MEGAMiKES first came onto the scene in 2016, with a string of singles on Soundcloud. Fast forward some years later, the rapper has reached career highs; he has headlined shows, performed on a Europe tour and got signed to a label. Following yet another career high, the release of his first EP, ‘Quentin Quarantino: Tales in Isolation’, I had a chance to talk with MEGAMiKES about his project, his career so far and hopes for the new year.
MEGAMiKES’ debut project is riddled with the use of complex flows and clever wordplay. He uses his experiences in life to create this musical portrait, which includes a diverse range of tracks.
The south west London rapper described the last year as being an eye-opener. “I think it has been a blessing and a curse. A curse because of all the madness that’s happened - there’s something every month. And a blessing in the sense that a lot of people have the time to do things that they could not do before. I’ve had time to focus on myself, gave myself a chance to set goals and work towards them.”
We started talking about life growing up. I wondered whether he had always grown up in south west London. “Yeah man, I have to rep it.” He went on to describe life as a teenager: “I was pretty normal; I was always interested in music and being creative, (laughing) oh wait, there was a phase where I liked skateboarding! In sixth form, there was this consensus of, if you didn’t fit into certain criteria, you weren’t “cool”. But I liked a lot of different things – I think it kind of shows in the music I make.”
The Floor: What pushed you to embark on a career as a rapper?
MEGAMiKES: “I started writing when I was around 17, 18 but at the time, I was too shy to show it. Even when my girlfriend said I should take it seriously, I just said ‘we’ll see’, but didn’t do anything. In 2016, I ended up putting out some songs and the reaction I got from people, it was a nice feeling.”
He reminisced about his first live performance. “I performed at an open mic in East London. And I cried!?’, Michael laughed, ‘I remember it being the worst performance I’ve ever done in my life. I think my eyes were closed for most of it. I was looking down, then I got off the stage to see uni friends, my girlfriend, my family all there. You would have thought I was at Wembley or something. After that performance, seeing the support, I thought ‘rah, this is something I really want to do.”
You said the EP is different from your conventional style. How would you describe your sound?
“So, my conventional sound was grime and drill, 140 beats per minute. But I want to discover other beats and genres. I take influences from Che Lingo, Flatbush Zombies, Giggs, Ghetts, Jay Z. I’m still trying to figure out my unique sound. In the last year or two, I realised it’s best not to box yourself in. On this EP, all the songs are distinctive, no song is similar to the other. I didn’t realise how different they sounded when I was creating it.”
Let’s talk about the EP. ‘Tales in Isolation’ - was it based on how you felt during lockdown like the name hints towards? “Kind of, yes. I did intend for it to have a loose narrative. Even with the way the tracklist is set up. I wanted very high energy at the start. You got Freedom Reign, which kind of speaks for itself. It’s a commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement, we decided to make a song about it. Put it out there and give all the money back to charity. I would hope people can feel me and my brother's frustration in that song.”
Freedom Reign was one of my favourite tracks – it's very powerful! “It’s bittersweet – the reception I got was insane, but we were angry with what was going on. We wanted to raise awareness and tell people to speak up. Even if your voice trembles, just say something.” [‘Holy Water (God is A Woman)’- plays homage to a special lady in his life], “the whole thing is about her. Behind every man, there's a strong woman who supports you. A lot of things wouldn’t be happening without her. Every milestone, she's been there.” We both agreed ‘Szns’ which features his brother, M.M.b, was quite a personal track.
In ‘Szns’, you rap “they never used to give me time of day, now I can kick down doors, they have a lot to say.” Could you tell me a bit more about this? “It’s just anyone that wasn’t trying to listen to what I had to say. They would say, ‘ah he’s not serious or he’s not as good as he thinks he is.’ I didn't meet anyone interested in my creativity. Over the last four years, I’ve met people who like my content. Shoutout to Idris Miles – he motivated me and had undying faith in me. Thanks to him, I performed on tour in Germany. I’ve done festivals, been to America, was the opening act for Shocka. I guess Szns is a statement piece. I’ve been trying and now things are starting to move forward.”
What is your creative process when making a song?
“You know, sometimes it takes like 10 minutes, sometimes it will take me 3 months. The process differs depending on what I want. For example, with Taurus Talks, I wrote and recorded it in a day. I think it also depends on how I’m feeling emotionally. If I’m feeling a raw emotion or the beat strikes a nerve, the bars will come out organically.”
So, what’s next for MEGAMiKES? I’m working on another project, it’s in the early stages, but I have already written 5 songs. You can expect to hear it in Summer. Hopefully, I can go back to shows, releasing music, do more videos, and keep everything consistent. If everything goes to plan, I'm meant to be doing the Spring Break Festival in Amsterdam.
And lastly, what are your top 3 karaoke songs?
Dappy - No Regrets
High School Musical 2 - I Don’t Dance
Fleetwood Mac - The Chain