Surrey-raised rapper Merkules has returned home with the cover of his latest album, which he’s made available for all to hear on YouTube.
Apply Pressure features a photo of a house and alley on 146A Street, in an area of Green Timbers where Cole Stevenson grew up before he became Merkules in the world of music.
The video for the title track already has close to 300,000 views since it was posted to his “Young Merkules” channel a few days ago, on Nov. 14, along with other songs from the album.
“Uploading the new album to YouTube today for those who can’t afford it,” Merkules posted to his Facebook page, which boasts more than one million followers.
“I know COVID hasn’t been easy on everyone’s pockets. I don’t care if you steal it either, as long as you’re listening.”
In an earlier Facebook post, Merkules uploaded a photo of himself in the area of Surrey where he grew up.
“What you see here is a fat dude standing in front of a electrical box but what I see is my entire childhood,” he wrote. “This was ‘the boxes’ when I grew up and you could always rely on a couple of the guys in our crew to be here no matter what time or day smoking weed and drinking 40’s.
“For those that don’t know already, you know that scar on my face that you’ve always wondered about? Well right behind this fence is also where I got stabbed in the face. Welcome to Green Timbers, where I grew up. My new album cover should start making sense to you soon. Go pre order ‘Apply Pressure’ on iTUNES now! Shoutout to Mom for the photo.”
Also on YouTube, Merkules’ remix of “Old Town Road,” the Lil Nas/Billy Ray Cyrus hit, now has more than 40 million views since it was posted in April 2019.
Years ago, Merkules cut his teeth performing at the Olympia, a Central City-area restaurant that offered a stage where teens like him could drop rhymes and develop their talents. He called the place “almost like the 8 Mile of Surrey” during an interview with the Now-Leader in the summer of 2019.
Weeks later, Merkules returned “home” to perform at Shannon Hall as part of a Summer Rap Up concert in Cloverdale.
The title track from Merkules’ 2015 album, Scars, documents a brutal attack he suffered at age 16, while walking home from a New Year’s Eve party in the snow, not far from where he lived.
“That was the first time I ever publicly spoke about what happened to me, and it was really therapeutic to get it off my chest so many years later,” Merkules, who went by the rap name Merk Mikz in that era of his career, recalled in the 2019 interview.
The cover of @MerkulesMusic new album shows the #SurreyBC house/alley where he grew up. The rapper has posted the new songs to @YouTube. "I don’t care if you steal it either, as long as you’re listening," he says.
FULL STORY: https://t.co/LORi2WQ6Ul pic.twitter.com/bt3mLUhHdW
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) November 17, 2020
“It was hard for me in a PTSD kind of way, because it was kind of reliving what I went through that night, through song, but I’m glad I did because it put a stop to a lot of rumours of people wondering how I got so scarred up on my face. People said I was attacked by a pitbull or fell off a building, all this stuff, but no, I’m going to tell you exactly how it happened.”
That night, a car almost drove into Merk and his friends, so they yelled for the driver to slow down. A confrontation escalated before the driver peeled off, promising to return. He did – with friends, all wearing masks and brandishing knives.
“They went to work on us,” Merkules recalled. “It was super, super traumatic experience. I got hit with a bat and got stabbed.
“In a way, though,” he added, “it was a good thing that happened because nobody died, and it was kind of a wake-up call I needed because at that point in time I was doing a lot of dumb (expletive) as a teenager, stealing cars or what have you, and that event was kind of like God’s way of saying, ‘Hey buddy, you’re getting in a little too deep, smarten up,’ and after that I kind of focused more on music, which was always my passion but I made my first real song.”
The attackers were never caught.
“At the time I kind of lived by the code of where I didn’t talk to the police that often, but the detective guys did ask questions,” Merk recalled. “There was only so much I could remember anyhow, because I was in shock the whole time. While in the ambulance I thought I was going to the hospital for alcohol poisoning or something, because I didn’t realize I’d been stabbed. I put my face in my hand, and that’s when I saw all the blood on my hand, and the next thing I knew I woke up in hospital with my family there and they told me what happened. It was a really crazy thing.”