Mike Melinoe, born Michael Whitsett, is a 26 year old rapper and painter out of Detroit, Michigan who is now based in Austin, TX. His stage presence is out of this world. Check him out live at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, TX on July 29th.
When did you start rapping?
“Middle school but it really got serious as Mike Melinoe in 2012. I had a lot of different names so I kinda took it in a different route in 2012. It was super early though, it was trash though. You know what I mean? I was in middle school just thinking shit was cute and it was just really that bad.”
If you could describe your style in one word what would it be?
How did you settle on Mike Melinoe as your rap name?
“Me, my cousin, and my little brother were just having a conversation. I had been Nuckas Mcfly and was Mike Whitsett at the time. I was really searching. I was just trying to think about what imagery, my life, and what I wanted to portray in a sense. I was always taken back to my nightmares, something that always stuck with me throughout my life. I was like well let’s have the deeds of a good and bad, you know just coming from Detroit. I felt like the name had to be a balance of truly a theory of whatever happens in my life and that’s Melinoe, a greek goddess, it’s the bringer and source of nightmares. My mom was the only person to bring me out of that so that is the female perspective in a sense. I literally still have nightmares. But yeah, we were just searching the internet trying to figure it out. We wanted to be more in the greek mythology realm in a sense. Everything else was narrow within shit everybody else knew and cliche. Melinoe was something that stuck out with my name and it has a ring to it. I didn't even know it was going to be what it was. How it rings now is totally different than how we thought it was at first.”
What do you do outside of music that contributes to your musicality?
“Besides the artistic and visual interest because I'm always fucking working, um meditation and just trying to figure out more about me because I feel like that's just the root of it all going back to the book question. I just feel like I'm finding myself a bit more and I'm patient now and that works for me. I'm always soaking shit in but besides painting and just visual creative director and producing, it's probably meditation. Just trying to like figure out more and more about myself and just the human race and just the mind power”
If you could be a superhero, what would your superpower be?
“I would be some Nightcrawler. I probably obviously wouldn't call myself Nightcrawler, but I don't know what the fuck the name would be. I would just like to be able to teleport, you know, just like vanish to this and that. It’s just the tightest shit to me, just less walking. It seems lazy when I think about it now but like say I’m out here and I just vanish to Detroit real quick and come back.”
What inspires your music?
“My mom, my brother, my older brother, my little sister pretty much. Besides that family essence, just the growth of where I come from and the struggle literally and the aspirations I have always dreamed upon. But I’m like a big movie guy a little bit so you I like Quentin Tarantino, Scorsese, it’s just certain people that I adore and I just try to have this movie feel like theatrical momentum. But I’m really like a sponge overall like I’m inspired by everything”
If you had a autobiography what would it be called?
“Melinoe, because I feel like I found myself in that sense”
What is your favorite song of all the ones you have released ?
“The one I just released, not trying to sound cliche because it just came out, but “Her Name.” It represents me a bit more than any other song. I dropped it like yesterday but recorded it three months ago, but the style and the interest of it is still dated to what I am about to do months from now. It’s really just a curveball. I came from boom-bap and to drop that is like, oh okay. I also have some blues songs I haven't put out.”
What are you working on now?
“Man, I am actually focused on a tour right now, but I have my next debut like real project man. I am proud about that, it’s called “6” and that’s supposed to be dropped in the fall so I am just wrapping shit up right now. But yeah, we got shows but I am just trying to focus and grow as an individual and everything else that happens after that, as long as I am good mentally I dont give a shit about anything else “
Who's in your top 5?
“Andre 3000, Jimi Hendrix, Big L, Sade, and Al Jarreau”
If you did not become a artist what would you be doing right now?
“ Before I started making music, I played sports so I really wanted to be in the NFL or running track but that sucked. Besides that I don't really know man, I probably wouldn't even be here on Earth. I don't know, I would probably be miserable as fuck.”
What part of the music process do you enjoy the most performing or creating?
“They kind of go hand and hand. The creative process is quite intricate like I really want to know when certain things go here but when you are live it’s different. I’ve learned how to perform a bit better than a lot of my older performances. I feel like the performance gives it more existence and a personable essence in a sense. I’ve met people who just see me live one time and they just like my content and they buy into it in a sense rather than somebody who just listens to my music and have never seen me perform but just enjoys my content. I cater to both in a sense but performing is the shit dog. It’s like a whole ‘nother level to me. It’s like an out of body experience.”
What’s the most memorable show you have ever performed?
“Prague was very interesting because the first time I went it was a smaller stage then the second time was a bigger stage and more people knew about me and then I had autographs and it was a lot of other things and people were very attentive. It was more like a movie, long story short. I arrived at the airport literally super late, you know delayed bags, all this stuff. I had to go out and get the guy with my name on a little ipad but I couldn't find him for 10 minutes then I actually had to buy something from a local brand and I was getting some hoodies and stuff from that for a duration of like 20 minutes and then the function was probably like 40 minutes from that airport and I had to perform in like a hour. By time we got to the hotel it was like wash my sack for two minutes then you know go leave and run to the stage literally as soon as I got into the building, I was about to perform so it was really a fucking movie, that was kind of crazy on the low.”
What advice do you have for any upcoming artists?
“More so than anything, just stop trying to be everybody else and understand who you are in a sense.The more you know yourself, the more you'll understand if this is really for you and in the process don't always think about it as a money thing but also be smart because why wouldn't you think about money. Just think about the art, and the growth, and the progression of the story behind it. Think about it as a long term goal, I’m like 10 years ahead from now in my mind. Really just staying focused on understanding that you really want to do this and if you really want to do this, it’s not a hobby. This is a every fucking day thing, literally every fucking day”
I know that you are also a visual artist, what got you into painting? Where could we find this work?
“My girlfriend, she just kept asking me or telling me or suggesting that I should paint. She was pretty much just saying that I’m just aggressive, insensitive, you know like bottled up in a sense and she was like maybe you should release and I was like nah that shits not for me. Then one day I tried it and I cried damn near on canvas and I was on acid but like besides the actual acid, it was just like I was so unsure because we see art so when you’re actually trying to, you think about everybody else’s art and this doesn’t look good enough but that first piece was just like damn. This is really and its quite abstract big-ass faces laying on the floor just looks like tears on the canvas literally, and that’s how I described it. It’s therapy now. “
Mike’s art can be found here.
What do you hope the audience gets from your work? Either art or music?
“Just understanding man, the story of it. Like I literally started painting through what I just said but it also led me to a concept and a style. At first it was just random shit me just trying to do a stage or a bottle or anything but that shit just wouldn’t work for me and just basically if you put your time into it, if you really want it to happen, like it’s going to happen in a sense. I come from Detroit, from seven miles, I lived in like all these different places around Michigan and stuff and I was accustomed to a lot of different environments. I always kind of moved schools and stuff like that so I met a lot of people but I was also isolated so people who met me in elementary would be like “damn I would have never thought, like you were super shy.” I’m still quite shy but now I’ve just grown into this individual who’s just not afraid of anything. So listening to my music I really want people to just feel as free as possible more so than anything understand that this is obtainable if you really want it. If you’re a customer or just listen to whatever or someone that’s pursuing this content, or realm career-wise. Just understanding that isolation is very important and self is very important but you have to understand that goes with action. You just can’t think all day without doing shit.”