Mickey Factz has done something never before, a mighty feature in a culture that now celebrates 50 years of greatness. He has graduated the first class of the Hip Hop Academy and hosted Bun B as the commencement speaking to the students earlier this month. To the Pendulum Ink Academy, the UGK legend said, “In my 31 years (rapping professionally), I have never seen something like what you guys have accomplished in the last eight months, and the reason I haven’t seen it because it didn’t exist.”
Factz, at one time, was a student a NYU, but eventually dropped out to be a full-time emcee in 2007. The skills and experience he has amassed as a song writer, ghost writer, and battle emcee have now been poured into his student. Even with this talent, Factz has assembled a proverbial posse of rap acts to support the effort. Lecturers include Phonte from Little Brother, Masta Ace, Inspectah Deck, Method Man Cory Gunz, Sa-Roc, Lady London, Che Noir, 40 B.A.R.R.S., Twista, Ras Kass, Cyhi the Prynce, MC Juice, Daylyt, Skyzoo and others.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur talks to the dean of lyricism about what is now and next for Pendulum Ink.
AllHipHop: Good, definitely, man. All right, so let’s just jump right into it. I know you got things to do and I got some movers moving some furniture in here, so I got to do some stuff too. But let me do the intro and we’ll just roll with it.
Mickey Factz: All right.
AllHipHop: All right. What’s good, world? It’s your man, Chuck Creekmur, aka Jigsaw, and I’m here with one of my favorite MCs, but he’s moving into the education sphere, the world of education. Mickey Factz is with AllHipHop. What’s going on?
Mickey Factz: It’s Schmickey!
AllHipHop: “It’s Schmickey.” Oh, so you still can do that now? Okay!
Mickey Factz: Yeah, man. It’s still Mickey.
AllHipHop: Right. Okay. I thought “professor,” maybe you’d change it up a little.
Mickey Factz: Oh, I’m the dean.
AllHipHop: The dean. That’s what’s up. I know a few deans, man. They all have high stature, you know what I’m saying? So you’ve transitioned into… Well, you tell me what you’ve done. That way I don’t put words in your mouth and you can actually tell us what you’ve done.
Mickey Factz: Man, I have created the first ever hip hop academy for lyricism and knowledge based around Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop: Okay, dope. And give us the name, it’s Pendulum Ink.
Mickey Factz: Pendulum Ink.
AllHipHop: Right. Why that name?
Mickey Factz: So pendulum was a word for one of my songs that I had with my co-founder, Chilla Jones, a popular battle rapper. So I came to him and said, “Yo, if I do this, I can only do this with you” because if something ever happened to me, I could rely on him to teach the program and keep it going. So we had one song that we did called Pendulum. Just Blaze actually produced the record for me. And when I was incorporating it, they was like, you could say Inc, I-N-C, or LLC. And I was like, why don’t we say Pendulum Inc. And I asked him, what do you think it should be I-N-C or I-N-K? And he was like, I-N-K. So that let me know I made the right choice and it just stuck, you know what I’m saying? Pendulum Ink. It just rolls pretty well.
AllHipHop: Nice. Now I’ve read up on how this all came about, but since this is your first time talking to us, tell us how this all coalesced.
Mickey Factz: Ah, man, what a word.
AllHipHop: Yeah, see I’m using the big words now, bro.
Mickey Factz: Well, listen man, all those that follow my career know that I went to NYU, I went and studied law and I dropped out to be an MC. It’ll be 16 years that I’ve been living off music. And I started thinking about retirement. What does retirement look like for an MC? I see people saying, you could rap until you 50, 60. But the reality is, I don’t know any 60-year old rappers. I’m not saying that it won’t happen. I think the oldest might be 55, 56 that’s still active, which might be Kool G Rap, potentially.
AllHipHop: Yeah, there’s a couple, and active depends on what active is. So some are still touring, say like Public Enemy or something like that, but not as active as writing. I would say KRS-One is probably the most senior level MC that’s writing, age wise.
Mickey Factz: Yeah. So I said to myself, I don’t know if personally I want to rap in my sixties. I don’t know if I want to rap in my fifties. And I started to think, what does that look like for us as a community of MCs and lyricists? And I said, you know what? What’s a great transition point? And I felt that moving into the education space would be that. And obviously we’ve had courses here and there. 9th Wonder did one, we have Lupe Fiasco at MIT right now. Obviously Mad Skillz has something at the University of Virginia, so guys are doing it. But these guys have degrees with the exception of Lupe, and I don’t have a degree. So as I was trying to get work while still being an MC, I was getting turned down left and right.
And then finally, during the pandemic, Masterclass really blew up. And I approached Masterclass and they basically told me, don’t call us, we’ll call you. And that was the greatest thing that they could have ever done because it forced me to create my own online school. And that’s where we at right now.
AllHipHop: Nice. Now you got to talk about the names of the artists that are coming through because it’s pretty impressive, man. I saw Meth, really impressive list. So you tell us, and how did you get these people?
Mickey Factz: Okay, so let’s walk through year one. Year one in order Inspectah Deck, Phonte, Masta Ace, Cory Gunz, Skyzoo. Then we had Women’s Month, which is August, Sa-Roc, Lady London, Che Noir, 40 B.A.R.R.S. Then we had Summer School, Twista. Then we went back to the regular scheduled program, Ras Kass, Cyhi the Prynce, MC Juice, Daylyt and Method Man. And that was all online. And that’s not including the people that jumped in to watch the classes. Sway, Rockness Monsta, Kid Capri, Pete Rock, Iron Solomon, the list goes on and on.
Year two, this year, 2023, we got RJ Payne, Ransom, Pharoahe Monch, Benny the Butcher, Ab-Soul, Big Boi from Outkast, Big K.R.I.T, Twista is pulling back up, Killer Mike, DMC, Wordsworth, Lord Finesse, and King Los, Shawnna for Women’s Month. Rah Digga for Women’s Month. I’m working on Tierra Whack, I’m working on Kool G Rap. Those are the last two people to get on for each year.
AllHipHop: Kool G Rap, I regard him as my favorite MC, the goat of my personal life. And there’s other goats obviously, we can never really pin down one, but it’d be great to have him in there for his multi syllabic style of rhyming and being that pioneer.
Mickey Factz: We trying. He just needs to answer the email. We got some money for him, you know what I’m saying? Him and Elza have been pretty tough, but aside from them, it’s just me really reaching out to these guys and letting them know what we have. And I haven’t really heard no. It’s been yes, yes, yes…
AllHipHop: Now, as a person who used to really rap very heavily myself, once upon a time, you would study the greats. What makes this different in that regard?
Mickey Factz: Well, so far it’s been very receptive. It’s been a 95% positive feedback space. And obviously with anything you do, you’re going to have people that are deterred and they don’t believe in going against the grain of what is authentic with Hip-Hop and lyricism. But for me, I look at it like this, rather me than someone not of the culture.
AllHipHop: That’s a fact.
Mickey Factz: And frankly, if I didn’t do this, it was eventually going to happen. And me doing this, I think from my peers, the people that I’ve reached out to come and teach, there’s a natural progression in the people that I reach out to because I have a five-year plan of who I want to come. So there’s people saying, “Yo, can you get Eminem? Can you get Nas?” Yeah, I’m going to get them, but let’s build this together. What people are seeing is history, we’re literally living in history right now with Pendulum Ink. It’s the very first ever space. So we’re naming names that are iconic on the underground level as well as the mainstream level. And it needs to be built up as such, because you don’t want to just come out and be like, we got Jay Z coming in to teach. And then it’s like, where do you go from Jay? You got to build up to this. You know what I’m saying?
So we have these incredible MCs coming to do for one masterclass per month. They’re coming in and they’re breaking down their style. They’re breaking down their rhyme pattern, they’re breaking down their delivery style, they’re breaking down their mental health components. And the students speak to them and ask them specific questions, delegating only on their writing technique, their delivery style and mental health space when constructing specific songs. We don’t get into tabloids, we don’t get into rumors, we don’t get into anything that has nothing to do with the actual art form of lyricism and content creation within music.
AllHipHop: Why mental health space? Why is that a factor?
Mickey Factz: The mental health space is the main component, one of the main components here at Pendulum Ink. It’s very, very important that we implemented a mental health space within our lexicon. So we have Rhymecology. Rhymecology is created by my brother, professor Jeff Walker. He’s a mental health specialist who specializes in helping MCs express and discover themselves through rhyme. And he does one-on-one work with our students. He has a Wednesday class where it’s mandatory that you go.
AllHipHop: So what’s the student body look like?
Mickey Factz: Man, we have students from all over the world. Most of the students came from the South, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. But we have students from all over the country. We have some international students, we have three Canadian students, we have two Mexican students, we have one student from Greece, we have another from South Africa, we have another from India. And when those students from across the pond come in, it’s two, three in the morning and they’re in class, bushy-tail, wide eyed, ready to learn. And that’s what the power of Hip-Hop looks like with people’s cameras on, which doesn’t happen when you do Zoom meetings, people have their cameras off. These students have their cameras on, they’re in tune. They want to learn, they want to get better and that’s what matters.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Has anyone ever failed out?
Mickey Factz: So no, not as of yet. We haven’t had anybody fail yet. We’ve had some low scores on some tests, and when a student gets a low score, we pull them in for a one-on-one talk and be like, we got to help you step your game up. Last year we had a two course program track. Sophomore and freshman, which was Rap Theory, and then advanced techniques was the junior, senior.
Now as we go into year two, we understand as we’re expanding that we need more time to help an MC get better. So now we have Rap Theory 101, teaching you how to rhyme on beat better. Rap Theory 102, teaching you the basic foundations of writing. Then we have Advanced Rap Theory, and that’s teaching you advanced styles and different ways to run. We’re talking E-40, Bone Thugs, Twista, the Detroit Style. And then we got Advanced Techniques teaching you a higher level of writing. So through this 4-year track, if you come in not being able to rap year one, by the year four, you should be great at what it is that we do.
AllHipHop: What about the intangibles, the marketing, promo, getting a deal or not, maybe going the independent route? Do you guys, have you delved into that yet?
Mickey Factz: Yeah, so we have a business class that we had last year called Mickey Money. This year we have the behind the scenes with Law, which is Lawrence Parker, who manages Jay Electronica. He will be doing the business class for our MCs. And we also have a finance class, Hip-Hop According to Finance taught by New York Life Insurance employees. It’s very important that the MCs understand and know the business of the game as well as what can we do to assist you to go to the next level. Now listen, it’s just like the freshman cover that I was on. It was 10 of us on the cover. Everybody wanted all 10 of us to be where Drake is, and in reality, it doesn’t work like that. So we give people realistic expectations on what to expect when you leave the culture.
AllHipHop: Have you ever thought about going back and getting your degree or is that insignificant? Or will you give yourself one from Pendulum Ink?
Mickey Factz: I can definitely give myself one, but I just learned recently that there is a degree program at the University of North Carolina, UNC, Chapel Hill, and they’re giving out rap degrees. I’ve been seriously considering taking that class to get a degree in rap. That would be the only way I go back to school is if I get a degree in rap. But if I don’t go there, then I think we at the school validate Hip-Hop culture and that to me is what matters. I want our degrees to be accredited through the OGs and the people who start this thing so that I can license my curriculum, my lexicon, my syllabus to other schools and get my students hired by having this degree and scoring at a specific level to have them teach what it is that we do here.
AllHipHop: I have to bring up KRS-One because he is known as the teacher. Have you had any talks with him at all or has he come up?
Mickey Factz: As you stated – KRS-One, he’s still active. He’s still an active MC. He’s touring like a mad man. I know he just started this new nonprofit with Chuck D and Kurtis Blow. I would love to have a lecture-based class with KRS. He is the teacher and I haven’t had the chance to speak to him. It’s pretty tough these days as he is touring and a multitude of things. But I one million percent am sure that all I need from KRS is five minutes to tell him what I’m doing and he’s going to be like, absolutely. I already know.
AllHipHop: No doubt. Well man, I’m definitely impressed, man. And I find it’s slightly ironic because back in the day if you went to college or if you were educated in a formal way, it was corny. So now do you feel like it’s changing? Is this cool now, new cool?
Mickey Factz: I think you got to think about it like this, Chuck. Back then, Hip-Hop was young. It was very young. 10-years old, 20-years old. We are in the 50th year, and when you get to your 50th year, it’s maturity. And at some point we had to do something to establish ownership, establish structure, establish this space of us controlling the narrative. We do not want our history diluted over time and people forget about exactly what happened in the space of Hip-Hop. So I think that it is the perfect time for something like this to happen. I have the full support of people who have heard about it, people such as yourself who are reaching out to allow me to speak about it. And the students and the peers of mine who just champion and cosign this. It’s very important that people see that this is the future of academia.
AllHipHop: Next thing, y’all going to have frats and sororities. You know what I mean? A mascot.
Okay, sounds good. Anything else for the people?
Mickey Factz: Yeah, man. Sign up to Pendulum Ink. Year two is here. Fill out a application at pendulumink.com and have a Q & A with us, man. We are the worldwide leaders of education in Hip-Hop, man, and we are looking to expand a little bit more and grow our fan base. We have an app that’s going to be releasing very soon, so keep your eyes open and peeled for that if you’re looking to expand your knowledge from a writing standpoint, speak to some of your favorite MCs and build with a community of people that want to see you be better. Pendulum Ink is the space for you.
AllHipHop: You sound like Suge Knight right now. “Come on over to Pendulum Ink.”
Mickey Factz: That’s y’all professors and teachers out there too. If you can’t get a job teaching at your university, come over to Death Row, aka Pendulum Ink. I’ll get you a job. I pay my professors. Everything is good. Contracts, everything. Let’s go man. Pendulum, baby.