Mr. Mike
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Mr. Mike


Band Hip Hop R&B


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"Anotha Day Anotha Balla" South Circle (Suave)
"Wicked Ways" Mr. Mike
"Rhapsody" Mr. Mike
"Piping Hot" Mr Mike



The Road To Redemption 09/09/1999 10:00 PM, Yahoo! Music James Carter
If you dwell in or around New York or L.A., odds are that you only began recognizing a "legitimate" hip-hop scene from south of the Mason-Dixon about three years ago. But during the decade or so between the Geto Boys and Cash Money Click, a massive network of artists, producers, and independent labels laid the groundwork for Southern-tinged hip-hop, long before the first No Limit tanks rolled off the assembly lines. Mr. Mike is an MC who has been a participant in the South's musical rise, and has benefited from the attention the region has received as a result of the commercial success of the No Limit camp and the critical acclaim garnered by OutKast and Goodie Mob. In the early '90s, as part of the duo South Circle, Mr. Mike established a regional following that would support his first solo album, Wicked Ways, in '96. Despite the album's success, personal turmoil and problems with his former label led Mr. Mike to take a three-year hiatus from the music industry. Now he's back with a new album, Rhapsody, and an outlook enhanced by his stint away from the spotlight. "I've been away from the actual music industry for three years, and it gave me a chance to reevaluate things and to get a look at the industry from a different perspective," he reveals. "Now I'm more in tune with what I'm doing." While Mr. Mike admits to having a clearer vision of the direction in which he wants to take his music, he says questions about his commitment to his art are off the mark. "I've always been dedicated to my music," he insists. "But when people see the transition of an artist and they're able to make their work better, it's often looked upon as a re-dedication. If anything, the re-dedication was to my heart, and fulfilling what's in my heart." Telling poignant tales of urban life without the extreme comic-book bravado that has seemingly become the wack MC's cure for writer's block, Mr. Mike invokes common urban images of street life and uncommon elements of redemption with a verbal flair that breathes new life into familiar topics. Indeed, Rhapsody's 16 tracks provide insight as to what's in Mr. Mike's heart and on his mind, with lyrics that straddle hip-hop's thin line between sermons and eulogies. But Mr. Mike says the album's contents are simply a reflection of his personal and artistic growth. "I'm in tune to what I'm doing and to me," he explains. "I'm more spiritual and feeding myself with more information about what it's going to take for me to fulfill my destiny. And there are still more things I have to learn, even with my years of experience. I'm still seeking that knowledge and information from God--maturity, brotherhood, spirituality--that vibe we need to grow." Mr. Mike couldn't have picked a more ideal time to experience his creative rejuvenation. Considering the way commercial radio and television has embraced Southern rap acts recently, there has arguably never been a better time to be a Southern MC. "I feel like it's that time, and I hope there is [more opportunity for Southern rappers to be heard]," he says, "just for the sake of the spirits that's been there all these years and never had the opportunity to shine like some of the other brothers and sisters we see."