I thought I was fashionably late to the Mikey Mike party when I posted about his debut single “Doin’ Me” a few weeks ago, but it turns out I’m right on time. His billboards have been all over Hollywood for some time now painting Mike as a serial-impregnator, ginger-fetish-facilitator, and drug fiend who owes millions in child support and can’t get anyone to show up to his birthday party despite the promised amenities. I have a hard time believing that last claim because, as I learned just last week, Mike meets new people constantly. All you have to do if you want to link up with him is email or text the contact info on the billboard and there’s a good chance he’ll have a beer with you at Black Bar on Santa Monica and Vine St.
The events leading up to and following meeting Mikey Mike, originally of Salisbury, Maryland, are best communicated in a play-by-play timeline. Below are the events surrounding that glorious meeting as well as Mike’s brand new song “Going Charlie,” premiered by Zane Lowe via Apple Music just this morning. In keeping with his minimalist, existential musical stylings, “Going Charlie” gives its prolific lyrics plenty of breathing room with a moody ambiance at the beginning opening up into a cavernous sound design that seems to get louder and more intricate as the song progresses. The lyrics poke fun at what so many people find important in 2017 (who liked their photo, celebrity sightings at Chipotle, etc. ) while showing off Mikey’s musical chops and brilliant, one-of-a-kind mind at the same time.
So without further adieu, here’s a play-by-play of the Mikey Mike experience from “Doin’ Me” to “Going Charlie,” and he’s only just begun!
9:46 am, Wednesday Aug. 9th – Mike’s debut single “Doin’ Me” comes on my Apple Music via Grabbitz radio as I’m driving to the office and my stomach nearly falls out of my butt within the first 10 seconds because the lyrics are so resonant and prophetic.
“My momma said, ‘But Mike? Don’t you wanna meet someone? I said, ‘No!!! I wanna meet everyone’.”
Holy shit, ok – I’m listening….
9:49 am – I pull over at Dodger Stadium to look up Mikey Mike because by this point I’m openly weeping at the final verse when he sings about having kids.
“…And if you look, momma, you just might find some, cause my pull-out game ain’t so hot these days. And if you find ‘em tell ‘em Daddy said follow no man, follow the god within – they’ll be coming for your heart real soon.”
9:51 am – The rest of my internal organs fall out of my butt yet again when I learn “Doin’ Me” is produced by my personal music hero Rick Rubin. This immediately begs the question if the dude who produced Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Dixie Chicks, and Red Hot Chili Peppers is working with Mikey Mike who in the fuck is this guy? I also just learned Rick Rubin produced South Park‘s “Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo,” and if you’ve never explored the contents of Rick’s mind, listen to this extremely rare interview he gave in 2015 from inside his 170 degree barrel sauna.
9:53 am – FindMikeyMike@gmail.com is listed as his contact info on SoundCloud, I immediately email him the following to set up an IRL interview:
Mikey Mike, you’re the most ruthlessly authentic lyricist I’ve heard in ages, can I puh-lease interview you?
10:05 am – Mike responds almost immediately and says yes, that his manager would contact me. Later on when we meet he tells me he doesn’t check that email account often but felt it calling him that morning.
1:06 pm – Mike’s manager Isaac Heymann of 108 Management, hits me up to ask if I can meet Mike Tuesday night at Black Bar in Hollywood and I say FUCK YA!
3:55 pm – Isaac confirms the interview and asks if I want to know any info about Mike and the answer is absolutely not – I want to go in knowing nothing to hopefully learn everything.
Aug. 10-13th – I listen to “Doin’ Me” at least 3 times a day until the words are tattooed on my soul. I’ve been doin’ me for years so I don’t need a song to inspire me to follow my dreams, but I recall a time not-so-long ago when this song may have changed my life. And everyone I show this song to, which is at least several per day, is almost as nuts for it as I am. One song turned me into a Mikey Mike brand evangelist in a day – I’m beyond impressed.
11:12 am, Monday Aug. 14th – I bring up Mike at the office because I’m so psyched for our interview, and my Managing Editor Nathan asks, “You know he’s the guy on the billboards in Hollywood, right?!”
I actually didn’t know that yet, I hadn’t put that connection together even though I’ve seen his outrageously legendary billboards around for most of 2017, they range in subject matter from loving women and narcotics, to owing child support for being a serial impregnator, and inviting “ginger-curious” folks to start a dialogue and learn more about him by sending nudes.
1:15 pm, Tuesday Aug. 15th – I email Isaac to confirm our interview time and meeting place, he replies with a confirmation and tells me to “text the number from the billboard” if I need to reach Mike and I’m beginning to wonder WTF is going on here.
3:30 pm – By this point I’ve begun to consider the serious possibility that this whole interview is a set up of some sort, like I’m about to unwittingly be on a hidden camera reality show of Mike’s making.
8:30 pm – I show up to Black Bar and I’m the only person there, the bartenders ask what I’m up to. “Oh I’m here to interview Mikey Mike.”
“The guy from the billboards? He’s come in here at least 100 times. What’s his deal?”
“No idea, I’m about to find out though.”
“Ok well let us know when you’re done, we’ve been wondering for months.” That reminds me, I gotta send those guys the link to this article.
8:36 pm – Mike shocks me by arriving relatively on time, and he has an infectious grin slapped on, the kind of perma-acid smile only someone really living their dreams is capable of radiating. As we order beers I notice he only has one of several shirt-buttons fastened.
8:45 pm – I open the interview and 95% of the answers I’m looking for come from my first question, which is who the fuck are you? He’s 29-year-old Mike Williams from Maryland and he’s been making music since he was a kid. He grew up playing guitar and by 6th grade knew he had to make music for the rest of his life but also knew he couldn’t sing. It took him less than a year in a 6th grade rock band for him to figure out he didn’t want to be reliant on anyone else when it came to making music – he recalls his first bandmates wanting to get on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger for all you babies) and chat with girls while he insisted, “If you learned that bass part we’d be fingering way more girls.” So he got into making beats in order to be autonamous and a few years later went on the Kanye diet of 5 beats a day for 3 summers, most of which were posted to his crack-laced beats Myspace account.
Despite being uniquely proactive in his own career, including giving Wale a C.D. at a concert that gave him his first big break as a producer and trading A&R contacts on forums, Mike was having very little luck getting his foot fully in the music industry’s door. He recalls a moment of frustration that gave birth to a stroke of true genius. “I was in the shower and I had a thought – I have all these people’s emails and they don’t fuckin’ answer, but I know they get ‘em… and my thought was, ‘Oh my God, the power of the pussy is the most magical thing in the world and that’s how I have to rope people in.’ So I’m trying to get to all these hip-hop managers who are demographically about 32-33, mostly black and I thought, ‘Who did they grow up jacking off to? Who was their person?’
So I Googled the top 10 black porn stars of the time and chose #8, this chick Lacey Duvalle, who was kind of non-conspicuous cause it’s not like she was #1. I figured she was out of the business, probably had made enough money to go do her own thing, but they’ll know who she is… So I made a gmail that was lacey.duvalle1984 which was her birth year and, bless her heart, I would hit people up from there and be like, “Hey – this is Lacey, I know this gonna sound a little crazy but I’m getting out of the business cause I’m getting older and STDs are running rampant and I’m managing my little brother’s friend who’s a producer and he makes some really great shit. It’s kind of like MGMT meets yada yada yada,” and I’d name all this really eclectic shit and everybody would get back to me and go, ‘Oh my God, Lacey! This is incredible.’ Everybody got back asking if I was signed and I’d be like, ‘Hey, um, this isn’t actually Lacey Duvalle. I’m just some kid, I’ve been signed, I’ve done this, this, and this but no one answers my emails so this is what I’m trying.”
At this point I’m laughing so hard I can hear myself cry on our interview recording. Mike explained that while half of the recipients were put off by it the other half thought it was a resourceful move, and through those contacts he was able to get to bigger pop producers. “I didn’t want to deceive people, but sometimes I had to,” Mike says in a breathtakingly sincere voice. He opened a lot of doors for himself with that move, but only as a beat-maker and songwriter, not with his original artist productions.
“Then after years of doing sessions and going in with these tunes I didn’t even fucking like, and even if I did have a tune someone really liked, some A&R person would tell me the artist might use it but I had to change something. So after a lot of that I got sort of disheartened by it, and I was always making my own music because I knew that was, I don’t want to say my dream but my voice – it was my way of doing something special while I’m alive here.” He finally hit a wall where he was both miserable in sessions and broke. “I figured if I’m going to be broke I’d rather do my own shit. Right around that time I ended up meeting my now-manager who was very close to Rick Rubin. The only reason I even took the meeting is because I knew he knew Rick Rubin. He was looking for beats for some artist and I was over that shit by then, but I knew he knew Rick and I knew Rick would get it.”
Needless to say, Isaac was blown away by Mike’s solo material and the two made a deal on the spot – more on that from Issac’s perspective later.
9:12 pm – He finally gets to the part of the story where he’s dry-heaving on the phone with Issac after Rick asked for a meeting, and I’m hanging on his every word. “When I get really excited, I dry-heave.” This, of course, is followed by a full, mock dry-heave performance. “So there I am dry-heaving and then two days later I’m at Rick’s house sitting with him playing all my artist shit and he is such a big believer. I was at that, maybe 98 yard line where I was like, I know I can do this, I believe in this shit – nobody is speaking like this and every session I do with these people signed to major labels is the most generic bullshit, it has no heart and no perspective.’ I sat and played him my shit and he said, ‘Yo – you got it. This stuff is special, I feel it.’ When that happened I thought ‘Ok, my hero in music Rick Rubin believes in me as an artist, that’s kind of all I fucking need.’ He told me I didn’t have to sit there anymore and write songs for people who don’t have anything to say. And from there it was off to the races.” This was in 2014.
9:35 pm – Wow, I’m having so fun I don’t wanna go home so I read Mike the following Craigslist ad about another aspiring impregnator and he especially enjoys the part about penis-planetary alignment and nitrous oxide at climax – it seems like the kind of thing that would be right up his alley and it absolutely was.
9:42 pm – We go off record to talk about multi-dimensional consciousness and how aliens are hopefully going to help unite the human race, of which, TIGHT! Mike recommends I pick up a copy of Autobiography Of A Yogi, which I just got cause I’m pretty well convinced this guy know what’s good.
9:55 pm – We go back on record and Mikey explains the billboards saying when he signed with Warner Brothers, his one condition was that his first single would have a billboard in Hollywood and he would get 100% creative control over what went on it. “I said ‘I have it all ready, get me a billboard in Hollywood and some flyers, let’s shake on it.’ And it worked – all the calls I got would come to this app I had called Sideline, there would be a call every four seconds when the flyers were out. By the end of it I’d gotten like 12, maybe 13,000 calls and text messages. But to me that’s just as fun as making the music, that whole thinking of how we do this different thing. I love making music, but I don’t want that to be my whole trip. That’s why I’ve got billboards and skits and crazy shit. The whole plan is leading up to my album Mikey Mike’s Life On Earth which will be my album for my whole life, I’ll just keep adding to it and by the time I’m dead it’ll be like 100 songs. And it’ll all play out in a show called Life On Earth about how all these songs came to fruition.” My popcorn is so ready, Mike.
10:10 pm – I say I have to go but can’t bring myself to leave, we’re having such a lovely time. I confess to Mike that the billboards to me came off as gimmicky, which was at odds with his ruthlessly authentic lyrics, and that the whole thing felt like a bit of a mindfuck. “You did that on purpose didn’t you?” I ask.
“Oh absolutely. Anything I’ve ever really loved had a juxtaposition to it, like maybe there was some real art to it but it was completely bizarre or ridiculous. What always drew me in was something that had another side to it, is it really human if there’s just one dimension to a piece of art? But when there’s all these angles and a lot of lightness and darkness and weirdness, that’s always what turned me on. I like to be crazy, I like to be heartfelt. So I thought what if we had these billboards that were fucking nuts and then you listen to the song and it’s actually genuine?”
10:46 pm – Finally we agree it’s time to call it a night even though we’re having too much fun and probably by the time I see him again he’s going to be so famous I’ll be waiting in a line around the block to shake his hand.
10:50 pm – We say goodbye and Mike whispers a confession to me, “I’m the Craigslist Eclipse Impregnator. “ Then he turns, and disappears into the night.
4:22 pm, Thursday Aug. 17th – I call Isaac to ask him how the fuck he found Mikey, and he proceeds to tell me the story while I laugh so hard I have to put the phone on mute. He says he heard the legend of email@example.com and wanted to meet this guy, at the time he was developing a young artist and looking for beats so he arranged to meet Mike at his house, completely unaware of his solo artist material.
Isaac recalls driving way up into Hollywood Hills to the only house on a really nice block that looked straight haunted, it was completely boarded up and lit by a single colored light from inside. Soon he would find out that color was from a lava lamp, the only light Mike liked to have on while he was producing. And next to his work station was a bare mattress because Mike likes to make music until he passes out.
After hearing a bunch of beats, Mike asked Isaac if he could show him his solo shit and blew Isaac completely away. “I told him I’m not leaving this house unless I can manage him, we shook hands and I sent his track to Rick [Rubin] – by the time I got home that night we had a meeting with him set up.”
Isaac also confirms that Mikey’s album will be a potentially endless series of singles called Mikey Mike’s Life On Earth and that a TV show is being developed to go along with it. After living the IRL Mikey experience I’m basically shaking with excitement at the simplistic genius of this roll-out concept as a container for Mike’s, as I said in my first words to him, ruthless authenticity. I am without a doubt going to volunteer to play any extra roles that may be needed in the series.
5:55 pm, Tuesday Aug. 22nd – I listen to Mike’s new single “Going Charlie” for the first time just hours before the rest of the world would get the chance to hear it premiere on Zane Lowe’s radio show and it has me laughing within seconds. His voice is so southern and Maryland-esque at the same time, it’s rich and soothing even when he’s sounding a little bit psycho. If “Doin’ Me” reflects his sweeter, more sentimental side, “Going Charlie,” originally called “Charlie Manson” is Mike’s fuck-you side. The lyrics of both songs are equally visceral but in completely different ways.
We’re also pleased to announce the Mikey Mike show will be hitting the road this fall with Yelawolf and his live performance promises to be a multi-media, multi-faceted extravaganza of music, comedy, and unapologetic heart. “The shows are not normal by any means, we’re doing a lot to make them as exciting as possible. I’m not just a person who plays music, I write scripts and poems and jokes, and I like having a great time. You come to the show, it’s not like me playing six songs – we have a Wheel of Chance where you gotta come up and spin and you might have to drink something gross. We’ve played pizza roulette where we had half regular mushroom half psychedelic mushroom pizza, people would come up and take a slice and you’d see twenty minutes later who got what. One time I had a $10 bill in one hand and a Viagra in the other and my buddy had to pick a hand, he ended up picking the $10 bill but I shoved the Viagra in his mouth anyway and we’d pull him up every couple of songs to monitor his progress through the rest of the show.”
There I am on the recording again laughing so hard I can barely hear Mike. “We contrast those moments with something like say a poem that’s really deep and heartfelt, it’s that juxtaposition of all this wildness and fun shit and then a moment of real purity.” He explains that balancing this contrast is how he stops himself from seeming preachy in his music and performances. “That’s what’s human to me – the dark and the light, it’s not one thing it’s everything.” It certainly is – follow Mikey Mikey on Spotify here and check out his Microdose Mood Music playlist below.