Makonnen Sheran (born April 12, 1989), better known by his stage name iLoveMakonnen, is a former American actor, rapper, singer and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia who currently lives in New York City. His rise to fame began in 2014, after Canadian rapper Drake released a remix to his song "Tuesday".
1989–2002: Early life
Makonnen was born on April 12, 1989, in Compton, California and moved to Atlanta in 2002 when he was 13 years old. His father is a first generation immigrant from Belize. He is of mixed race background, having black, white, Asian, and Indian heritage. His mother was a nail instructor and has worked in the beauty business for over 30 years. His grandmother was an opera singer, which influenced his musical career. He described his childhood as "semi-nice, semi-poverty". During his high school years, Makonnen was inspired by local rappers Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane to try making music. His early songs were a mix of pop, rock, and hip-hop.
2008–13: Career beginnings
Makonnen started making songs on his Gateway computer and uploading them to MySpace. On this website, he met other rising musicians, such as Adele. Makonnen also created a blog, where he would post interviews with musicians such as Lil B and Soulja Boy Tell'em.
After a period under house arrest following the accidental shooting of a friend, he enrolled in a cosmetology school and became a part of a group called Phantom Posse. In January 2012, Makonnen met Atlanta producer Mike Will Made It and formed a brief professional relationship with him. However, because of Mike Will's busy schedule, the two were not able to meet often, and soon were separate from each other.
2014: Rise to prominence
In March 2014, record producer Mike WiLL Made-It would reply to Makonnen and brought him to the DTP studios, where he played some of his songs towards a fellow producer Metro Boomin. Metro instantly liked Makonnen and stayed in touch with him. Later, after recording six songs together, Metro brought these fellow Atlanta producers Sonny Digital and 808 Mafia, who were all unusually impressed with him. Two days later, Makonnen recorded the song, titled "Don't Sell Molly No More" with Sonny Digital, which would later launch his music career. Sonny Digital introduced him to the other Atlanta producers such as DJ Spinz, Cam onda Beat and Dun Deal. He started gaining local fame within the community with songs such as "Living on the Southside", "Sneaky Lady" and "My New Friend". Makonnen was then featured on Mike Will's mixtape, titled Ransom.
In July 2014, the singer released his self-titled EP iLoveMakonnen, which included the singles "Tuesday" and "I Don't Sell Molly No More". The latter reached pop singer Miley Cyrus, who shared it on her Instagram. The post got over 210,000 likes and counting, that brought a lot of new fans to Makonnen. On August 15, 2014, Vice included his song "Whip It" in their Staff Picks for the Week list, commenting: "Makonnen's voice is incredible! ... How could you not have a good time listening to this song? If there is anyone I trust to teach me how to whip it, it is definitely my friend Makonnen."
In August 2014, after hearing "Club Goin' Up on a Tuesday", Drake reached out to one of the song's producers, Sonny Digital, to ask to remix the song. Makonnen quickly agreed to send the beat to Drake, but didn't think much of it. However, two days later Drake released a remix to the song, much to Makonnen's surprise. The Atlanta singer later commented: "Yeah, I surprised. Shocking. Drake listens to Makonnen. It was great. I was excited. Surprised, shocked. Just overwhelmed." The remix, simply titled "Tuesday" went viral and led to increased media interest in iLoveMakonnen.
In August 2014, Makonnen was featured in XXL's The Come Up section, which focuses on blowing up artists. He later stated he is not looking for a major label deal and instead plans to go touring and recording music independently: "I'm not too thirsty to sign a deal. Cause a label will really just take all your free music down and you have to be somebody's bitch." On September 1, 2014, it was announced that Makonnen had signed to Drake's label OVO Sound, which is distributed by Warner Bros. Records.
2015–2016: OVO Sound and I LOVE MAKONNEN 2
In an interview with The Fader in December 2015, more than a year after signing to Drake's OVO Sound, Makonnen said the label delayed tracks from I LOVE MAKONNEN 2 from coming out. The song "Second Chance," for example, was finished in January 2015 and intended for a summer release, but ended up being self-released by Makonnen in November 2015. Makonnen said, "Second Chance was supposed to be that summer banger this summer. That was supposed to be out, touching people and hitting them this summer. By the time next year they'll be ready for something else. It's all late. People are doubting me, doubting what the fuck I said when I made the fucking song. You wait a year later and it's whatever. Hopefully, it's worked right. The song is structured properly. Everything is all there for proper radio play to just spin it over and over to people. Who knows? I don't know what the fuck they want."
Makonnen also claimed "extra bullshit in the industry" stopped "Teach Me How To Whip It" and "No M'aam" from getting radio play. When asked if he still talked to Drake, Makonnen responded, "Here and there. By the time this comes out, I'll probably see him six more times or no more times. I don’t know. I just wish everybody well in all that they do and I just go on and live my life and try to uplift motherfuckers. At the end of the day I'm tired of uplifting people. I just gotta uplift myself now because everything else is a waste of time."
Makonnen also described the music scene: "There's not even any money here anymore. It's all lies. The money's gone and everybody is now keeping up this front as if there's money there."
2016–present: Departure from OVO Sound, weight loss and future releases
On April 18, 2016, Makonnen parted ways with Drake's label OVO Sound, with no clear reason being stated other than the explanation that "the choice to be solely on Warner Bros. Records was the right thing for me and for my best interest. The Red Dragon was a source of controversy in 2016 after a stunning loss of weight from his 'Tuesday' time." On May 7, 2016, Makonnen announced he would be retiring from music to focus on acting. But later announced that he wasn't and dropped a new song with confirmation of a new project coming soon.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|A Trillion Light Years|
|Drink More Water|
|Drink More Water 2|
|Drink More Water 3|
|Drink More Water 4|
|Drink More Water 5|
|Whip It Up|
(with Rich The Kid)
|Drink More Water 6|
|Red Trap Dragon|
(with Danny Wolf)
As lead artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"Sellin"||2016||—||—||—||—||—||Drink More Water 6|
|"Look at Wrist"||Father, Key!||Young Hot Ebony|
|"Day2Day" (Remix)||Tunji Ige, Michael Christmas||N/A|
|"I Understand"||Key!, FKi||F Key i|
|"FriendsMaybe"||Rome Fortune||Small VVorld|
|"Syrup in My Soda"||Mike WiLL Made-It, Riff Raff||N/A|
|"Swerve"||Mike WiLL Made-It||Ransom|
|"H.O.M.E."||2015||Trinidad James||No One Is Safe|
|"Interviews"||Brodinski, Yung Gleesh||Brava|
|"TrUe Thang"||Rome Fortune, CeeJ||loloU|
|"Take it Easy"||Gucci Mane||Breakfast|
|"Slaughter Ya Daughter"||21 Savage, Key!||The Slaughter Tape|
|"All Black Hummers"||Father, Archibald Slim, Ethereal||Papicodone|
|"Favorite Record"||Fall Out Boy||Make America Psycho Again|
|"I Like Tuh"||Carnage||Papi Gordo|
|"How Else"||2016||Steve Aoki, Rich The Kid||N/A|
|"Who Be Lovin' Me"||Santigold||99¢|
|"Why Don't U"||Father, Abra||I'm a Piece of Shit|
|"Party on Me"||Father, Ethereal|
|"Thru It All" (Remix)||Wintertime||I Know What You Did Last Winter|
|"Take it Easy"||Gucci Mane||Meal Ticket|
|"Forever"||FKi||1st Time for Everything|
|"Coming Soon"||Skepta, Céon||N/A|
|"Lit"||Rome Fortune||VVORLDVVIDE PIMPSTATION|
|"My Boy Band 'Exortion'"||Rome Fortune, Nevabitch|