Rap is a genre of music where boundary-pushing is revered if it falls within the confines of heteronormativity. The paradox of rap music is despite its ability to transcend racial or gender contexts, we still have yet to fully accept emcees of the LGBTQ community–the ones who have bars unheard of by the general public. The need to expand the list of open LGBT rappers is prevalent. As of now, this sector of the genre rests on the shoulders of skilled hitmakers such as Le1f, Big Freedia, Zebra Katz, Cakes Da Killa and perhaps a few others.
In pumps GodIsMikey, the New York-born, ATL-bred lyricist whose flow has as much breadth as it does depth. With one complete EP (Energy) under his belt, another (Pretend It’s A Video Game) on the way and an arsenal of hot singles, GodIsMikey is solidifying his status as a force to be reckoned with. He’s not conventional in any sense, but well-behaved bitches seldom make history.
GodIsMikey–known to those close to him simply as Mikey–got candid with FF in talks of his branding, his behavior and the building of his unstoppable empire. Read more below.
FF: Describe your first introduction to music. Who were your initial influences and what about them made you feel like you could be an artist? What were some of your first rhymes?
I think being born in New York music is everywhere. It’s apart of you. My parents are not together, but they both really love music so that was common in both households. My father of course loves super, hard, gutter rap. So I grew up on a lot of Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Biggie, Nas and shit. But on the flip side, my mom hates rap–she raised me on a lot of female artists. Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Tina Marie, Mary J Blige, Anita Ward.
My first rhymes? Yikes.
My dad used to make us rap when the power would be out. And I always loved the Grindin’ beat by The Clipse.
I said some shit like
“It’s Dayshun, get sprayed on.
I’m riding round.
Got guns the size of lil bow wow”
Something stupid, I was like 10.
FF: Your rap style comes off as unapologetic, raw and proud. Explain in your own words how you emulate this persona when you’re behind the mic, and how close is it to who you are in real life?
I probably come off that way because I am. I spent a lot of my life being the person that apologizes after everything, and for a long time I wasn’t really happy with who I was. I always wanted to be anything but myself. But music really helped with that, it’s like my own little world, I can say and do whatever I want in the music. I think GodIsMikey & myself are two separate entities (I don’t really refer to myself by any name) that work together symbiotically. I think the Internet has this culture where everyone has to like put on airs. I don’t feel the need, I’m both. I’m the braggadocios, drug slinging, gun toting, ass nigga. But I’m also this really humble little boy who lives in his head 90% of the time. I couldn’t be one without the other. I ground myself and everyone around me because I just am what the fuck I am. No explanations, no apologies. Take it or leave it.
“I WANT TO BE TRULY GREAT.”
FF: If you could pull a few common themes from your lyrical content, what would they be?
Loneliness, Anger, Confidence, Sex and Paranoia.
I string these common things through my music because I think I’m still exploring those aspects of my life. I come from a huge family of eight siblings. I kept to myself myself, and that stuck with me from then until now. So I’ll make songs like Fukuro, where I’m literally singing about how insecure and paranoid my loneliness makes me. And that’s the intro to my ENERGY EP. Like I’m letting niggas know from jump, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I know where I wanna end up at. I say “all of these demons in my head, I think these niggas want me dead” and I end it asking where do I go from here.
The confidence and sex themes are like my way of overcompensating for the loneliness & anger. GodIsMikey plays a big role in my self confidence as a person–the shit talking, the bragging–I’m my own best friend, you know? If nobody else is gonna tell me I’m great, I will. And the sex talk, I don’t know, sex was always so forbidden to me growing up, I was a virgin until I got to college. And it was like a whole new world after I got my dick wet. I think I’m kinda obsessed with sexual energy exchanges. Sex really plays such a factor in how we treat each other so I think it’s important to discuss.
FF: Production is an under-appreciated element of music in a general sense. Describe your process of finding the right sound to aid in the delivery of your lyrics.
Yes. Production is probably 80% of good artistry, if you ask me. If I didn’t have the production I had, I’d sound basic as fuck. I knew this from the jump, cause I have an ear for quality. I’ll tear a song apart if the production is trash. I spend most of my creative process making sure I’m finding good beats. I be digging for days on SoundCloud, and if not SoundCloud I have the world’s dopest engineer. His name is Avereaux, we really clique on a lot of things when it comes to music. I could be vague as fuck in describing what I want done and boom he just knows. I’m grateful to have found someone I can explore my creativity with. I record most everything at home and we work across states because I hate going to local studios. They just don’t get it, but he does.
FF: Your social media contains just as much graphic content as your music does. Talk about how you market and promote GodIsMikey as a brand across social channels.
That’s a good question. I didn’t always think from a marketing standpoint. So when I did get the following I did and people were like “oh wow, this is so graphic, or how did you come up with this?”
I’d just be like “…uhh shit I don’t know it came to me.” I’ve always been obsessed with taboo shit, not cause it’s provocative to others but I really just like the idea of not giving a fuck. Standing by your art. So if I wanna dress up and throw on some leather or throw on a skirt or pull out a gun, I’m gonna do it. I know what’s going to highlight GodIsMikey. So now that I do market myself it’s natural. Still working on timing & pushing my marketing but the basis of it literally comes from me wanting to structure GodIsMikey a certain way. Like I’ll go through “eras” where I’ll be like “okay so for the next couple of months we’re gonna really push androgynous energy, then the next month it’s goth shit, or anime”. I want people to associate GodIsMikey with inspiration. I think the best way to grab people’s attention is to first inspire them. And it’s inspiring to see someone give so many vibes while still maintaining solidarity as an entity.
“I’m a couple months depression free and the music I’m making now is so clear.”
FF: Contrary to popular belief, black LGBT artists are prevalent in the music industry, however they’re often behind the scenes or underground. Do you have hopes or desires to push past the margins that have been keeping you from the masses?
OK, this actually kinda ruffled my feathers a little. I never like to think of myself as being apart of the popular opinion, but I am. Because I honestly don’t think black LGBT artists are prevalent in a way that’s helpful. It’s like “oh there’s such and such, he’s bi, but can pass as straight.” Then there’s the opposite of the spectrum, “oh there’s such and such, he’s super gay, and makes vogue music.” I don’t really feel there is a single figure that embodies us all. Like there’s no superstar. There’s no gay Jay-Z, no gay Nicki, no gay Rihanna, no gay Beyoncé. It’s like you’re boxed in to this realm where you can be great BUT know you’ll never be truly great. I want to be truly great. Seems like such an impossible task, probably seems really demanding from the world. But at the same time I don’t give a fuck. We have Frank Ocean, who I love, but we don’t have like a true black LGBT artist. I often dream of getting that major deal, going on tours, having a label, being a mogul, sitting in the industry as GodIsMikey, an entity. Not an accessory to a sassy black woman, or an over-feminized safe gay. I want to tell our stories, I want us to really be heard and seen as what we are. Equal.
FF: What are some crazy/wild experiences you’ve had that you have yet to rap
Well I’ve got this mixtape, ‘Pretend It’s A Video Game’, and it’s about a lot of shit. I’m always the friend with dramatic ass stories. So that project has a lot of wild things on it. Like how I robbed someone in college. PIAVG itself is about this really weird space I was in where I was a scammer and a stripper. So there’s going to be themes touching on those experiences. I want to keep some things subtle until I gain the platform I need to tell those stories the way they should be told.
FF: List some people, popular or unknown, that you would like to collaborate with.
I really love female artists. They’re honestly better than a lot of male artists. Popular, of course there’s the dream team, Jay-Z, Nicki, Kanye, Pharrell. Some people that are indie that I really wanna work with are artists like Rico Nasty, Azealia Banks, Princess Nokia, Robb Banks.
Basically all my dream collaborations are with people who inspired me to dream.
FF: The Energy EP is your first and only fully-compiled project so far. How do you see yourself and your music evolving after this?
I think my music evolves as I do. I’ve written and scrapped two whole follow up projects. I’ve got one sitting on iTunes that I just don’t wanna put out yet. And they’re not released because they were made at a time where creatively I wasn’t thinking as sharp as I am now. I’m a couple months depression free and the music I’m making now is so clear. I’m making a lot of better music, and it’s coming organically. I regret releasing the Energy EP as soon as I did. Just because now I listen back and I’m like “aww man I could’ve came on that track like this” or “damn, that song would sound better if I had the confidence I had now.” So I definitely think as I become a better me, my music reflects that.
FF: If you could describe the personality of a GodIsMikey fan, tell us what they’re like.
Okay, so, you’ve got like three different GodIsMikey fans.
You got the ones that get it, they stan, they’re always openly telling me I inspire them and some of them honestly started making music. I refer to them as supporters.
Then you’ve got the undercover fans, they like my music but they only tell me privately, like in a text or a DM. I appreciate them but it’s like eh, okay you’re a fan but you’re not a supporter.
Lastly we got the been a fan, fans. The haters. I had like a lot of interaction with these kind of fans BEFORE I did music. I don’t think they wanted me to do music. For whatever reason. They’ll like occasionally, or I’ll catch them viewing my music posts but not saying shit. They’re aggy, BUT love them too. Even if they probably only watch what I do to talk shit.