Mars (Mad Insanity) ‘Underground History 101’ Interview

Know your wicked underground history! Mars (Mad Insanity) is considered by many to be the prince of the wicked underground due to his influential vivid rhyme schemes that could most likely cause fans of horror punk to quiver in their own spiked boots. A month ago, Mars dropped his most experimental risk-taking effort to date, the ‘Death’ EP with great reception from his fan-base and beyond, thanks to the Pittsburg, California legend, diving deep into his own personal life like never before. And now Mars keeps helping out people in need by starting off with delivering food and hygiene care packages to homeless camps around Antioch, CA with the help of his friend Patti O’Brian and local food chains like Kinders BBQ. He linked up with My Angels Inc to start delivering and donating large amounts of groceries to families in need all over Northern California with the help of California Food Bank and White Pony Express. Mars received recognition from the Mayor of Antioch, California for helping bring awareness in the disappearance of a local woman named Alexis Gabe and his community efforts. They have been spotted eating dinner together on occasion around the city. Most recently, the Mad Insanity Records founder started volunteering for non-profit organization Be Exceptional, teaching local children and special needs youth how to skateboard. Then Mars aligned himself with Save Souls Skate Bowls, to deliver new and refurbished skateboards to underprivileged and foster kids around his city while working closely with the companies Sprayground, Cookies SF, Hemper Co, King Ice, Thizz Clothing, and Old Tyme Beverages. Please enjoy this informative interview with Mars below!

Chad Thomas Carsten: Define the art of hip-hop in your own words.


Mars: Define the art of hip-hop?! I guess it could mean a lot of things, man. I think for me hip-hop is a way to express my feelings, my fantasies, and my thoughts. Current events, future plans, the past, all that stuff, you know what I mean?! To me hip-hop is an expression of your personality. If you’re funny, you’ll probably rap about funny shit. If you have some darkness inside of you, you might rap about that. You might be happy that day and you might make a happy song. But it’s like communicating with a crowd. You know what I’m saying?! It’s like getting other people to like feel what you’re saying or hear what you’re saying.




CTC: You’ve been creating music for nearly 25 years. Why has your music continued to stand the test of time among the underground of hip-hop?


Mars: I think you see a lot of people come and go because of life. You know what I mean?! Maybe they have kids or they get married or they grow out of it. But to me I feel like my music is for those who’ve grown with me. Like all of those little elements that I’ve talked about within my music are trials and tribulations. I think that as time goes on I keep getting better because I’m building my craft through experience. So I think the reason that people keep fuckin’ with it is because they’ve grown with me. I might be getting older and going through some more stuff. And I think that people who are growing older and are going through the same stuff, so they get to  grow with me as listeners and feel what I’m saying because with time they’ll going through the same things that I do.


CTC: I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this. But are there any lesser known stories behind you and Mad Insanity brawling with Eminem in California back in 1999?


Mars: Uh, really man, like I just think that what I a lot of people don’t know we just came there (Eminem concert) as fans. We came there to see him/we came there for the show. We were artists but we were just starting out. We were kinda just building a name for ourselves locally. And we didn’t really go there to do nobody any harm. I mean, we fuck around a lot and I think that’s what kicked it all off is because our boys were fucking around, yelling shit. You know how people get?! Just fucking around. And Eminem had a lot to prove at the time. And he was taking offense and Eminem jumped off into the crowd to fight em’. What he didn’t realize was that he jumped in the middle of us. And at that point it didn’t matter who he was, he just jumped in the wrong part of the crowd. That set everything in motion. But really after the whole thing we got to meet him. I was excited to meet him because I was a big fan. He just signed with help of Dr. Dre and he just went mainstream. We didn’t realize how huge he was gonna be. We walked away with t-shirts, handshake, and a hug. Proof (D-12) was there. It was just a weird ass experience. But coming out of that whole thing, people starting talking about it. A lot of people were there like over a thousand. DJ Vlad from Vlad TV, Radio DJ Davey D, George Clinton. I dunno what Vlad was doing there, I think he was an actual DJ back then. Davey D is a a local hip-hop historian here. In the Bay with a radio show. He had a big blog back then and he wrote about it. More people started talking about it, like with Mad Insanity Records. It became one of those things that people just always talk about. But again we were just fans.


CTC: Yeah, it’s crazy looking back now. Considering Eminem has just been inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame!


Mars: You know what’s crazy is one of the dude’s that we know that was there that was part of the label back then. He’s a fucking loser now. He hit me up back then and was like, “Yo! Go on Netflix and watch the Eminem AKA documentary and wait until the credits roll” And they talk about that night. And sure enough Eminem’s bodyguard was talking about that night and what happened. Its crazy to be even a little piece of that history. Marc Kempf of Long Range Distribution is also talking in the documentary. It is kinda weird how the Detroit scene and horrorcore and all that part of Eminem is all kinda intertwined with the Insane Clown Posse beef, House of Krazees, The R.O.C., and even Mad Insanity, we’re all a little bigger piece of that greatness. And I’m still a big Eminem fan.


CTC: When people directly tell you that your music has helped them through their own daily struggles or even that your music helped saved them from suicide. How do you respond to those interactions?


Mars: It’s crazy! I used to get messages like that when I did the weird shit. And it’s still weird shit, its just grown up a bit. Back then I was like, “My music saved your life?! What song?!” Like ‘Stinky the Rapist’ saved your life? Nowadays when I’m talking about myself in my music I feel like its cool to have somebody connect with you on that level and feel what you are talking about. What you/we’re going through/are going through. And relate to it and it’s cool to see that somebody can relate to it. And it’s cool to see that somebody could relate to my music. I’ll always tell them thank you for actually listening to me. Recognizing the real in my music. The reality elements, know what I mean?!


CTC: For the last five years you’ve been releasing a ton of personal lyrical music, away from the horror. Can we touch on that reason?


Mars: The way I see, man. There’s like two parts to this. Because like since CD’s kinda went out and the streaming and the internet is so big, I found that I should release more music as they come to make up for the lack of CD sales. Its non-existent. You gotta grow with the times and the reason why I release so many singles is because E-40’s DJ, DJ Pizo, he’s a good friend of mine, (he was Too $hort’s DJ, Spice 1’s DJ) he was like, “Look. Just release a ton of singles and your fans will pick which one they like and they’ll make their own playlist outta it. Don’t worry about putting albums together too much. Just release a lot of music!” And I listened to him and it is like since I’ve been pumping them out so fast, it was almost a way for me to tell my story/bits of pieces of my story in real time. I was getting a song done one day and getting it mixed the next day and would upload it and it would come out five days later. That’s how fast I was doing it. It was almost like people could see what my struggle was at the time. What my happiness was at the time. Or whatever. So it was like a way for me to keep up with the flood of music and keep up with the flood of the technology progress. If you keep releasing more shit your checks keep getting bigger and they overlap. And you can’t tell which one is giving you more money than the rest of them. So it was a way for me to beat the system and make up for the CD sales.


CTC: You’ve been partnering with Empire Distribution and they are huge now! Let’s talk about you joining them.


Mars: Yeah. It started out as an independent label and now it’s one of the biggest labels out there for hip-hop music. I got in around 2013 when they first signed me. But I didn’t really utilize it. I gave them my back catalogue at that point. I didn’t utilize it because I was still trying to hang on to the CD thing. I seen people like Busta Rhymes and Eminem working with Empire. And I was like, “Damn, I didn’t know Empire was like that big?!” The guy who owns Empire, his name is Ghazi Shami. Ghazi was the first engineer that ADR Lavey and APT 3 to bring in the history to start recording in a real studio that wasn’t in a bedroom. So I knew Ghazi when he was just a studio engineer with all this stuff in hi head. Now he’s a multi-millionaire industry giant. One day, Dutch from Crazy White Boyz (the group with Haystak), he’s A-wax’s manager now, him and Ghazi got together and were like, “Who’ doesn’t have a lot of music on a platform but gets a lot of YouTube views?!” And Dutch was like, “Mars!” Then they called me up and asked me to be a part of it. And that’s kinda how I got started and now its like a big thing! My contract doesn’t expire them. So I just keep fuckin’ with Empire as they keep getting bigger!

CTC: This is for the Q-Strange fans that keep asking what happened to him returning to music.  Why did you gave up the rights to his past releases ‘Strangeland’ and ‘Creation To ExeQtion (The Audio Biography Of A Serial Killer)’?


Mars: Through out the years Q-Strange and I, he had his back catalogue ready to go. And ‘Rare Cuts’ 1 and 2. He gave them those but he wouldn’t make no new music. And that’s what I really wanted to push, was new Q-Strange music. He gave them to me and he just disappeared. It was hard to keep on top of him, ya know?! I think I gave them to Long Range Distribution at one point. They came out here to hang out and Q-Strange did a Blaze Ya Dead Homie show. I hung out with his cousin Damian. Like Q-Strange stayed behind at the hotel with his lady, I think. And me and Damian went out and did it tough with partying and stuff. And I got D-Roc the Q-Strange tattoo that’s on his leg at a tattoo shop that I go to in Oakland, California. My guy Rick, he did that for Damian. I’ve always liked Damien.  And one day Damian was like, “Yo! What’s up with them albums?” And I told him that I wasn’t really doing anything with it and told him, “If you want you can have it.” I’m not sure what he did with it, but my thing is I don’t like to keep artists records and masters and shit like that. I didn’t even sell Damian the albums, I just gave him the rights. It would’ve been nice to get some money for it. But really, I didn’t make too much money off of it originally. I made enough to where the label got paid and we got some back too. Same thing with the Q-Strange t-shirts back then, it helped recoup our costs. Whatever happened between Damian and Q-Strange, I can’t speak on that, as that’s their own personal family matter and they will sort it out in the end.


CTC: You used to rock the Gathering of the Juggalos quite frequently over the years. What would you say became your most wildest Gathering moment?


Mars: You know what’s crazy is that I remember my first one at Cave-In-Rock but not the one’s after that. Because the one’s after that all became a blur. The only way I can remember is when I talk to artists and people I’ve met when they bring up scenarios. Other than that, it’s been really blurry. *Changes subject* You know what’s funny is I’m sitting in the neighborhood in my car and the windows are really, really, tinted, but the window is barely cracked right now to get air and people are kinda looking to see who it is and I pop out with the Hannibal Lecter mask and it’s funny as well. *Laughs* But Cave-In-Rock. Those are the best times for me. I love that shit! Just meeting people back stage like meeting Charlie Sheen and hanging out with DJ Quik. My first time meeting E-40, oddly enough, when we first introduced ourselves to each-other, when I found out he knew who I was, was back stage at the Gathering. Even though he’s from here (Cali). I’ve been in his presence before, but I actually got to kick it with E-40 and DJ Quik in their trailer and smoked a blunt at the Gathering. And those are very memorable things for me in my life. It was very special times!


CTC: What’s one thing you find stale among the underground that you’d like to see change?


Mars: In the underground people are very cliquey with the type of music they’ll listen to. I think people should just sit back and enjoy it for the music. Fuck all the dumb shit. I feel people are more inclined to speak on the hate instead of speaking on the love. I feel like people pick the wrong energy to use to support music and each-other. And it is supposed to bring people together. it’s supposed to bring forth a really good thing. Even in this genre, people are missing the point of the whole thing. I feel like it’s supposed to bring people together for a common cause and not to drive people apart. Faygoluvers has always been dope! Horror Corridor, Juggalo News, Horror Rap News, Underground Nation Magazine, all that stuff are non-biased. But like, people who cover the scene fairly, instead of just picking the stuff that they only like. You can do whatever the fuck you want with your own shit, but its when you become an entity that’s like an authority onto music. You have a responsibility to cover it as a whole. There’s a lot of dope shit out there that don’t get covered. But because someone is being a dictator with their platform, they don’t get that reach. And people take notice. I feel like in certain situations you can see that as a bad thing towards somebody. I’m just saying to those out there. That if you guys want to start your own platforms then cover everyone fairly. Acknowledge people’s hard work/longevity. Let your viewership/audience dictate what they are fucking with/bump through your outlet. If you talk about horrorcore then my name has to be mentioned because I’ve been most longer than a lot of people.

So I’m not taking anything away from anybody else. I just feel like that with all that pioneers that people have been influenced by, they need to be recognized no matter who it is. Like Insane Poetry is a pioneer of this. Kung Fu Vampire is somebody that the underground took in and now he has influenced it. They both started in different eras/different times. But now this is something that everybody came together and built. So you can’t leave somebody out. I’m not saying they’re doing that to either one of them (Insane Poetry/Kung Fu Vampire), I’m just saying as an example, you gotta show how the fucking branches were grown from this tree. You can’t live nobody out that is of significance. So that’s why I build a relationship with everybody in the underground/horrorcore. I’m friends with people like The Flatlinerz, Ganksta Nip, Brotha Lynch Hung, X-Raided, Esham, you know what I mean?! I build a relationship with everybody because I respect what they’ve done, I’m give them props. Insane Clown Posse, of course, huge influence on my music and my life, period! All this shit wouldn’t be shit without them! I just like to give props when props are due. I feel like more people should do that to.


CTC: Let’s dive into the ‘Death’ EP and how your own personal life may have influence its creation and subject matters of the record. Can we talk about that?

Mars: I feel like on this EP, what was supposed to be like a week long project, turned into a month long project. Really what I was doing was working on feeling my process of what I was going through to my current state of my mind right now .I recorded when I was on drugs, drinking, or depressed or didn’t feel good/feeling angry or sad. When I came out of all that stuff I still had more to record what I really feel. You could feel how the album progressed from the darker stuff into me growing into a different person. It kinda leads into what I’m about to do now. I’m not saying that I’m not doing horrorcore. But now I have bigger opportunity with another label right now. Who wants to hear some of the stuff where I’m not feeling like shit. It’s good to know that people wanna see the different stages of my music. The completely different stages of my life. And different audiences that may or may not have fucked with me before. Because now they get to relate to all the stuff that I’ve been going through as I go through it. The ‘Death’ EP kinda did that and It was very scary to put it out because I didn’t want to release it and be so vulnerable and open with my own personal life and people not feeling it. To my surprise a lot of people were picking it up and were giving me mad props on it. Most importantly, they were relating to what I was going through.


CTC: You really changed up your style for the better and took a deeper risk-taking approach with the ‘Death’ EP. Which three words would best describe the ‘Death’ EP as a whole?


Mars: It’s a story. And it pieces itself together. It’s a story. Depressing, but it is also inspirational. But again. All that shit is mixed in with all that weird, crazy, horrorcore shit too. So I made sure that it’s for my original horrorcore fans and people that had never heard my music before.


CTC: How did the creation of the ‘Death’ EP challenge you differently than your past material?


Mars: I felt like before I was recording just do get things done. And recording because there was a need for it, for this month/this week. The opportunity that I had when I worked with BVNE on this one. Because he did the ‘Murder’ EP with me. And I loved working with BVNE. He knows how I like my sounds and what I want to get out of my music and how I want to mix it. There were only a few times where I was like, “Change this right here. I don’t like the way this sounds” Just little tiny things. The process for this one was basically a lot easier because we knew each-other on how we did things from the time before. But at at the same time I had to be patient with him because it took so long doing this as I was going through stuff. So there would be some days where I didn’t want to do shit. And there would be somedays where I wanted to do music and just being sober and in a better mind frame. I couldn’t wait to do more and more and more and add to it. And he was right there with me through it all. It was cool to have somebody let me be at m pace. And when I wanted to speed it up, he was also right there too. Working with him was another great opportunity and I can’t wait to do another one with him! I can’t wait to do more music with BVNE period!



CTC: Which track would you say was the most personal to write lyrics for on the ‘Death’ EP and why?


Mars: ‘Out Of Love’ I would say was a very, very personal to me, I feel. the hook had a lot to do with everything that was set in motion. It was really a true part of myself.


CTC: And you’re completely satisfied with the final outcome of the ‘Death’ EP?


Mars: I don’t know, man. There are some songs where I wasn’t feeling it that much. But people are like, “That’s my favorite one!” So as an artist that’s just something that you kinda have to deal with. But people would be surprised at which ones are my favorite on the ‘Death’ EP. ‘Fuckin U Right’ and ‘Trouble’ because to me that’s like some summer time car show music. I could see a music videos for those being a shot a certain way. Then I see ‘No Digits’, I love that song on there, I see that as a completely different way for a music video. That’s for people who are going through some shit, like they’re mad at some bitch out there. I just feel like they all have their own purpose to reach different people. ‘Oddity’ is for the original fans of mine. Like the voice that I do for my music, it has like a more horrorcore vibe to it. And ‘Trouble’ and ‘Fucking U Right‘ are more for like the girls to listen to. In a way I’m happy with all of them because they reach a different type of person in a different type of mood.


CTC: And you’re already working on another EP?


Mars: Yeah! A good friend of mine, B. Nasty. Who appeared on a song on the ‘Glockcoma’ EP. He’s a big battle rapper and he travels the world doing battles. He let me know about this movement they got going on in this facility that they are building where its a recording/videography/photo studio. It is just a big collective of artists that are utilizing this space to do cool shit. And he asked me to be the resident rap artist there. I found that his business partner is a man named Seani B. Together those two are responsible for putting on the 9Quota hip-hop awards. I didn’t know how to approach them and they just asked me to be a part of what they do. And I was able to be like, “Yo! You know why I’m here. Let’s do a record and see how it does” And they were like, “We’ll get you billboard and a cover of a magazine” And I’m like, “Fuck yeah”! The more I’m there it’s just so beautiful. Everybody has known each-other for years. He’s linked me up with an amazing producer from the Bay Area named Tom Cat. Tom Cat’s one stipulation as a fan is he’s seen all the good stuff that I’ve been doing and all the positive changes that I’ve made with being sober, he’s like, “I want you to rap about this part of your life and let’s call it like the ‘Redemption’ EP” And I’m like, “Cool!” And Ton’s like, “With all the Billboard and magazine stuff, this is a chance for people to see more of a different side of you that’s not the X-rated horrorcore stuff . I’m not saying that you can’t be Mars. But I’m saying let’s have more songs that are for people who are just now finding out about you through these bigger elements that could be more palatable” And I liked the challenge and I wanted to do it. So that’s something I’ve been down there working on with at the Factory 925 in Pittsburg, California. 


CTC: What’s really awesome is you’re always helping out kids in need or helping with a variety of non-profit chirality organizations. Currently, you’ve recently partner with Save Souls Skate Bowls to donate new and refurbished Skateboards to underprivileged, foster, and at risk children around Contra Costa County and the Central Valley of California. Let’s talk about that!


Mars: I started out giving food to the homeless through sponsorships/people that I know that have big companies. I was like, “I know you guys give me free food for the backstage stuff at my shows. But I feel the people who really need it, you should do the same thing for them, that you do for me. I’ll just go out to some people downtown and I’m sure they’ll greatly appreciate it” So I started doing that. And people were stoked! Kinders BBQ was one of the first people to help. They’re a huge supporter of mine. And I’m a big fan of their food. Shout out to Justin Kinder. the dude who owns it, he’s E-40’s business partner. The “Goon with a Spoon” line. I started out with him. Then Little J’s Pittsburg that’s our hamburger spot, I’m friends with the owner there. He gave me some sandwiches to help out and we kept doing it. It just felt good to help people and represent people who have already helped me out to get their name out their for doing good things too. Then I linked up with My Angels Incorporated and they work with the California Food Bank. And White Pony Express is another food bank And My Angels Inc., they started giving me boxes of food to families who reached out that needed extra help.

Mars: I started doing that with just a couple of boxes here and there to homeless camps around the county. So around the time the EP dropped I got to meet with the Mayor and they did posts about me and all that stuff. And I was like, “Damn! I didn’t even do it for that reason!” But that’s fresh. So the city saw what I was doing and they linked me with Carlos of Save Souls Skate Bowls and told him that I have skateboard background and that we should get together and give kids skateboards. And I always wanted to do that. And I started doing it before we met, but not as big as Carlos was doing. So we linked up and we’re collecting skateboards for underprivileged kids, special needs kids, at risk children, foster kids, etc. On a Saturday he invited me to come out to the skate park in Antioch, California to teach kids how to skateboard through a group called “Be Exceptional”. Which is a program for acting, skateboarding, fitness, etc. Every Saturday they teach a classroom. On a Saturday I was assigned two kids and taught them what I knew and they were little kids too. And like I got see how excited they were to learn. And the hour that they do the program went by really fast. I wanted to help again asap. It was a way for skateboarding to be brought into my life again, but for a good cause. It just feels right to keep saying yes to positive stuff like that because it’s leading me to a different path that I never really thought about before.

I feel myself as a person growing because of it. Also at the same time because of the type of music that I make, it brings attention to my music because people don’t expect for someone that looks like me/rap like me to do something like that in the community It shows another side of me at the same time to people. It touches different expectations than what people would normally think of me. I think to in the world, I made a lot of mistakes in the world and I want to show another side of me an bring more to the world than I’ve shown in the past.  It’s hard, it’s challenging there are things that get in the way. There are things that will frustrate you and there are things that are gonna try to block the goodness in you in life and sometimes you gotta just work and push past that and just do your best at doing more good shit. It could be someone just broken down at the side of the road or somebodies just going through it and they just need a little extra food. If you a homeless dude and he asks for beer, that beer might mean the world to him. So let’s help people out!


CTC: Will you and Kung Fu Vampire ever tour together again?


Mars: Man! the last Kung Fu Vampire tour I was wilding out! So I’m sure that he would like to bring me on tour a lot. He’s seen grow as a person ad he’s one of my best friends. He’s always pushed me to get sober and told me it’ll get shit done. And now that I am and don’t care about drinking or shit like that anymore. I feel it’s the right time to do it because now I’m a lot more professional on the road. I’m not just out there trying to meet girls and drink or party. Know what I’m saying?! I’m really there just to do a show and make people happy and introduce myself to people. And grow as an artist. And Kung Fu Vampire has always been about that. So there could be a tour! I was just flipping through tweets and I noticed Kung Fu Vampire was asking fans about a Mars and Kung Fu Vampire music project together and people were stoked on it. And now it might be a thing that we do. If that happens for sure, then for sure a tour is gonna happen.


CTC: I know this one is personal. But Michigan Underground hip-hop legend Menacide tragically passed away last year. Can we discuss some back history between you two first meeting?


Mars: Mencaide stepped up when ‘Mars Attacks’ (2005) was being recorded. He was like, “Why don’t you record a quick album and I’ll press it and mix it! Just give me the vocals and I’ll do the rest.” And it was from there when I found out that the need for my music was so high/the demand for it because it sold out in hours. And if it wasn’t for that I would have no idea how much potential that I had as a a brand to sell that quick. Menacide did that for me! The day it sold out, man, him and his mom called and to say how proud they were of how fast it sold out. He would send me little things here and there and he decided to send me bundles of blank CD’s to record. The way that I recorded at the time you would have to burn each wav to a different CD. And he did that to get me going. And then he invited me to do the Devilz Night compilations. He said, “We need some Mars shit on there. I don’t fucking care if you have to give me just a verse, I’ll do another verse on it and we’ll make it a Mars and Menacide song out of it! People need that!” The first time I met him was at Hot Hits in Roseville, Michigan. The Abbiss family owned it. That’s when I met Sue Abbiss and McNastee for the first time too. Menacide was there and it was my first in-store. My first in-store was Hot Hits, which was crazy as fuck because that is where ICP got started. Menacide was just a big supporter through out my entire career. The time I went on the “Road to Redemption” tour and the promoters were janky, they didn’t get me a flight. They got me a train ticket. I was taking the Amtrak back to California through New Mexico and Mencaide called me when I was on the train out of nowhere. I didn’t know who it was at first. And he was like, “What’s up Mars?!” And we started talking again. I found out he moved to Arizona and he was telling me he was sick. I didn’t think he was sick, sick, I just didn’t understand the severity of it. Every once in awhile I would get those phone calls from him. I was very saddened to hear that he succumbed to his illness. He did a lot for the Wicked Underground! He’s very influential!


CTC: Any final shout outs?

Mars: Shout out to anyone that supports and the people that don’t like me. Shout out to all these peoples in these companies that sponsored me. Sprayground, Cookies SF, Hemper Co, King Ice, Thizz Clothing, and Old Tyme Beverages! And shout out to Save Souls Skate Bowls. And shout out to you, Chad. I know you’re a huge supporter of the underground and I love that you use your platform to cover everybody fairly. Shout out to the people who don’t support me, but support other underground artists. Your favorite artists need that support to make more music. Let them know that you appreciate their music. And of course, Scottie D for all the love!

from Faygoluvers


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