Wrap Up And Watch Out: Mic Righteous
With over 2 million YouTube views and 20,000 downloads of his new mixtape, 'Kam-Pain', in its first month, Mic Righteous has put out quality music upon quality music since signing his publishing deal with NaughtyWords/Sony ATV a little less than a year ago. The Wrap Up's James Walsh caught up with the man from Margate, who recently supported Talib Kweli on tour, to speak about his journey so far, the new material and his well-thought-out plan for the rest of the year.
The Wrap Up: Hi Mic Righteous! Please tell us a bit about who you are and what you’re about…
Mic Righteous: Well, I used to listen to a lot of US hip-hop and Nas, Eminem and 2Pac were my first musical influences. Other than that, my environment growing up was very influential. I didn't have much else going on around me so at about 14, I started writing rap lyrics. I didn't see it going anywhere at first. I only rapped in my bedroom and the scene in Margate was dead! Eventually, someone who had a bit of a local buzz got me down to a studio. At the time, it was the biggest opportunity of my life! I was 15 and I’d go down when the owner wasn't about. He then came in when I was there one day – I thought he was going to tell me to get out, but he liked what I was doing – we built up a good relationship and now he's my manager. That's how it all began.
TWU: You signed your publishing deal in April of last year and then dropped 'Yob Culture' in June, which has had an immense amount of downloads. As a body of work, how would you describe 'Yob Culture'?
Mic Righteous: Well, me and my team have always known that, at some point, we will have to water everything down and make tracks which are a little more commercial and palatable for the public on a whole. 'Yob Culture' was about us getting absolutely everything out there before that time came. It's an honest representation of where I was at the time, growing up in poverty and the realities of my surroundings. 'Yob Culture' wasn't about saying we were yobs or hooligans, but that we were angry at being ignored, that we were looking for direction, someone to look up to. It was also about getting a voice out for our community. I very much see it as a British version to 2Pac's 'Thug Life', in that respect.
TWU: Since the release of 'Yob Culture', you've become one of the most recognisable faces of the UK’s conscious rap music. Do you feel it’s important for rappers to express their thoughts on world topics in order to educate the masses?
Mic Righteous: I feel it's very important for rappers to mean what they're saying and convey how they feel, just as long as it's real to them because that's when other people can relate to their situation. On the other hand, hip-hop originated as a voice for the oppressed in New York. These days, artists who are rapping consciously aren't getting the exposure that they deserve. A lot of rappers have forgotten where it came from and now with the money that's in it, they're talking about rims, girls, cash and cars and that doesn't resonate on the same level with the people who are watching the videos because they weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I want to take it back to its origins and act as a voice.
TWU: Great answer. Okay, so moving on to your latest mixtape, 'Kam-Pain' – a joint venture with Preston Play – what's the thinking behind it?
Mic Righteous: I put a lot of work in before 'Kam-Pain' and I couldn't just make the leap from 'Yob Culture' into a release with big features. I wanted to take a progressive step and for the fans to see that natural progression and see me grow as an artist. I'm more of a man on 'Kam-Pain' and it shows how my views and music have naturally developed. Preston produced 'Take Me Away' on 'Yob Culture' and I knew I'd be going back to see him when we did that. We just clicked, did three tracks in two days, six tracks in a week. We didn't notice it at the time, but we created our own sound. 'Yob Culture' addresses things going on around us in the world, while 'Kam-Pain' is a bit more about myself and to let the fans know more about me. It has a very live feel to it, like I'm spitting in the same room as the supporters. A lot of artists are afraid to let fans in, but I wanted to earn their respect on 'Kam-Pain'.
TWU: Finally, what do you have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?
Mic Righteous: There will be projects that we're gonna keep putting out for the supporters and the underground fans. All I can do is rap, so what I need to do is get out and make it a success, establish support and also let the fans know that I'm still real and always will be! I've got a few features lined up but I can't say who yet or I'll get in trouble, but big up Charlie Sloth who’s been doing a lot for us. There's a 7-track EP coming out around the middle of the year, which there'll be some videos for, and then a full album to follow at the end of 2012. I like the name 'Open Mic', but I might get supporters to send in their suggestions for the name.
Stay up to date with Mic Righteous on Twitter – www.twitter.com/MicRighteous
Download 'Kam-Pain' for free: H E R E
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)