DXnext: Mike Twice
East Atlanta's sensation talks about growing up around Funk, why he turned down deals to write his own raps, and what the Confederate flag means to him.
Mike Twice stands lyrically beside himself on his solo, DJ MLK hosted mixtape, Late Bloomer. The way he shifts and bends through cadences and styles and perspectives throughout, sometimes it feels like there is two of him spitting. Representing East Atlanta, Twice sounds equally at home over bounce-heavy 808 thumping bass-lines as as he does over ATL-certified extraterrestrial backdrops as he does over that classic boom bap -- kicking a blend of unrelenting bars of braggadocio and contextual relevance reminiscent of those two dope boys in a Cadillac. His mic sounds nice, Twice as nice as your average rapper. And Late Bloomer arrived right on time.
DXNext spoke with Mike Twice about his introduction to Hip Hop, his place in Atlanta Hip Hop, the studio home he owns and reclaiming the Rebel flag.
Introduction to Hip Hop: “To be honest, man, when I was four years old, my sister was probably about eight years old. She had to do a class project and they had to make up a rap. I remember being so fascinated with being able to give you a story but the words all rhymed. Since then, I was fascinated with it. I used to listen to the radio and put my own words into to it. That’s how I started off and eventually I started writing them from scratch. I was probably about six or seven. Me and my sister had a little group and everything. I can’t even tell you the name right now, man! [Laughs] This was 1980s. If people knew me and they were around me, they were always a little irritated with me because when a song came on the radio, if it was a Rap song, I knew the whole song forwards and backwards after hearing it twice. I remember I was probably about 11, man, and I had an older friend of mine come to me when we were outside in the neighborhood freestyling and he said, “Man, you realize that you are better than half the people on the radio?” He was like, “Man, we can really make it.” And my cousin was telling me the same thing. Since that day, man, I’ve never looked back.”
Three Stacks The G.O.A.T: “Growing up, man, of course all the old school stuff. But being from Atlanta, we had a lot of booty-shaking music going on down here. But I started kind of getting into the underground freestyle New York scene with the Lyricists Lounge. Back in the day in Atlanta, we used to have these underground radio stations that weren’t really stations. They used to play all kinds of Hip Hop, man, uncut. I just got into the whole thing. People from Slick Rick to Wordsworth to Busta Rhymes -- all the dopest emcees, man, no matter where they were from. I had this conversation with Big Rube from the Dungeon Family -- probably about five years ago, because my old producer used to do all the keyboards for the Dungeon -- and I had to let him know, man. He told me, he said, when Outkast came out he was [23 years old]. I said, ‘Man, when Outkast came out, I was nine!’ My favorite emcee of all time will always be Andre 3000, I don’t care what no body says. That’s one of my biggest influences right there.”
“The A” Today: “To be honest, man, I used to have that over-developed emcee complex about what was going on. But it’s something so deep going on in music right now that people don’t really see it. Our generation -- and I’m probably the last of that generation -- we liked Funk. We liked funky music. Dr. Dre was pulling from [Parliament] Funkadelic. Even Outkast, they were George Clinton. That generation kind of used our words to display certain feelings and to make people feel certain emotions whereas this next group behind us, they might not have any words per se, but it’s so deep, it’s the rhythm and the notes and the music that they display those feelings and emotions. It’s more subtle. I used to be one of those guys like, ‘Aw, I hate this shit! I can’t stand listening to the radio!” And I don’t listen to the radio. But when I really started studying it; when I really started listening I realized that this is actually amazing because this is something built in to their [generation]. It feels good when you sing it and you don’t even realize it. You might hate it, but there’s something about those notes. It’s kind of like a music theory type thing.
I’m the exact opposite of what’s going on in Atlanta. The movement can only be defined by what everybody is doing at the time. I know a lot of lyricists, we get the whole attitude about getting our just due. But I also realized that what everybody feels is what everybody pays for. Some people go out and they look for good music and stuff like that. But the mass majority of people like the music so we can’t really complain about the artists. I had to build up to that point of view [Laughs]”
The Late Bloomer: “I started school early so I was always around older people. I was moving at the same pace as those older people but there would always be something that I was a little late on because I was actually younger. I wouldn’t get any hair on my face until after everyone else. But the things that came late were always worth the wait. That’s how I came up with Late Bloomer. I turned down a lot of deals. When I was young, I turned down [a deal at] So So Def [Records]. I turned down Universal. I was always worried about getting put on the back burner or them not letting me write my own raps. That was the most important thing to me. At So So Def, when you’re young they won’t let you write your own raps. I think it’s about time that people hear me. I feel like people been waiting on this kind of project for a long time as an artist. I’ve got fans that have been waiting on this stuff for a long time. I just felt like Late Bloomer was a fitting name.”
On Owning Studio Space Atlanta: “That’s what people don’t realize about me. I went to school for media [at the Art Institute of Atlanta]. We got an 8,000 square foot facility. We got three different studios. We got the green screen, Studio 2 and Studio 1. Most of the big names come shoot here sometimes. They did the Dorrough “Get Big” remix here, Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade”. 8Ball & MJG did “DJ Bring It Back”. I’ve had the space for two and a half, almost three years.”
Reclaiming the Confederate Flag: “My whole thing was the Rebel flag and how for years it’s been used as a tool of fear. My metaphor was this: when Martin Luther King, Jr died, he saw these racist people chasing people around with this flag and if he came back after 30 years and see the same people getting chased around, he’d chase those racist folks back. This is our flag, now. This is my pain on this. My great great great grandmama used to build those plantations. I won’t ever let it be a symbol of fear again. So, I kind of embraced the Rebel flag. That’s been my whole persona for a long time: Rebel.”
Follow Mike Twice on Twitter @Mike_Twice