A conversation with Maxo Kream: a new album, his dad and believing in yourself

By Steven Nunez, Photojournalist

Editor’s Note: The term “N-word” is used in this article, referring to Kream’s relationship with musician Travis Scott. The Chronicle warns of its use and apologizes for any discomfort the printing of this term may cause.

Houston-based rapper Maxo Kream, who grew up in predominantly Hispanic and African communities, began making music inspired by the people around him after his release from prison in 2010.

Recently signed to RCA Records, Kream’s music career has reached a new level of recognition, collaborating with artists like Travis Scott, who originally told Kream to start rapping. Years later, in 2019, Scott and Kream found themselves  creating “The Relays” track on Kream’s latest album.

“He told me to start rapping way back in the day,” Kream—born Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah Jr.—told the Chronicle in an interview inside his tour bus as it was parked outside Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St., before his Nov. 2 show. “We [were] just them n—-s with no purpose. … After I went out of jail, I came back. I took [Scott’s] word.”

Although he may have started the tour “sick as hell” with a sore throat, he has since recovered to carry on with the international tour of “Brandon Banks,” his debut album released July 19, which revolves around his relationship with his father, an important figure in his life as he navigated his music career.

“It’s different, it ain’t like the typical father-son relationship,” Kream said. “Kinda like partners, we bump heads. … He was locked up for the beginning of my music career. Once he got out of jail, I was already in the mix [of the music industry].”

Now, Kream said his father is in disbelief of where Kream’s career has gone, partly because of his father’s Nigerian background.

“He loves it now, [but] at first he ain’t believe in it,” Kream said. “He never seen it. My dad is real Nigerian, and they don’t see that. They see you go to school, … he is real strong behind that. I grew up around pistols and drugs … but I was never raised to be like that.”

Kream was arrested in 2016 on charges of money laundering and links to organized crime after a sting operation, according to an October article by The Washington Post.

But when asked what advice he would give to upcoming artists, Kream said to believe in yourself.

“It’s not that people not going to believe in you at first,” Kream said. “It’s that you got to prove and show them. … I didn’t get here overnight. … You gotta treat this like college. If you don’t work, you not going to eat.”