has bred some phenomenal talent. We’ve heard great music produced by Kanye.
Positive messages told through some of Common’s verses. Crazy intricate double
meaning laced tracks by Lupe. This is what we’ve seen come and grow within the
industry from Chicago. What most people seem to expect from Chicago is great
innovative music that’s thought provoking and truly artistic. Mikkey Halsted
has dually noted this fact and feels the pressure.
has had a crazy journey within this industry trying to create a name and
following. He has been signed a few times, worked with some incredible talent
and still is just as hungry as ever before. Working closely with No I.D. he
plans to produce some dope stuff. With Chicago on his back and experience under
his belt, landing a deal isnt the problem, its getting what he feels he is
Describe your style of rap delivery.
My style of Hip-Hop is like militant street wisdom. Its intelligent street
music. What I do is intelligently give you street tales and paint vivid
pictures with words. I try to bring it back to what Hip-Hop was when I fell in
love with it.
did you link up with No I.D.
Hes the first person that believed in me. I met him through my sister. She was
out there rapping with him in the early days. I rapped for him one day while I
was out supporting her. He was impressed and gave me some beats. I took them
and recorded some real dope albums. They are pretty prevalent to Chicago till
this day. From that point we started rockin together. Hes the one who kind of
gave me the confidence to think I could do it. He would tell people Im the
best in the Chi. It gave me the confidence to take rap serious and really pursue
it; big shouts to Kanye for being the first to believe in me. He also
introduced me to No I.D. No I.D. has been very instrumental in my rap career.
is your exact relationship with No I.D.
Mikkey Halsted: No
I.D. as far as the music goes is my partner. He has quality control over what
Mikkey Halsted does. Our relationship is
that he is the quality control. He does most of my beats. Every other beat I
use or song I choose has to be cleared through him. It has to be at a certain
quality before it can come out and make an album. Me and him have been working
on this album for a couple of years now. Its a beautiful thing to have
somebody that is that dope to be over your project.
also heard that J.D. had an interest in you at one point. Want to describe that
Mikkey Halsted: Basically
No I.D. had played him some music; this was when he was at Virgin. I actually
had a few other deal situations on the table. No I.D. is very good friends with
Jermaine, so he played music for him. Jermaine loved it. We did the deal.
Unfortunately, after I did the deal he ended up leaving Virgin for whatever
reason and went over to Island. When he left, I got stuck in some legal limbo
at Virgin. Luckily, I got out Scott free and got to keep all my music. That was
a beautiful thing for me. It was a blessing in the end. It was a blessing
really to be working with JD for the time that I did. As a artist under Virgin
it was a dope experience. Just being around somebody that is such a hit maker
and having somebody like that believes in you and that you can be the future of
the game. JD gave me the confidence to know that Im doing the right thing. We
still have a good relationship until this day. Even though that situation
didnt turn out how I wanted. I count it as a blessing. I learned so much just
being in his environment, in his studio and soaking up knowledge. I finally
understood how to put real records together.
also had a stint with Cash Money correct?
Mikkey Halsted: Yea I did actually, its kinda crazy. Basically
I was super young. I was a teenager. You really dont know whats going on. I
started working with Kanye and the songs that we did were tearing up the
streets. The music got its way into different peoples hands and it worked its
way to New Orleans. I went over there for a stint. There are a lot of
similarities in certain things. I
basically went over there and learned. I got experience. My only mistake was
that I did not know how to really brand myself and do things in that way. All
of my experiences have led to me to know what Im worth. Im older and wiser
now. Through my time and experience I have managed to build a buzz and
following that I have now. Im getting calls from a lot of labels who would
like to work with me. Its just a matter of choosing the right fit. Again Im a
little older, Im not a teenager anymore and therefore I understand the
business better. I understand how to build your worth as an artist. You gotta
have some leverage in the game. Thats what Im all about.
Did you ultimately feel like you were a fit for Cash Money?
Mikkey Halsted: I
wouldnt say it was a true fit, but, being young you just go for it because it
showed promise. They wanted Kanye too, but he knew he wouldnt be a good fit
there. Me being young and in the financial standing that we were in it seemed
to make sense. You could say I made the wrong decision, but I dont look at it
like that. It was just a learning experience. I learned a lot of things. I
learned how to run a entertainment label. I learned how to build a buzz. I
learned Guerilla marketing; I learned a lot of things from them. I made some
great friendships with Wayne and some of the other guys from New Orleans. I
still maintain these friendships till this day. I wouldnt change a thing.
you go back with them or take another deal?
Actually Im not looking for a deal. I
got a great team. Deals have been the easiest thing to do. I never sat across
from a executive and played the music and they didnt want to do the deal.
Thats never happened to me. Thats the easy part. I didnt look for a deal. I
just started putting music out. I was just trying to get my story out and
really try to attack the streets and attack the internet. Im not afraid to put
a project out totally independent. Its like the labels have heard and they
caught wind of it. Its becoming harder to stay independent. Once you create a
kind of buzz they come knocking. Right
now were just putting out good music. Were giving good music to the people.
Were just constantly putting good stuff out there and staying relevant. Im
just building my brand. People know who Mikkey Halsted is. The album Im
working on is a pretty strong album. Its going to stand up with some of the
great albums in Hip-Hop history. When it comes out Im gonna take my place
among some of the greats in Hip-Hop history. Were shooting for greatness. We
feel like if you make a great product and build it, the labels will come and
jump on board. Were not aggressively looking for a label. The label would have
to understand the movement and try and get a grasp on what were doing. I just
worry about making dope music. I concentrate on working with dope producers.
Coming out with dope music and working hard.
you feel any pressure to be the next big deal from Chicago?
Yea I do. Just because of the lineage that I am from. Im from the No I.D.
family tree. That has produced a lot of great Chicago artists like Common and
Kanye are from that. There is a lot of great Chicago emcees such as Lupe
Fiasco. Lupe and I just did a monumental record together. The pressure is on me
to carry that torch and keep it going. Its nothing that I cant handle. Im
the one that Chicago is kinda putting the hope on right now to go out there and
represent. Im trying to do good because I have full support from Chicago. I
feel like Im in a dope position. I know that I have the potential and the
means to put out quality music. I want to do something that they can be proud
of; something that is going to be dope and change the game like Resurrection did for Common, Adrenaline Rush for Twista and College Dropout did for Kanye. All of
those records were monumental records. I feel like Im the next one in that
saw that you have a Masters degree in education. I was wondering what pointed
you in that direction?
Mikkey Halsted: I
got a basketball scholarship to college. Basketball was my original dream. I
was rapping and I started messing with Kanye and Cash Money, but I never really
stopped and gave up on school. Through it all I kinda stayed focus. Thank God I
got funds through basketball. Ive always been the type of person who was into
acquiring knowledge. Actually getting the Masters was easier than getting the
Bachelors. I pride myself on that and I dont hide it. To be one of the best
rappers on the planet you have to be intelligent. A lot of people dont know
that about their favorite rappers. They dont know how intelligent Wayne is.
They dont hold onto the fact that Wayne was taking college courses. They dont
understand how much of a genius Kanye is. Even my favorite rappers like Ice
Cube, Chuck D. or Jay-Z how intelligent they are.
What did you learn from that situation?
It definitely helped to the way I paint pictures. I attack my songs like essays
and I stay on topic because Im trying to get a point across. It really helps
me. I was always a good writer and its really translated into me rapping. Even
when I dont have it down its still a story.
I feel like Im one of the best writers in Hip-Hop. In rap its like
writing an essay or delivering a speech. Obama delivers those speeches because
he knows how to get an emotion from the people through words. That is was an
emcee does. I dont dumb down my vocabulary when I talk or rap because there
has to be an alternative to some of the rap that is out there.
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