I spend a lot of my summer in Maine, where my mom has a cabin. As much as I love it, there’s no doubt regarding Dr. Millionaire’s assertion there isn’t a lot to do there, as related in his single, “Nigga From Maine.” Looking like a black Tom Waits, Dr. Millionaire (born Isaiah Clements) shares more in common with the smoky singer-songwriter than just appearance. "Nigga From Maine" is saturated in the rapper's life experiences, namely his journey out of Maine down the East Coast. This is autobiographical rap at its finest, with a gritty truth and spirited-ness which distinguishes the single from its peers.
To some, an artist from the north east like Millionaire is an unlikely commentator on race. "Nigga From Maine" powerfully rejects that assumption in its opening moments, linking his upbringing in Maine ("home of LL Beans") to his early awareness of racism. His subsequent verses are just as affecting, touching on his issues in school, encounters with drugs and eventual move to Virginia. The song doesn't lend itself to a neat headline. Rather, it provides a compelling testament to the pervasiveness of racism in this country, and the challenges it presents to ordinary black Americans.
Given the country's compounding racial strife, listeners would be wise to take stock of what an artist like Millionaire has to say.
My First Million, Dr. Millionaire's highest profile project thus far, will be released next month on Imaginary Friends. Wait for it.