Mike B. is a Los Angeles based artist whose assortment of personal tales became the basis of his music. Born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles, Mike B’s path directs him to an emotionally hurtful event in his life, which led him to write his feelings down, creating them into lyrics, and producing his first song the same night. From then on he started writing about life-altering moments, to humorous and witty lyricism as the foundation of his music. Mike B.’s newest album is definitely a story to hear through his music. This album includes a lot more of Mike B.’s song-writing forte, where he was able to incorporate them into the hooks of his tracks. We sit down and talk to him about the road he has been on, and the road ahead. Read below for the full Q&A…
Let’s talk a bit about the album you dropped last year. What was your creative process when you started the writing process and picking your beats?
Mike: I work close with my producer Lodef who helped me with the creative process and produced majority of the project. He helped me hand in hand to craft the sound we had in mind for it. I wanted to really showcase my writing ability through this project.
On your latest LP, a lot of tracks open up with samples to which the beat rides out for 15-20 seconds before you come in with your verse. When it comes to story telling what kind of picture can you paint with a song incorporating all of these elements?
Mike: Those elements are just as important. Certain clips of samples can really set the tone for that song. Not a lot of artists understand the fact that Vocals should be utilized as an instrument. Just like keys, percussions, guitar, horns, and so on they need to sit in pocket so that it’s not clashing with what’s going on in the track. I write knowing that. I like to write from my personal experiences and those that are inspired from my inner circle of friends and family.
When you started out writing songs in your late teens were you always conscience about the type of rapper you wanted to be at this stage in your career?
Mike: Even when I sucked I thought I was the best. That’s the thing about hip hop. You go with your imagination and you grow with your intuition. Hip hop spoke to me differently than other genres did. It helped me get through shit and I wanted my music to have that same effect on people
I ask because we all know the types of rap out today; Swag, club, dance, conscience, etc. Was it hard to nail down your persona in the industry?
Mike: There’s so many different genres within hip hop itself. It’s ever changing. It’s always been that way and I see beauty in it. Hahah of course I have a preference if I were to choose but an artist that’s able to balance all those elements I feel like is a complete One. I reciprocate the things I listen to and like and put it right back into my music and add my touch to it.
What are your feeling towards having a harder road to achieve success due to the lack of Asian mainstream rappers. Do you deal with people misconceptions of you or do you feel it to be a non-issue?
Mike: I think there hasn’t been an Asian rapper really taken seriously or represented correctly in the mainstream circuit. Obviously we have artists that Have broke through but I felt for the longest time Asians had no sense of an identity because it was never cool to be Asian. I think that’s all going to change very soon with all the talent that’s been emerging within the Asian community. For the longest time we were trying to fit in adapting to what society wanted us to look like but soon enough I think people will stop boxing us out and well be respected the same as any artist. I think now its more of an advantage than a disadvantage and I always thought that even back then. Its up to our own people to make that happen though. Just take a Look at Asia. Combined I think we have more people in the world altogether.
You said ‘promotors don’t want to pay up, girls want to lay up’. Sounds like the pros and cons of touring to me. How has the road treated you thus far and how has your stage presence matured over the years?
Mike: [Laughs] Thanks for listening man.. Touring and playing shows is definitely one of my favorite perks on the job. Its one thing to create something but seeing a crowd full of people reciting your words and matching your energy on stage is a blessing. It’s humbling to meet someone you don’t know to be able to relate with you. I’ve got to travel across the country to places I would’ve never been able to go through music. It’s universal language.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Mike: Rush Hour, Chingu, Old Boy, etc.
What can fans expect from you in 2014 after a year has passed since ‘Dear Michael, You’re Welcome’?
Mike: I’m working on my next project. Trying to hone down on my sound and continue building my craft, So look out for that. I’m actually a part of an amazing collective called Platinum Standard and were focusing on all the other projects that are underway so I’m super excited for them to come out. To name a few Leland, Jazz&TheGiant, Lodef, and myself are working towards releases for each of those projects. I definitely want to focus on touring as well and playing maybe a nationwide tour.
Mike: I think it’s great. Especially out in Korea. I used to bump DJ DOC in the family whip with my mom dad and brother and jam out to Korean hip hop since knee high. Drunken tiger, epic high, dynamic duo just to name a few but I definitely think there’s a scene out there. I had no idea Japan was buzzin out! I’ve never done shows out in Asia but I’d love to do that this year sometime.
Mike: I started writing music because I channeled my hardships and emotions through it. I felt as if my friends couldn’t relate to the things I was dealing with at the time. It was like a coping mechanism. I strongly recommend artists do that. Vulnerability is admirable in my opinion. It shows that your open to opening up doors for people to really understand your story.
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