There was a time when being a rapper out of New York City was like carrying a Hip-Hop badge of honor. Today, with the Southern-dominated Hip-Hop climate, it's hard to find any artist from New York City on your local radio station, unless of course, it's an established artist tied into G-Unit or Dipset. MIMS however, took the current climate of Hip-Hop and used it to his advantage. He marketed his smash hit "This Is Why I'm Hot" to the Southern states first, gradually building momentum with the record to where it's on every radio station, in every city in America and currently sits on the top of Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay.
The Washington Heights native is no stranger to AllHipHop.com. MIMS' talent was spotted and featured in AllHipHop's Breeding Ground back in 2004. So with a keen understanding of the game and his obvious ability to create hits, the MIMS of today having sharpened his lyrical skills is now poised to open the doors for a slew of New York MCs who want their shot at the position he now holds.
AllHipHop met MIMS at the legendary Fat Beats record store in New York City. Home base for the numerous MC's, DJ's and Hip-Hop heads looking to get their fix of new music, this was the ideal place for MIMS to tell his tale of why Music Is MIMS' Savior.
AllHipHop.com: First, I spotted your music in ’04. You’ve come a long way. Tell us about the transformation from MIMS in the Breeding Ground in 2004 to the MIMS in 2007. How was it?
MIMS: I think, for me, man, it’s how the alignment went, how everything went with my career. Obviously, there’s certain people that’s able to recognize a talent at an early stage. Obviously you featured me in the Breeding Ground, AllHipHop showed me love with that. People seen the early developments with my career, they knew where I wanted to take it, but they also knew that I didn’t necessarily have the music that fits in with everything else at the time. For me, it was a constant struggle from that period to now, ‘cause I not only had to prove myself as a worthy MC, but as a New York MC also. Back in that time, at the Breeding Ground time, I had a record out called “I Did You Wrong,” which is getting some good airplay across the country, and I know you guys showcased me for some of the work I was doing in Canada, when I sold a couple records up there. The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t satisfied, man. I knew that I’m something worth talkin’ about, something being talked about, and I knew that I deserved to be in this game. So I took a little time off. Honestly, [I just decided that] I needed a record that was gonna get me across the board, and hence that’s why I came up with the “This is Why I’m Hot” record, which in my opinion, is one of the most All-American records there is right now in this game.
AllHipHop.com: It seemed like it caught on in the South before it caught on in New York. Did you anticipate that? Did you design it that way?
MIMS: You know what? I set it like this: it was a test for me. For me, I’m a New York MC, and obviously I wasn’t able to get signed in New York; I wasn’t able to get signed being a New York MC, so at the end of the day, I had to bring myself to a market where I felt I fit the most – not because I felt like I could take over the Southern market, I just felt like if they were doing a majority of the music that was out, and I’m an MC that needs to fit in the game, I’ve got to get the respect from that level, and bring that respect back to my territory. So what I did was I started the record off in a Southern market; I started off in Florida. I already had influence in The Bay and certain parts of the country because of the “I Did You Wrong” record. Slowly but surely, the record started picking up in the South and in the West Coast, and after I completed that, I was able to turn around and walk back to my area, and come back to cats over here like, “Look, we all talk about Hip-Hop is dead, we all talk about New York ain’t in the game, but I at that point, me and Jim Jones was out there with the [“We Fly High”] record, and we’re the only people getting played in any other market, from a New York artists standpoint. Listen to the record, and see what you can do with it. I think at that point in time, a lot of dudes out in New York was pay homage [and] showing love. The rest is history, they definitely supported the record 100%.
AllHipHop.com: You were on UBO, how did you end up on Capitol?
MIMS: Basically, what happened was, I teamed up with some good partners: my man CL from Digiwax and my dog Erik Mendelson. We’ve been working for together a long time, but we finally got together and said, “Look, if we’re gonna do this, we gotta do it the right way. We gotta go out there and get some money behind this.” We started up the situation called American King Music, which is the company that I’m runnin’ behind now. We said we were going to set the company up the right way, and approach another company the right way, and ask for money the right way. CL drew up a business plan, and Eric got that business plan together and made it look like a professional business plan, and obviously, I provided the music, and we stepped to UBO at the time and said, “Look, we need some funding.” UBO was quick to [express interest], even though they were a Reggaeton-based label, they said, “We’re interested, we like his work, let’s do it, let’s make it happen.” I could remember the day of the signing. That was right around the time I did “This is Why I’m Hot” and at the time, we’re gonna re-put out the “I Did You Wrong” record. We knew the money was there to do it, and we had a plan based upon that. I said, “Hold up, let me listen to [“This is Why I’m Hot”],” people was like, “I’m diggin’ this record, I’m feelin’ the record,” [so I said] “Give me some time with this record, slow down the process; I’m gonna put out these other singles, I’m gonna take this to the Southern market and see if I can get some respect from it.” I did exactly what I said I was gonna do. I went out there and built a lot of relationships, now the South knows who MIMS is.
AllHipHop.com: I think the record labels are nervous to put out a New York artist right now, unless you’re Dipset, Jay-Z, or G-Unit. Do you think you’re bringing the new class in?
MIMS: I mean, you know what? If you look at the success with “This is Why I’m Hot,” then it’s easy for anybody to say that I’m at the forefront of New York Hip-Hop right now. I think that that’s a bold statement. Those are big shoes to fill, and I’m not necessarily here to fill those shoes. My primary goal in this music business is the create good music for people to listen to and enjoy. I’m in the music business. If I want to make a record for myself, which I have plenty of ‘em, then those records don’t go out in the world. But if I want to make a record that the people want to enjoy, then that’s what I do. It’s about New York City to me. I think once other New York artists understand that, and once they have that understanding, then they’ll be able to see how I think, and they’ll be able to appeal to the rest of the world. That’s why labels are scared to mess with New York artists, ‘cause with no disrespect, when I go to the South, when I go to the West, or when I go to The Bay to hear the Hyphy music, they don’t really wanna hear about our struggle anymore. We did that for a long time. I respect it ‘cause I live it, but they don’t want to hear it. They want to hear a different side of us, and that’s exactly what I provided them.
AllHipHop.com: We’re in Fat Beats right now. This is a staple for Hip-Hop fans in New York. Comin’ up here in New York, what does this mean to you?
MIMS: You know what? It’s crazy. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. You come in here and see some of the vinyl covers, and you start to look and start to say, “This is Hip-Hop, this is the era. You’ve got The Sugar Hill cover, which I was used to seeing back in the day. I had somebody who collected vinyl, and they gave me like their whole collection. That was one of the records I had; I probably didn’t know nothin’ about it, but I had it in my collection. There’s other cats that if I walk around that I’d probably see, which I was a fan of. You wanna check some stuff out – I noticed the Nervous emblem, I know we had a couple of cats on Nervous: the [trio] Black Moon, one of my favorite records of all time “I Got ‘Cha Open,” if I’m not mistaken. I’ll take it back further. I remember that this was right around the time Black Moon came out, Nas was just getting introduced, and honestly, this record got [Buckshot] in contention as one of the greatest MCs to do it. I remember that era. Before the Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas comparison, it was the Black Moon, Nas and who’s the illest? That’s what I remember. I know my favorite record gotta be here somewhere. Obviously that Craig Mack, that’ll take ya back. “Flava in Ya Ear Remix;” I like the original though, I ain’t gonna lie. The original “Flava in Ya Ear” was crazy, I can’t deny that.
AllHipHop.com: Pick out something truly MIMS.
MIMS: See, I’ma tell you. One of my favorite records of all times is, I ain’t gonna lie to you. It ain’t got no cover. I could probably grab you a cover over here to show you the artist. This was another record I loved, “Children’s Story” [by Slick Rick]. This record though, you could put this record out today, this is Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa.” You could put this record out today, and it’ll sound up to date. That’s how much I was in love with this record. See, and I ain’t even know, you’ve got Def Jam and Columbia on the same piece of vinyl, that’s crazy.