Mike Dreams Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, N.Y. -- Last week, we jumped "In the Mix" with Lyriciss, the DMV up-and-comer who just dropped his Booth-sponsored The Practice mixtape. For the 20th installment of our Booth-exclusive interview series, we're giving readers an up-close and personal look at Mike Dreams, a Minneapolis native preparing to drop his debut full-length, Dreamer's Poetry.
Since Dreams (then known as "Young Son") introduced himself with "This Far" in late '07, the up-and-coming emcee has been a regular on DJBooth.net, both as a featured artist and a site member. With last year's Booth-exclusive COUNTING SHEEP series (collected here in mixtape form), he cemented himself as a house favorite, and his contribution to our exclusive freestyle series, "I Just Wanna Be..." earned him a runner-up nod in our 2009 Best of the Booth Awards. Now, Dreams is preparing to showcase his prodigious talents and those of his MUSIC2DREAM2 collective on his long-awaited debut album, Dreamer's Poetry. Featuring such reader-acclaimed jams as "We'll Be Alright." "Gettin' Ours," and the recently-premiered "Hip Hope Anthem," the album will be available on DJBooth for free download on February 8 and then physically released the next day.
In this exclusive, five-question interview, Mike Dreams discusses the influence of his hometown on his musical style, the ever-present problem of hater-dom and a (literal) dream that he hopes will someday become a reality.
In your “A Dreamer's Perspective” column over on RefinedHype.com, you described fellow Minneapolis native Mally's latest album as “[embodying] the soulful essence of the city I'm from.” What would you describe Minneapolis as being “about,” musically? Which elements of your work do you draw from your hometown, and which do you consider entirely your own?
Minneapolis is actually about a lot of things. Overall, I think Minneapolis wants to be represented for a city whose lyrical content in the music is about life and things deeper than [what's] presented in popular music. The problem is, we have those people too, who are stuck in some warped perception of reality, so it's forever a separation and a battle. As far as the elements I draw from the city, I'd say I capture the community and some of the feelings of the people in the urban settings, as well as other walks of life. I feel the younger people (30 years old and younger) in my city really have this interesting ambition about us. We have this sort of the newfound drive that the previous generation didn't necessarily have the option to have, and we know for whatever successes we are trying to achieve, it's deemed a tad more difficult in a place like Minnesota, so we are always working extra hard. As far as those sentiments of reflecting the real and progressing, I think I draw that from Minnesota. I consider the marketing and presentation idea of my music to be entirely my own. I feel like a lot of artists in my city have the substance, but don't correctly know how to market that as music to mass media and that's why they end up being a "local" artist for the rest of their careers. The content is one thing; execution and strategy is another.
Positivity, spirituality and hope are some of your lyrical trademarks, yet you seem to attract a greater number of irrational “haters” than most regularly-featured up-and-comers in the Booth – sometimes, it seems, because of your idealism. Is there a current trend toward cynicism among today's youth, or the hip-hop community in particular? If so, do you feel that this is an obstacle you will need to overcome in order to succeed as an artist?
I definitely feel this is an obstacle and personally, I think I've cared too much about it lately. I was actually just speaking with one of the executive producers of my album the other day about some blind hate I read on one of the blogs and I was just asking him, "Why do people take the time out of their day to do this?" I feel like technology has been a gift and a curse. Internet sites and hip hop blogs have allowed those people who wouldn't have readily had the outlets to get out to more people, but also makes them susceptible to blind hatred. I was talking about this topic on my Twitter the other day. Let's get this straight. I don't believe everyone should like my music. I would like them to, but I know everyone has their own tastes. To dislike someone's music is when you have a valid reason and you state why you don't prefer listening to them. That's real. That's something I respect. What I don't respect is people hating on me for no particular reason, not having any facts to back it up other than they don't like it because I'm on a blog, or they don't like my appearance in a picture or something. To me, that is frivolous and asinine. One dude told me the other day I need to quit trying to rap and go back to working at Wendy's. I'm sitting here thinking, "Dude, I never worked at Wendy's." What makes it even worse is that in my life, if I had the option to, when someone was upset with me or didn't like me, I always attempted to find out why and even have a sit down face to face with them. Sometimes after that was all said and done, it cleared up whatever confusion that may have been lingering. With the Internet, I can't do that. I just have to endure the blind hatred of alias-named, faceless people who have nothing better to do. I guess I just have to work on not taking any and everything said about me to heart and focus on the fans and even the people who aren't fans who give valid reasoning for not liking my music. The constructive hip hop critics > Random fools with a keyboard and no life.
What do you hope to accomplish with the release of your long-awaited Dreamer's Poetry LP, and what will be the next step in your musical career once the album is on store shelves?
With Dreamer's Poetry, I just hope to turn some heads that haven't heard of me yet. I have a couple of fans riding with me already, and I just want to expand that base. I want the higher ups to hear the album or at least hear about it from someone else they respect, which might compel them to go check it out. I do want to make it in the industry, so I personally feel everything is just a waiting game. I will continue to distribute and make great new music and hopefully the right opportunities will arise to put me into the positions I need to be to be very successful in this business. Just to let everyone know, I have already began my next LP, Just Waking Up, so expect that later this year. Haha. The grind never stops!
How do you feel online outlets such as DJBooth.net have changed the playing field for up-and-comers like yourself? Is it easier to get your name out there? Is it harder to stand out from the pack?
First of all, I just want to say thanks to DJBOOTH a bunch. You guys are the first major website that really messed with me and my music dating way back to late 2007. I also really think more people need to start acknowledging this site (Ahem magazines making top hip hop blog lists!), because you guys do a LOT more for up and coming artists than any other hip hop blog I've seen. I think DJBOOTH and sites like it have really allowed a lot of new artists to receive shine. You can reach people you never would have been able to reach from just being in your city. The catch 22 though is that it also becomes an outlet for a bunch of people who really shouldn't be doing music. So now it sometimes becomes a bad thing for serious artists, because they end up getting lumped into a category as just another Internet rapper. That's one of the biggest reasons I changed my name back in August of 2009 from Young Son to Mike Dreams. I began noticing that people were disregarding me completely just because my name had the cliché "Young" in it. I needed to start separating myself and giving myself a better chance to be received as an original individual.
Have you had any interesting/funny/strange dreams lately, that you could share with us?
As far as strange dreams go, I haven't had MANY. Here's a random one though. There's this beautiful girl who I've been crushing on for like 4 years. I used to go to Performing Arts School with her. Now she is a dancer for the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team. I had a dream that I went and proposed to her in front of everyone at the Target Center. It was obviously the highlight of the game, because we know the T-Wolves aren't winning any games lately. (No shots!). But I'm hoping that dream will become a reality one day. I don't know, let me get my career launched and then I'll pull a Derwin Davis.
Any last words, plugs, shout-outs, mentions, confessions?
I most definitely want to shout out the homies Wisdom, Jimmy Easy and DJ Corbett. Without them, I wouldn't have finished up this album, so I definitely have lots of thanks for them. I also want to shout out my whole MUSIC2DREAM2 Family, AJ SOUL, Hypel, Cameron Mann, Brandon Trevon and Christina Fisher, as well as my fellow emcee friends Ronnie B. and Kiddricc for support during my recording process. Oh, and last but not least (and as a matter of fact, who should have been the first mentioned) and that's God and Jesus Christ for allowing me to have this talent and use it to touch the world. (I'm up here sounding like a Grammy acceptance speech, I know...I'm sorry...lol).
But thanks a lot DJBOOTH for all the support on the new project and expect new great music from this album and for the months to come! 2010 will be a great year!
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