The 18-year-old rapper bold enough to just be MIKE

The 18-year-old rapper bold enough to just be MIKE

“My whole plan was like, ‘Yo, hopefully I’m nice enough before I graduate high school’” “‘so now I don’t gotta go to college.’” 18-year-old Michael Jordan Bonema raps under an extremely simple name: MIKE. ♫ I see it in you, I see a god ♫ ♫ City of sons, city is dark ♫ ♫ Insidous art, grittiest parts ♫ ♫ Black as revolvers that tear me apart ♫ ♫ Pack me a soda and marry a cart ♫ ♫ 40 stops then I depart, 40 stops then I depart ♫ ♫ Straight from the park, uptown bound… ♫ His name is something of a red herring. Over the span of several mixtapes released over the course of a year, MIKE has emerged as one of rap’s more distinct young voices. ♫ You looting it all, 40 stops! ♫ His music depicts youth as both fraught and hopeful, with tracks full of introspective observations and soulful honesty. ♫ Bust my ass
Bust my head ♫ ♫ How I’m supposed to trust the path
That’s been doubling the stress? ♫ MIKE is a model of a different kind of internet-bred star, focused less on racking up numbers quickly and more on working to build something permanent. MIKE’s childhood was defined by transience. Born in New Jersey, he moved to England with his mother and two sisters when he was five years old. “I grew up in a house with girls, so I wasn’t really listening to real real hip-hop;” “I was listening to R&B and shit, like Chingy.” ♫ I like the way you do that right thurr ♫ “And if I was listening to hip hop, it was like Bow Wow.” ♫ Now I done been with different kind of girls ♫ “I didn’t really want to start rapping until there was this one night:” “I was watching this grime channel, Channel U in the UK.” ♫ If you try to clash this evil breh ♫ “This one rapper was really getting bars off,” “and then I was just like, yo, I gotta start rapping.” “And I remember running upstairs to my sister and just spitting some real dumb shit.” It would still be a few years before MIKE got serious about rapping. In the meantime, his life was uprooted again when he moved back to the U.S. “I moved from England to Philly.” “One thing I remember is that I had to use the bathroom.” “In England, when you gotta use the bathroom, you be like ‘I gotta use the toilet.’” “I asked the teacher, and they were like, ‘It’s kind of too much information.’” “It was just a lot of weird shit like that,” “like being in a different place and learning how to communicate, it’s always very crazy.” The difficulties of trying to communicate between cultures pushed MIKE to develop his own rap vocabulary and to find others who spoke his language. ♫ Grab mittens who have to spit blizzardous ♫ “13 to 15 years old, I was listening to Odd Future and just being a weird-ass little kid.” ♫ Niggas know that it’s the G-O-L-F-dub-A-N-G ♫ “I used to email mad people and not even have recorded songs.” “Just like send my lyrics over, and I was like ‘I’m like 14.’” It wasn’t long before he put out his first release, a six-track mixtape called Belgium Butter. ♫ Wake up in the morning
Start coughing, I’m yawning ♫ ♫ Blood on the tissue
That’s an issue, but I’m cautious ♫ ♫ Head into the shower
Then I scrub it down my armpits ♫ Around that time, MIKE moved to New York and found inspiration in a new group of friends. “Yo, I started off terribly.” “That’s sad.” “Cut!” Over time, they would develop their own collective, and they would call it sLUms. “We dealt with certain feelings.” “I guess that feeling of being alone.” “We all reflect over that shit all the time, and you can hear it in the music.” “It was just good to be around people that understood,” “and through that we created a really strong bond.” “Before sLUms was even on some music shit, we were just learning how to be friends,” “and then that’s when shit actually started coming together.” ♫ I’m always under the same hat
A troublesome pain that ♫ ♫ Is looking for payback
And trying to get paid ♫ MIKE’s music is infused with a political anxiety that comes from firsthand experience navigating the world as a young black man and as an immigrant. ♫ I’m a troubled child
Feeling like it’s God’s fault ♫ ♫ Head like a cloud
When I’m standing and the sky fall ♫ ♫ Niggas move around
Like my eyeball ♫ ♫ Swear this shit crack
But my nigga this is drywall ♫ ♫ Working on my craft again ♫ MIKE says he’s been separated from his mother for six years, ever since she took a trip from the UK to Nigeria and was unable to return because of complications with her visa. “They told her you can’t come into America.” “She’s literally been trying to do this shit for six years, and she gets to Dublin,” “and they’re like ‘No, it’s a dub.’” ♫ Boy, that’s nothing to me
Niggas stuck in the scene ♫ ♫ Niggas stuck in the scene ♫ It makes sense that there are themes of black liberation present in much of the work of the sLUms crew, all of whom share similar political viewpoints and who relate to the challenge of being a young person of color in America. To MIKE’s surprise, his music has even resonated with one of his early Odd Future idols: Earl Sweatshirt. ♫ Let’s run away my nigga ♫ ♫ From this past and the states my nigga ♫ “I used to look towards Thebe’s music as music I could look at and also relate it to myself.” “So to make music and see that he can relate to it,” “it’s like alright, I’m definitely on the right track.” “I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.” MIKE’s music has also been gaining major accolades from the music press, and his latest mixtape received a coveted Best New Music badge on Pitchfork. “That’s some coverage. That’s some fucking coverage.” “That’s insane.” But while MIKE nears the edge of blowing up, he has no plans to leave his crew behind. He sees them as an extension of his family. “For real for real, I’m trying to see all my niggas rich,” “I’m trying to see all my niggas doing good.” “There’s so many spaces I’ve been where I haven’t felt comfortable, my main shit is just like—” “We have the opportunity to give people spaces that they can feel comfortable in” “and do what they need to do, let’s do that shit.” “Building community — instead of building fame, building trust —” “and building love for the people around you will help you way more than blowing up.” But even beyond the confines of his crew, MIKE has a revolutionary mission. He’s currently on a three month trip to London where, for one, he’ll be reunited with his mother. He’ll also be recording his next project, an EP titled Renaissance Man. “It’s about going somewhere and finding and learning new shit” “and then bringing it back to your community” “and blessing them with the new techniques and technology.”

Comments (56)

  1. Where can I find his music?

  2. Dave…. google him

  3. meanwhile everyone else gotta mispell their name on purpose just to stay googlable

    hello chvrches and wavves

  4. shouts for this, love this dude

  5. i need that shirt tho

  6. MIKE the nicest on the mic

  7. Link to the first video

  8. This is crazy, Mike really coming up!

  9. Just found your video mate, absolutely love the content. Subscribed straight away, We should connect!

  10. so glad that you guys interviewed him. honestly he's a top 5 MC from the 2010s for me. his crew sLUms is so dope as well. the underground New York scene right now is just amazing

  11. What's the song that plays in the background starting from 5:10

  12. Boy change your name, I'm here to stay cuz

  13. i been fucking with MIKE for a minute

  14. whats the grime song they play at 1:41? shit slaps

  15. Ayeee last dude to be here was Kevin abstract and we all know how he's doing..Mike bout to blow up yall

  16. boards of Canada sheet

  17. Would it be wrong of me to compare this guy to MF Doom

  18. what hardware doest 6press have at 4:25 ?

  19. Subscribed.

    Keep putting up real stuff like this.

  20. whats the track @ 2:01

  21. a video like this on jpegmafia would be sick, id like to know a lot more about him

  22. The Outline spreads propaganda from the crisis acting cunt David Hogg…..thumbs down all around…ahahahaaa

  23. the other video from you with david hogg is a bullshit video. you are an idiot. the first sentence is a lie. the media never lets a good bullshitting go to waste, while you would have us believe they have always just moved along. when someone disables comments, it is clear that they intend to be full of shit.

  24. The project was called resistance man tho

  25. This man is making pure fucking gold

  26. The Outline is amazing

  27. make more videos like this

  28. Bruh. I'm beyond confused. How am I just now hearing about him? How was this published last year? How does this have less than 20K views? Why are there less than 50 comments on this joint? I love the UK rap scene. I love the Good co where this interview was shot. Why is he not on Spotify? Where did you find all this material? I'm so beyond confused right now.

    And yes when Mike blows up I will be there saying "I knew Mike before he blew up"

  29. love this guy. his music is so fucking raw and authentic..I rarely connect with artists that fast but soon As I heard pigeonfeet i was a fan. Big ups to MIKE and his whole crew! Y'all are so important

  30. who else landed here after earls gang of name drops on NOWHERE2GO?

  31. That being raised in a house full of women and only listening to R&B Chingey & Bow wow then later on stumbling on to Earl etc… Man literally read that outta my life. 😂 relatable.

    Edit: we both make music too, love to link up wit this guy and create something dope! ✊

  32. thank you earl! and MIKE

  33. What’s that first track where he on the roof

  34. My brother!!!! Okayyyy Mike i see you

  35. whats the track called in the beginging?

  36. wish it was like an hour long tho

  37. what’s the beat at 3:18?

  38. I found out about MIKE through that pitchfork interview with Earl and I’m fuckin glad I did. This man is too Dope to not be more poppin than he is.


  40. they got a clothing line? cant find anything on it.

  41. Just watched him open for earl and I was blown away

  42. mike my favourite rapper rn

  43. christophe bongo & crew are pushing the model for internet-bred artists.

  44. He's NOT A MUMBBLE RAPPER, that's great

  45. MIKE so fucking good

  46. MIKE is dope as hell .. very talented kat 🔥 glad I found this dude fasho

  47. If u care, Mic Righteous is the best in the England

  48. My favorite rapper at the moment. kid is a legend.

  49. Mike the best, 4real, im know

  50. mikes music is powerful man very powerful

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