Mikey is the world’s first community rapper. I talked to him OVER GMAIL about food and hip hop, two things his brain is good at thinking about. (And hey, he just released a new song!)
What’s the connection between food and hip hop?
I think the food-hip hop connection is the cousin of the sex-hip hop connection and the drugs-hip hop connection. Good hip hop, like any writing, engages the senses. So using words packed with flavor makes a verse pop. If I use an abstract word like “love” or “freedom”, it might go in one ear and out the other for a lot of people. But if you say “salty” or “chewy” or “wet” the word HAS to stop inside the head and trigger that sense slightly. I think a lot of rap is packed with sex and drugs because humans have a strong connection to pleasure. And I think a lot of rappers have figured out that food works well too. And so because I don’t talk about sex and drugs very much, I talk about food.
Your lyrics seem to be chock-full of food references. Chips+Pop seems to be especially food-focused. Why does food come up so often in your writing? Can we expect more delicious lyrics on your upcoming album?
Well I also like food references because there is an almost never-ending supply of interesting food-words to pepper my verses with. And they’re the good kind of words. Abstract words like “emancipation” or “destination” make for weak rhymes. Rhyming “mayonaise” and “k-days” or “kale salads” and “male challenged” is way more interesting and satisfying to write. Also, food words come from so many different languages! Whereas most of those abstract words I talked about are Greek or Latin (boring and boringer).
What role does food play in your creative process? Do you have any weird and juicy food rituals?
I think the album I’m working on now has even more food references than my last. Yep. Just did a quick count. Eleven tracks with blatant food references (two with foods for titles), one where I say “keep me fed”, one where I call the girl “sugar”, and one instrumental. This is supposed to be a record about dating. Maybe that’s another reason why? Food and relationships are so connected for me. I’ll remember certain relationships directly tied to the kind of restaurants or drinks we were into.
In Mazda, Mazda you say “we danced to Motown/and drank some soy stuff gross I guess it’s low-cal.” What’s your opinion on the low-cal craze? Are you a celery and hummus kind of person or bacon fat and Cheetos?
When I’m writing or recording I’m very aware of how I eat. That doesn’t mean I eat healthy, but it means I won’t cook a big meal. Because it would take too long, and I would eat too much, and I would get sleepy. Instead I just forage out of my fridge. Lots of quick snacks. Carrots, apples and peanut butter, cheese, a glass of milk, pickles, bananas, cereal. I ate so many honey sandwiches during a heavy week of recording that it inspired me to name the album “honey and bread”. That being said I think we should probably eat the right amount of calories. And I would prefer to do that by eating less things, instead of less flavourful things. So yeah, I never buy “light” anything. Which I think really works nicely for an album about dating.
“Low-cal” rhymes in cool ways. I love rhyming “al” (cal) sounds with “ow” (town) sounds,because they are visually so different but aurally nearly identical. My favourite rhymes are like that.
If you had to write an album about a vegetable, what vegetable would you choose? What would be the name of the title track?
Vegetables, huh? Well, I like to eat carrots and avocados. And I’m drawn to the eggplant, because of their looks (I’m not sure if I remember what eggplant tastes like) and their name. Maybe it would be a love album, about a beautiful plant I will never taste. “I love you, but I can’t have you (because I’m scared you would be gross)” would be the title track. I expect a text from you this morning demanding that I try eggplant. Sorry.
Can you share a secret Mikey Maybe recipe?
Macaroni and cheese: noodles, BUTTER, milk, CHEESE (lots), black pepper, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, and NUTMEG.
To hear more of Mikey, go here.
CC Photography Courtesy of “Stormwarning” on Flickr.