Chicago MC Mugen The Human Loves Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve

Chicago MC Mugen The Human Loves Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve
PC: @delilahmind

Chicago MC Mugen The Human is a prime example of why we distinguish the artist from the art. An hour spent listening to his music on Spotify or Soundcloud could leave you feeling down, depressed or even hopeless. Some might even throw him into the "sad boy" bucket, due to his lo-fi, nocturnal beats coupled with the themes of loneliness and depression that haunt a lot of his lyrics. However, if you sit down with him for a casual conversation, you realize that he is a lot more complex than that. Most of the time, he's cool, calm and collected, cracking jokes with his friends. Other times, he's quite animated, particularly when speaking on topics he's passionate about. However, there is one thing that remains a constant: Mugen is always wearing his heart on his sleeve. His stage name, for example, is a direct reference to a character on one of his favorite anime shows, Samurai Champloo. He stated that this was a way he could blend his love of anime with his obsession with Hip-Hop, and that so far, it has worked out well. However, anime shows up in way more of his music than his stage name. Mugen states: "If you go on my Soundcloud, all of my cover art is anime screenshots. I try to keep that aesthetic going just to make sure people know I'm a real fan. It's completely sincere."

A native of Prince Georges County, Maryland, Mugen was discovering his passions from an early age. Although he said he played sports when he was younger, he was much more invested in his creative pursuits."Growing up, I was the art kid," he said. "I was into video games, I was into anime. I was into all that before it was cool to be into that." His main passion, however, was music. He started playing guitar, stating that he didn't really have any clear direction; he would just learn any song he wanted. Mugen attended high school at the Baltimore School For The Arts (BSA), the same high school that rap legend Tupac Shakur attended. Majoring in Classical Guitar, Mugen said it was the guidance he received while attending BSA that really set him on the right path musically. He also stated that learning music theory and dictation from an early age has made him a much better musician. Mugen was constantly listening to and digesting music growing up, as his influences are quite broad. He says that Hip-Hop acts such as Kendrick Lamar and Mos Def have been just as important to his artistic development as contemporary acts like John Mayer and Coldplay. As a result, Mugen has a deep appreciation for many different genres of music, and knows how to stir it all together in his own musical melting pot. Late in his high school career, Mugen switched his focus towards Hip-Hop. He started making beats and messing around with writing lyrics. In the spring of 2016, Mugen graduated from BSA, enrolling at Columbia College Chicago that fall to study guitar performance. It was there that he started taking his rapping seriously, and he has been growing artistically ever since.

At face value, Mugen might come off as just another sad Soundcloud rapper who's trying to make it. However, don't be fooled; his music holds real emotional depth. The instrumentals he raps over are typically sad and melancholy, while his lyrics typically deal with themes of heartbreak, loneliness and temptation. However, there is also a sentiment of hope which permeates through. He gives you the impression that whenever he is at his worst, he is going to be okay. One noteworthy quality of his music is the duality in his artistry. At the same time that he is making you think with his lyrics, he is always giving you something that you can turn up too. This is because he has mastered the art of balance in his songwriting, often writing thought-provoking rhymes while simultaneously dropping ear worms that are catchy and infectious. This duality that Mugen has created really paints the listeners a full picture of who he is as a person. Speaking on the mindset behind his songwriting, Mugen states: "I try to give a wide array of emotions. I try to display my confidence, my sadness, my despair and my pride. At the end of the day, even though one [emotion] might eclipse the other, I don't really care as long as it speaks to people." In his music, Mugen is never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. Whether he is telling a tale of heartbreak, or musing on how badly he wants to make it in music, the sentiments he expresses are down-to-earth and relatable. He is an extremely likable character on the mic, as he never tries to be something that he's not. "I've always been in touch with my emotions, sometimes too much," he states. "But it's okay to wear that on your sleeve because that is the type of music that everybody can relate to." That might be Mugen's strongest artistic trait-- His ability to connect with his listeners. After all, people turn to mediums such as music to make sense of the world around them. For Mugen's listeners, they can make sense of their own pain due to how vividly he portrays his own.

Mugen The Human has a lot on his plate these days, but he is taking his time in everything he does. He is still a student at Columbia College, but has switched to part-time. He is also working a job and doing music full-time. He will be dropping an EP in December. There is no release date on it, but he wants to put it out before Christmas. He says to expect the best production of anything he has put out thus far. He also has a show coming up on November 30th at Roc Star Studio. His long-term goals are pretty simple; he wants to take his music career as far as he possibly can. Despite his hunger to succeed, Mugen is in no rush to reach his goals. He said that he wants to take life as it comes, letting everything happen naturally. He seems content with where he's at and with where he's going. He states: "I'm living.... I've got a lot of time. I've given myself enough time to work musically, to work monetarily, to work academically, and to live my life. I feel like I'm finding balance for the first time."


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