|Label:||American King Music|
|Twitter:||MIMS on Twitter|
It’s a universal fact of human nature that one’s own conscience is usually one’s harshest judge, and Platinum-certified recording artists are no exception to this rule. After scoring one of ‘07’s biggest hits with Music Is My Savior lead single “This Is Why I’m Hot,” and following that record up with the Booth-acclaimed “Like This,” you’d think East Coast emcee MIMS would have no trouble sleeping at night, but, as it it turns out, that’s not the case—in fact, he’s been feeling a few pangs of Guilt.
With the April 7th release of his sophomore studio album, the NYC native will introduce listeners to a more serious side of his artistic persona, but that doesn’t mean that he’s abandoning the minimal, percussion-driven formula that’s scored him his biggest hits to date. As demonstrated by Da Internz-produced lead single “Move,” Biggie-sampling street record “Bread N Butta,” and the recently-featured “Life of a Star,” Guilt is sure to please longtime fans in addition to transforming many of MIMS’ doubters into devotees.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” MIMS steps into the Booth to discuss how his monster debut single has affected his career to date, what lies at the root of his feelings of Guilt, and who he’s truly aiming to please with his forthcoming LP.
Listen to the Interview
MIMS Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an emcee who has claimed music as his savior, but has been experiencing a bit of Guilt lately. Gearing up for the spring release of his sophomore album, please welcome Capitol Records reocrding artist MIMS—how are you doin’?
MIMS: MIMS?! Z, you’ve gotta say it with me like that: MIMS?!
DJ Booth: MIMS?! Is that good?
MIMS: [laughs] Good enough, that’s good enough.
DJ Booth: You know, before you called, I was actually practicing.
MIMS: [laughs] It’s cool, man. How have you been, how’s everything?
DJ Booth: Everything’s good around here. I’m in Chicago, so usually when an artist calls me up, I complain to them about how much I hate the weather in my home city. You’re out in L.A. now, so there’s no need for you to tell me how nice it is.
MIMS: I love Chicago, though, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t care if it’s negative 40 degrees, I’ll be out there, man.
DJ Booth: But, moving along, I think you’ll agree with me that, although it might be unfortunate, most everybody associates MIMS with the guy who did, “This Is Why I’m Hot,” and, for those who do, in addition to those who lived under a rock for almost all of 2007 and don’t, I want you to reintroduce yourself to the world. Tell everybody, right now, in 2009, who are you?
MIMS: MIMS is an artist for the people. A lot of people obviously misunderstood me at the beginning of my career, with a huge record like, “This Is Why I’m Hot,” but I’ve always been an artist for the people, I’ve always been somebody who goes into the studio and made records that people can relate to, and people can just feel good about themselves to. You know, though I don’t compare myself to Barack Obama in any way, I think he’s a unique individual because of the way he can relate to people. And when you put me in a room with 10 people, chances are I’m going to learn about all 10 of them, and I’m gonna be able to relate to all 10 or conversate with all 10, even if there’s 10 different people. I think that that’s who I am: I think that, when it comes to this album, the Guilt album, comin’ out April 7th, that’s what it represents, and it’s gonna show people that side of me, and I think I’m gonna be able to win a lot of people over because of that.
DJ Booth: I’ve read a bunch of previous interviews that you’ve done, and it seems like you wanna make clear that “This Is Why I’m Hot,” and the overall sound of your debut album, is not all you have to offer this hip-hop game. So, two-part question: one, was all the income and the popularity that you saw as a result of the single worth the negative criticism that you know has been thrown your way, and, two, if you could go back and do it all over, before you dropped your debut, would you have rolled out with “This Is Why I’m Hot” as your introductory single to the world?
MIMS: I think that, as an artist, if you don’t face adversity or challenges that make you better, then you’ll always be stuck in a world where you don’t belong, or where you can’t be change.
DJ Booth: That’s the truth.
MIMS: All the greatest emcees have faced adversity and overcome it, and I think that’s no different from me and what I’m doing. So, for the second part of my question, [if you’re asking me] to go back and do “This Is Why I’m Hot,” would I do it again, I would do it a million times over. Not to mention, I would do Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, all the way up to Part 10, till the people were sick of it. I’m gonna try to reach for the top, I’m gonna hit that, set the bar right there, and I’m gonna always try to jump over that hurdle.
DJ Booth: As you mentioned and I did off the top, the title of the new album is Guilt. So, what do you feel guilty about?
MIMS: I think it’s more my attitude goin’ into recording the album. I could name a million things, and it’s not necessarily from a personal standpoint. It’s more or less from the way I think of how the economy has been financially on other people, as compared to how it’s been on me. You’re talking about someone who’s had a successful run for the last year and a half, two years. When I’m goin’ to the dealership, buyin’ my third car, and I’ve got people in my face sayin’ that they can’t afford to live in their home, that’s something that everybody has to think about at some point, and it has to cross your mind from an emotional standpoint, ‘cause you ask, “Am I doing enough? Should I be enjoying the spoils of my labor, and my hard work and determination, or am I not doing enough for the people out there?” And don’t get me wrong, I help a lot of people out, but I’ve also got to enjoy my life, and I think that’s the guilt emotion for me. With this album, I brought it back down to the people, I brought it back down to the people’s issues, and that’s all I can really say. That’s really what this album represents, and I think if somebody’s looking for an album they can relate to, give this one a shot, April 7th.
DJ Booth: MIMS, I wanna play devil’s advocate with you for a second. One of the songs that we talked about in the pre-interview [that will make the album] is entitled, “Life of a Star.” Don’t quote me precisely, but I believe the introduction of that single goes “Put your glasses in the air, it’s a celebration, b*tches!” Could you see how a line like that might be interpreted as hypocritical?
MIMS: That’s why I love you, man: ‘cause you ask the right questions, Z. This is what I want the people to know: if you listen to that song lyric for lyric, line for line, the way I end it is, “Each and every time, I invite the whole world to come and pop with me.” If you recall what I did with “This Is Why I’m Hot,” I said in the record, “I could sell a mil’ sayin’ nothing on a track” That whole song pretty much has that vibe for me. It’s a flossy song, it’s the glamor, it’s the glitz, it’s the money, but it’s also saying, “This is what I want everybody to have, and, as long as people can stop hating, everyone can get there.” That’s the difference in my approach, and when I went in the studio to write that record, that’s exactly what I wanted to hone in on.
DJ Booth: So you’d say it was a conscious move to make a song that really is more about inclusion for everybody, artist and listener, rather than just artist talking to listener.
DJ Booth: I think we both agree that the feeling of guilt, which is a universal feeling, usually leads a person to have some regret in some form. Are there any, in your life, that you have?
MIMS: No, I choose not to regret anything. I feel that guilt is more of a “now” emotion; regret is more of a past emotion. When you’re talkin’ in terms of regret, you’re talkin’ pretty much about your past, and things that you’ve done that you [wish] you wouldn’t've done. Everything I have learned from, even if it was the wrong thing at the time, and I probably wouldn’t do it again. That brings the guilt emotion, “Okay, I know the consequences of my actions, and I know what it has done, so, because I feel guilty about it, I’ll probably never do it again.” I don’t regret anything about my past, I’ll just say I’ve grown as a person towards a better future.
DJ Booth: No girls you shouldn’t have messed around with at the after party for one of your shows? None of that?
MIMS: [laughs] Nah… I’m real cautious when it comes to that, and, honestly, I do say this: when it comes to the actual business of music, and everything that comes along with it, I’m very well focused. I know what it means to be the person in the club, poppin’ the bottles and drinkin’ a little bit extra, and I don’t do a lot of those things ‘cause I’ve gotta get up at five in the morning to do radio, I’ve gotta be on a flight, I’ve gotta make sure that, when I’m in my interview, I’m focused. I need all the sleep that I can [get], and usually I don’t get a lot. From a business standpoint, I like to remain healthy, and while everybody else does that—I’m not knockin’ em—it just gets me a step further toward my goal.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk business for a second. A lot of industry insiders believe that hip-hop has become a ‘hit singles’ industry, and that the days of successful album releases really could be over pretty soon. If that were to happen, do you think that the industry and you could prosper long-term?
MIMS: I think that it’s a good thing that it’s turnin’ into what it is now, ‘cause, if you don’t remember, maybe 10 or 15 years ago-
DJ Booth: That’s how it was!
MIMS: Yeah, that’s how it was for hip-hop and, honestly, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, even the early ‘50s and ‘40s, that’s how it was for music, period: the world was driven [by] singles. You know, the hit records got determined because of singles. It’s hard to say, ‘cause, as an artist, I always wanna make sure that my albums sell. But then, you’ve just got to really figure out how to get the people to tune in to who you are. Because of what the Internet has given us, and because we don’t have to rely a lot on the big corporate world to get the music to the people, it says [that] if you work hard enough towards becoming a household name, then I don’t care if you’re on the biggest record label in the world or you’re on the smallest independent, you still have a shot at being a successful artist.
DJ Booth: It’ll level the playing field.
MIMS: Exactly. And let’s be honest here—I’m gonna say this even though I’m on a major label—it gets rid of a lot of the corruption that comes from people havin’ a lot of money, ‘cause now it’s not about the money, it’s about what the fans wanna hear, and what the public wants to listen to.
DJ Booth: Well, similar to another artist, Flo Rida, who joined me inside the DJ Booth last month, your debut did not necessarily generate the same sales as its predecessor lead single. So, on the new album, Guilt, did you create a plan of action to make sure that the sum of the project would hopefully be greater than its individual parts?
MIMS: Yeah, I think that it’s all a plan. I think that “Move” was obviously the startup record for the album, to get people back in the groove with a very club-friendly record as well as a very car-friendly record, the video is amazing. The next step now is to release more music, and show the people that I have that versatility. I plan on releasing two viral videos. One is actually to the [title song] of the album; [it talks] about the album, my emotion going into recording it, and just my mindstate as an individual right now, very similar to what we’ve already conversated about on this call. I’m releasing the second single shortly. I’m actually tryin’ to release more than one single at one time. I don’t think it’s ever really been done from an artist in my position, but I think it’s important that the fans see that there’s a record on this album for everyone. I have the “One Day” record which might strike the world, I have the “Move” record which might be something for the streets. There’s so much music on here that you can relate to that I think one individual’s gonna be able to listen to this album from beginning to end. I know a lot of people say that, just because that’s how they sell their music—I’m proving it. If somebody wants to go listen to my album on the Internet before they buy it, just to see if I’m tellin’ the truth, go ahead! ‘Cause I know for a fact that this is gonna be an album that, when you pop it in, from the beginning up until the end you’re gonna get nothing but consistent versatility. And I know those two words don’t belong together.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Yeah, I can see how a lot of people might think that it’s an oxymoron but, hopefully, on this new album, you will prove them wrong. It’s dropping in April, so if we were to have a phone conversation in, let’s say, the first week of May, what do you hope we’re talking about at that point?
MIMS: What I really want from this album is I want the tastemakers to give me my credit. I challenge them to go listen to this album thoroughly. The success, the sales, I’ve done that with the first project, and I will always fight to do that on the second project, but bigger than that to me is the respect value, because, what a lot of people [said about] my last project is, “I liked the ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ song, but I don’t think MIMS is a lyricist,” or “I don’t think MIMS is an artist, and I think that he doesn’t know how to rap.” I did a lot of music on the last project that they could’ve listened to and said, “You know what? This guy actually has something with him,” and a lot of people did do that, but if you didn’t do that, and I’m here delivering a sophomore album and I’ve got the opportunity to do this, which a lot of artists don’t get, then I just want my credit; I want people to say, “Look, man, I was wrong about him.” As many haters as I have, if I can get enough of them to go and tell the world, tell a friend to tell a friend, then I’ll probably surpass a million albums easily.
DJ Booth: You know what, though? Even if these haters are not telling a friend to tell a friend about the album, they’re talking about you, and someone’s gonna hear and someone’s gonna be interested, so either way you’re gonna get fans. But I’m with you; hopefully this release will change the perception of MIMS the emcee. Give everybody a website, a MySpace page, something so they can find out more about you and, of course, the brand new album, Guilt.
MIMS: Yeah, definitely. If anybody wants to check me out, you can come to my actual website, which is mimsmusic.net. It’s actually a portal for all the different websites I have.
DJ Booth: Thank you so much for joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth and I wish you, my friend, nothing but the best of luck.
MIMS: Z, I appreciate it. You know what? We definitely have to have this conversation in May.
DJ Booth: That sounds nice, and we can even start that conversation off by playing “Life of a Star,” and you can say, “Put your glasses in the air. It’s a celebration, b*tches!”
MIMS: [laughs] Yes, sir!