Breeding Ground: Mykestro

The West Coast is known for its notable veterans which have made their mark on the rap game and continue to do so, but over the past few years there has been a resurgence of new talent rising up. South Los Angeles native Michael Gilliam also known as Mykestro is one of those talents that […]

The West Coast is known for its notable veterans which have made their mark on the rap game and continue to do so, but over the past few years there has been a resurgence of new talent rising up. South Los Angeles native Michael Gilliam also known as Mykestro is one of those talents that has spent time crafting his skills and making a name for himself locally – although still unknown to the rest of the nation. Being the younger brother of West Coast producing legend DJ Battlecat who has produced hits for the likes of Snoop Dogg and more, Mykestro has music in his blood and followed his big brother in to the music industry with the hopes of making his mark like his big brother – except as an MC. As someone who prides himself as being lyrical, the path has been a little rough for the young MC as he’s been overlooked by some labels looking for a more simple catchier artist. Unfazed, Mykestro is sticking to his guns as he has taken to a new slogan which proclaims “Skillz Still Appeal” with the belief that there is still an audience in the Hip-Hop realm that appreciates and supports rappers that actually do have rap skills and take the art seriously. If you are unfamiliar with this rising talent, would like to introduce you to Mykestro and give you the chance to learn a little about him and his music. Give us the background on that name of yours? Mykestro: It started years ago. My cousins from out of town would call me and have me rhyme over the phone for them. They would always say, “Kick it Maestro.” Since my name is Mike, I just changed it up and came up with Mykestro. I just used a “Y” instead of an “I.” You come from a Hip-Hop family with your older brother DJ Battlecat being a West Coast legend. You had a firsthand perspective of the business.  Mykestro: I saw the ups and downs of the business which gave me a heads up and an edge as to what goes on. Even though Battlecat is my brother, I wanted to earn my way in to the business. I’ve never wanted people to say that I’m only on because of my brother. For years I didn’t rap over my brother’s beats. I never even mentioned that I was his little brother also. A lot of people found that out on their own accord. I had to uphold my own self because I’m not big on using crutches.  (Video) Mykestro: In California Did he suggest you do it on your own also?   Mykestro: No. I actually started off doing music with Terrace Martin before I started getting down with my brother. Me and Terrace went to High School together but he was a couple of classes ahead of me. We ran in to each other later on at Jay Brown’s wedding, who was an A & R for Def Jam at the time. Terrace was playing in the wedding and we spoke. He heard that I rhymed so he told me to come through later and make some music happen. I kept recording and eventually my brother Battlecat heard my stuff and that’s how he got involved. It’s not like he was ignoring me. He wasn’t sleeping. He just needed to hear what I was doing. Have you and your brother Battlecat ever discussed doing an album or project together? Mykestro: All of the time. We’ve got a ton of records. That is always available to do though. The reason why I haven’t done it yet is because I feel that people expect me to piggyback off of my brother. I think I’m making more of a name for myself now to consider it more. I also like a wide variety of beats from different producers. The records that I have taken from my brother are different than the one’s he is known for like “We Can Freak It” or “G’d Up.” That’s not to say that I’m not of that element but that’s the expected sound from him. I did one recently with the Horseshoe Gang that Battlecat produced, but one would never know. It doesn’t have the claps and cowbells. I choose those kinds of beats from him so that I can give the public a balanced sound from my brother.  (Video) Bad Lucc & Mykestro: The Best You’ve also worked with other West Coast veterans like Snoop Dogg and others. Tell us about that.  Mykestro: I’ve worked with vets like Warren G, Kurupt, King T, Xzibit, Snoop, Soopafly, Sir Jinx, DJ Pooh, and DJ Crazytoones. I’m good with all of the vets and we have a mutual respect for each other. I don’t step on their toes and they don’t step on mine. I don’t treat them with disrespect and act like I’m the new version of so-and-so. They are who they are and I am who I am. Your slogan that you’ve been using as of late is “Skillz Still Appeal.” Give us a breakdown of that.  Mykestro: We are in the sing and dance era right now and it’s been like that since for awhile now. We are in a not so skilled setting to where almost anything goes in music. I don’t want to go popping off shots at cats. People already know what’s going on. I don’t have to go in to who’s who. What I’m saying with that slogan is that there is still an arena for those that like MC’ing. There is nothing wrong with saying fly sh*t but at least try. You’ve got a lot of dudes sounding like 4th graders and they are grown a** adults. Things are becoming predictable and you can tell what’s coming before you even hear the record – and for that reason you might not even play it. But there are rappers with skills that sell like Eminem and even Drake. I don’t dislike party music because it’s cool for the clubs. I’ve been in that atmosphere and have seen how those songs work. I myself don’t want to hear that in the car or on my iPod. I’m a skill based dude – I’m skills first. I’m going to roll with that until the wheels fall off. Lastly, please tell us about the projects that you are coming out with.  Mykestro: My next project dropping in August is the Bar-Mittzpha Mixtape and that explains what it is. Everybody is getting their sing-on with auto-tune, but we’ve got to strike right now while the skills are getting attention. You’ve got some artists out there with skills that are shining right now and if the onslaught doesn’t continue it’s going to go right back to the same stuff. I’m coming with my own stuff and I’m out to do my part to show that skills still do belong in Hip-Hop.