“Milli Mars: a metaphor for change,” explains the SA rapper. “Mars, space, wanting to get away totally. I love Greek mythology, and Mars is the god of war. Milli: a thousand gods of war. It’s just me, I can’t give anybody anything else.”
In his rhymes, videos and in conversation, Milli Mars radiates confident energy and loquacious, free-flowing bullshit, just the skills necessary for a vocation in rap. Take the story behind his dreamscape video for “The Battle of So-Chon,” when Mars had to charm his way through a temple full of monks in Houston.
“We just saw this temple on the internet, and I thought, ‘I want to shoot at that temple,” says Mars. “I didn’t think, ‘I should call this temple before I ride up there and try to shoot a video.’ I get there and there’s monks walking around, very peaceful and shit. But there was an angry monk, a monk with a cellphone who said we couldn’t shoot there. We told him it was a personal project, for school. I lied. We were telling people we shot it in China. It was shot in Houston.”
On “So-Chon,” over an expansive, neo-noir beat, Mars exposes a Die Hard life: “Bang, bang, you would think that a n**** is John McClane.”
As a writer, Mars saves his boasts and quips for the studio, rarely putting pen to ink before recording. “Anytime I’m working with somebody, I want to be fresh to it,” says Mars. “If you’re working with dope people, you’ll make a dope project. Whatever producer I’m working with, I love to dig with them. To sit back in the studio and meditate.”
Though he keeps it improvisational in-studio, Mars is inspired at all times to elevate above the status quo he sees in rap. “In all reality, where is the message,” he asks. “If it’s all about ‘I can take your bitch and I do this and you do that,’ what are we really leaving? Back in the day with NWA and Public Enemy, these are guys that got to go to the White House. Hip-hop acts that were talking relevant shit. These guys now are punks. If you just imitate something and it has no life in it, but you’re still pimping that? That’s like death, it’s sad.”
In the next year, Mars is lined up with some exciting prospects. In addition to a sponsorship with Reebok, Mars will work with Dr. Teeth, the go-to director for the top tier of Houston rap. For Mars, whose best work is documented on YouTube, Dr. Teeth’s touch could be a career-boosting presence.
Despite the new opportunities, it’s all about the stage presence. “When I come on, I just want to give them something definite,” says Mars. “I don’t want them to say ‘I was at a hip-hop show.’ I want them home and be washing the dishes and be like ‘fuck, I love Milli Mars.’ I want them to feel good about being a fan. If you like Milli Mars, realize Milli Mars likes you too. I ain’t trying to speak in third person, I don’t do that.”