Meet Cambridge's unlikely hip-hop scholar

Rapper Millyz has bars enough to pass any exam.
Millyz
MC Millyz is playing Brighton Music Hall Sept. 21. Photo by Sam Williams

Danny Ainge messed up Millyz' plans.

 

Before the Celtics bigwig traded Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder to the Caveliers for Kyrie Irving, the Cambridge-bred MC had made fans out of the pair of green teamers, and was eyeing ways to link with the two fan-favorites during the rollout of his upcoming album, "SPED: 2," a sequel to his 2015 mixtape due for release Sept. 19.

 

The connection with Thomas came via mutual friendship with rapper Jadakiss, with whom Millyz has a few tracks, including his newest single, "Back to the Money." Jada sent "IT" a recent Millyz freestyle, and according to the rapper, the diminutive scorer responded via text with a series of fire emojis, even popping up on his feed with some Instagram likes.

 

Millyz then crossed paths with Crowder at a summer club appearance, when the hard-nosed scrapper summoned the rising hip-hop star, whose song "Lessons" recently hit 1 million streams, to join him at his private table.

 

"Mind you, I'm a super-rabid fan. He had his arm over me and was just talking like, 'I support you, man. You're a superstar, bro,'" Millyz says. "I planned to have like a real rap relationship with them dudes this year, but they're gone. I guess I've got to put Kyrie Irving onto my [stuff]."

It's been a whirlwind year for the rapper, born Myles Lockwood, with highlights that include talking his way onto a national TV appearance at the BET Cypher, a smash single in "Lessons" and reputation-cementing freestyle performances on the radio shows of Funkmaster Flex and Statik Selektah. Next, he will play a homecoming show along with Def Jam artist Dave East at Brighton Music Hall on Thursday, Sept. 21, to ring in his newest hits.

While fans can expect plenty of onstage love shown to Boston from the dexterous lyricist, attentive listeners will note that the Hub’s sister city across the Charles River often gets the most shout outs from Millyz, as he credits the area for incubating him as a hip-hop artist.

"Cambridge gave me everything," he says. "You ever saw the [multicultural] murals on the Middle East? That's really how Cambridge is supposed to look. That [stuff] inspired me. That's where I come from, that melting pot."

With "SPED 2," Millyz is reflecting back on the schooling that began in Cambridge, when being disruptive at a young age relegated him to classrooms with the other "trouble" students, who were labeled in need of "special education."

"It took me a long time to realize that, oh, I was bad in school and then they put me in a small class with no windows with the other 'bad' kids in school," he says. Careful to note that he does not blame the education system, he admits it was a challenge to be told he "was not normal" at an impressionable age, which he says contributed to an early life of crime that included three felony charges before turning 19.

"I was a bad kid, they had to put me somewhere. But it's just that you definitely don't want to put the bad kid with the rest of the bad kids and let him feed off each other's energy," he offers.

Throughou his new project, Millyz is looking to open up minds about the different ways people learn -- lessons his upbringing taught him.

"That's what I'm saying, I'm taking it now and trying to make 'SPED' a positive thing. 'SPED' is a derogatory word, let's not get it twisted," he says, explaining his philosophy on the different paths to, and kinds of, intelligence. "I feel like everybody in general – you have a special education, regardless of the actual 'education' system – whatever you've seen to get you to this point to make you think how you think."

He adds, "I'm trying to take that and flip it so that no kid can be ever called a 'SPED' again."

If you go:

Sept. 21 at 6 p.m., Brighton Music Hall, $20+, crossroadspresents.com

 
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