Million Dollar Mano, 28, is a music producer, tour DJ for Kanye West, and the founder of the rap-group-slash-fashion-label Treated Crew. —Miles Raymer
Treated Crew isn’t just a rap group. People in the crew just so happen to rap and Treated is our brand. The music is like the campaign; it’s the theme music. You gotta have people believe in your campaign. With Treated Crew it’s dope because we got to see so much stuff as consumers—and now we are the producers, so we get to do it exactly how we want to.
I started making music around eighth grade. My cousin Hollywood and his brother Miles got turntables, and I was going over to their crib. I always wanted to DJ. My mom owned a day care center on 83rd and Ingleside. She had this turntable at the day care and I used to fuck with it and with this 45 Fisher Price player. My mom still had her old 45 player from when she was a teenager. She had just a lot of junk that she bought from thrift stores. My mom hoards a lot of dope-ass shit.
I used to play this really fucked-up version of “Summer Madness.” It was a 45 EP and the instrumental was on it as well. I used to scratch this shit when I was a kid.
When I was in high school I was DJing all the ghetto parties. Before it was juke music it was ghetto house. My homeys were Rashad and Spinn and they took me under their wing. Even at my young age I was making money DJing all these high school dances and shit, like these local drug dealers’ abandoned houses. I was like, “OK, that’s cool—but I know I can do this seriously.”
For all this favorable stuff to happen now, it’s like the light is finally shining. These things didn’t just come to me. No, I went out there and I had to get these opportunities. It was dope for me to work with Ye [Kanye West] because I’ve known him since I was 18. A lot of good people still kept me in their circle. They seen me doing everything that I could with my brand and respectfully building myself as a producer/DJ.
My friend that I’ve known since high school was in a rap group with Lupe [Fiasco]. He hit me up and was like, “Yo, my homey 2 Chainz, he’s gonna record this song with B.o.B. and he told me he wanted to get hooked up with some dope producers. I was like, ‘The only muthafucka he needs to be fucking with is Mano.'” Everything from the production to me DJing has literally come from people recognizing my work. It’s crazy. It’s kind of like—and I say this in my most humble way—an urban legend. It’s not noticed by the public yet but the people know it—and it’s bubbling.
I didn’t know I was ever gonna DJ for Jay-Z. The Watch the Throne tour was super ill. When we did Coachella that year, that was monumental. It was insane because I had only DJed for Kanye once before, when I was around 18 or 20.
Going on stadium shows and seeing those huge productions—like even M.I.A. has her indie presence but her productions are huge—was ridiculous. Two men have to entertain, like, 50,000 people for two hours and I have to run the music; I have to maestro. Every time I was onstage it never got old for some of the classic songs that were my favorites. I was listening to Jay-Z in seventh grade with one of my best friends, doing our homework to Reasonable Doubt—and now I’m DJing for this dude in freakin’ London on the European tour. It’s kind of surreal.
Kimmy Walters, the Twitterer →