“I’ve always grown up being breakfast boy,” Milwaukee-based rapper Mic Kellogg says to me over the phone. “At school, people literally called me cereal box. I even got Tony the Tiger tatted on my side.”
While Kellogg bears no relation to the cereal company, his name became the vehicle for his first project Breakfast.
“Breakfast, that came really naturally for me. Kellogg is my real last name—Kellogg was always just like prominent in my life growing up. My parents collected Tony the Tiger cereal bowls and shit; there’s Kellogg-inspired memorabilia all over my house, so I feel like breakfast in itself is just me.”
The first cut Kellogg recorded off the 2015 tape was the title track. Featuring Milwaukee singer Siren, the song is a simple and serene homage to the morning meal, and to Kellogg’s family life. His friends latched onto the track almost immediately, repeatedly singing a line from the third verse, where Kellogg boldly declares, “I’m breakfast.”
“[I saw] that the song was something more, and this was even before I decided to have an album," he says. "I just had the single, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is definitely my movement in a way, and I should just keep going.’”
Now, almost two years later, Breakfast still remains his only project. In lieu of a new tape, over the course of a five-week period—from February 6 to March 6—he took it upon himself to release one track every Monday: “Sometimes,” “Hideout,” “Grace,” “Like This” and “Up.”
Releasing singles in this manner reflected Kellogg’s own attention span, and also largely mirrors how listeners consume music today. The music cycle moves quickly; an album that’s released today might not garner much attention tomorrow, and Kellogg sees that.
“I’m a single person, I like to listen to music fast in a way,” he says. “I just figured doing a song at a time made more sense—people actually take a little bit more time to like listen to the song rather than just like skip through it, trying to get through the whole album.”
Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, Kellogg didn’t take much interest in music during his childhood. But much of that changed in 12th grade when he took a year-long class called Hip-Hop Studies—he learned the art of producing and songwriting, as well as hip-hop history. That year, he got his first machine and began making beats.
Still, as he recalls, he was “caught up in other dreams too.” After high school, he ended up moving to Breckenridge, Colorado just so he could ski; he would ski during the day and study beatmaking at night. But he ended up tearing his ACL and injuring his collarbone. “My body couldn’t do it. I was just pushing it, and I ended up getting really hurt. I think that’s what shifted me into like, ‘Oh well, maybe I should put more time into making music.’”
Through friends, Kellogg connected with Milwaukee rapper WebsterX, who encouraged Kellogg to move into WebsterX’s apartment in Milwaukee and make music together. In the summer of 2014, Kellogg packed everything up and drove back to Wisconsin.
“Linking up with [WebsterX], like his sort of ambition—he was so serious about [music],” Kellogg says. “He didn’t even have any songs out, and like his creation process just sparked something in me. ‘Cause originally, when I moved in with him, we were working on a joint project… But then he just told me like, ‘Yeah, I really think we should just do our individual thing.’ He just inspired that in me, that I can do this without anybody’s help.”
Now, Kellogg has found his musical footing on his own, first with Breakfast and now, with his latest batch of songs. But with the newest singles, he pares down his beats; he takes it back to the basics. “I started getting overwhelmed with my production style—I was just adding too much. Simplicity is key and I recently learned that,” he says. “I was like, ‘Okay, I need to go back to what I did right when I was starting to make beats.’”
This methodology created a cohesion between the singles; though the five tracks aren’t technically a project, they are certainly meant to be heard together. And that pushes the songs’ overall motif, echoing the same tranquility found in the song “Breakfast,” but displaying a detectable certainty that his debut doesn’t have.
That sentiment might be best summed up in the track, “Up”: “It’s only up from here / Up and away we go / Where we’ll stop, we just don’t know.”
Photo Credit: Damien Blue