If you’re a friend of Drique London, you should know something right now: Don’t do anything to make him stop hanging out with you.
The 21-year-old, Selma, N.C.-born, Raleigh resident (real name: Madrique Sanders) has one clear goal in mind: to be a successful MC. This has been such a focused endeavor for the man that he’s found himself parting with old buddies who just wanted to goof off.
“They still wanna party,” London says of his homies. “They still wanna hang out. They still wanna fight – you know’m sayin’ – doing stuff like that. And I’m at a point where rap is all I want to do. So I have to leave y’all alone in order to do it, because you’re gonna take my focus away from what I have to do.”
Being an accomplished rapper (albeit a dreadlocked rapper who resembles T-Pain – “Man, I hear that all the time,” he says) has been an ongoing process for London. Back in high school, he formed a crew of MCs with the hope of making it big together. Alas, London says they weren’t as hungry as he was, and he ended up leaving them behind.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go that work hard for about a year or two and get discouraged,” he says. “I just feel like at this point, I’m young and I have no kids. This is my passion – I’m gonna go for it.”
Between 2009 and 2011, London dropped several mix tapes he admits weren’t so much polished projects but efforts to get his name out there.
“Mix tapes are, for me, really showing off my lyrical, rapping skills – let people know I really rap,” he says. “My mix tapes are, like, practice, basically. You know, you’re just rapping – showing off your skills to build that buzz up for your full-length.”
The full-length showed up last year, called “The Manual.” While the album includes guest appearances from such artists as King Mez and Kooley High’s Tab-One, London says the album, which was recorded over several years, wasn’t as substantial as he would’ve liked it to be. “So I was rapping about stuff that a young kid at that age rap about – like, girls, sneakers and stuff like that,” he says. One thing he certainly wanted to touch on more was the death of his mother, who passed away in 2010, after having a stroke in her sleep.
“After I did that album, I sat back and I was like, well, maybe I need to start rapping – you know’m sayin’ – finding myself, my inner wordplay, getting in deeper to the music,” he says. “That’s how ‘Gordian Knot’ came about.”
Released last August, “Gordian Knot” is a six-track EP (which can be downloaded for free online) that has London rapping over beats provided by Tacoma producer DJ Semaj. The title is a metaphor for solving a problem by thinking outside the box, which London did by stepping out of his usual comfort zone and getting more personal lyrically.
“So, from here on, it’s gonna be that serious, lyrical sound – like main storytelling – that ‘Gordian Knot’ gave.”
As London comes up with more music that will feature this new, lyrical direction, he is still pushing his name and his music wherever he can. He continues to host “Sucker Free Sunday,” the bi-weekly, hip-hop showcase that’s going down at the Pour House Music Hall this weekend.
Ultimately, Drique London isn’t content with being another MC who drops some mix tapes and waits for the buzz to happen. “I know a few people who think that,” he says. “Like, you drop a mix tape – that’s it, you know’m sayin’. You do a mix tape, you get a couple of thousand downloads – that’s it! You gotta push. You gotta network. You gotta do visuals. You gotta perform. A lot comes with being an MC at this point, you know.”