Do you believe in Magik? I do.
Baltimore has been under a microscope as of late since the murder of Freddie Gray at the hands of police. So many negative lights have been placed on the city of Baltimore, from gang violence to poverty everyone has had little to say about all the positivity that’s actually been pouring out from the residents of Baltimore. Last week I had the privilege of attending the BET special “Baltimore Speaks” discussing the events that followed the murder of Freddie Gray. One panelist stood out to me more than others mainly because he admitted to being affiliated with the infamous gang known as the Bloods. I was interested in what he had to say being a Baltimore resident himself, also being a black man, and knowing that on any given day a #JusticeFor hashtag could be placed before his name. Orlando Gilyard aka Magik 200 is a Baltimore rapper and activist. I was able to sit down with Magik and conduct an interview because I wanted to know more about him, his activist, and his music. When the Baltimore uprising first occurred Magik and his friends decided to help the community by leading a truce between the Bloods and Crips of Baltimore.
News spread that the gangs were in fact doing the opposite of trying to help the community but were working together to go against the police (don’t you just love the media smh). Magik made a video that went viral letting everyone know that the gangs were helping the community not harming it, check it out below…
When I met up with Magik 200 in Manhattan I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard his music and seen his videos of him speaking on the harsh treatment that the people of Baltimore deal with from the police. I was greeted by Magik and his friend/manager who seemed very friendly, they wore tough exteriors but as soon as we got to chatting I discovered that underneath the hard exterior stood a tall man who had a not so lovely past but was determined to have a better future.
S.H: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Magik: Well, my name is Orlando Gilyard, everybody knows me as Magik. I’m an artist and part-time activist. I do a few things (He laughs)
S.H: What made you get into music?
Magik: Music has always been apart of me, I grew up doing ciphers. People would tell me to take it seriously but I was young and wasn’t taking it too seriously. I was caught up in the streets, it wasn’t until I went to prison in 2008 I did five years and when I came home I saw other people who became popular and I thought, if they could do it I could do it.
S.H: What style do you have when it comes to your music?
Magik: My style is very aggressive, very heartfelt, I.m coming from a real place. A lot of the things I rap about I have experienced or my friends have experienced, so its coming from a real place.
S.H: You were in a gang, how do you incorporate that into your music?
Magik: When I was 17 I became a member of the bloods, and I think I did it because I lived in West Baltimore, and a lot of my friends were in a gang. We had the same rivals so over time it just came like that. And I never denounced what I was, even though a lot of negative things have happened to me a lot of positive things have happened. I just take the good with the bad. And my past allows me to talk to people through my music.
S.H: What do you bring that is different from other Baltimore rappers?
Magik: I’m not that much different from other rappers in Baltimore because we talk about and go through the same things. But what makes me different is that I spit real bars. You aint gon’ hear no hickery, dickery dock. You gon’ hear real music. You’re not gonna skip my music because I’m talking about real events.
S.H: You are involved in social issues and activism, how does that affect your music?
Magik: Well the Freddie Gray issue definitely was the turning point in my life as a man and as an artist. A lot of the music I made before was very street and very aggressive. But now after this situation I am writing from a different aspect and I think that helped develop me as a man and as an artist.
S.H: Social Activist, former gangsta, for the people that will judge you for being a gangsta speaking on social issues what do you say to them?
Magik: What I feel about that is…Pac said it the best, “We might fight among each other but I promise you this, we burning shit down if you get us pissed.” We come from broken families and poverty, so you are going to have violence and I’m not condoning it. But we can’t have police coming out here killing us like its just nothing. I feel like we have a right…everybody has a right, this is where we are from, this is where we rest our heads at. Yeah I have a past but I feel like I have to say something especially when its something like this involving police brutality.
S.H: What is your take on the state of Baltimore?
Magik: Right now, it’s not just Freddie Gray, we have to elevate our minds as people, everything is aggressive in my city. The tension of the pot that has been brewing has been there for a long time. Police will come in our neighborhoods not to say “hey let me make sure the people are safe”, they looking at us as the ones that are doing the crime and that’s not always true. They pull up and strip search us, they don’t have respect for us. I fee like everyone needs to take a stand especially for the youth. The kids eight, nine, ten years old they are at the brink of trying to decide what they want to do. We need to help them and be that positive influence and that is what I’m trying to do.
S.H: Tell us about your non-profit
Magik: We are trying to start something called “Bridging The Gap” and its about bringing people together, its not about race, its not about color, its not about gangs, its about being together. It will be either a boys and girls thing or a gang intervention type of non-profit. We want to help the youth.
S.H: What is your hope for your music? Who are you speaking to?
Magik: I’m speaking to everybody with my music, I’m giving you me, Magik. I’m giving you Baltimore, Urban America, I’m giving it to you no cut. When you listen to my music you are gonna feel it. They are gonna say, “this guy right here is speaking from a hurt place” and I am.
S.H: What is your take on the state of Hip-Hop?
Magik: Right now, its trendy. It’s just trendy. It’s too many artists that are just giving you real music.
S.H: So how do you think you will fit in? There are a select few who are stepping outside of being trendy. J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar have made it into that realm of being conscious rappers.
Magik: I feel like, I’m one of the chosen ones that can step in and mix in what I’m doing which is real music and keep it catchy. I’m telling you something about myself that’s real and its catchy.
S.H: Who is your favorite rapper?
Magik: Right now…I don’t have a favorite rapper, but I like Future, I’m gon’ always be a Pac fan, I like Meek, I like Drake, and I like Wayne, and Young Moose. Young Moose and I kinda talk about the same stuff.
S.H: There is nobody at the moment in music who reps Baltimore in the way that you are doing it. So now that you have that voice how do you plan on using it?
Magik: I just feel like I’m that next one. The things that have been going on in the media, I spoke out on what the media said when they said the gangs in Baltimore were coming together to combat the police. I made a video saying it wasn’t true. I got a lot of attention from that video and that helped propel me in a way. So then people heard my music and saw that he raps too. So, I’m going to push both because that’s what I’m trying to do.
S.H: Do you have kids?
Magik: Yes, I have a daughter.
Magik’s face lights up when I asked if he had kids. (Proud Father)
S.H: What is your hope for your daughter? Living in Baltimore under these current conditions, what do you want for her?
Magik: I just don’t want my daughter to ever be put in a situation where she gotta throw rocks. I don’t want her to ever be put in harms way. I would never want to see my daughter in that type of environment where she is put to the test like that, not my kid. I just want the best for my child.
S.H: If you weren’t rapping what would you be doing?
Magik: Umm…that’s weird. I kinda want to get into acting too. I know this might sound like a controversial statement, but I feel like I’m the new Pac. I’m very ambitious, and I feel like I can do everything.
S.H: Now why do you specifically say Pac? (Rapper Tupac Shakur)
Magik: Because I feel like.. Pac, he was his own entity. He could just cover so many bases, he could make a song like “Brenda’s Got A Baby” to then make a song called “How do you want it?” And to me, in my eyes he is a revolutionary, he’s a rapper, he’s an actor, he was just so much. And I feel like I want to do the same thing. You will never meet another Pac, and I want to be remembered like that. He really help make a change in his city.
S.H: Top five people who you would want to work with? It doesn’t matter the profession.
Magik: Umm, top five? I would want to work with Meek Mill, umm….Nicki Minaj/Beyonce, Russell Simmons, Diddy or Jay, and definitely John Singleton.
S.H: If you could give any advice to someone who is trying to get into music, who may be from a Baltimore, who might not be getting the encouragement they need, what would you tell them?
Magik: My main thing to them would be, stay consistent. You gotta stay in the studio, you gotta show people that you’re actually working. You really gotta really believe in what you’re doing, you gotta almost bully your way into the industry. Like this is who I am.
S.H: Do you have somebody who influenced you, who inspired you, who told you to keep going?
Magik: I think for me it was basically family, my mother, my aunts, my daughter, my family. Their support is what kept me going. I had friends who said take this music seriously. The activism took me by surprise, I couldn’t even wrap my brain around it in the beginning. I just wasn’t used to it, people like what we are doing. I say to myself “I cannot believe what’s happening, I just thank God.”
S.H: What do you think is going to keep you grounded once you blow up?
Magik smiles and laughs
Magik: I’m already a confident person, I know what I can do, so I feel like I already deserve the money. In my mind I already have it. Some people may think I have changed but we aren’t supposed to stay the same. I won’t get money though and forget where I came from. I will never do that.
S.H: Now speaking about money, a lot of artist coming up don’t think about the business aspect. Can you give some advice on that?
Magik: You gotta have a strong team, that’s the main thing I suggest. You have to have a man for the marketing, a man for the luggage, a man for the studio. You gotta have good contacts and maintain good relationships. Because creating a bad relationship can mess you up, you have to look at it as a business. It’s not just about the music.
S.H: Have you prepared yourself mentally for the ramifications of people asking you about your past?
Magik: In every sense of the word I’m just ready for it. So I feel like I can get a million good comments, its always gonna be that one person that says “well you’re a blood how can you give comments about xy and z?”
S.H: Do you still rep being a Blood? If someone asked you if you’re a Blood, you would say…
Magik: Yes, I would never denounce anything. I’m not active in a sense of me doing negative things but I’m just trying to bring a positive light.
S.H: Now we are going into flash questions, I ask you a question and you answer them in a flash.
S.H: What’s your favorite time of day?
S.H: Favorite Food?
Magik: Cheese steak subs
S.H: Coke or Pepsi
S.H: Favorite TV show?
S.H: Who is Magik 200?
Magik: The realest.
And with that I concluded my interview with Magik 200. I got a better understanding of the man, the artist, and the activist. I had already heard his music and liked it, but I wanted to really delve into who Orlando Gilyard was. I found out that he wasn’t just one thing, with one side, he has many sides. He has lived many different lives. And at this point the life that he is choosing to live is shedding positivity in the city of Baltimore. He is choosing to be the person who stands up for his city when injustice occurs. Using his music and his voice. So yes, I must say I believe in Magik…Magik 200 that is.
Follow Magik 200 on Twitter to keep up with him
Check out Magik 200’s latest video below
Magik 200 “Where Were You” Official Video
The song that made me believe in Magik 200 lol
Magik 200 “Hot Ni**a Remix”