Mike G is holed up in his Hollywood studio, shrouded in low lighting while intently focused on the open Logic session in front of him. Less than a month after the release of his Chase Clouds EP, the 27-year-old rapper is putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited debut album, Stealth Fighter, which has been near completion for weeks.
“I figure when it’s ready to happen, it happens,” Mike says. "I’m not nervous, I just want everything to be right at this point.”
Before that time comes, however, Chase Clouds serves as an enticing appetizer leading into the main course. With a connecting story and similar sonics, Mike decided to tease the new narrative rather than launch straight into it, ensuring that fans won’t enter the Stealth Fighter realm void of the necessary background information.
“[Chase Clouds] was almost spontaneous, it just came together when I had the Stealth Fighter project ready,” he says. “But it felt like there was something more I could say before. Chase Clouds is my producer name, but he’s also the main character in this Stealth Fighter story. So rather than just drop it on people, it felt right to give a slight introduction to it.”
Soft-spoken and intent with his word choice, the mellow yet determined climate that permeates Chase Clouds is fully apparent in the personality of its creator. Mike spent roughly six months working on the EP, in part, because it's the first time he’s taken on the role of lead producer on his own project after picking up production while living with Syd and Matt Martians of The Internet.
Raised by a father who was an English teacher, Mike’s musical entry point came through writing poetry, but he maintains that the desire to produce the music behind his lyrics has always been there. Watching fellow Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator reap the financial benefits from producing music did much to stimulate his interest as well, adding incentive from a business perspective as well as a creative one.
“I always wanted to reach that 100% from a publishing standpoint, where you get [money from the] beats and lyrics,” he says. “Seeing Tyler do that this whole time was definitely motivation for that. Learning how to rap over my own production was a process, though; I’ve always felt completely expressive in the beats when I made them, so it can be hard to figure out the words to say.”
Finding where to look for inspiration has been essential to Mike’s progress as a lyricist. Recently, he’s become more involved in Los Angeles’ battle rap scene, finding himself at home among other bar-conscious hip-hop heads. While the experience has done much to help him step up his writing, the exchange is a two-way street: Mike prides himself on how he’s able to express himself through music and tries to share that knowledge with others in the circuit.
“I’m just getting into going to events, and being present at moments and everything,” he says. “I’ve had a couple battles—I just had one at The Comedy Store, it was pretty cool. I’m trying to grow the culture; shout out to all the leagues out here!”
Outside of the music, Mike is testing his entrepreneurial spirit in another avenue: weed-infused cotton candy. After learning there was little more to the formula than pure sugar—and experimenting with a pure sugar diet to fully immerse himself in the product’s success—he began putting together prototypes to bring the idea to light, and win over those in his circle who were skeptical of his commitment to the craft.
“It’s always conversations like that, but that’s why I had to start pulling out the cotton candy machine,” he says with a laugh. “Pulled up to the shop and made cotton candy for everyone. They’re believers now.”
With Odd Future all grown up, Mike has had to re-orient his creative mentality, while also working to discover his position and potential as a solo artist in the current music landscape. Needless to say, the transition has been difficult.
“I've had to adjust to a solo mindstate rather than the collective; because that’s what I shifted toward, not realizing that both are essential,” he says. “That’s something I should have taken notice of. But at this point, I have the knowledge of what’s going on and the processes, so it’s tight to see the growth.”
Along with this acclimation, Mike says he’s come to peace with the current direction of mainstream hip-hop as a whole, something he admits he initially found to be challenging.
“How music has grown—and rap specifically—how it’s expanded to all these markets and different lanes; the thing is it’s not the sound that I work with,” he says. “It’s trying to either adapt to it or make people adapt to you.”
With his career turning point on the horizon, Mike believes he must connect with both sides of the hip-hop spectrum, in order to reach as wide of a fanbase as possible.
"I’m just trying to reach the point where everybody gets it."