And yet, Taylor is also part of the massive British Invasion of chart-topping U.K. talent which includes acts as varied as M.I.A., Amy Winehouse, and Coldplay. Don’t let the English private school pedigree fool you—Mams is also schooled in the art of cage fighting. If push comes to shove, Taylor doesn’t mind exchanging lyrical barbs or with fist-a-cuffs, thanks to his passion for jiu-jitsu and boxing. “There are some things that are best resolved with a quick brawl and a pint,” he quips. And it’s no wonder he has a chip on his shoulder.
He was only one month old when his family fled Tehran during the revolution. They settled in working class Cricklewood, London. His mother was a homemaker, and his father was a stern disciplinarian, who expected his artistic son to follow his footsteps into business. When Mams attended the prestigious North Bridge House private school, he felt excluded.
“A black sheep at home and at school, I was always an outsider in a way,” he says. PERSONA NON GRATA means “unwelcome person” in Latin. “At a predominantly white elite school, I was the unwelcome person,” remembers Mams. Anyone who has felt alienated and different can relate to his sound. But Mams didn’t bother trying to fit into rigid archetypes. He honed his freestyle skills.
He DJ’ed parties and community events. He peddled the kind of contraband that adolescent kids craved. “I was always an entrepreneur. I was the kid at school you went to if you needed counterfeit jeans, porno mags, or fake Rolexes.” By 16, Mams left home and paid for his education by selling roses on the street and pushing designer gear at a clothing store. After college, Mams Taylor got buff, thanks to boxing and a side hustle as a personal trainer.
He became a bouncer at Paparazzi Lounge, a members-only club with an affluent clientele comprised of celebrities, mafiosos, and investment bankers. “For the first time in my life, I was making big money,” says Mams. But making money was only half of the equation. Mams set his sights on Los Angeles and a career in music. A firm believer in the theory of manifestation, Mams says, “If you can see your goal, hear your goal and really feel it, then it comes true.” Mams had written lyrics and programmed beats since he was a teenager, but he never believed it could be a day job, until he moved to L.A.
A friend soon introduced him to his Long Beach-born hero Snoop, who agreed to collaborate with Mams on “Girl Gotta Girlfriend,” a nod to the burgeoning lipstick lesbian trend raging in clubs. Snoop showed up at the erotic video shoot, where dozens of scantily clad video vixens were clustered around Taylor, who is known for being quite the lady’s man. On “Top of the World,” Taylor’s pixilated voiced touring buddy, T-Pain, jumps off the song with a blazing rhythmic intro, as Mams turns his attention from the ladies to the haters. “Top of the World” is Taylor’s battle cry, as he boasts, “You’re still waiting for your payday/ I’m past that/ I’m focused on the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq” to a hard-chugging guitar line, laced with a synthed out melody. Take “Chest Out,” a wall of guitar coats the runked-out track as a rolling kick drum powers it through. It’s Taylor’s turn to pick up the vocoder with lyrical jabs like, “I’m so London/ Gotta keep that iron/ Eye of the tiger/ I’m never retiring,” over the triumphant Rocky-inspired anthem. Mams raps like a boxer, because he is one.
He meditates, escapes to retreats and practices mixed martial arts—a combination of jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and boxing. “I think mixed martial arts is really spiritual,” says Mams, “because it forces you to be present or else you’re going to get knocked out.” The inner work and outer discipline is also essential for Mams to find the strength to coax skeptical crowds and work them into an all out body rock. Says Mams, “Because it doesn’t matter if people tell me ‘No,’ I’ll still rise. Overcoming adversity is fun, because victory is so much sweeter at the end.” It’s the Runk way. Read more on Last.fm.
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