Navigating the Music Industry: Mr.88 Shares His Challenges and Triumphs

Navigating the Music Industry: Mr.88 Shares His Challenges and Triumphs

Music is my second love language. The way that you can associate any song with any emotion and event in life makes it one of the most associated forms of art known to man. With that said, hip-hop is a movement that differs from any other genre, housing all art forms into one. Fashion, visual arts, music, poetry, and acting. Hip-hop created an outlet for storytellers to put their life stories over a looped music track and share it with people who may or may not relate. Rodney Lee, Jr., (whom I will refer to by his stage name Mr.88 for the remainder of this article) is a part of this magnetic culture, and his ability to relay what I’m going to term “Blue Collar Hip-Hop” has been the highlight of this season. 

Meeting with Mr.88 was a seamless process. I’m good friends with the owner of his new management team, Jennifer King at ICME Management Agency. I listened to some of his music and fell in love with the style. It was relatable and real. There wasn’t the braggadocios style that you hear with most artists talking about money, cars, houses, and the opposite sex. This was a rhythmic flow that was reminiscent of The Message by Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five. 

We met in Midtown Atlanta on a Saturday at the Sterling Hotel, (only people who aren’t from Atlanta call it that…for the natives, it’s the W Hotel on 14th and Juniper.) There’s a nook that sits off of the lobby bar that reminds me of being in a small home in Morrocco. It has a theme of oranges, reds, carpets, blankets, a blend of leather and cloth couches, and the opposite with side chairs, beautiful pillows, mixed wallpaper designs, and very relaxed music. Accessories are strategically placed throughout the space but looks like everything is exactly where it belongs. 

Habitually, I duck through the doorway because after you’ve hit your head once, no door frame is to be trusted. I begin to set up and Mr.88 walks in… “Oh this is DOPE…How’d you know about this?” I smile and say..”As a journalist, I know everything” I admit that that comment is a partial lie and I let him in on the story of my favorite discovery of Atlanta. Now it’s time to get down to business.

When you tune into Mr.88’s world, forget everything you thought you knew about hip-hop. In an enlightening SUAVV Session, Mr. 88 laid down his vision for a genre-defying future, painting a vivid picture of his quest to mix unexpected European influences, rich live instrumentation, and even dive into the dynamic world of fashion.


One thing’s clear from the get-go: Mr.88 doesn’t believe in musical borders. Why stick to one genre when you can create a mosaic of sounds? He’s seriously enthusiastic about infusing his hip-hop roots with diverse Electronic Dance Music elements, crafting tracks that aren’t just songs but experiences. This fearless blending not only appeals to a broader audience but also sets a new standard for what modern music can be.

Throughout the discussion, Mr.88 emphasized the transformative power of live instruments in his tracks. Talking drums, strumming guitars, and keys bring an organic feel that digital production often lacks. This dedication to live sound doesn’t just enrich the music; it creates a tangible connection with listeners, making each performance uniquely immersive and emotionally potent.

It’s not all about the beat for Mr.88. He delved into the critical role of lyrical depth in music. Reflecting on the storytelling prowess of rap legends like Nas and Jay-Z, Mr.88 expressed his commitment to crafting lyrics that carry weight and provoke thought. Balancing catchy hooks with insightful narratives, he aims to leave his listeners both entertained and enlightened.

Mr.88 opened up about the intense, often challenging journey of bringing his musical vision to life. Influenced by iconic producers like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, he approaches music production with a meticulous touch, often stepping into the producer’s chair to ensure his sound remains undiluted. It’s a balancing act of creative freedom and industry expectations, one that he navigates with increasing skill.

Expanding the scope of his creative expression, Mr.88 introduced us to his fashion line, “Dead People.” This venture is more than just merchandise; it’s an integral part of his artistic expression, where each piece resonates with the themes explored in his music. By merging fashion with his musical themes, he not only solidifies his brand but also offers fans a new way to connect with his art.

As the session wrapped up, the excitement for Mr.88’s upcoming projects was palpable. With new music on the horizon that promises to push even more boundaries, and potential new forays into other creative fields, Mr. 88 Music is not just riding the wave of innovation—he’s making the waves himself.

This SUAVV Session was more than a mere interview; it was a manifesto of Mr.88 aspirations and inspirations. For those attuned to the evolution of music, Mr.88 represents the vanguard of artists who are not only redefining genres but are also profoundly impacting how music is integrated into our cultural and personal lives.

Keep your ears open and your mind ready; Mr.88 is creating a sonic revolution that promises to captivate, inspire, and redefine what music can achieve. Watch this space, because whatever comes next is sure to be extraordinary.

Photos: Terrence Smith – TS Photography
Representation: Jennifer King at ICME Management Agency

Listen to the Full Podcast Here…

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