Don’t Sleep: Necessary Notables
Headliner: Mickey Factz
Mixtape: Mickey Mause
Essential Info: Chances are you won’t hear any tracks from Mickey Factz‘s Mickey Mause mixtape burning up radio, but that doesn’t make it any less poignant. Lupe Fiasco dubbed it a “#MasterPiece” on Twitter and even Swizz Beatz gave it a push, sending out the link over the social networking site.
The highly conceptualized tape, which samples from producers Danger Mouse and deadmau5, finds the Bronx MC in character. He isn’t Mickey Factz, but instead Mickey Mause, a 1980s graffiti artist who strives to make a name for himself among the greats like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Fab Five Freddy.
On his way to infamy, Mickey Mause stumbles, hitting every pitfall imaginable. “He just got involved with drugs, alcohol and sex and later contracts HIV,” Factz explained to Mixtape Daily of his character’s fate.
The story line plays out over the course of 18 tracks. On “Hulk Hogan & Crack,” Factz as Mickey Mause paints a gritty picture of the 1980s NYC party scene on a crumbling canvas. Through his raps, the MC goes from bombing graffiti on old-time trains to posting his work in gallery spaces to parties with New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. It all sounds fascinating, but his ups are quickly drowned in drugs and other destructive behavior.
The trippy and electro-tinged “Taking Pictures of Girls Naked” details a passionate sexual encounter that eventually spells doom for the tape’s protagonist. On “A.I.D.S,” Mause looks back on his life, remaining celebratory on the upbeat dance track despite receiving some shocking news. “If tonight is my last night, please don’t cry/ Just remember the good times of my life,” he sings on the song’s hook.
In order to successfully sell his story, Mickey had to employ method rapping — a process where he would mentally and physically become the fictional character he is singing about. “When I first started the project, I was rapping as Mickey Factz, I was telling the story from Mickey Factz’s point of view, and my A&R Steve-O was like, ‘You need to rap as Mickey Mause,’ ” he said.
At the behest of his trusted friend, Mickey grew a beard and took up painting. He admitted that the change initially affected his personal relationships — his friends and family members didn’t quite understand the metamorphosis, but Mickey marched on. “I really had to become the character to make sure the point of the character and the project came across correctly.”
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