Gangstas Don’t Die, They Write Books: Maino’s Little Bro Chats New Book, Becoming An Author

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For Brooklyn natives Maino and Mouse, hustling hard is all they know. Hip-hop heads are familiar with Maino’s music but younger brother Mouse is working on his grind in the literary world. Mouse, who is also a rapper, decided that he wanted to make a living by applying his hip-hop and street acumen to books. While in prison, he wrote and studied the publishing business so that he could set up a new career upon his release.

Mouse wrote fervently, which resulted in the creation of Gangsta’s Don’t Die, the first book from his company, Hustle Hard Publishing. VIBE caught up with the young entrepreneur to talk about his fledgling company and why hip-hop and books mix. —Starrene Rhett

What was your inspiration for starting Hustle Hard Publishing and how was the journey to getting it off the ground?

The real reason I started it is because after I wrote the book, it was like what do I do from here? I was locked up when I originally wrote it and I had already studied how the market was, how the game was. I didn’t feel like giving my book up for a price was feasible for me. I felt like if I just sold my book to one of the publishing companies and put it out then it wouldn’t have the life span that I knew it could have, so I figured let me create my own situation that could work for me. It’s been a long journey. This is a whole different avenue for me. With this avenue, your follow up game has to be strong. You set up meetings with these bookstores and wait for them to call back and they don’t call back so you gotta go and search them out it’s a real grind.

You’re also rapper as well so why didn’t you go the same route as your brother?

Either way, rapping or writing a book–that’s my thoughts coming out so it didn’t really matter. It’s like my brother’s a rapper and in the hip-hop game it’s a little harder to come behind a sibling so I went through another lane that was open for me that no one was doing. I still do my rapping though. You’re gonna hear my thoughts whether it be a book or my beats, it’s just me expressing myself out here so I’m gonna be doing both.

How has becoming an author instead of a rapper impacted your life?

Being an author is some good shit to be out here! [Laughs] I say I write books and I get a whole different look as opposed to saying I rap. That’s a whole different look and it opened up a whole lot of doors for me. I’m going today to meet with someone who writes plays on Broadway. They want me to help them out. It opened up a lot of doors. A lot of people want me to f–k with them on some different shit. I’m about to start writing screenplays once I see the format.

What’s the book about?

I can’t give too much away. If you look at the back of the book, I don’t even have a synopsis on there. I leave you clueless because with the book name itself, Gangsta’s Don’t Die, you gotta figure out why I’m saying that. Yeah gangstas die but the terminology, the persona never dies. It’s always gonna be some type of gangstas out here but the book is based on relationships. It’s a relationship about a mother and a son, a relationship among friends and a relationship between a man and a woman. It takes place in an urban setting so you get to see everything else that’s going on but it’s just a book about relationships and how these relationships get tested. It’s a real deep book. It’s almost like a cautionary tale without me saying it.

The title actually sounds like a movie.

That’s the next step, that’s what I’m doing right now. I shot a two-minute movie trailer for the book. Everybody thought it was a movie when they seen the trailer. Not too many people are doing commercials for their books. We kinda set up. I got some sales. I’m making a little bit of money off this. I just feel like this whole process is promotions. We’re not even gonna kick into the next gear until after the summer. I got NY locked down but I gotta get into these other states. Barnes and Noble is not really the bookstore that caters to us. they’ll put us on their website but it’s a hard time getting us into their stores.