BET Music Matters alum Mickey Factz made his name by flooding the Internet with music before it was status quo. The Bronx native has earned accolades including a spot on XXL’s Freshmen Class of 2009 thanks to his highly artistic approach to music and his willingness to stand out from the crowd. Factz newest project, Mickey MauSe, was released on March 26 and is the latest example of Mickey’s unique brand of hip hop. Through a fictional '80s graffiti artist named Mickey MauSe, Factz paints a picture of the best and worst of times in 1980s New York City. BET.com spoke with the Internet-savvy MC to get his take on hip hop on the web, his Tumblr and how he feels about every rapper and their mother shouting out the artists he’s been idolizing for years.
BET.com: What can fans learn about you from your Tumblr?
Mickey Factz: Mickey Factz is an artistic artist. Someone who is visually inspired by different images. And Tumblr is probably the best way for me to communicate with my fans aside from Twitter. To let people see what I’m going through and what I’m feeling visually. So you get a quick understanding of Mickey Factz as a person. You may see pictures of Warhol, Keith Haring or Bruce Lee or Malcolm X — people that were influential in my life. I don’t go on Tumblr to post naked women and things like that. I may have celebrity crushes that I might post, but for the most part it’s just a lot of influence that I love to post on Tumblr along with my music and things that I’m dealing with.
Right now it’s en vogue to shout out Basquiat and make other references to high art. How do you feel about that trend and hip hop’s newfound interest in the art world?
It’s definitely something that is endearing to hear bigger artists speak on Basquiat, I just feel his name shouldn’t be used because it’s the cool thing to do. At least do some research on who Basquiat is, who he was and what he represented. I’ve been saying Basquiat’s name for the past five years — y’all can fact check that. But aside from me just dropping Basquiat’s name, I drop Salvador Dali’s name and Keith Haring’s name… I’m not just a particular fan of one artist because Jay-Z happened to mention him and everybody’s going crazy about it. I prefer to do my research on who the artist is and actually go to museums to see their art in person. I’m not someone who just wants to live off a dead artist's name because somebody popular mentioned [them].
What were you trying to accomplish with your “Avant Garde” video?
It’s just basically getting a backstory of the character that I created named Mickey MauSe, who was a street graffiti artist in the '80s who grew up around Basquiat and Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. [He] was sort of under these guys. If Mickey MauSe was a rapper, that would be his freestyle track. It was basically me giving a back story to who he was… Mickey MauSe is a character that I created to kind of tell the world a story about someone who was underappreciated, overlooked, but extremely talented. It’s basically Mickey Factz telling Mickey MauSe a story, and Mickey Williams [Mickey’s government name] telling Mickey Factz a story. So, it’s just congruent issues that happen in this whole project. It plays out like a movie/soundtrack and everything is basically relative to my life as well. With the exception of some of the things that happen later on in the tape.
How does the concept carry on through the whole tape?
I tried to basically make a bunch of references to the '80s. There’s no new metaphors, no new references, this isn’t 2012. Instead of Jeremy Lin on the Knicks, I speak on Kenny Walker and Bernard King. I speak on the fact that these guys have beepers and big cell phones instead of smart phones… I really just want to educate people on this particular art space and time. Because, like you said, people are using the name Basquiat and not really knowing what he represented and what he was about. So the story is basically not just my story put into a graffiti artist, but is it also a story of a Basquiat and a Keith Haring because I read their autobiographies to gain knowledge to put this project together.
What are your strongest memories of the '80s?
I was a child back in those days. So the most that I remember of the '80s is the music, the clothing — Jordan’s were definitely popular towards the end of the '80s. Crack, I used to see crack pipes in the streets. One of my aunts was on methadone, so I never knew why she was always tired, but I saw it. That image always stuck with me. And wrestling always stuck with me, like Hulk Hogan and things of that nature. So that era was a very raw and gritty era in New York City.
You were a pioneer for hip hop as far as leading the culture into the Internet space. How do you feel about the Internet’s role in hip hop right now?
I definitely feel the online Internet presence has oversaturated what we have as far as quality goes. But in terms of just where it’s heading, I think it’s headed to the right spot. As long as the kids continue to be as creative as possible and not try to create a fantasy world or image in regards to a gimmick. As long as everyone’s creative and being themselves, hip hop is going to continue to flourish in the public eye.
You mentioned the oversaturation; it’s ironic because, as a trailblazer on the web, you’re kind of to blame for it. Look what you’ve created.
[Laughs] I was thinking about that literally like 15 minutes ago. Like, wow, if I wasn’t the first I was definitely the second to kind of spearhead the movement of putting out music at a rapid pace. When it was kind of unheard of. And I feel like now, people have taken my blueprint and gone crazy with it. Me putting out a song a week and then a video and changing up my pictures online, that was almost unheard of. Now, people put out songs almost every other day. A video every week. And it’s not just one artist, it’s every artist.
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(Photo: Courtesy Jive Records)