When it comes to the world of Christian Hip Hop, there are a lot of underground Lecraes and Trip Lees that have yet to be discovered. Which brings up rappers that you’ve seen on IVM lately including Yaves, Reconcile, Thi’sl; just to name a few. Check out, Mike Guess. A rapper based out of central Maryland, whom is starting to gardner a lot of attention in the state. He recently just dropped his debut album, Fully Convinced. Below is an interview I had the pleasure of doing with Mike about his music, faith and more. Also included is a link to a free download of his song, “Put Him on Blast” here.
So, what can you tell a new listener about yourself?
I’m a husband and father of soon to be 3! I’ve been rapping since I was 15 and producing beats since I was 17. Growing up I was “churched” so I didn’t have much influence from secular artist and honestly had no interest to rap at all. But here I am doing this interview with you as a rapper, producer!
“Put Him on Blast” was the first single to be released off Fully Convinced. What was so special about this song to be released as the first single?
Well if you heard “Put Him On Blast” that should be enough to answer that question! I felt that it was a good track to let people know that I’m here and what I stand for. The track is about boasting in the Lord and in Him alone. In our society boasting is only accepting when someone is promoting themselves but Christians are called to only boast in the Lord. The track was one of the later tracks written for the project and I almost gave the beat to another artist whose project I was producing but he told me that it was too hot and he couldn’t take it from me. Thank you B. Morr!!
Who are some of your influences when it comes to rapping?
My influences are close friends. Before I started rapping I was just the young tag-a-long. Cross movement and Da’ TRUTH are the reason why I’m doing this now. They took me in and I watched, listened, and learned.
What can fans expect from the release of Fully Convinced?
In the project I go through life issues that Christians and non-Christians can relate to. Everything said on the project points to my unwavering beliefs in Christ and Christ alone. You will hear some bangers straight off the back and throughout. I slow it down a bit and even incorporate an acoustic/hip-hop track. Then I round it off with an 8 minute cypha with some heavy hitters!
Now since you’re a father and a husband, what do you plan on doing as far as a rap career is concerned?
I don’t plan to turn this into a full time career. Some are able to but at this point in my life I don’t think that’s where the Lord has me. If you would have asked me before a wife and kids I’m sure my response would be different.
How long have you been rapping?
Been rapping for 11 years.
Fully Convinced is a perfect fit for say, Reach Records. Do you draw a lot of influence as far as southern hip hop like Lecrae, Tedashii and Trip Lee?
I love southern hip-hop but can’t pull the trigger like those guys. I know Trip personally and love watching him on stage. I soak it all in, take notes, then do some of his stuff at my shows! (Laughs)
Fully Convinced was just released. When it came to the process of recording did you fund it yourself or did you use services like Kickstarter or Indiegogo? What are your thoughts on services like that?
I have a studio and so does my business partner Just Jones so the recording process didn’t cost me anything but time! Everything after the recording process from mixing and mastering, to purchasing CD copies was a split effort of myself, Just Jones, and my pastor Michael Crawford. I’ve never heard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo so I can talk any about them.
Christian Hip Hop is a hard thing to crack into. It’s even harder for a Christian rapper to let their light shine at a secular show with people who need to hear the message of Jesus Christ. Have you had any opportunities to do this yet? If not, are you content just playing churches and Christian shows or do you wish branch out to play bars and such?
A lot of my bookings are for churches, conferences, block parties, but all for the Christian community. I’d love to rock at a secular spot right after some other dude with a foul mouth gets off stage! Like you said they need it and we need to go where they are.
Artists like Lecrae and P.O.D. have paved the way for Christian hip hop artists to break into the mainstream. How do you think the mainstream would feel about your brand of hip hop?
Every artist is their best and worst critic. With the junk that the radio is playing these days I feel confident that if the project got into the right hands I could get some mainstream spins. A few friends have said, “yo I can hear this being on the radio right now!”
Have you ever been on the road for touring? And if not, have you ever considered it?
Most of my events are in the tri-state area. I haven’t done much outside of that. I do plan on having the ability to do that but with home and work responsibilities it might not be as much as I’d like.
Usually hip hop artists are pretty quick to be working on new stuff after the release of their current album. You just released Fully Convinced not that long ago. Have you already started working on new tunes for the public?
Funny you ask! About 3 weeks ago I started working a mixtape that I plan to have out before the end of the year and also working on the next album. I already know where I’m going with the next album as far as concepts but of course I can’t reveal that just yet.
Lecrae has addressed drug addiction in “Blow Your High”. Trip Lee discusses abortion on “Beautiful Life”. Just two examples of Christian hip hop artists taking on pretty big issues but backing them with scriptural doctrine. Is this something we can expect on Fully Convinced?
Not really anything along that line. I deal with some heart issues in the song Falling Down. When I wrote it I asked my FB friends and twitter followers what they did when everything in life seemed to be getting the best of them. Things from death, job loss, family and friends but pointing to Christ as the only one to turn to.
Fully Convinced is an interesting album name. What’s the story behind that?
Well this dates back to 2004 when I lost my dad. He was my spiritually leader and whatever he said was right was right. I never investigated these truths for myself until after he passed and became Fully Convinced in 2006 we I enrolled to bible college. I had family and friends challenge my doctrinal stance but I studied and was taught by good men and that’s a part of what needs to take place in order for you to be Fully Convinced. I also am at a point where I want to fully convince others of the truths of scripture.
Usually when rappers perform live, they have a DJ and their “crew”. You use live background singers. Why did you chose to break this hip hop stereotype?
Honestly I like to mix it up. Sometimes I’m rolling with a DJ and other times I’m rocking it solo. I enjoy incorporating background singers because I can vibe off of them and the crowd can too.
What can fans expect from Mike Guess with the remainder of 2012?
Well I’m a small part of some BIG things going down this year! JustPro Music will be releasing 2-3 more projects of other artists before the ball drops! I’ll be playing the background doing a lot of engineering in the studio but I’m sure I’ll be making some appearances.
Last, but not least. You’re a new name to Christian hip hop for a lot of our readers. Why should they consider checking you out? And why should they pick up Fully Convinced, whether in physical form or digital release?
I believe I have sound and a message that everyone can relate to and enjoy. I hate hearing Christian Hip Hop and the beats are whack and the flow is weak. As if there’s no talent outside of your big names like Lecrae and Trip. I’m the everyday guy who has a love for Christ that happens to be expressed over some music. That’s why they should get it!