Arts and Culture

Midas Still Has the Golden Touch

Denver rapper Midas, the man with the golden touch.
Brandon Tormanen
Denver rapper Midas, the man with the golden touch.
Nearly ten years ago, the artist known as Midas went by the moniker Mr. Midas. Born in Long Beach as Gary Johnson, the Denver-based rapper dropped the "Mr." from his name about five years back.

"To be honest with you, it was like, 'No more Mr. Nice Guy,'" Midas says of the name change. "I was a little too nice during that time, so I took it away for a mindset." Over the past decade, a whole lot has changed for Midas. But his dedication to making music that reflects his life has remained steadfast.

Midas began writing music as a child, as a way of processing the tumultuous environment he grew up in. "I was raised in a drug-infested area; drugs were all around me," he recalls. "But I was a smart kid, so I've always been expressive, and the best way to express myself was to write it down. I actually started off writing haikus, and my haikus started turning into music. My first raps were about drugs, about the stuff that was going on around me and in my community."

Midas now has children of his own, and while his music has matured and evolved since those early days, his inspiration hasn't wavered.

"I think I'm a lot more lyrical. I don't feel like my content has changed, because my content has been kind of the same since I started. I've always talked about myself, my family, my own situations, before I got into anybody else and what they were doing," he says. "I'm still in those areas; I'm still around the same type of people I was around then, so a lot of those things haven't changed. A lot of the issues I grew up with still haven't changed. So I think I'm still inspired by real people, real situations. Not everything is so peachy. I talk about the good and the bad."

With his latest two singles, "Amazing" and "Know Frauds," Midas is embracing the good. "I spent a lot of time in Miami. That's where my business partner is, and I really love the Miami scene and sunny days. I was out there in January, and I was in Trey Songz's studio just making music, and these were two of the singles that emerged," he says about his recent releases. "I haven't dropped anything in about a year or so, so I just wanted something I could come back with and have fun. It doesn't really have corona content, and it's not about Black Lives Matter or anything. It's just about me having fun. We got off a couple of ’shrooms and we made it happen. And that's really what it was. It was such a vibe. I was like, 'If they like it, they like it, and if they don't, they don't.' I've never been like that, but this is a time I was."

Midas's two new singles, "Amazing" and "Know Frauds," show a sunnier side of the rapper. - COURTESY OF MIDAS
Midas's two new singles, "Amazing" and "Know Frauds," show a sunnier side of the rapper.
Courtesy of Midas
That attitude allowed Midas to let go of some of the pressure to live up to his past successes.

"Sometimes I overthink my music," he says. "Like, as an artist, once you have some success, it kind of messes everything up, because then you start gauging everything by that. Like, how do I make this song better than the last one? How do I top what I've done before? And you never really get that."

What we do get with these two singles is a carefree, club-friendly, confident Midas, unaffected by self-doubt and the comments of naysayers.

Midas had big plans to celebrate his first releases in over a year by dropping them on his birthday, March 30. But as he explains, things didn't exactly go according to plan:

"In January, I finish the songs and start planning — like, I have this big press thing done, and I'll have the videos done by this day, we'll set it up so it comes out this way — and life goes, 'It doesn't matter what you want.' That's life."

On March 22, just a week before the release of "Amazing" and "Know Frauds," Midas was rushed to the hospital for emergency open-heart surgery. The doctors said that if he had waited any longer to come in, he probably wouldn't have survived.

Video shoots, press events and release parties were out of the question, and Midas was put on bed rest. Now about halfway through his recovery, he's still adjusting to his new daily life.

"It's just been me trying to build up my strength since then," he says. "I'm recovering; I lost about thirty pounds. Mentally it's really tough, because I'm not doing anything, just sitting in bed and watching everything — everything affects me. They said it takes about six to eight weeks for you to start feeling like yourself, and I'm about a month in right now, so hopefully in the next few weeks I'll start rounding out. I wish I could tell you a fairy tale about it, like, 'Yeah, I'm fine!' But no. It's tough," he says. "That's the catch-22 with all this. I'm happy to be alive, but if I'm just happy to be here, I won't have the motivation to get up. It's like, 'Take it easy, take it easy,' but if you don't push yourself, your body will get used to not doing anything, and the recovery will be even longer."

Prior to his surgery, Midas was used to juggling many different projects at once.

"I've still been making music," he says. "I also started a company called the Doobie Club, and we do a lot of apparel. My mind is set from a business aspect. I've been behind a couple artists: 2une Godi from Cheyenne, and also my daughter, Mai Mai Sanai. Just trying to be a pillar still, trying to be the OG around here to some of the artists. I have a radio show, Doobie Club Radio. I have a podcast called Don't Read the Comments. I'm just trying to stay active, working with the community, coaching football. I'm still real active out here; my name still rings a bell."

Midas started the Doobie Club in 2015, after releasing a song with the same title inspired by Denver's cannabis culture.

"I did a song called 'Doobie Club,' and the song was basically about Denver. I've been smoking, and my friends and my DJs and the people I've been around have been smoking, and when you're around us, you just know that you're probably going to be around marijuana," he says. "It became like a club. When people came out here to visit me, it was like, 'Welcome to the Doobie Club, welcome to Denver, Colorado.' So that's where that came from. It turned into a song and into apparel."

Midas's Doobie Club line includes hats, T-shirts, sweats and more. - COURTESY OF MIDAS
Midas's Doobie Club line includes hats, T-shirts, sweats and more.
Courtesy of Midas

As a longtime cannabis consumer, Midas wanted to create a brand that catered to smokers like himself who defy the stereotype of a typical pothead.

"The Doobie Club is really about the difference between a stoner and us," Midas explains. "We're not stoners. When you think of stoners, you think of people who sit around all day and smoke. That's their occupation. But I like to call us the sophisticated smokers. It's part of a regimen, but it doesn't stop anything. It actually pushes the narrative more than anything. That's the Doobie Club."

In addition to the Doobie Club, Midas started a podcast late last year featuring himself, Sofiyah, Jude and Matthew Roberts. "The Don't Read the Comments podcast is on the AHRR Network. I'm building it as if it's a radio show. It's a podcast, but it was built with The Breakfast Club in mind. That's my favorite; I just love the way they bounce off each other. Everybody kind of plays their role, and that's how my show was built," he says. "Where the name came from is, a lot of people tell you, 'Don't read the comments,' because that's where a lot of the hate is. But it's also where the funniest stuff goes on. So I take statuses from Facebook, Instagram, different social media sites, and I find the comments that are just hilarious, and that's what we talk about."

Despite being temporarily sidelined to get his health back up to snuff, Midas continues to hustle, and will be dropping more new music before summer. "It's a song called 'Free,' with A Meazy and Wil Guice," he hints. "I wanted to have a song that's a lot more about life and what's going on right now. It's a lot more serious than the other two, and the content sounds almost like a church hymn."

"Know Frauds" and "Amazing" are available now for streaming and download on all music platforms. You can also show Midas some love by shopping the Doobie Club collection, or listening to the Don't Read the Comments podcast.