The rap video My Name is FAME begins with a brightly lit neon ferris wheel seemingly spinning in time to a mellow drum beat, before the viewer gets a glance of the young rapper’s face. He then begins rapping in front of a montage of Mission landmarks like the post office, Clarke Theatre, and museum.
The video sounds like something straight from the golden age of hip hop, producing a sound you’d expect from Souls of Mischief or Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.
“My goal was to bring back that ‘90s type rap that people say they miss and wish it would come back,” says rapper Immortal Fame, whose name is inspired from New York rapper Immortal Technique.
What’s all the more remarkable about Fame, is that his real name is Kayden MacDonald, a Heritage Park secondary student who turned 17 in December.
Most of his music is composed of barely remembered old school riffs from the ‘90s put to his own lyrics and style of delivery, making for a distinct vibe that, perhaps strangely, is reminiscent of the music being produced by the rappers of the day when Fame was born.
When Fame first got into rap, he felt what would set his music apart was that retro sound that has become a nostalgia for rap music lovers who bemoan the pop R&B hip hop that floods the airwaves today.
Fame has been rapping since Grade 8 and recording music and videos since Grade 10, though he’s loved the music ever since he can remember. Today, he gets a mixed reaction from classmates of love and hate.
“I don’t mind when people say they don’t like it. I’m like, whatever, you don’t like it. But then some people like to go to the extreme with it and kind of make fun of you about it.”
But he said the support he gets from most people is encouraging. He finds the most support from his manager/director/photographer Rhys Griffiths, an 18-year-old friend from Wales.
“He’s been there since day one. He did the first video and he’s helped me all through it.”
But it was Fame’s idea to do a video with Mission landmarks in it and post it on YouTube, adding he’s proud of his home even though he knows it might not be able to take him everywhere he wants to go.
“But as a musician you gotta represent your town so I said to Rhys, I want to do something that’s going to represent Mission, to put it on the map.”
Although his dreams might be larger than Mission can hold, Fame says his ambitions are modest, and would be happy to be known as an underground rap artist across the country. Especially amongst his rapping peers.
He doesn’t expect to become a professional rapper, however, hoping to go on to be an audio engineer when he graduates from high school.
Another big supporter of his music comes from his mother, who recently watched him do his first live performance.
“When I did my first show, I went up on stage and I could see her face. She looked so happy. And when I got off stage she looked at me and said, ‘Wow, this is really what you’re meant to do.’”
Fame wants to be like rapper Mos Def, writing stories that have meaning and purpose.
“Everything that I write about is actually something that’s happened to me. That’s where I get my inspirations, from what I see day-to-day.”
He got to go backstage when Bone Thugs-n-Harmony visited Mission in January, an experience that was inspiring.
His first gig on stage was opening for L.A. rappers Hopsin and SwizZz in February at the Big B Saloon.
“It was funny because when I got called up on stage I didn’t realize how many people in Mission knew who I was,” he said laughing.
“It was so nerve-wracking. You’re so scared to go up on stage because your heart’s just beating a million miles an hour. But then you go up, the beat starts, you get your first couple of full words out and you’re good.”
Fame will be a part of the upcoming 604 showcase at the Clarke Theatre with The Trilogy, RebelYell, 2nd-to-none and Kris Monico on Sept. 22.