Since the early 2010s, veteran actor Maestro Harrell has worked a parallel career as a producer and performer of electronic dance music, supported by major figures such as Armin van Buuren and Tiësto. Chicago native Harrell is known most for his small screen roles on series such as Guys Like Us (youngster Maestro), The Wire (enterprising adolescent Randy Wagstaff), and Suburgatory (high schooler Malik). A few years after he portrayed the young Cassius Clay in Michael Mann's 2001 film Ali, Harrell was signed by Jermaine Dupri to So So Def. He eventually moved with the producer/executive from one major parent label to another and was granted release in 2009, after a few years of creative limbo, before any music reached the public. The same year, Harrell, an EDM convert, graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to get acting gigs and developed his musical talent as a producer and later as a DJ.
Harrell made his recorded debut in late 2013 with "Drop It," an intense electro-house track co-produced with Antoine Becks, and quickly advanced through the ranks. He received a major endorsement when his and Dzeko & Torres' "For You" appeared on Tiësto's Club Life, Vol. 4: New York City mix in 2015. Around the same time, Armada Music, a label co-founded by Armin van Buuren, became Harrell's primary outlet, home to singles such as "Olympus," "Poseidon," and "Pandemik." Additionally, away from Armada, Harrell reconnected with Dupri, whose vocals were featured on the 2017 track "We Rage," co-produced by DJ Ruckus. Still early in 2017, Harrell applied his voice and a pop-R&B twist to his sound for a self-titled release heralded by "I Don't Care." The single, as well as its parent EP, were credited to M A E S T R O, and released on the new label Wonderwall. ~ Andy Kellman