When the crack epidemic hit the streets in the '80s, it changed the social constructs of a generation. Not only did it birth a legion of children with addicted parents, but from Jay-Z to Rick Ross, it also served as thematic fodder for some of rap's biggest names. Like hip-hop, crack completely changed the game.
Mr. Midas is using this understanding to speak on the ills of society with poetic tones and the golden touch. Son of the Crack Era, his new album, which is slated to drop this winter, will surely further the incessant love-hate relationship embedded in the theme of addiction within hip-hop. We spoke with Midas recently and got some insight on his new album, about being an actual son of the crack era and his thoughts on hip-hop unity.
Westword (Ru Johnson): You're from Long Beach, California. What brought you to Colorado?
Mr. Midas: Change of scenery. I was getting into trouble in every unorthodox way possible. My grandparents lived out here. I came to visit and wanted to stay. I went home and came back three months later. Its been Colorado since.
Ww: Were you rapping and creating music in Cali?
MM: Absolutely. I always wrote. I come from a very expressive family. I was just coming into my style and what direction I wanted to go with my music when I moved. California shaped and molded me into what I am today. We have a different principle out there. The things that make sense to us don't necessarily make sense to the rest of the world, and we like it that way. That's Cali. That's Midas.
Ww: In what ways did your style change when you moved locations?
MM: Colorado made me hungry with this rap shit. I eat rappers alive, but I make songs, also. The key is making songs. I came here not knowing a soul, and look at me now. In L.A., we really don't have an independent scene. The Bay does, but L.A. doesn't. I don't think people realize the Bay is eight hours away from L.A. It's virtually a different state. Colorado has similar qualities to the Bay, except for the support. If you can get a name in Colorado, then you can make a name anywhere.
Ww: How did the CO Unity series come about?
MM: Colorado rap is really, really segregated. I'm just trying to bridge the gap between the genres. There's an enormous amount of talent here; that's fine. The key is the grind and how you build and establish your brand, not only in Colorado, but across the world, and networking is key. Somehow artists think A&Rs appear on doorsteps after hearing them rap on MySpace or from a link on Twitter. Its hilarious to me.
Ww: We covered that show [##COHIPHOP Unity Concert 2], and noticeably, there were very few women in attendance and participating in the show. Why is that?
MM: Actually, Mirage was scheduled to perform a spoken-word piece, and she was held up due to issues beyond her control. The first concert was hosted by Rukus, Denver's premier comedian/spoken-word artist, and she rocked it. Getting women in attendance is always a challenge. I think hip-hop doesn't have the best rapport with women in Colorado. Who wants to worry about whether this gang is going to get into it with this gang, or if they'll be shot just trying to have a good time? Women want to get dressed up to look good. Its hard to run in high heels!
Ww: What are the specifics with your new album, Son of the Crack Era?
MM: This is my baby. This is Midas at his best. Since my first album, I have never been afraid to tell all about my life and my hardships, right or wrong. I think it's what makes me different from all the artists you hear today.They talk about x pills like it could be the new crack. Impossible. The effects of crack are a lifetime, and they affect families and family structures. The government put crack in our neighborhoods to ruin our people, and we jumped head-first.
We are people of long suffering. I come from drug-addicted parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends. Seeing my mom like that is enough to bring tears, even now. I don't condone or condemn the lifestyle. I know what it's like to have no food and no money. Life's tough. Survival is not for the weak-hearted.
Ww: In hip-hop, the tales of crack infamy are often told. What will be different about your style?
MM: Exactly. Nobody talks about the crack-addicted babies. Nobody talks about the Rockefeller laws that put our young men in jail for years and years at a time. There are so many people touched and affected by crack. The bravado thing is to say you sold the most drugs. What is the story behind it, though? How do you get to the point when selling dope to black women is okay? The album is a case study for me. I lived this. I am the son of the crack era. The era made me who I am today.
Ww: Who handles most of your production?
MM: I have so many producers from so many places, it's bananas. Its a blessing to be able to call on so many talented people. This album, I've got Big Krit [Def Jam], Beat Boxerz, Fero Navi, TC Crook, Cavalear, Drew Grant, DJ Quote, Aaron Perry, Mass Prod, Spook Doc, D Boy, Graffitti Black, John Childs and a couple of surprises.
Ww: Not only are you creating an album, you're working on a film as well. What are the specifics?
MM: Well, I can't really talk much about the film for legalities, but it's a documentary about the crack era and how it came of age in the '80s and did the most damage to every predominantly black community in America. Look it up. The same thing that happened in L.A. happened in Denver. The same thing that happened in New Orleans was happening in Dallas and Milwaukee. It's more than a coincidence. It's long overdue, and the significance shouldn't be understated. You cant fight the problem until you admit you have one, and our government could learn a little from the 'hood and how we operate.
Ww: Describe the "Midas touch." Has it ever backfired?
MM: All the time. The downfall of King Midas is, he had all this gold but couldn't even share it with his family and closest loved ones. This music is my gold. It's my gift and curse. I need it, and at the same time, my family needs me. It's something I'm trying to come to terms with the more accolades I receive.
Ww: "Run My Town" appears to be a hit. What does running one's town entail, exactly?
MM: "Run My Town" is doing its thing. Thank God for that. I just do the songs, put them out and hope the people jump on board. This time, they did, and I love them for it. Running your town means that you're a star where you're from. You may be a nobody in the next town over, but this town is all yours. I get love from everybody everywhere. Every race, gang, socio-economic background, everybody. I just wanted to bring it to life in a song. Stunna Liquer in Atlanta has picked the song up as their official Stunna Liquer song, and we'll be shooting the video soon.
Ww: Are you concerned with the competition of others who are just as adept to run said town?
MM: Absolutely not. You're supposed to feel that way. If you don't, then what are you here for? Hip- hop is competitive. I'm fully aware of the eyebrows my song raised. It's like, "He's not even from here." Who said it was Denver I was talking about? I don't make music for the "locals." I make music for the world. Get on board or get off the train. Nobody can see me in my lane. NOBODY. I don't fear you guys. I love you...
Ww: Why does hip-hop need to be unified, and why are you the person to do it?
MM: Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. I'm just playing my part. I would like to see it happen, but it's bigger than me and my plan. I'm with whoever shows me love. I'm willing to do anything if it helps the scene in the long run. People are just too stupid to understand it.
Ww: Top five local rappers, dead or alive: Go.
MM: Young Doe, Rockie, Dr. Jeuss, Damon Jevon and me.
Ww: Rakim or Tupac?
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MM: Cut it out...Tupac Amaru Shakur...Wes Wes
Ww: Nas or Az?
MM: AZ. He's a beast. He never gets his due, just like me. Time's a-changing.