To the hip-hop fans and artists who are coming to love his melodic, repugnance-oozing tracks such as P. Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life" and Nas' "Got Ur Self A ...," he's known as one of the emerging mad scientists behind the boards. As the producer known as Megahertz tells it, though, he's living a dual life.
"She has no idea," he said of his mother's knowledge of his recent success. "She's like 'That's nice, you can pay your bills.' Even my older brothers and sisters have no idea. They might have heard the music, but even when the songs come on the radio, I turn the radio off."
Growing up in Willingboro, New Jersey, Mega's love of rap was not nurtured in his home.
"Music was hard," said Mega, who dreamed of being an MC as a youngster. "I grew up in a house where my mother was an evangelist and music was 'evil.' Me and my brother had a radio, the old school joint with the one speaker on it. You gotta make sure you put the tapes in the right way or it will chew the tapes up. For years I hid the love for rappin'. Moms hear you reciting lyrics around the crib, that's extra church time."
On the down low, he used to make tapes where he rhymed over single instrumentals. Tired of using other rapper's beats, he would save money and buy studio equipment bit by bit and keep it at a friend's house.
Over the years, cultivating his trackmaking would take precedence over rhyming. "I'll roast 90 percent of the cats in the game but beats make money now," said Mega, who eventually plans to rock the mic full time. His breakthrough came when one of his managers slid a copy of the beat for "Bad Boy for Life" to P. Diddy.
"I think it was a track for somebody else, but Puff liked it so much he took it for himself and turned it into what it is today," said Mega, who admits he wasn't in the studio with Diddy when the song was being made. "My music is just a vehicle for whoever wants to ride in it and take it to the next level. I just make beats. It's up to the artists to make it a hit."
Nate Dogg is hoping the beat he got from Mega for "Keep It Gangsta," which is his next single, will be a hit. Megahertz collaborator Babyface will be in the same hopeful position if he releases "Baby's Mama" from his current LP. The big Hertz has also laid tracks for the upcoming project from Xzibit and hopes to tie up loose ends on deals that'll see him head to the studio with Craig David and Rafael Saadiq. He's also in the process of grooming a team of young producers.
"I can't even look into it as a run," Mega said of his success. "Everybody knows a run comes to an end. A few months from now I might not be that producer. My run is gonna be as long as I can make it happen."
And while he's in demand, he might as well get as much money as he can.
"In a matter of one day it kind of doubled," he said of his asking price, which he won't disclose. "If you don't ask for it ... if they gonna talk you down, at least you're attempting to get more. It was all about asking for it, then when we got it, it was like 'OK, maybe we're worth that.' We keep nudging it up until they say, 'This is too much.' "