Maxi Zee talks about his journey from being a b-boy dancer to a DIY all-around hip-hop artist

The Hip-hop artist bridging the gap between the UK and Germany initially embarked on his artistic journey as a dancer, traversing the globe with a competitive spirit before unearthing a fervent dedication to music production.

Embracing his rap career wholeheartedly, Maxi has collaborated with renowned brands spanning Europe, Asia, and the UK. Hailing from Manchester, this rapper's roots as a B-Boy laid the foundation for his distinctive musical style. Throughout the pandemic, he honed his craft by mastering recording and engineering techniques, ensuring his work meets industry standards.

This journey ultimately forged a unique sound deeply rooted in his upbringing as a break-dancer, solidifying his place in the music scene. "My path in music has taken me across the globe, building a community from the audience, sharing stages with iconic artists, collaborating with major brands, and crafting a unique sound influenced by my upbringing as a dancer," Maxi Zee shares with Musivv.

"My path in music has taken me across the globe, building a community from the audience,

The past 2023 proved to be a truly transformative year for Maxi Zee. The hip-hop artist reflects on his array of experiences, from the exhilarating moments of performing on esteemed festival main stages like SOLE DXB, to collaborating with renowned brands such as Timberland, Levis, and A Bathing Ape. According to him, the most meaningful highlight was the progress on his upcoming project "MAZZA," an EP encapsulating the ups and downs he faced in the past 12 months of being a DIY artist — a person whose self-faith is constantly tested. "This EP is set to release by the summer of 2024, and the anticipation of the tape has been invigorating, to say the least, especially since I've let my audience in on the creative process while making it," he proudly expressed.

"This music has been the most authentic and vulnerable in my career to date, and I can't wait to finally share it with the world," he adds.

Like any human experience, Maxi Zee points to a pivotal moment during the pandemic — the realization that he could take control of his music production. "Learning to record and engineer myself not only enhanced my artistic autonomy but also opened new creative avenues and doors for me," he recalls. "I learned more about what it means to be self-sufficient even outside of music. Currently, I'm a one-person team and do everything myself, from releasing my music, building my website, running my email list, editing my content and music videos, to booking my shows, pulling in my sync placements, and negotiating with brands for sponsorships and collaborations," he adds passionately. Overall, these career endeavors have been profoundly transformative, as Maxi Zee fearlessly ventured into various avenues without shying away from the prospect of failure.

His song creation process is "very effortless," especially since he has the ability to record "anywhere in the world at any time." "It often starts with a beat or a melody that resonates with me, and as soon as the intention of the project or song makes itself visible, the music pretty much writes itself." Maxi Zee enjoys drawing inspiration from his dance roots and focus primarily on rhythm and flow and subsequently the lyrics follow. "Context-wise, I'm always inspired by personal experiences to just get some steam off my chest or to cherish where I'm currently at in life," he expressed.

"Context-wise, I'm always inspired by personal experiences"

What is it outside of music keeps him level-headed? Visual arts and nature—whether content creation, spending time at the beach or exploring new cities. "I think as a creator who likes to lock himself away in the studio, it's as vital to spend some time outdoors, to balance your mind in the right way if that makes sense." Activities such as going to a dance session, hitting the skate park, going out to events, or tapping in with family fuel his creativity and provide a "refreshing perspective" when the call of studio production arises.

His core message as an artist is one of authenticity and resilience. "I'm not perfect when it comes to life decisions, and I make that very clear in my way, whether it's in the music or conversation." He strives continually to evolve into the finest iteration of himself, encompassing both artistic and personal realms. "But overall, my message aims to inspire others to embrace their uniqueness unapologetic self-expression, and self-acceptance."

In Dubai, Maxi Zee aspires to collaborate with some of the more innovative artists in the scene like Tac, Casa Vince, Essatac, and Freek. "Working with either one of these would produce some incredible music!" he believes. "Internationally, working with someone like Masego or Anderson Paak, who seamlessly blends genres and pushes artistic boundaries, would be dope, too!"

Having been around for quite a while, Maxi has a few nuggets of wisdom to share. "The most valuable lesson is the importance of staying true to oneself," he shares. Amidst the pressures and trends of the industry, upholding authenticity not only safeguards artistic integrity but also strikes a deeper chord with your audience. In terms of the business side of music? "You don't always get what you're worth, but you can get what you negotiate, let that sink in for a second," he emphasizes.

"The most valuable lesson is the importance of staying true to oneself"

Maxi Zee goes candid when asked a universal question aside from music—favourite food. "Ah, my go-to is Tagine, the Algerian one in particular. Tayeb Santo's mum makes the best in the WORLD! (his emphasis) I have never tasted a better thing if I'm being honest (laughs). It's currently my absolute favorite dish out there!" he shamelessly plugs. "On the road though I love a Döner from Berlin, a cheeky 3-piece chicken and chips in Manchester, or a spicy Hassan Mather from Rolla in Sharjah!"

Maxi Zee has showcased his talent by opening for renowned artists like Joey Bada$$, Redman & Methodman, J.I.D, and more, and has graced major global stages including the Football World Cup 2022 in Qatar and the Sochi Olympic Park in Russia. His recent success includes sync placements on TV shows such as “The Real Housewives of Dubai” and “The Drop” on BBC3, along with collaborations with industry giants like Adidas, JD Sports, and Timberland. Maxi's debut EP, "Let the Flower Break the Concrete," garnered attention upon its release in September 2018, propelling him further into the spotlight. Currently, he is working on his upcoming project titled "MAZZA," a jazz-inspired Hip-Hop EP set to be released by summer 2024.

HOMEGROWN is musivv’s segment dedicated to featuring UAE-based artists. Features under this segment are considered as submissions for nomination under this category in the Musivv Awards’ annual recognition.

March 7, 2024

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