By Seth Daniel
It was at some point in Connecticut that Michael ‘MDOT’ Januario was once again humbled and his ego put in check as he cruised alone in his four-door Chevy up I-95 to his home in Boston, back to his family of three children, following a major album release party in Manhattan and several high-profile interviews for major, national radio shows.
Those shows were all clamoring to talk to MDOT about his Jan. 27 release of ‘Ego and the Enemy,’ a rap album from the Revere native that is getting rave reviews from outlets like the Boston Globe and Underground Hip Hop.
“That’s what the title to the album all means,” he said, referring to the mundane trip he often makes home after all the excitement. “It’s what prevents the ego and the enemy. It’s what keeps you humble. It’s driving back to Boston in my car to my family, my kids, after being at an incredibly exciting album release party in Manhattan. It’s the definition of ego and the enemy…I’ve been building this album for a long time and I wanted to work with so many producers and that takes time. I wanted to put together an album that was undeniable. I wanted the right production to get the right attention. I wanted to make a classic.”
Already, the storytelling and the production are getting the attention he wanted. The Globe called it an early front runner for best album of the year in its review on Jan. 27.
Some of the producers included rap legends like Large Professor, Marley Marl, Buckwild, Khrysis, Marco Polo and Hi Tek – among others. Unlike MDOT’s previous albums, he only has one featured guest, which is well-known Method Man. That, he said, is because he doesn’t want others taking away his attention.
“I used to be about featured performers, but I’m the opposite now,” he said. “Now I want people to hear me. The features were a way to tap into the fanbases of other performers early in my career. Now, I’ve sharpened my storytelling and writing enough that I want people to hear it.”
MDOT has certainly paid his dues, touring and recording relentlessly for many years. He has traveled Europe, done all of the clubs on the East and West Coasts and even, to his surprise, found murals of himself on walls in Eastern Europe.
It’s a long way from where he started in Revere, using a Sony Walkman tape recorder when he attended the Beachmont School to record the poetry he wrote. From there, he went on to graduate from Northeast Voke and continued to sharpen his writing skills – networking furiously outside of his day job to try to advance his career.
Now, he said he believes he has come very close to that point.
“It’s hard for me to say I’m a rapper now because everyone thinks of someone who doesn’t have a job and smokes weed, curses and lives in their parents’ basement,” he said. “I climbed the ladder. That’s not what I am. I’m not getting rich off of this, but I’ve toured and I actually have murals of myself in other countries made by my fans. Anyone can say they rap and it’s hard to differentiate if it’s good or bad. I was an English major. Why should I rely on some swear word? I can express myself well and don’t need to carry on a conversation using swear words. I don’t sell crack or shoot people. I don’t have that life. So I don’t talk about that.”
MDOT said he has learned to shy away from violence or street life, and rely on the storytelling skills he learned at the Beachmont School – the blue collar life he sees every day and he witnessed growing up in Revere. It’s something he said he knows, and it’s something fans from here to Romania can relate to.
Januario, 33, will have a local release party on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 9 p.m. in the Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge. He said he expects to head off for a European tour in April or May.