Straight outta Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada is rapper who sounds like he’s straight outta Memphis, Tennessee, USA. His name is Mean Mugg and judging by the cover of “Mugg Shot” he certainly lives up to that billing. I like to educate the audience at the same time I do myself so I endeavored to learn a little more about Abbotsford and find out what could make Mugg Shot turn out the ruthless way he describes himself on “Holdin My Gun.”
“Chillin and drinkin, smokin a blunt
Grabbin my dick while I’m holdin my gun
Holdin my gun (holdin my gun)
Plugging you haters while chewing some gum”
Abbotsford is the fifth largest city in B.C. with a population estimated to be around 130,000 – also ranking it as the 23rd largest city in Canada. It’s noteworthy that the four ranking above it are either Vancouver or considered to be part of “Metro Vancouver,” meaning it’s the only one in B.C. to stand on its own without leaning on Van City. Non-aboriginal settlement dates back to the late 1850’s, although it didn’t acquire its name (and there’s some controversy about that I won’t bore you with) until the 1890’s. It has the third largest percentage of “visibile minorities” of any Canadian city, which if we get past the political language that inspired that phrase I’ll read as “non-white.” Here’s a simpler way to think about it – 35% of the population doesn’t consider English to be their first language.
Mugg Shot definitely does. On the LoveLeMusiq produced “Who Am I” he attempts to break down not only who he is but how you can overcome poverty and bad circumstances to achieve success in life. He describes Abbotsford in bleak terms, describing himself as “walking through a wasteland,” and the music video that accompanies the song will undoubtedly give you the same impression.
“F–k whoever, I’m better than you haters” is Mugg Shot’s motto and the chip on his shoulder to explain how he perseveres despite his circumstances. “Just stay focused (and) know your real worth. Don’t let anything stop you, you dig?” This song is pretty much the extent of what we can learn about Mr. Shot. He was abandoned by his parents at a young age, raised by his grandma, and he was hustling the first chance he got to help her pay the bills. “Lord save him, he’s a good kid, he just needs guidance, but the hood’s in.”
Out of a list of notable residents from the city the only name that popped to me was SmackDown lead announcer and long time boxing/MMA sportscaster Mauro Ranallo. They couldn’t possibly sound anything less alike. Ranallo is hyperactive, prone to outbursts of excitement, and often purposefully the most erudite man in the room — a modern day Howard Cosell. His own bio notes that he “takes cues from the Dirty South” though and from the sound of his impoverished circumstances that wouldn’t be hard to imagine. If he grew up listening to Three 6 Mafia and Lil Wyte in an environment where he had nothing and had to fight for everything, how would they even begin to turn out the same? On the Bo Beats produced “Nobody Like Me” they do have one thing in common though — he invokes Ric Flair’s name and starts “wooin on these b–tches.” (I’d share a clip but this is an advance copy.)
Back to his Southern influences though — Gorilla Zoe has a cameo appearance on the track “On the Block” and the long absent Mike Jones has one on “It’s Goin Down.” On the flipside of that you have Canadian rappers Madchild and Merkules on “Blackout” and “On the Block” respectively. You’ll notice one song is mentioned twice here. That’s pretty much the intersectionality of Mugg Shot’s life summed up in one track. He’s from a place further North and West than I’ve ever been, yet unquestionably is more Southern and has more swag than I ever will. Does it work? Actually, yes. The only downside is that if you spend enough time reminding me of Memphis rappers, invariably I’d rather listen to said same rappers, not Memphis-by-way-of-Abbotsford. I’m not saying Mugg Shot doesn’t pull it off, because producers like J Thorn and the ironically named NY Bangers craft a sound that would make him at home in the Dirty South. If that’s how he feels, that’s what he identifies with, and that’s how he distinguishes himself from his other Canadian rap peers – cool with me. “Mean Muggin” just makes me crave a flavor that’s not from Abbotsford though as opposed to establishing one that’s unique to the city he’s from.