Interview: Mickey Factz
Thu, 12 Aug 2010 11:56:57
It's been awhile since hip hop had a revolution.
Usually, when rap revolutions occur, they're sparked by one visionary artist that doesn't quite care to color inside the lines. Public Enemy shook up the world with "Fight the Power." The Notorious B.I.G. showed everyone he was Ready to Die, but he still didn't give a fuck about bowing to convention. Before dueting with Rihanna and featuring Megan Fox in videos, Eminem had the exact same kind of edge. Thankfully, modern hip hop now has Mickey Factz.
Factz has got the goods to ignite a revolution all his own, and he may just do it with his forthcoming debut, The Achievement. Over electro-charged, spacey production, Factz rips through intricate rhymes that are calculatedly chaotic and catchy as all hell. His latest single "Paradise" blends ethereal beats and nuanced delivery, showing how diverse the MC can be even within the landscape of one song.
Mickey Factz sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about his forthcoming debut The Achievement, making "Paradise" and so much more.
How do songs come together for you? Do you have concepts in mind beforehand or is everything derived from the beat?
I really just let the beat talk to me. Sometimes, I want to do a rave record and, other times, I want to talk about my broken heart [Laughs]. Sometimes, I just want to dance. It really depends on how I'm feeling. I have a very weird, keen ear for music. Whatever sounds good to me in specific keys, I just take and paint with it.
Do those ethereal electronic textures tend to speak to you?
Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. As of late, I've been experimenting with electronic music and hip hop. I'm mixing them together now, instead of just keeping them as pure electronic or pure hip hop. A person in London might hear "Paradise" and think, "This is like dub step!" But, it's still hip hop. That's what I try to convey with the music now.
What's "Paradise" about for you?
The story is really about me coming back into the limelight. I disappeared for a little while in 2009. A lot of people wrote me off because I was touring, recording and waiting for the right situation. I'm not a person who likes to simply jump into anything. You have to be very careful with how you maneuver and move. I think a lot of people were so anxious for me to come out, but I was like, "I don't think it's that time yet. I'm not happy. I'm not situated." "Paradise" is a Mickey Factz record letting people know, "Listen, I'm back now. Those who doubted, beware because I'm never going to stop this onslaught now that I'm situated."
How did the song begin?
I was in Atlanta recording, and my producer Precise played the beat for me. It was just the beat; there weren't drums or anything. I was like, "This is it! This is the record that I want to put out first. I want to call it, 'Paradise' because my life is paradise right now. That's how I feel, and I want to communicate that." I wrote to it without drums, and Precise added them afterwards. We caught a wave from there on.
Did "Paradise" open up the door for more songs?
No, it's actually one of the last records we recorded for the album. I felt like I needed a hard-hitting record because a lot of the album is very fun. It asks me about my dreams, and it's dance-y. I want people to have fun again. I don't think people really have fun anymore when they listen to hip hop. Hip hop has always been a fun genre.
It's definitely fun, but there's substance behind it.
Of course, I think that's what a lot of artists tend to forget. When Public Enemy put out "Fight the Power," it was over a funk beat! It made people dance but the subject matter was so strong, and that's probably why it's one of the best hip hop records ever made. I'm taking a lesson out of their book and I want to do the same.
What's the story behind "Dreamland?"
Precise produced that as well. He sent me the beat, and it was titled "Dreamland." The beat is sonically amazing. I wanted to go somewhere else with it. I wanted to develop a totally different flow and talk about my dreams because I feel always feel like I'm stuck in a "Dreamland." People aren't living their dreams but I'm living mine and I want everybody else to as well. You can dance to that beat, but the subject matter is so extensive.
If The Achievement were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I would compare it to a mix between Pulp Fiction and Casino. I say Casino because in the film the characters were living a specific lifestyle, but they were doing it a little off. Robert DeNiro is the man, and he's living his dream running this casino but the people around him are trying to fuck with him. They've got to do shit normally too—as far as the mob way. Pulp Fiction is straight-to-the-point. That's what my album's going to be. It's my Achievement, man.
What's up with "Dusk Till Dawn?"
The beat was just crazy. At the time, I was very hurt with my ex so I decided to write about it. There's a reason I'm partying hard; it's because I got my heartbroken, but we're still going to celebrate. That's the main focus of that record.
Do you write all of your lyrics out?
Some of it is freestyled, and most of it is written out. I like to write still; I'm old school. People say, "Hey, I can go in the booth and just rap!" That's fine, but it's not as complex. You'll notice that they don't match a lot of words in a two bar stanza. I like my lyrics to be very complex—not overly complex to the point you lose the average listener but complex enough for them to say, "Wow, I'm just getting this now" a week later. It's got to be simple enough for them to catch and hold.
Which records really shaped you?
The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die, Big Punisher's Capitol Punishment, Michael Jackson's Thriller—and there have been songs that really molded me. Some of those are Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Aerosmith's "Amazing" and Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half-Steppin." It's a mixture of albums and songs that made me who I am today.
The new mixtape's dropping August 24. It's called I'm Better Than You. I can't wait for this to come out because it's going to open up people's eyes to who Mickey Factz is even more. I wanted to show my lyrical ability on it. I want people to also delve into who I am as a person, all of my pain and hopes and dreams.
Have you heard "Paradise" yet?