In the secular music scene many times debates are brought up about underrated/underexposed rappers. If we were to bring that same debate up when it comes to Kingdom Music, Michael Jelks better known as Tha Mic would without a shadow of a doubt be at the top of many people’s list. When I first heard Tha Mic I was immediately drawn to his talent. His lyrical content and delivery showed that he has taken the right steps towards mastering his craft which is essential when you are supposed to be giving your God given talents back to God!
I will go on record by saying that Tha Mic will have one of the most meaningful Kingdom Projects of 2011. My time talking to him was such a blessing. I talked to him for a little bit over an hour and what I will say is it was one of the hardest and most difficult interviews I’ve had to conduct to date. Why you may ask! Well because Tha Mic’s passion and love for God and this ministry flows through him like crazy. So with that being said he talked so much that we didn’t get to tackle everything I wanted to! But no worries because this will be Part I of a 2 Part interview with him. I hope you all enjoy as you take a look and see what’s “Behind Tha Mic”!
Preacher Boy: You have a mixtape “Fire Season The Remnant” dropping on the 31st of December can you tell us about the project.
Tha Mic: The project is something that’s been long awaited. It’s not what I thought it would be though. It’s what God wanted it to be. It’s basically a series of songs of events that has taken place in the last year. Whether I’ve stood tall for the Kingdom or if I’ve tripped up it’s all on this project. God just told me to put everything that has happened in this season of my life to song. My homeboy Crush told me the best way to get over sin is to expose that sin. That’s the only way I can get over the sin is to speak on it and share my experiences. So God told me to let people know what I’ve been through and I’m trusting that this is a part of the process of healing!
PB: You’re a part of a movement L3/Level 3. What exactly is it?
Tha Mic: Well Level 3 started off with 4 of my brothers. We wanted to do some type of movement. We were seeing so much chaos in society and in the secular music world. We wanted to start this movement for God that would overpower that all. We got together and prayed on it and we were given L3. Pretty much it’s about having a mindset for the Kingdom of God, using your talents and walking in it for the glory of God. For me it’s rap. We have to show the people that we can go just as hard as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye and all these dudes but do it for God. It’s a mindset of a generation. Now the number 3 biblically represents the resurrection. When we were putting this together God gave us this. At our church we have 3 different levels. At the ground floor you just see what’s in front of you. You know the people’s faces and everything else that’s easy to see that’s around you. The 2nd level you see a little bit more. When you reach that 3rd level you see everything. Being at the 3rd level is being in a position that you can see everything. Being at that Holiness standard that God wants you at. You see a lot of broken standards nowadays. We been going around doing music about the last 2 years and God has been speaking to us and telling us to restore the standards. One of the standards God told us is to bring back the unity. There’s so much division within Kingdom artist that it should be a math problem.
PB: I’m glad you mentioned that. The Kingdom Music movement is on the rise as of late. But with this, I’ve seen a lot of things that should be of concern. One is the lack of unity within the community of artists. How can we fix that and why do you think it’s an issue?
Tha Mic: Okay. First I think it’s an issue because there’s the ministry side and there’s a business side. A lot of times a lot of Christian artists see just the business side of things. Being an artist is a lot of work. So at times people focus on self and when doing this your mindset can easily become isolated. There are a lot of rappers who are just doing it to do it and not truly understanding the purpose. To fix it we have to learn how to go beyond the music. I love music but I know it’s just a tool. It helps us reach out to the lost, heal the sick, and minister to the body. It’s also meant to entertain because believe it or not it’s okay for Christians to have a form of entertainment. But at the end of the day it’s just a tool and we have to focus on the unity aspect. There’s far too much division. It’s all about kingdom building and the only way we can build is if we build together. It’s starting to look at the churches with the different denominations. That can’t be. We just gotta all get on one accord.
PB: Your single, Lose My Mind is doing pretty well on New H2O and people are enjoying it. You are also nominated for Best New Artist for the 2010 New H2O Awards. But amazingly you are under the radar? Where has Tha Mic been and why are people outside of Cali just now hearing about him?
Tha Mic: Man. I’ve just been writing for the last year. Trying to get everything together as an artist you know. Being an artist was something that wasn’t in my mindset. This upcoming mixtape will be the first time I’ve put something out on the web. Me and my boys did a demo back in August and that’s the first time we ever gave out any of our music you know? I think that I had to go through this fire season first so I could be refined. On the mixtape I talk about my failures in the past. I’m just a man of God who is trying to live this thing out. Show the people who listen to my music that I’m not perfect. So pretty much I’ve just been working on me first.
PB: Okay I respect that. Well my next question is what is your stance on secular music?
Tha Mic: As far as the hip hop scene it’s getting crazy. Before my stance was “it’s not that bad if it’s not saying anything wrong.” When I went through this fire season I realized that the music we listen to greatly influences us. The people around me were being affected more than they know. If you’re trying to live your life for God secular music shouldn’t be something that you listen to. Secular music is getting out of control. Kingdom Music can go just as hard as what the secular cats are doing. A lot of new rappers today are lost. It’s not so much, “I’m gonna kill you” anymore, but it’s still off because these dudes are really lost. It’s the lost leading the lost. I’m not bashing them I’m just trying to show them they’re lost. What they’re doing is killing themselves. And in turn it’s killing the people who listen to it!
PB: Okay I had this conversation with a few other Kingdom Artists in the past. What is your stance on Christians recording remixes to secular songs?
Tha Mic: Okay. Well I’ve seen cats that do it just to make a Christian version of the song. That’s not what I do though. I sit and listen to beats that I feel that I can write with a purpose to. There are two reasons I do it. One, I have no original production so I’m doing the best with what I got. Some of the beats I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with. My thing is as long as you are doing it with a pure heart its straight. And you just gotta make sure you’re not trying to lead people to you. Some rappers will do a Jeezy or Drake song just to let people see who they are and to see how many hits they get on YouTube. Every beat on my mixtape was chosen for a purpose. I chose these beats to go with the topic I was writing to. The Lose My Mind remix I wrote that in like 10-15 minutes. God really moved while I was working on that one. So that’s my view/stance on it.
PB: I know it’s a business but should Christian producers support the Christian artists more when it comes to beats and production?
Tha Mic: I think they should. If people are going to get mad at us for using secular beats then they need to put something on the table for us. You have to balance it. There are some cats out here that need production. Point and blank! I think the labels should focus on getting to know an artist and just embrace them. It goes beyond the music. I got a lot of people who have blessed me with beats. I really think that shows my purpose and that God is really blessing me in doing this. So all in all I personally will keep doing it.
PB: There’s a lot of negativity and judgment within the Christian Community on artists like Rey King, Kambino & Young Chozen. People question their delivery. Why do you think there is so much negativity within the Christian Community in concern to Kingdom Artist?
Tha Mic: It’s because artists like those guys, well they kind of break the mold of “what it means to be a “Christian Artist”. There’s such a model in Christian Rap. The 116 Clique, Cross Movement and Reach Records that has taken over and they kind of set the stage/standard. So to many if you don’t have doctrine to back up the lyrics like they do, people tend to question whether or not you are truly saved. They question whether or not you are a Christian artist. My boy was on the scene awhile ago and was getting stones thrown at him for the same reasons. In Corinthians they were tripping over the leaders and I can compare it to what’s going on in Kingdom Music today. I think the Lecrae’s are the ones who water the plants. The Rey King’s and Young Chozen’s are ones who plant the seeds. I feel they are walking in their purpose. I think when people don’t understand that they start saying ridiculous things! It’s that religion aspect again. That comfortable faith. I think if we continue to break that mold and support brothers like that I know that mold will slowly break. We will see a generation who has different standards and principals.
PB: You said song content on this mixtape is very personal and heavy. Is there any song that really sticks out to you that you know will touch people’s hearts?
Tha Mic: One I can think of is one that I love. It’s called, Carry Mine. It’s basically a song that is a reflection of a person who continues to go through trials and tribulations. And it’s just a song to encourage me to continue to carry my cross. To keep my eyes on the cross. To never stop. A lot of people stop. And when you stop in a fire you get more burned.
PB: What’s the concept behind your name and how did you come to it?
Tha Mic: I had a few names. My first was The Street Preacher, and then I used my middle name, Clay. It would be weird because people would ask “Is your name really Clay?” One day God dropped the name on me when I was walking to school. He told me my name was Tha Mic. When you think of a microphone it’s a tool used to project someone’s voice. So I’m a tool to project God’s voice to a generation who needs to hear him! I’m a simple cat and God shows me the deeper things in life. So it’s crazy how God gave me that name. It’s simple but deep at the same time!
PB: Where do you want to go in your walk with the Lord and in Kingdom music?
Tha Mic: Good question. Man. I wanna go as far as anything I’ve ever seen. I wanna go deeper than I’ve ever been. With this Kingdom Music I just want to do something that’s never been done before. I just want to do something epic. Not for my namesake. I was always trying to figure out how to be big. God flipped the script on me and now when people see Tha Mic I want them to see greatness. Not my greatness but the greatness of God. I just want people to see how amazing He truly is.
PB: Today young men are struggling with abandonment, peer pressure, gang activity and the pressure of sex? What advice can you give our young men on this?
Tha Mic: Man. I know at times it seems like our circumstances is all we can see. But don’t let your circumstances define who you are. For awhile I let circumstances make me. But then I began to understand what God made me. So this is what I have to say to them. Know that you are a King. You are a son of God and remember what he did for you. The price he paid and the blood he shed for you impacts your eternity. That’s what I’d like to tell them though. Understand who you are and not what the world says you to be.
Once again I want to say it was a blessing be able to talk with this brother and just see the fire burn with passion for the Lord! I’m so excited for New Year’s Eve because Tha Mic will be releasing his debut mixtape, Fire Season The Remnant. This is set to be a very personal project that will without a doubt touch the hearts of anyone who listens. I look forward to sitting down with Tha Mic this January as we conduct Part II of this interview! Well that’s all I have for now family! Be blessed!
Love God, Love Music, Love Life,
Micah “Preacher Boy” Butler