Interview: Mic Righteous
Mic Righteous has risen steadily from an up and coming underground emcee to gaining positive mainstream success, most recently with tracks ‘Hold It Down’ and ‘Ghost Town’. With the release of his third mixtape ‘Open Mic’ which is currently storming the iTunes chart, The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner catches up with Mic to talk watered-down music, attention from the ladies and a secret exclusive…
The Wrap Up: Talk us through the beginning – what was the thought process behind your artist name and do you feel you’ve lived up to it?
Mic Righteous: My original rap name was Mr E; that was a name given to me by my older brother - I looked up to him. It was more of a jungle MC name, so I thought I needed to change it. I was thinking and then the word righteous just came into my head - I’ve always been a fan of mic’s, like Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan. I thought Mic Righteous sounded good so I went to my manager and I asked him ‘What does righteous mean?’ he told me what it meant [and he kept the name from then on].
Now I have developed into that character… it was like that name was given to me, I never found the name because I didn’t know what it meant at the time. [Therefore] it’s not a case of ‘have I lived up to it’, it’s ‘am I living up to it?’ I’m not him yet, God keeps putting these trials in front of my way and I keep tackling them, and that will enable me to develop into it.
TWU: Your third offering ‘Open Mic’ is your first offering that isn’t free for fans – why do you feel this EP is worth paying for as opposed to the others?
Mic Righteous: One of the hardest things as an independent artist is [the lack of] money and financial backing. If you want a video to look good, that’s going to cost you thousands of pounds – but we’ll put the thousands of pounds in. That money is coming out of the pockets we have to work and hustle on the streets for.
I do feel like the effort and work I’ve put into my mixtapes is the sort of work and effort that these artists are putting into their albums - and I’m just putting that out for free. That’s costing me a lot of money and I’m not making anything back, but to me it’s never been about the money, it’s always been about the love.
It’s about real hip-hop coming through. People with an opinion will always say ‘we don’t hear real hip-hop’ or ‘people don’t play real music’ - but that is because people don’t support real music or pay for it. So, this is not me saying ‘you guys have got to pay for this’, this is a trial to see if it works. Now’s the time to support real music.
TWU: You’ve expressed the dramas of your life in your lyrics. How hard has that been, or is it therapeutic for you?
Mic Righteous: Pain is just an emotion that’s a reaction to an action that goes on in your mind. The hardest part for me is the sacrifices I have to make. I’m a 22-year-old who has a child; he has a very good mum but unfortunately I can’t be with her no more - I can’t have that life. That’s part of God’s test on me; I have to do what’s right for him.
TWU: In an interview with The Wrap Up last year, you said you knew you would ‘have to water everything down’ eventually to win the public over. Did you follow through with ‘Open Mic’?
Mic Righteous: If you listen to ‘Open Mic’, you’ll hear what I mean - that’s about as watered down as Mic’s going to get. It keeps its credibility and it’s just me playing around with hooks. Not everyone is going to feel that aggression… I’ll never, ever, ever just jump on a Calvin Harris tune; I’ll go to the studio and get a beat made for me. I’ll go in the studio with a guitarist and asked him to mash up some Slipknot and I’ll rap to that. I don’t mind that because I like that kind of music; I wouldn’t mind screaming my head off on a rock beat and going crazy.
TWU: What do you want fans to take away from ‘Open Mic’?
Mic Righteous: I just want them to understand that no matter what, I’m just going to be me - take what you want from it; but understand the work and dedication. I want them to fall in love with it and follow me on the journey.
TWU: Tell us something that fans would be surprised to know?
Mic Righteous: This is just a maybe, so I shouldn’t be saying anything... But as long as ‘Open Mic’ goes well, there MIGHT be a 30-track mixtape of pure hip-hop bangers. I dunno, I didn’t make it, this guy Mic Righteous did… It MIGHT be released - who knows?
TWU: This is one for the ladies….do you have a girlfriend?
Mic Righteous: A gentleman never tells…
TWU: But you get more female attention now… so how do you deal with it?
Mic Righteous: When I was young I never got female attention, so when I’m out here and I get female attention I lap it all up [laughs]. That’s just the way I am… I love women and I respect them fully. I like it, I can’t lie I really do enjoy it. I like hanging with females, sometimes more than dudes. I know a couple of girls that I can chill with and we get on better than most men.
TWU: Last message to the fans?
Mic Righteous: It’s all love. I’ve got love for every single one of you, old and young. The door is always open for more fans… I don’t even want to label you as fans because you’re not; you’re just people that I love.
Words: Shireen Fenner (@Shireenxoxo)
Online edit: Maz Khan (@mazhalima)