Love & Hip Hop New York Season 9 newbie Maino has, without a doubt, one of the most interesting histories of anyone who’s ever appeared on the show. The Brooklyn rapper used to be all about that life, until a 10-year prison sentence turned him on to the power of freestyle rap. Ever since his release, Maino has been all about his own hustle; now, he and his girlfriend (and fellow LHHNY cast mate) Maggie Carrie are ready for the spotlight on their biggest stage yet.
Who is Maino on Love and Hip Hop?
Maino has been one of the most prolific and best locally known Brooklyn rappers since he was released from prison in 2003. (More on Maino’s life-changing arrest in a bit.) Maino’s real name is Jermaine Coleman; he was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant on August 30th, 1973.
As Maino has explained, his upbringing was rough, to say the least. Both of his parents were drug addicts. “My mom developed her own little habit, but she never let herself get to the point where she was in the streets,” Maino said. “I watched my dad go from being a good father to a fiend.”
Unfortunately, his parents’ addictions meant that Maino had to more or less raise himself and his younger brother, and “petty crimes” became a way of life. And, before too long, those crimes became bigger, more serious ones — which is how Maino found himself locked up for a decade starting at the age of sixteen.
Here’s why Maino did ten years in prison
There’s a fair bit of misinformation out there about this. Maino was arrested at sixteen not for dealing drugs — in fact, his arrest was only slightly related to drugs. Maino actually went to jail for kidnapping. Specifically, he and a few other guys in his crew decided that they would kidnap the dealer who’d been *supplying* them with drugs, then ransom him and use the loot to further their own dreams.
The simplest explanation of what exactly went down is probably this VladTV interview with Maino from 2008, when the then-35-year-old was still on parole. Our transcription of Maino’s explanation follows the embedded video below:
We was dealin’ with a connect. We was coppin’ from him and all that. And, you know, one of us came up with a bright idea, like, ‘You know what? F*ck this n!gga. Let’s take this n!gga. You know what I mean? Yeah — we decided to do a little more than rob him, we decided to take him. And then call his people. And have them bring them bricks through, you know what I’m sayin’? We wanted like four bricks or whatever, and some bread. And then we got caught.
Interviewer: Y’all kidnapped him?
We kidnapped him! I went to jail for kidnapping, my n!gga….I’m on parole right now for the same thing. This ain’t nothin’ I’m tryin’ to make up, you know what I’m sayin’, just to have an image for rap or whatever….We took the n!gga, not knowin’ what the f*ck we was doin. We makin’ calls to they people for about five minutes. All they need is a minute. Like that — they came and got that n!gga….All they gotta do is, they call the police, and [the police] trace the call back.
Prison helped Maino find his true calling
Maino adapted quickly — and impressively — to the harsh realities of prison life. According to his official bio, Maino was often “in the box” (meaning in solitary confinement) for as many as “twenty-three hours a day.” And, with that much time on his hands, he “just started rapping as something to do.”
But life in prison meant he didn’t always have a pen and paper handy, let alone a tape recorder. So Maino simply became a “no writing” MC, and the technique stuck: “I was never comfortable writing my raps down.”
After he was released in 2003, Maino founded Hustle Hard Entertainment, his own record label. Within two years, he had a contract with Universal. The two parted ways shortly thereafter, but Atlantic snatched Maino up straightaway, and put out If Tomorrow Comes…, his debut album in 2009. The album features what’s probably still Maino’s best-known song — its lead single, “Hi Hater”:
Maino’s second album, The Day After Tomorrow, followed in 2012. Since then, he’s been working on the long-anticipated follow-up, and just released a brand-new single to coincide with Maino’s LHHNY Season 9 debut. Entitled “Jermaine (The Intro),” the track’s been drawing raves since it dropped:
(Photo credits: Maino on Love and Hip Hop via Instagram)
John Sharp is a Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. Tips: E-mail at email@example.com or send on Twitter at @john_starcasm.