Mouthing off

Photo: Michael Raiden

Wiley Merrell is a man of many names. The Moore rapper is billed as Wildcat, but he used another as the title to his solo debut, MTLMTH.

“MTLMTH is one of my many nicknames. I used to have braces. Like, it looked crazy,” Merrell said, laughing. “When I got them off, we always use to say, ‘Rest in peace to Metal Mouth,’ but MTLMTH will raise from the grave, once I get my gold grill.”

Merrell has lots to smile about these days, on the eve of his first solo headlining show, Friday at Opolis. After a year spent working and reworking MTLMTH the album, it finally saw the light of day on Halloween.

“I really like the fact that it all sounds good together; it’s not really all over the place. It just all sounds like a big horror movie,” he said. “That’s why I wanted to release it on Halloween.”

Merrell has been honing his chops since fall 2010, when an impromptu freestyle with friends Ryan Richardson and Evan Ricketts eventually steamrolled into the full-fledged rap collective (à la Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) known as Purple Mouth Bandits, with Jonathan McMillan and others joining.

Last year saw the Bandits release Watch the Thrown, followed by strong solo efforts from Richardson and McMillan (as Double R and Jon Tefic, respectively), and Merrell now caps off the trio with MTLMTH, inspired by Odd Future, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.

“I grew up in Venezuela, but I was still exposed to music from the U.S.,” Merrell said. “The first hip-hop song that really stuck out to me and had me bumping it down my elementary school hallway was Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’ … that was my shit,” Merrell said. “When his Late Registration came out, ooh-wee. That was the first album I could just sit down listen to all the way through.”

He and his fellow Bandits have created their own aesthetic, however, much in thanks to Rickett’s production; while MTLMTH is a solo effort, Merrell made it an extension of what the group has done as a collective.

“I wanted to go deeper into the PMB universe. I think we have a certain sound that doesn’t sound like anything else, and I wanted to show people that. It’s like nothing like I have ever heard,” he said. “MTLMTH is just the beginning. PMB is not dead. We’re going to keep coming for you.”

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