Michael ‘Mic’ Stewart
Mic Stewart, you might have heard of him. Perhaps you heard that he won the Red Bull Emsee Competition in 2011. Or perhaps you’ve heard his re-mastered release, The Equilibrium. Maybe you saw his name on a shared bill with Questlove last summer.
Either way, Mic Stewart will soon be playing on every radio station in the country. Up and coming isn’t big enough for him. He’s come and he’s not going back.
I had the opportunity to interview Michael and was pleasantly surprised at how well spoken, genuine and passionate he was. Stewart started listening to Hip Hop around age 12, and has been writing since 15 and recording since 17. Sounds like a normal upbringing to me. His dad was a major influence in his rhyming at an early age when he would drive Stewart and his brothers to baseball.
“He would listen to rock and make up his own lyrics to the songs,” Stewart said “Then I started singing to my dad and making up my own rhymes.”
When some new kids moved to his neighborhood in Royersford, PA, Michael started feeling comfortable showing his writing off to his friends.
“They rapped about drug dealing, gang banging and moving brick. That’s where I learned the street dialect. I was freestyling and battling kids in the lunch line at 15.”
Having his brothers so close in age with him, he immediately had large audiences. At his first show he made $2500. It was then that he knew he had a gift, as did his family who have always been supportive. Even when he dropped out of college in his last semester to pursue his dream, his family supported him.
“Music has always been # 1. Song writing and music is my everything.”
When I asked how successful he wanted to get, he replied ”I’ll take it as it comes if it’s a good thing. I’m not desperate. I have a very strong team and loyal supporters. But my intention is to reach as many people as possible.”
A Self-proclaimed “scholar of Hip Hop”, Stewart mentions that he doesn’t always listen to Hip Hop for pleasure. He studies Hip Hop. When he’s not writing, his favorite music to dance to is funk.
“I like Rock too. I like hipster pop. It’s so euphoric. I like Mumford and Sons. I like that single by Gotye. It’s so palatable.” The single he’s referring to is “Somebody I Used to Know.” I like that single too.
I moved on to ask him about his thoughts on influencing his generation. He touches on how kids these days are so overstimulated with info all the time and finding a need to fit in.
“I think a lot of the violence today is from following the crowd. I have faith in myself and God. With those two things I can do anything. I want people to take stock in themselves and realize their beauty.”
This brings us to the message of his album.
”Nobody knows, including myself. I try to place weight and conviction that you don’t know. I don’t know and I’m ok with that but I’m also no dummy.”
Well put coming from someone who has been managing and booking himself since 17.
“It’s a really ugly scene in general. One thing I hate about the Philly scene are these industry showcases with ticket schemes.” He’s speaking of showcases were they bring in a large handful of artists, make them sell an unrealistic amount of tickets and in the end make them pay to entertain old A & R reps that no longer have a hand in the business. “They don’t filter the bill. Nobody has fun.” He mentions how these showcases are “praying on aspiring artists and not helping them grow. “
“Do NOT pay to play. I repeat! Do NOT pay to play!”
In the world of music these are wise words to live by and his success says it all. Backed by Samlive, a collaborator and producer whom he met in college as well as other friends and musicians, Mic Stewart’s The Equilibrium is fresh and engaging. Black Thought from The Roots came up as a huge influence. He says he uses Black Thought as “one of my measuring sticks as an Emsee.” Rightfully so.
So check this kid out. You won’t think this is just another rapper. You will see this kid as an artist. Hands down.
And Black Thought, if you’re reading this, how about a collaboration?