Listening to Product Of Environment by Mike will almost certainly inspire hope in you that, despite some current trends, the future of hip hop is in safe hands.
Mike’s background is one of struggle and perseverance, and you can hear this in his music – his spoken word approach is passionate and lyrically thoughtful; always relevant to current times and issues, and always offering this up from a personal, honest perspective. The opening track A Hood Tale is in and of itself the perfect antidote to mindless rap music. This is conscious poetry, with depth, with purpose, no instrumentation necessary, and he presents it in an intelligent and totally captivating way.
Concrete Kingdom follows the opener and brings rhythm and a fascinating, atmospheric soundscape to the stage. On top of this, or rather, woven in among it, Mike’s flow and wordplay reach new heights as he well and truly delves into the art of performance and writing united. It takes a couple of listens to rightfully catch every line and see this for the work of art that it is. The energy is immense, the drama, the music and the vocals vary and evolve throughout – always passionate, always interesting, and always holding tight to your attention.
Afterwards, H.U.I.D sees the EP lean in more of a modern hip hop direction. The repetition of the hook has the feel of today, the verses though refuse to simplify – the rap flow is insanely good, high energy and intense at every step. The latter half sees the lyricism explode into life, Mike barely pausing to breathe, presenting weight and power and a definite sense of confidence and belief in everything he spits.
Holding tight to threads of realness but gracing the stage with eclecticism nonetheless, the song Sincerely, lets a jazz-like, spacious ambiance pour through. This collaboration with Lincoln brings a soulful touch of further calm. The song grows to be incredibly emotive and soothing in presentation. The rap verse has a cool but equally calm sense of movement to it, the beat too follows its own unique yet chilled-out pathway. Both voices bounce off of one-another subtly, crafting before you a well structured piece that underlines impressive, compelling storytelling skills. There’s a blissful softness to this one that’s really well placed at this point on the project, though it’s somewhat fleeting. As the darkness comes through, Mike delivers it with increased angst, and this too is cleverly contrasted with the calmness of the featured melody.
This kind of music is exactly what hip hop needs right now. The effort, the intelligence, and the creativity of it all is on point, refreshing, and incredibly impressive.
On the latter half of the EP, For The Fam brings a mellow groove and a heartfelt story-line that provokes thought and expresses crucial values that let you get a little closer to the man behind the music. BX Freestyle afterwards offers a fast-paced moment of absolute lyrical outpouring, as the title seeks to suggest. Again, you need to listen more than once, but the classic and crisp aura of the music makes that an easy thing to do – all of these tracks wind up being fairly addictive as you try to capture every line and get a better grasp of what it’s all about.
At the penultimate moment, Capone is a more theatrical, playful and dark piece. Still Mike strength-trains his lyricism throughout. Celebration follows and brings the project to a close with a widely accessible song that reaches out to just about anyone. Celebrate the good and the bad alike, witness the song as it emerges before you – the classic colors and vibrancy have an uplifting aura. The rap flow is more humble, chilled out, playful. The music and the melody work well at this final hurdle and add a further dash of eclecticism to an already fascinating and fully loaded EP. An unmissable project offering bold promises of a smarter, mightier future for hip hop.