by Alex Shtaerman
In 2005 Mykill Miers is back with a vengeance. In March, the former Ras Kass protégé and self-proclaimed Hitchcock of Hip-Hop will be dropping a brand new LP titled The Truth; an April tour of Europe is to follow. After starting his own label abNORMAL Records in 2002, Mykill Miers is back with deeper subject matter, better beats and even sharper lyrics to go along with that hardcore edge. Working with troubled youths as a middle school teacher in Los Angeles during the day, Michael Arrington transforms into Mykill Miers at night to terrorize rap. The Truth promises to be a more complete and diverse album as we are bound to see an even more mature and refined Mykill Miers.
“As I have gotten older, now I am writing more from the soul as opposed to from the brain.I got a song called What Your Kids Are Doing where I’m giving people an idea of what goes on at the school from the teacher’s perspective.when people hear this record they’ll be shocked and amazed that somebody was able spew this in rhyme form clear as day and point out what your kid is really doing while he’s at school; he or she is not the little angel you thought”.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Aside from pursuing your career in rap, you are also a middle school teacher and you work a lot with troubled kids from the Los Angeles area. Do you ever get stereotyped by people in the school system because of the type of music you make?
MYKILL MIERS: Yea, I get it all the time man. How I handle it is I basically tell my piers and colleagues that if they don’t look up to me then look at the whole package not the music. Look at the fact that I did graduate college, I did get a degree, I am working with children and I am giving back to the community; don’t judge by what my hobby is. It’s like judging Arnold Schwarzenegger for being The Terminator and killing a whole police station full of cops and judging him by that as opposed to his character.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As an artist from L.A. you have a lot of influences from both East and West; however, when it comes to rappers who are not selling millions of records, do you feel there is still a void in communication between New York and Los Angeles? Also, what would you say to people in New York to put them more onto your music?
MYKILL MIERS: Basically we stuck in a time warp. There’s a lot of people who hold steadfast to what East Coast cats are doing as opposed to what West Coast cats are doing. I take a lot from the people that I looked up to; everybody from Rakim to Kool G Rap to Big Daddy Kane all the way to Mixmaster Spade and King Tee and those cats; Ice Cube as well as Scarface. So I take a little bit of everybody; and what I would like [New York fans] to do is to check out what I’m talking about.
I am not really talking about what the stereotypical West Coast cats are talking about. I’m not talking about 40s and blunts and drive bys; I’m really talking about something else that has some substance. Even though it’s still got a gangsta rap overtone, it’s definitely lyrical; I’m definitely a b-boy at heart from way back in the day to this point.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Going back to your days with Western Hemisfear, what were the most important lessons you learned in that early part of your career that you still carry with you today?
MYKILL MIERS: I learned a lot from that whole situation. When I was running with them cats I had just really started rapping. I knew Ras since junior high and I met Voodoo and Meen Green through him. We were going on tour and traveling; I learned a lot, good and bad. I learned a lot about how to carry myself professionally in this business; that’ll take you further than being actually talented. Your character and your hard work and your perseverance is what will push you over. I also learned how to maintain a certain level of celebrity without being over the top with it, as far as being egotistical and whatnot.
I took a lot from them cats and I looked up to them cats so much; not only were they older than me but I just thought they were so tight, especially in that ’93, ’94 era; I really didn’t hear people from out this way coming like that. Ras got so much hype for being like the West Coast Nas or the West Coast Rakim and the savior of the West Coast; he shined a lot of light on cats out here that wouldn’t have got it otherwise. I took a lot of that and I just try to stay true to my core base and what we built back in ’93. I try to stay true to that and expand.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You founded abNORMAL Records in 2002, how has the label progressed and what can we expect from Mykill Miers and abNORMAL Records in 2005?
MYKILL MIERS: A lot of people probably don’t know but I have done a lot of commercials. I did two commercials for Bud Light, I did a Reebok commercial, I did a Gatorade commercial. The Gatorade commercial is probably the most famous one but everybody thinks its Nas. When we did the commercial I was actually feeling just like I feel today, I had little cold so my voice wasn’t as strong and intense as it usually is. I came off a little more monotone, more like a Nas, so it got mistaken for that.
I’ve also licensed my music to VH1 and they’ve used it a lot for the VH1 Driven and Behind The Music. We’ve also done a lot of other TV shows; Nickelodeon used my stuff; Burger King used a couple of my songs – so that’s what I’ve been doing since 2002. Now in 2005 we’re full blown; we got a full blown staff, I got a team of producers, I got a few artists coming out; I got myself coming out in March, I got another artist Kemil The Musical Temptress on some altered soul, its like Sade meets Me’shell Ndegeochello, that kind of style. Plus the Western Hemisfear reunion record is coming out this year and then I got a record with my man Born Allah, we doing a record called The Bash Brothers and that will all be out this year. Plus I got my mixtape which will be out next week.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What can fans expect on this new Mykill Miers LP?
MYKILL MIERS: Fans can expect an older more mature Mykill Miers. Being in this business and now that I got my own company, I gotta stick to the principles of business. But at the same time I don’t want my music to lose its integrity and lose my core base. It’s still going to be edgy and it’s still going to be hardcore but I definitely got some better producers than years past. Not saying that the producers I had in the past weren’t good, but the way music has evolved and I am also producing a lot now myself, so its basically my own brainchild – it’s really getting to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it. So with this record, which will be called The Truth, expect a blend of Illmatic and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Aside from rapping you have all these other dimensions to your life; you were a star athlete, you are a teacher, you have aspirations of becoming a psychologist in the future; do you ever bring these other aspects of your life into your rhymes or do you tend to keep them more separate?
MYKILL MIERS: I used to [keep them separate] and it really was because of my maturity level in the music. I thought I came up as a battle MC, so I would try to rip up mics and try to let everyone know how tight I was lyrically. As I have gotten older, now I am writing more from the soul as opposed to from the brain; I am really trying to get certain points across. I got a song called What Your Kids Are Doing where I’m giving people an idea of what goes on at the school from the teacher’s perspective. You always hear about parents saying that teachers aren’t doing this and teachers aren’t doing that and the schools aren’t doing this and the schools aren’t doing that; when people hear this record they’ll be shocked and amazed that somebody was able spew this in rhyme form clear as day and point out what your kid is really doing while he’s at school; he or she is not the little angel you thought.
I also got another joint called Jenell which is a mixture of a couple of stories that I put together into one song. It’s real deep and it’s oriented towards uplifting young girls and letting them know that some of the things they do like getting pregnant at an early age and perpetuating the same cycle as their mothers and their grandmothers is just not the thing to do. So I am coming at a lot of different angels and it has a lot to do with me maturing and starting to really understand what my talent is and trying to take it to the next level.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Being that your music is on the darker hardcore tip, have you ever though about rhyming over hard techno beats; would you ever do something unconventional like that?
MYKILL MIERS: Actually I did a drum-n-bass remix for a song on my first album for a cat in Germany a couple of years back; I definitely want to experiment. Probably by the beginning of next year, I’m going to put a really eclectic record out called The Mykill Miers Experiment. I do have a live band affiliated with my company now – so it will be a little bit of rock, a little bit of Jimi Hendrix meets Public Enemy meets Slick Rick meets Fresh Price, you know what I’m saying? I just want to get in and do me and let all the barriers and guards down and go out there say some things that I want to say and do the type of music that I am typically not known to do.
I’m a writer first, I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I was seven, so I’ve just happened to start putting a lot of that in my rhymes and I want to be able to tell tales. I can’t try to tell a tale over a club track and have people trying to listen to what I’m saying and figure out what I’m talking about while they trying to dance. So I definitely want to try and do different things, there are different people I want to work with; I am actually working with The Filthy Immigrants right now and Jurassic 5. I’m going to do some real live Hip-Hop meets rock type flava man. I dig rock, I’m a real big Jimi Hendrix fan so it’s something I want to branch over to. A lot of my fanbase is that skateboard and heavy metal crowd so it’s definitely something I want to give them as a thank you for supporting me through my whole career.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What’s up with the Bash Brothers album? What’s the history between you and Born Allah and what’s on the horizon as far as the two of you working together?
MYKILL MIERS: Me and Born go way back. Born is a cat that I also looked up to in this game early on, he was kind of a mentor early on with his whole stage presence and his bragadocious style. Born is my big brother man so I am definitely reaching back to him now that I got a situation where I can put records out at will. I can’t wait to start recording, we got a couple of beats done for it already; I actually met with him last night. It’s going be a lot of back and forth type shit, its going to be hot; I can’t wait to get into it and really rock it and give him the opportunity to get some light and get a little buzz and acclaim that I got and have him share that.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you still aspire to be on a major label or do you feel that artists who represent more authentic Hip-Hop may just be better off starting their own labels as you have done with abNORMAL records?
MYKILL MIERS: The way technology is now and the consistent mergers with the companies – like Universal is merging with BMG right now and they’ve already merged with Sony; so there’s really no label left, no variety left anyway; everyone is under one big umbrella. The way technology is with the whole digital distribution situation and websites and stores online; you really don’t need a label, all you need is an investor to help you promote and market and stream everything to your website and online stores, you could really make a killing that way.
With the emergence of MP3s and Internet radio, you really don’t have to have a major label and get mass amounts of money. You may not get Eminem money or 50 cent money but you definitely get a doctor or a lawyer’s salary selling through the Internet and through live shows; so that’s really what its about. It’s kind of good and bad, you got your average cat that can make a CD at the house and put it online tomorrow and sell it; so it makes the little man a little bigger. The downside is that corporations are starting to get hip to this whole digital distribution situation.
Its give and take, its good and bad like everything else but its more good than bad and it definitely helped a lot of cats out there as far as trying to get on major labels. ‘Cause major labels aren’t really looking for anything new; they’re looking for the next 50 cent because 50 cent has already been successful – so let’s get that – they looking for the next Game or they looking for the next Nas because Nas has already put a blueprint in and been successful. Its more of a cookie cutter industry now as opposed to them trying to find talent, mold talent, develop talent and make that star. Even America Idols, they don’t sell the way people think they sell. Going platinum nowadays on a major label really don’t mean too much anymore.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What artists have you been listening to of late and also, what artists from L.A. would you recommend to fans in New York that may be unaware of the type of talent that’s out there?
MYKILL MIERS: There’s a lot of up and coming cats out here now that are really doing their thing. I’d say people really need to get into Jurassic 5, I’m pretty sure Dilated Peoples is heavy over back east, groups like that is keeping it true and they are visionaries as well. The Lootpack and Oh No and Madlib and all them cats is really doing their thing out here man. So people should definitely give them a chance out in [New York] and hear what they spittin’; they really really doing it.
As far as people that I listen to; right now honestly since I’m so deep into working on my record and the Hemisfear record and my artist Kemil’s record, that’s all I really been listening to. I’m definitely an old school fan so I’m always putting in my old Gangstarr record or my old Nas record or my old Ice Cube record, I listened to Amerikkka’s Most Wanted just yesterday – buggin’ out on the beats that he had back then that were considered gangsta at the time but would be underground Hip-Hop now. I listen to whatever is on the radio too just to see what the competition is doing. Game is definitely blowing up out here, that’s all that’s on the radio anyway, Game and G Unit, so definitely I’m listening to that. I like music man, if it’s good I like it, I don’t really put a label on what it is, Hip-Hop or underground or R&B; if its good its good and I listen to it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as Mykill Miers goes, what should fans be looking out for in the immediate future?
MYKILL MIERS: I’m focused now and I got my own company so I am just coming at will – beats and rhymes; I’m trying to hit everybody hard. Even coming out of an independent and doing it the way we doing it, I think by the summertime I’m definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with. With Kamil and this altered soul and what she’s doing with this band is immaculate and it’s definitely going to be something for people to check out. We going to make a statement this year. We are actually going on tour in April over in Europe; we’ll be out there for about a month or so. By that time my album will already be out and then the Hemisfear album is going to be coming out in August.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Are you looking forward to going to Europe? It seems we’ve been hearing a lot lately how fans over there really appreciate good music and don’t follow some of the trends a lot of the American fans do.
MYKILL MIERS: Yea, I’ve been over there before and they really gave me a lot of love. My second record The Second Coming sold 112,000 units in Europe so it’s definitely a market and they are also true to music in itself. Not necessarily like its East Coast rap or underground rap or its L.A. rap – if it’s good and it’s quality they get on it and that’s the way to go. It’s kinda like back in the ’60’s, Jimi Hendrix couldn’t make it out here so he went overseas and really blew up and became a force. Its really pure because they don’t have as many outlets as we have as far music; they’re not playing everything on the radio everyday and having MTV on everyday and VH1 everyday, so when they get a chance to hear something quality they really jump on it and stick to it. I think that’s why cats are going over and they really exploiting it, not in a bad way but just getting the most out of what’s out there.
RIOTSOUND.COM: This is kind of random but I wanted to ask you – being from L.A., how would you compare MC Ren and Kool G Rap as far as their influence on the hardcore rap sound; I think Ren doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, would you agree with that in any way?
MYKILL MIERS: I definitely agree. I was just talking about that with somebody about a week or so ago, we were watching Beef. And everybody was like – what happened to Ren? And then everybody was like – oh, well he wasn’t that good. But MC Ren man, some rappers in the game have that voice where the voice is that strong that it almost doesn’t matter what they say, it’s just that their voice is so strong that they can grab the attention, MC Ren was definitely one of those guys but he had something to say as well. I just felt like he had the same kind of tone, like that Rakim kind of tone where as soon as he started spitting it was like – wow this dude is hot. He’s definitely one of the slept on pioneers out here. When people mention NWA it’s usually Dre or it’s Ice Cube, every now and then its Eazy E ’cause he was kind of the front man behind it as far as money was concerned, but everybody sleep on MC Ren and I would like to seem him come back.
As far as Kool G Rap, Kool G Rap was one of those guys that I looked up to in the game. I started really doing this hardcore style because of him – him and Scarface and Ice Cube – as far as getting into that really violent metaphoric rap. It’s not easy to kill everybody on every track. I love Kool G Rap man; since My Demo till up to this point he did his thing so he’s definitely one of the pioneers on my list.
For all info on Mykill Miers stay tuned to www.MyKillMiers.com