It’s a Friday and it’s 9:30 PM and I just got a call from Mike Zombie. He’s on hour five of his drive from Orlando down to South Beach. Anyone native to the Florida area understands the Orlando-to-South Beach commute is a four-hour drive but can often be hindered by that good ‘ol I-95 traffic. Mike is no stranger to long hours and hurries to call times. But despite his success from signing with OVO Sound Label to producing hits like Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” and DJ Khaled’s “They Don’t Love You No More,” which instantly catapulted him to fame, he’s still the same Mike to me. And although Miami may be his home two out of the four seasons, the Willingboro, NJ native is still the young twenty-something I remember, a humble artist just aiming for music’s highest admirations.
Mid-thought, Mike walks through the studio doors. See, I knew he’d deliver. I knew he was the same hungry musician I recalled from his ‘The End of the Beginning’ mixtape, the same boyish kid rapping about acting out in school and dealing with relationship tribulations. He’s wearing a New Jersey Devils snapback, an ode to his Jersey heritage. He has coupled his look with a gold chain, an asymmetrical patterned shirt, a bomber jacket, and a pair of high-top Nike Dunks.
It’s funny because here goes a guy who’s one of the hottest producers in music right now. But when I asked him about “making it” his response was: “[I] can’t say I’ve made it. There’s no such thing to me.”
The scary part is: I think we’ve only seen a fraction of what he’s capable of.
Today, Mike Zombie has released his newest body of work entitled, ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. The rap music freshman sat down and shared with me some things fans should expect.
Sav_Britt: Okay and this is gonna be slightly different than your ‘The End of the Beginning’ project. How so?
Mike Zombie: This one is more dark and it’s upbeat but at the same time very mellow. It’s like a weird chemistry going on, a lot of emotions mixed in one. And The End of the Beginning was more about the past. This one is more about right now and where I’m at, slowly touching upon the past every once in a while. This one is more about the present.
You’re last project was almost like you were naming a time period of your life… the beginning. So if that’s the beginning, where are you at now?
This is, I would say the start of a new chapter. You know what I mean. I was getting my feet wet before. I was getting a feel for the industry last year. Now I feel like I got the grasp of it and I’m ready to go in.
I know one song that stood out from your last project was “No Where Fast”, which is interesting because you’re young. People don’t know you’re 22. You were talking about dropping out of school – the relatable college struggle. Is that something you think the game doesn’t have right now?
[Yeah] not really, because when I did another piece with someone else they kept saying I had a lot of parallels with Kanye, and how he dropped outta school and then he went into the music business to pursue his dream. So yeah, I don’t think a lot of people have that same story. It’s not the same story as Kanye. I’m a lot different than him. But we have very similar attributes. I don’t think anybody in the game has that spark.
Tell me more about ‘Rebel Without a Cause’…
It’s very ignorant, very humble-cocky. I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be. A lot of my lyrical content on ‘The End of the Beginning’ was me talking about how I was underrated as an artist. I feel like once I dropped my “616” music video and people got a chance to get a feel for me being on another platform [and] seeing me on TV, then they would check out ‘The End of the Beginning’. Now I feel like people are starting to get it – maybe this kid is onto something. I’m focusing a lot more on melodies. I sound a lot different on a lot of songs. I’ve gotten a lot better with my delivery. This one is just a different feel.
How has working with OVO Sound been like? Who have you been working with?
It’s not like we get into the studio. Those guys be on tour and all that. So we basically do the “send here, send there” thing. Everybody is working so much that you don’t even know if they’ll pick it up… I didn’t even know Jay-Z was on the “They Don’t Love You No More” remix. (laughs)
Are there any artists out there that you’d like to get in the studio with and maybe vibe out with?
My four favorites of all time: Lil Wayne, Drake, Eminem and Kanye. It would dope to get in more with Chris Myles, who I’ve worked with before… Travis Scott, Pharrell, Timbaland, Swiss Beatz. As far as new artists: OG Maco, Snootie Wild, Rae Sremmurd.