Recently I sat down and spoke with New York MC MIMS about a number of issues. MIMS single “This Is Why I’m Hot” dominated airwaves and ringtones in 2007 and his new album, Guilt, was released on April 7, 2009. MIMS speaks on how he got his start in the rap game, his influences, rumored beefs, and his new album, among other things. MIMS is a serious musician and a great guy. Go cop Guilt and check the interview below.
How’d you get in the rap game?
I really started around 13. My moms bought me a turntable system when I was 13 years old. She passed away a couple months later. I couldn’t handle my emotions. That’s why I got involved in music in general. And, as I got more and more involved, I started venturing off into wanting to learn how to create music. So, I learned how to do the production side; I learned how to do the engineering side. And, I was producing records, but I didn’t have anybody to write. So I learned how to be the writer and also the recording artist. Before you know it, throughout the years, I built two home studios just off my sheer knowledge of software. I took advantage of the whole software era, the whole digital era and I started cutting demos. Not even to get a deal, but just because it’s fun. I gave my demo to a couple of people and they heard me. They told me I might want to pursue a career in this. So they reached out to a couple of people and I started to learn the business. I was probably around 18 or 19 years old, in my first year of college, and I decided to leave to pursue music. That was around 2001. I had originally did some work in Canada and achieved gold success. I came back to America and decided to start up my own company called American King Music, just to independently work records. I was the opening act for Method Man at this time. I toured the country with him using money out of my own pocket. You talk about the grind? I was the time of artist that whenever I needed to be somewhere, money or no money, I made sure I was there. If I had to sleep in a van, drive somewhere across the country, or sleep in the car, I was doing it. I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be there. I wasn’t interested in going at a label and getting a deal, then going to an A & R. I was more interested in creating a name for myself in the streets. We independently serviced “This Is Why I’m Hot” in 2006, charted the record, and that’s when every record label and they mother was willing to cut checks. So, at that point, I decided to go with Capitol Records who made it the number 1 record in the country. That’s why I’m here now. There’s a lot more in between that people don’t know, of blood sweat & tears. So when an artist says to me that I didn’t pay my dues, I couldn’t imagine what they could be talking about. That, to me, is foolishness. I probably paid more dues than have the MCs in the game right now. So I know I deserve to be in the position that I’m in and I would never think anything less of it.
What rappers or musicians period have influenced you as an artist?
Influences come from everywhere. To me, they don’t just come from music, but if I have to deal with music and musicians, I’m a credit a lot of people. So, hopefully, you’ve got a long list. Whether it’s Biggie and Tupac. Whether it’s Jay-Z and Nas. Or Snoop Dogg. Or Outkast. Or Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Cash Money. There’s a lot of cats I came up listenin’ to. Slick Rick, I gotta pay homage to Slick Rick. To me, man, that’s one of my top five rappers. He had swag when it didn’t exist. From a hip hop standpoint, these are the people I credit. You want to go to the bigger names, then, look at the Babyface Edmonds of the word, the Quincy Jones’ of the world, and some of these mega-icon producers who create albums such as Thriller. Like I said, the list can go on and on. I take inspiration from everywhere.
A lot of folks on the internet and such compare you to Gillie the Kid, how do you feel about those comparisons? And, what about this rumored beef between you two?
The key word is rumor. I don’t have any beef with Gillie. I think Gillie is an outstanding artist. As a matter of fact, just to do away with all the rumors, I reached out to Gillie and asked him if he could bless me with a verse for the “Move” remix and he did that. He’s a cool brother and he has a lot of positive things going on in his career. It’s something that, obviously, the internet cooked up and fabricated and tried to make it seem like more than it was. It wasn’t reality. As far as the comparisons to Gillie the Kid, I cut a record that was based on my emotions and people are going to always compare people to other people. That’s just natural. Because I understand that, I’m not here to go against the system. I just know that when I go into the studio and make music, I don’t have anybody else in mind. I go in there and I do what I feel the track calls for and that’s it.
A lot of people say that you’re a club-rapper or a pop-rapper, What really makes you hip-hop?
I don’t mean any disrespect behind this, but define “real hip hop.” Because if someone can define that for me, then I can give you a real answer. Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question and I’m only going off what you are asking. But there are a lot a people out there that make comments about hip hop music, and hip hop is dead, and Mims is not a lyricist, and Mims is not a hip hop artist. It doesn’t bother me that they say this, but it bothers me that these same people don’t support what they feel is real hip hop. There’s a lot of people that will come out and say “that aint real hip hop but,” and I’m just making an example, “but Mos Def is.” “That ain’t hip hop, but Jadakiss is.” “That’s not hip hop but Jay-Z is.” I mean no disrespect, but when it comes time for anybody to release their albums, where are these fans at supporting their artists? The artists that they feel are big, they need to support them. I think that would make a difference. If the fans made it cool for people to get on records and rap about things going on in the world, positive things… If the fans made it cool to do that, then I guarantee you that every single rapper would reaching out do that. But don’t get me wrong, people want to hear party music. People want to go in the club and dance. So, I don’t feel that I need to be typecast as a certain artist just because I make the music that certain people want to hear. Not to mention, if you buy into Mims as an artist, and you bought the Music Is My Savior Album, or you go in the store on April 7 and you buy the Guilt album, you will see that I’m in-depth, that I’m not a one-dimensional artist. I’ve got a lot of different styles. With that being said, I take it with a grain of salt. That just means that, people are gonna make comments that they aren’t willing to defend. You can sit me in a room with all these people that hate on me and I guarantee you that, but the time I’m done with them, not any of them will have anything to say negative.
Your new album is called Guilt, how’d you come up with that title?
Based on my emotions. Strictly based on my emotions from the past year. If someone would have asked me how I feel recording this album, I feel guilt. Just look at the history of the country over the past two years. Its pretty much a financial crisis going on. For me, as an artist, and as a person who came in as this stuff started to happen, I achieved financial success. So, if you think about the reality of where my fans are in life, and some of the people who put me where I am, some of these people are going through foreclosure. Some of these people, ya know. Some of these peoples’ parents lost their jobs. Some of these people are living in the same homes their used to living in. Some of these people cut back on their finances. So, when I’m on my way to the dealership to buy my third car, some people are getting their cars repossessed. If that’s not a guilty emotion, then I don’t know what is. What I did with this album was I stated my emotions, but I also gave the public some issues I think they can relate to. So when you hear me talk about a record like “Move” that’s a party record, you’re also gonna hear a record like “One Day,” which is a record that features Kamani Marley and talks about a positive progression in the world. One day people are gonna be alright if they have a positive outlook. I think there’s a very good balance to this album and it’s very versatile and its gonna be something people can relate to.
Tell us a little more about the new album, who’d you work with, etc?
I worked with some new cats on this album, called the Interns. They’re based out of Chicago. They did the first single for me, “Move.” They also did about eight records on the album. I also worked with the Blackout Movement. They’ve been known for producing “This Is Why I’m Hot” for me. They did about a good 3-4 records on this project. I also worked with Jim Johnson. Jim Johnson is a dude who did “Lollipop” for Lil Wayne. He also did “Whatever You Like” for T.I. We did a record on this album called “Rock ‘n Rollin’” that’s ridiculous. I got a new cat out of Atlanta called Kaliphat. The Kaliphat did a couple of records on this project and he’s young but he’s talented. With that being said, I gave a lot of opportunities to the up and coming cats. I didn’t really reach out to the heavyweight producers mainly because it’s a little bit easier for me to get in the studio with cats that are concerned with me and my career and are growing and hungry, then it is for me to get in the studio with someone I’d pay $100,000 to, that created a beat that probably every other artist already go to hear.
Is there anything else you want the world to know?
April 7th! The biggest thing I want them to know is that April 7th the album Guilt will be in stores. I’m back for my sophomore album. I will say this, a lot of people have made negative comments about my career. But the one thing I can always say is that I’ve always been able to be the underdog and defeat whatever’s been said about me. And I’m here for my sophomore album. I’m a New York artist. I’m here for my sophomore album, while some people haven’t gotten to their first album yet. With that being said, I just want that respect. If you ever have something to say negative about me, you should go buy my album on April 7th, and I will defy that negativity by proving you wrong. That’s all I can ask. April 7th, my fans know what’s up. If you have followed my career, you know that I’m a hard worker and I’ve been working hard to give y’all a great album. So, hopefully on April 7th, you’ll appreciate it.
MIMS “Move (If You Wanna)” video:
Go cop MIMS Guilt. In Stores Now!!!