I represent it so hard.

Hopefully when I get to that next level, I'll still be able to show them. Anywhere I go, people are like, "Man, you're kinda different, I didn't know Minnesota was like that." That's how we're like, we're cool, we're laid back. This is just how it is. People try to stray away from Minnesota... On a national level, people [are] gonna think Minnesota's like this and this and this, so [rappers won't] represent this because people might say it's lame. It's like, nah. Show 'em, show 'em through your work and show 'em through your character what this is and what you represent. Just do your job if you're an artist.

You played college basketball for years before devoting yourself to music after an injury. What was that transition like?

It's been about two and a half years now when I first got started. The thing about it is, when I first got started I jumped in it right away, it wasn't no one foot in one foot out. I didn't care what anybody thought about it. I'm a man of faith, and I believe in myself, and I believe when God closes a door he opens the next one for me, and I just jumped in it. I got great feedback. If I would have jumped in and people was like, oh that's weak, or if nobody was sharing the videos except my friends, nobody really liked the music, I would've said, you know what, this ain't for me. But I got a lot of good feedback, so I just kept at it, and it grew and it grew and it grew. Two and a half years later, I end up on Soundset. I had tagged Kevin Beacham in a [Facebook] post, and had like 600 likes, 200 comments, like, "Mac Irv needs to be on Soundset!" Those people don't do that for no reason, they do that because they believe in the music and they understand what it's about, they understand what it represents on a higher level. - City Pages

"Sincerely, Mac Irv: Hoops legend's new success in music"

It didn't happen on purpose but the game of basketball's comparison to the music hustle became a central theme when I spoke with emerging hip-hop artist Lawrence "Mac Irv" McKenzie.
Having a successful career in either trade is a major aspiration for many growing up in the United States. In urban areas across the country, when you go to the streets basketball is being played and hip-hop will is the backdrop. An already accomplished basketball star, north Minneapolis native Mac Irv has exactly what it takes to bring home a win as a musician.

As an athlete Irv is one of the most celebrated basketball players in Minnesota history. His stats include four straight championship titles with Patrick Henry High School, college ball with the University of Oklahoma and with the University of Minnesota, he played with the NBA Development League for Los Angeles and overseas with Feni Indistrija in Macedonia. Writing this article it's hard to ignore those accomplishments but Irv knows he has more to offer. He speaks with a confidence that is not arrogant but more pleads for you to know the truth.
This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Insight News. Check out the links below for other recent Insight News stories:
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"Everything that he raps about is 100 (percent) real," said his manager, Trey Adams. "He's passionate for what he does. He's 100 percent genuine with his family, his fans. Same thing I saw in basketball is what he puts in music."
The stigma of the "athlete turned musician" has far less affect on Mac Irv. The buzz around his track "Hometown" reached a fever pitch when released three years ago. Despite the stereotypes about crossing over, he has been able to amass a strong following of supporters he calls "The Fam Base."
"Anybody that supports Mac Irv is not considered a fan, they are family," said Irv. "They can reach out for anything."
That support system was part of what caught the eye of Soundset Festival organizers as Mac Irv was selected to play to the sold out event with 30,000 people in attendance this past May.
Mac Irv's dedication to Minnesota is engrained in his music.
"Some people may look at Minnesota a certain way. (They say) I don't like it here ... it's weak here. I feel like it's really the person," said the baller turned rhymer. "It's really the person's character that may make it weak. I love this place and I enjoy it and I want people to see it in a different view."
Mac Irv's approach to presenting music reflects his upbringing in north Minneapolis. His music exists somewhere between bass rattling trunks on Broadway to the street corner and from the basketball court to the groups of friends heading downtown to hit the club. On personal tracks such as "Deadbeat" he deals with struggles with fatherhood and ex-relationships. On "Who We Are" he talks about the traps of the streets while trading bars with MCs, Metasota and Mally. The track is featured in a full-length film of the same name currently in production through his company, The Pilot Life. That appeal makes him a great candidate for national recognition.
Now with several projects under his belt, Irv is presenting "Sincerely, Mac Irv" an upcoming album that will be previewed on Sunday, Aug. 31 at The Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis.
"I feel like my music has always been my whole story and my whole truth. This is basically me writing a letter to the city. I feel like here you put your heart into your music and you want that love back. This is sincere. This is my heart and soul," said Irv, who enlisted the production of frequent collaborators Willie Wonka and Wade B. throughout the new work. "I want to show (people) the culture. The north Minneapolis culture is a bit different than the south Minneapolis culture so it's going to be a different sound and a different feel. I went to college and connected with people. I want them to know what's going on where we're from."
Where most who have made the transition from professional sports to hip-hop are penalized, Mac Irv gets extra points.
"I had a dream of playing in the NBA. My pops always told me just use talent as a vehicle. I always want to bring it back to where I'm from," said Irv. "People ask why I quit basketball. My goal in life has always been to be successful. If that was the path basketball took me on perfect. I was going to use that path to reach back to kids who think they have no hope. They think (basketball) is the only option. I tried doing music and it did great for me. You can do what you want and chase your dreams."
Fans can catch the "Sincerely, Mac Irv" showcase at The Pourhouse, 10 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, on Sunday, Aug. 31. Doors open at 9 p.m. The event is 18-plus, with performances by Lioness and Lil Crazed.
Learn more about Mac Irv online at
© 2014 Insight News - Insight News

"Where are they now: Former Gopher Lawrence McKenzie funnels passion once reserved for basketball into music"

Check out McKenzie's bio here and follow him on Twitter here.
Former Gophers guard Lawrence McKenzie remembers first hearing the sounds as a toddler.
There was his grandfather, a schoolteacher, but to the Minneapolis northside youth a musician. There was Fred Steele, the famous gospel artist, next door. There was Cornbread Harris, the singer/pianist and father of Jimmy Jam, who made his home just across the street.
The rhymes and rhythms echo even now, in McKenzie's mind.
You gotta go to the block. You're gonna do this. You don't stop.
Then, it was a game. His granddad rhymed just about everything.
But three years after expiring his eligibility with the Gophers, McKenzie, a northside native, has made those casual beats his life.
"I feel like that was definitely a huge influence on me, just hearing those rhyme schemes, hearing how he put them together," McKenzie said. "I would hear instruments constantly. Fred on piano, Cornbread on Sax."
For two years, after transferring from the University of Oklahoma, McKenzie played for the University of Minnesota, being named to the All-Big Ten third team his senior year. These days, McKenzie -- who graduated with a degree in business and marketing -- has mostly tucked away his high tops, and gets a different introduction that the one he received over the loud speaker at the start of home games.
As "Mac Irv," McKenzie -- who performed at the Pourhouse on Aug. 31 -- has produced three albums, toured the Midwest and done shows as big as this summer's Soundset, which was held at Cantebury Park in May. On Sept. 25, he'll be at The Union Bar in Iowa City, opening for CyHi the Prynce.
It's the second act for an athlete whose basketball career fizzled in 2011 after hip surgery was slow to heal.
For most of McKenzie's life, basketball was the focus. After leading Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School -- coached by his father, Larry -- to four state championships, McKenzie accepted a scholarship to Oklahoma. There, guard had a strong freshman season, averaging 8.2 points, 1.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds a game. But as his sophomore season began, nothing felt the same.
He couldn't stop on a dime the way he always could. He lost his explosiveness. He'd try to go past a defender on a routine cut to the basket and find he didn't have the legs to beat out his man.
But no one could tell that anything was hurt or tweaked so McKenzie kept playing. At Minnesota, he managed 14.9 points a game and 3.4 rebounds in his junior year, but by his senior season, those numbers slid back to 11.8 and 2.3, respectively.
McKenzie was losing confidence, and his love for the game. The NBA, which the Minnesotan always saw as his destined home, wasn't interested. Instead, he went overseas to Macedonia for half a year, then headed to the D-league. Still something was wrong, so finally McKenzie insisted on an MRI.
The results brought the answer to McKenzie's flummoxing slide. The doctor found two torn hip labrums, injuries McKenzie should have had surgery for five years prior, he told him.
First, McKenzie was angry. Then he prayed. His hips still weren't healing. It was time to move on.
He put his frustrations, his love, his loss from basketball on paper.
I've been down this road before
I know exactly what you need
I left you once and came right back
To represent you in the league.
I wore your name across my chest
You stayed so close to my heart
I nearly lost the path to get you my life was falling apart.
"It was a tough 2-3 months, but music came right in as my passion," McKenzie said. "All the passion I had for basketball, I just turned around to music. That's what got me here."
It's worked out well for McKenzie, who supplements the money he makes from music with a part-time job training young basketball players at 43 Hoops in Hopkins -- working long days in the summertime before hitting the recording studio at midnight.
He write about his experiences growing up on the North side; his family; his two daughters, Kailah and Lauren; basketball.
"To be honest, that's all I write about," he said. "I write about my experiences. I write about what I've been through because someone might be able to relate.
"You've got to give people a chance to grow with you, figure out if they like where you came from and if they like how you are built."
Many of his fans aren't aware he even played basketball in a former life. Even for McKenzie, walking into the Barn is like walking into another world. It's hard for him to believe, sometimes, that he once walked out onto that floor, under those lights.
These new lights are different, but they aren't any less satisfying. In some ways, McKenzie feels lucky. He got a new start, and found another dream.
"I'm not exactly where I want to be in life, not at all," he said. "I feel like I'm supposed to be in the NBA. I feel like I'm suppose to be making millions. But you know what? I had a setback. That doesn't mean I have to give up. And people are inspired by that."
Other quotes from McKenzie:
On "Sweetest Joy," which he wrote in honor of his two daughters (who have different mothers): I wanted them to have something that they could understand, even when I'm gone. When they're 18, 19, they can go back and listen to what I meant for them, That's not the way I wanted it to work out. I had a mom and a dad, I had both of my parents. I don't know what I would have done if my parents weren't around. But I just wanted to let them know that I'll be there regardless and I know life's not perfect but we're going to make the best of it.
On "Hometown," a song about where he grew up: I was finishing a mixtape and the producer I'm with now sent me the tune. I just wanted to get the mix tape out, I didn't want to do another [song], but the producer sent it anyway. And it just sparked something in me. I've been the Minnesota guy. Even though I left, I always loved Minnesota. Regardless of where I went, I always wanted to come back to Minnesota.
On inspiring people through music: I feel like my job, especially as an African American male is to give kids an example of what they can do to be successful. On the road to success, I feel like my vehicle got stalled, and I was able to hot-wire another one to keep going ... I've talked to kids that say 'There ain't no way off the streets. The only thing there is for me is dead or in jail.' No it's not. You may think that but it's not like that. You have plenty of opportunities. And I just wanted a voice to say that.
His favorite memories at Minnesota:
The Blake Hoffarber shot. That was one of my best memories. And just being around all my teammates was amazing. I love that I had the opportunity to play for Tubby Smith... and my granddad is passed now, but on senior day, he came. I had zero points in the first half and I remember I thought I cannot be out here embarrassed with my granddad at the game. I ended up having 20 points in the second half and we won the game.
What he misses the most:
The competition out there playing. The arenas, the crowds. I'm a competitor so I miss being out there, I miss going hard. You know what the crazy thing about it is? I miss the workouts. Running stairs, I miss that. I miss sweating like that, I miss being that tired. I really do. Even now, I work out, but I can't work out to that extent because of my injury (and not pushed the same way).
On his impressions of the Minnesota program now:
It's exciting to watch those guys, it's excited to see what [new coach Richard] Pitino is doing, how they play up and down, how they're pressing. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the future. I'm just excited to see where the program goes in the future.
I thought it was really good, even from talking to the players. I heard it from the inside source. I hear that they're comfortable and they're enjoying it. Basketball players, you've got to feel comfortable, you've got to believe that your coach believes in you.
I like the way they're playing. I wish that I could play for them. - Star Tribune

"Mac Irv – No Place Like Home (feat. Salimah Bryant)"

There is no doubt in my mind that I live in a Hip-Hop hub. Minneapolis is a music city, and I’m proud to say we produce some of the best of the best. I stumbled upon this artist Mac Irv at Soundset Music Festival this year, and if your name can stand strong with greats like Wiz Khalifa and Nas you must be doing something right. Irv’s music effortlessly shares strong messages from all likes that anyone could relate to. Check out one of his new videos below! - See more at: - Daily Beat


Certified Magnet- 2011 Mixtape
DL Link-

*Hometown received regular airplay on 89.9 KMOJ mpls

The Ticket Out



Some stories birthed and illustrated in the hood never leave city limits. And for some, music is more than just an outlet. It's an escape. Born and raised in North Minneapolis, Mac Irv’s gift for rhyming began at an early age, most of which he learned from his grandfather along with living across the street from Cornbread Harris, father of Grammy award winning producer Jimmy Jam. At 9 years old, Mac Irv started a rap group and was making rhymes in his basement.

His gift for music went undisclosed for many years as his talent for basketball required a full commitment. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, Mac Irv exceeded athletic expectations, placing him as an All-Big Ten Player from 2006-2008. Graduating with a degree in Business Marketing, the Gopher player's athletic ability was unknowingly deteriorating slowly. His professional career overseas was eventually cut short after a serious hip injury. Shortly after at the age of 25, Mac Irv became a father to a baby girl. Despite battling depression while simultaneously taking on new responsibilities of parenthood, Mac Irv’s passion for music was soon reignited.

With support from his Pilot Life Team Tre Adams and producer Willie Wonka, Mac Irv developed smooth, quick rap lines and metaphors reflecting his experience on the Northside, the ups and downs of relationships, and lessons extracted from sports. Things quickly progressed and his career as an artist was solidifying. 

“Got Me Open” was released on Youtube as his first single, but it was “Hometown” that allowed him to ultimately represent for Minnesota, embodying the nickname, “Hometown Hero”. In 2014, Mac Irv toured with Rhymesters artist Prof and his single “The Cycle” was nationally featured on MTV Jams. During that same year, Irv was selected to perform at Soundset, in company with Nas, Wiz Khalifa, and 2 Chainz. 

Continuing to be a voice for his community, his loyalty for Minneapolis is undimmed. After several projects and local shows consistently selling out, Mac Irv’s ambitions brought him to perform at South by Southwest. His mixtape, "Sincerely Mac Irv” was featured on DatPiff and received an immense amount of feedback from his fans - which are known as his “fam base”. 

Exposing disparities in his neighborhood through lyrics, Mac Irv has earned a place in the Hip Hop arena of Minneapolis. Heavily affected by death and incarceration of friends throughout the years, he continues to persevere through the oppression that confronts his community by inspiring a little bit of everyone.

Band Members