Shoreline Mafia have always done things their own way. This is exceedingly evident as they’ve been a known commodity for years, but it wasn’t until this summer that they finally released their debut album, “Mafia Bidness.”
For decades there has been a tried-and-true formula used by the music industry—play some small shows, catch the ear of an A&R rep, release an album, go on tour, then, hopefully, profit. The four members of Shoreline Mafia—Ohgeesy, Rob Vicious, Fenix Flexin, Master Kato—built a following by releasing singles here and there while touring constantly. They were so damn busy that recording a debut studio album fell through the cracks.
“We basically toured for two years,” Ohgeesy says. “We were just living day-to-day not even realizing how time was passing as fast as it was. Life goes fast on the road.”
Life may move pretty fast on the road, like Ohgeesy says, but life on the road came to an abrupt halt when the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic this past winter. In other words, not exactly the ideal time to drop an album. But they didn’t focus on the negatives being presented to them, instead, they were thrilled “Mafia Bidness” was seeing the light of day.
“Listen, I'm just happy that shit [is] finally coming out,” Master Kato says. “Cause a lot of shit was recorded over a minute ago. I'm happy people are about to finally get to hear this shit. It's an amazing piece of work.”
“The songs are still hot, so it don’t really matter when it comes out,” Rob Vicious adds. “It still sounds like us, n****s gonna think we did this shit this year.”
“I myself am genuinely excited about each and every song,” Ohgeesy says when asked what track off “Mafia Bidness” he’s most excited about. “They all mean a lot to me, each one is a reminder of different points and places I’ve been in the past 2 years.”
For a group that had basically spent the entirety of the last two years together on the road, being forced to stay at home must have been quite a culture shock. Not just that they won’t be able to tour on the album—in the words of Rob Vicious, “We don’t get to do the fun part,”— but that the foursome hasn’t been in the same room for quite some time. When Rob Vicious, Master Kato and Fenix Flexin (Ohgeesy was unavailable for the call and was interviewed separately) each popped into our Zoom call you could feel the bond between them. The inside jokes, the busting on each other. The camaraderie is there, even as the group may be splintering.
As the conversation turns towards tattoos, a simple joke hinted at the turmoil bubbling under the surface. The question was if the four of them had gotten any tattoos together, possibly while on tour together. “I’m gonna get a Mount Rushmore [tattoo] on my chest,” Master Kato laughs as he pulls up his shirt. “Fenix here, Rob here, me and… yeah.”
“That’s a quality mountain right there,” Fenix Flexin says through laughter. “That’s millions of dollars of mountain,” Master Kato adds.
Shortly before their debut album was released, Shoreline Mafia made the choice to spend their efforts pursuing solo careers instead of focusing on the group. It’s not that they're breaking up—at least as of now—it’s just being put on the backburner for a bit as the guys explore other things
The beauty of “Mafia Bidness” is the way that it captures Shoreline Mafia at their best—all four members working together and pushing each other to new heights. The competitive nature of each member is the strength of the group, while they try to one-up each other the music gets better and better.
“Everybody’s evolved and developed as artists [over the years],” Master Kato says. “As you work on your craft, everybody’s changed.”
For now, they're going to be following their own paths, but given their chemistry and the strength of the group, don't be surprised if those paths converge again in the not too distant future.