M-Eighty set to retire? 

Local rapper may quit after three albums
Not many local rappers can say they’ve worked with the Wu-Tang Clan, let alone a self-proclaimed “white Jewish rapper.” But M-Eighty can. And not many can get Wu-Tang members into the studio to record tracks with them either, but M-Eighty did on his new album, The 11th Hour, which is set for release this week.

Matt Markoff, also known as M-Eighty.

So why is M-Eighty set to possibly retire from music after this album hits the streets? The young rapper, who recently graduated from IUPUI, is exploring his career options and law school looks like a good option. “I’m still doing my law school applications,” says M-Eighty, whose government name is Matt Markoff. “It’s been one of my dreams to go to law school if I had all the tools necessary to get me there. I’ve put in 10 applications and if any of those come through, I’m going.”

But before he does that, he wants as many people as possible to hear his music and The 11th Hour is a splendid introduction to M-Eighty’s free-flowing, eloquent style.

While there are plenty of non-Wu-Tang cameos (Rhymefest, Desert Eez, Hum-V), the focus remains on M-Eighty’s vocals, which come out rapid-fire, like a suburban Snoop Dogg.

The Wu-Tang connection comes through on “Romantic Gun,” featuring Killah Priest, and “Champions,” featuring Priest and Dreddy Kruger. “‘Champions’ is your typical Wu-Tang style track,” M-Eighty says. “In my verse, it speaks about me getting to live out my dreams. When I was growing up, I was influenced by the Wu-Tang collective and now I’m getting to record with them.”

“Romantic Gun” was recorded when extra studio time became available. The cut could also appear on the next Killah Priest album. Markoff flew to New York to record the songs. Markoff met up with Wu-Tang last year when he walked backstage at the now-defunct venue The Cube before a scheduled Wu-Tang appearance. “I told them, if you want to make your show huge, you need to put me on the bill,” he says. Faced with the fact that a previous M-Eighty show had been The Cube’s biggest-drawing event, they added him to the bill for two shows.

He then appeared with the Wu-Tang family at the Metro in Chicago. He became friendly with Wu-Tanger Remedy. “When I first heard of him, I was jealous,” Markoff says. “He had the job I wanted. I wanted to be the first white Jewish guy in the Wu-Tang Clan.”

Markoff has a long history of writing and performing rap music. It started when he was in seventh grade in Toledo, Ohio, freestyling about peoples’ book bags and shoes. After moving to Indy for high school, Markoff says he kept practicing. “I kept doing it and a lot more people started picking up on it. When I turned 16, I sat down and started composing songs and put a tape out.” That tape, called Hip Hop Hebrew Stylz, was the first of nine albums Markoff recorded during high school using karaoke machine tapes as backgrounds. The tapes were distributed around Warren Central, reaching a peak of about 300 copies each.

In his senior year, Warren Central set up a recording studio, at which Markoff recorded his first real CD. Around 300 copies were sold of that disc. In 2002, he released another CD, Expert Explosive, and Snakes in the Garden of Eighty followed in 2003.

He’s worked his way up among the ranks of MCs in Indianapolis yet is willing to give that up to pursue his lawyer dreams. “Even if I say M-Eighty is done as an artist, and there are no more albums or shows, I’m not going to give up music,” he says. “I’m always going to have music in my life.” M-Eighty’s new album will be available through his Web site, m-eighty.com, and at most local-music outlets.

What: M-Eighty CD Release Show When: 9 p.m., Thursday, April 8 Where: Tiki Bob's, 231 S. Meridian St., 974-0954

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