"That's how I became the struggling rap guy." - An Interview With Mic Lanny
Before Shawn Carter was Jay Z, he was a drug dealer for 16 years.
Before Arian Asllani was Action Bronson, he was a gourmet chef.
Before Mike Lanahan was Mic Lanny, he went to Sage on an art scholarship and decided it wasn’t his thing.
Rappers and super heroes have many things in common, but the two most ubiquitous are origin stories and hometowns. Rappers origin stories aren’t as easy to track as super heroes, though. Batman was a kid whose parents died, so he learned karate and dressed up like a bat. Superman was an alien whose planet died, so he went to Kansas and became a good dude.
But real life isn’t linear. Our stories are messier. Mic Lanny may rap for a living, but he still leans on Panera Bread as a side hustle.
“Like my outfit?”
Standing outside of Panera at 3 PM on a work day is like standing outside of a Starbucks that hosts AA meetings. It seems everyone is leaving to go to the Barnes and Noble a block away to buy self-help books, and they always seem to be in large groups.
Mic had managed to squeeze right in the middle of a group that looked like the Russian nesting doll version of the Happy Days cast, so I was more than a little surprised when he approached me. His Panera uniform is a neon orange jacket/polo combo, with the only visible signs of Mic left being the perfectly fitted hat and fresh sneakers.
“Yeah man, you look like an air traffic controller.”
“I look like a fucking road cone.”
Rappers have cities. For Mic Lanny, this is Albany, New York.
There’s a small piece of trivia about Albany that very few people know. While places like Flint, Michigan are plagued with poisoned water, Albany has a unique sort of air pollution.
No one knows exactly how the air got to the state it’s in, but local legend is that Cesar Romero’s Joker is behind it. This air pollution causes a general bitterness about life, and hate for other people, in anyone who breathes it.
People from the Capital Region have adapted to it, though. Some people handle this bitterness by hiding it and pretending to be happy while waiting for death. To further this façade, you can often find these people buying health food or going for a run.
Others developed a more cathartic coping mechanism: sardonic humor.
Mic Lanny is one of the latter.
We take a seat inside of Panera. Amidst the overwhelming smell of bagels and chicken salad, we take the first few minutes to just kind of bullshit. As it would remain for the rest of the two hours, conversation moves recursively between points.
We start by talking about the New York law requiring me to confirm with Mic that he is being recorded. From here, we move on to discussion about the terrible quality of voice messaging and on to people who can’t be bothered to grab an actual microphone to record their verse.
We joke about Biggie and Pun, who take audible breaths constantly. They have “awake apnea” as Mic puts it. From there we talk about voice overs, and soon after an interview has started.
Eric: I write so I know where to take a breath. How do you write your stuff? Do you have like a unique style of notation?
Mic: It’s beginning to end. I have to get the first bar, the cadence, the rhyme scheme and that sets it off. I never - is it 8 Mile where he writes like two bars at a time? I’ll write bars down, if it pops in my head. And I might use it, if I stumble across it while writing. But it’s really beginning to end for me.
Eric: Me, too. What I mean though is-
Eric: It’s alright that was the next question anyway. I mean, do you just write in paragraphs or is it like sheet music? For me, it’s a complex system of punctuation.
Mic: Because of how I may write something and record it a month later, I used to write in a dash where I would take a breath or whatever, but now, on my phone, I just hit enter.
Eric: Have you ever seen the sixteen dots thing with Rakim?
Mic: Yeah, where he like folds the paper in half?
Eric: Yeah, I always found that super interesting. I like to see people’s work flows and how it differs.
Mic: I couldn’t count bars at first. I remember someone saying, “That’s a sixteen.” And I knew it was like forty seconds, so to me a sixteen was about forty seconds. Now I can actually count them, though.
Eric: I came from poetry, so I used to not know jack shit. I get bothered now when rappers can’t count bars, because it makes communication hard. How much do you talk to producers? How involved are you?
Mic: I’m completely hands off. One time I was looking for a beat and I was like, “Hey man, I’d like beats without samples on them.” I was looking for placement, and they don’t want to deal with samples. I had a guy go, “I don’t do that.” So, I was like, “Well, you do you. Send me your best version of you, and I’ll work with that.” And so that’s what I do. A lot of the times, if they send it to me, and it’s like “Four bars, four bars,” that’s where the change-ups are, and maybe the chorus is at twelve, I’ll just leave it. Cool, I’ll leave it like that. So many producers are like, “Here’s your sixteen and your eight-bar hook,” and that’s when I’ll change stuff. I just got sick of the same shit. I don’t even do three verses anymore. I don’t feel like anyone has the attention span anymore. The one album I did, I did three verses on everything. And I didn’t want to perform it after the first few times. People got bored of the song by the second hook.
Eric: I agree. I only do three verses on collabs. I don’t even have that much to say.
Mic: Even if I do, people are tuning out. People can tell me it’s great, but I don’t ever want to perform it. It’s too long. I’m honestly at the point now where I don’t even want to do hooks. I just want to rap and throw samples, cuts, on the hook.
Eric: Yeah. I was talking to my partner about how dope it is to look at a tracklist and see a song that’s like a minute and a half, because you know that’s dope. Like “Body It.” Cause that’s what’s fun for us as rappers. Fuck a hook.
Mic: Yeah, but I don’t want to oversaturate with that. I try to throw one of those in each EP, though. But even with “Body It,” I was like, “I’m going to repeat the phrase body it. But I know I have control over what I do, not what producers do. I hate asking for beat extensions. If you send me one minute and forty seconds of a beat, I’m giving you one minute and forty seconds of a song. If it’s fully structured, I’ll make that work, too. I’m just a fan of production, really. So, when people send me stuff, I’m like, “That’s how you heard it, let’s make it work.”
Eric: I think that’s a common thing. People who rap like the beats and people who make beats like the rap.
Mic: I’ve even messed around with production, but I didn’t have the money for the equipment I wanted. I had to have Pro Tools. I blew my knee out, and I was working on Good Cop Bad Cop, and I didn’t want to rely on anyone to record me anymore. So, it was like 2 AM, I’m drunk, on Vicodin, on Guitar Center, ordering a bundle with a mic, Pro Tools, speakers, I already had a laptop and I was like, “I’m going to record myself, I guess.” But once I realized I could just record with Dood Computer, I just used it to cut samples. I don’t even listen to rap anymore. I listen to other shit cause I like chopping. It’s a bitch to layer drums in Pro Tools. It makes it easy to chop, though. I used Fruity Loops like forever ago and that was terrible to chop in.
Eric: Yeah. I find producer work flows super interesting.
Mic: Especially drums. Like some people cut them from samples, some people do live drums.
Eric: I really like live drums, especially when you can combine it with the ability to freestyle. It adds a free jazz element.
Mic: Yeah, I used to go to a lot of open mics where it was just people who could play all sorts of instruments. And once rappers find out you’re going to give them a microphone they’re like, “Yeah.” That was the first time I ever freestyled in front of people, at Justin’s on Lark. It was like a cool band, my producer friend, and they told me to go up. I was shitting my pants. Then they started Bottles ‘N Beats every Thursday. And now, it makes me super anxious, but I host an open mic where I have to freestyle. Anxiety wants me to just jump off a bridge. But I have to do it, it’s a competitive thing. Every time I see a group of people rapping I’m like, “I should go over.” But I want to put my best foot forward, and I don’t know if that’s my best foot. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s shitty drunk shit.
Eric: For me, it’s always friendly competition. I love that it isn’t cutthroat around here.
Mic: Yeah, it’s not. That’s the whole point of Rap Night. Bottles ‘N Beats got cutthroat. If you weren’t in the inner circle, you got attacked. People would leave like, “I’m never coming back to this bar, ever.” Girls would walk in and the guys freestyling would pick them apart before they got to the bar. It was fun, but it was rough. There was fights all the time and shit. When we started Rap Night, we wanted to avoid it. We wanted friendly rap stuff.
Eric: Fighting is not good in the long run… Most boring rap question: top five DOA?
Mic: Um… I was, Big L is my favorite rapper. Big L made me want to write punchlines. When I found him, I was late to the party. But everyone else connected through him, like COC and Mase. It was like, “Oh, it’s not just radio stuff.”
So, Big L, and then… Pun. Pun was amazing. He kind of gave, his flows and cadence were just, “Holy shit.” And he’s huge. A big dude. And he can rap fast as hell.
It changes because I was always blown away by Biggie and stuff like that, Tupac is great, but that’s such an immediate answer. I don’t want to do that. I think Black Thought from The Roots is highly slept on. He’s super dope. I’m trying to think.
I don’t even know if this is my top five, it’s more people who blew me away when I heard them. Like, if I was going down this road, I’d follow these people to everyone else. Like Canibus. When I was going down the rap road, he was just doing like sixty four bars of rapping.
Eric: Yeah, I missed the hype. I’m still trying to understand what makes Canibus.
Mic: He was a dude who would kill other rappers. Have you seen the video with him and X and Pun? He was a man who could hang in those types of cyphers. I feel like his hype was similar to Papoose’s, but no one really bought into Pap. He doesn’t have the voice, the cadence, the delivery. But Canibus had that, and he was getting attention from older rappers. Then you had the beef with LL Cool J, who was the guy. So now you’ve got this hardcore rap guy taking shots at the top guy who’s going R&B. And “Second Round Knockout” got radio play, and a music video. I remember calling local radio to request that song, a battle rap song.
Eric: It’s like the OG “Back 2 Back.”
Mic: Yeah, and he just murdered tracks. He didn’t have great songs, but he could just spit twenty bars of nonsense. Then it went downhill. Wyclef produced an album and he had all these cosigns, but he went downhill. I don’t even know if he’s top five though. Definitely, L, Pun, Blackthought.
Redman. Redman is highly slept on. Method Man’s amazing. Damn, this is hard.
Usually, it’s Big L, Biggie, Big Pun, and Pac then find your fifth.
Eric: Yeah, it’s usually four dead guys then Jay, Em or Nas.
Mic: Yeah. I’d say definitely those three. Big L, Big Pun, Blackthought. Nas, you have to have Nas.
It’s weird. I go through phases where I binge on Cage or Aesop Rock. They’re top five in my mind. I was a huge Jadakiss fan, Styles P. But I got to the point where I was like, “Alright, I get it.”
Eric: Did you like the new Jadakiss album?
Mic: I can’t tell you the last rap album I’ve listened to. I listen to local stuff, and then anything but rap. I have this weird feeling. I don’t want to ever unconsciously stumble on a bar that’s similar to someone else’s. I know it’s a coincidence if I don’t listen.
Eric: You’ve got that Amy Schumer defense.
Mic: Yeah. I can be like, “I didn’t hear it.” I listen to the local guys still because it’s good stuff that doesn’t get attention.
Eric: And the local sound is the sound I want to make.
Mic: It’s like how all the white kids in the eighties liked Larry Byrd. If that goofy white kid could make it to the NBA, maybe they could, too. It gives you hope.
Maybe number five is Mos Def. I like Mos Def.
It’s hard to leave Eminem off. The technicality was great, but the songs weren’t. If you made a “Best of Em,” it would be a five mic album. But I didn’t like every song on any of his albums. I’m also a counter culture guy though. So, when everyone was hyping him up, I started to not like him because everyone did.
Eric: I agree. Black Star and Illmatic were my awakening to hip hop. What was yours? Was it a moment?
Mic: The moment that hip hop became my thing was in high school. My buddies had BOCES on my lunch period, so we’d go to their place to eat and smoke. On the way back, they’d play “Lifestyle ov da Poor and Dangerous.” And it was, “Holy fuck.”
And you had Fab doing punchlines at the time when I found him, but it seemed like they were stealing his shit. That’s when he became my guy. I’d download so much shitty software trying to illegally download his stuff. I remember going to Circuit City and buying out the Big L section. There was only two albums, though. That and Big Picture, but he was also on “Diggin’ in the Crates,” and “Children of the Corn.”
I love that album. I found that, I downloaded that and it’s amazing. Him and Mase. Harlem put out some gems. I heard that and it was like, “This is all that I want to hear.”
My family was musical. My uncle’s a bass player, so he showed me a lot of hair metal and old metal and rock, like Metallica. Some hip hop. Never any country, which is like, “Thanks.” I don’t mind the old bluegrass-y, like Cash stuff. I hate radio country. It’s so formulaic. It’s just pop with a country twang.
I had this argument with the bartender the other night. The nineties ruined pop. Pop before the nineties still gets played. Back then, it just meant it was popular. If you look at the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack, it’s all amazing. In the nineties, it was just about video rotation. That Barbie Girl song is trash, but the video had a hot blonde, so people loved it. Pop from before the nineties was amazing.
Eric: Yeah. And before the nineties you had craftsmen like Michael Jackson, Prince, or Bowie.
Mic: Yeah. The nineties were when pop became a genre. That’s when people made music just to be popular.
Eric: I feel that way about a lot of popular rap. People who are popular didn’t necessarily go pop. Kendrick didn’t go pop, he just happened to get popular.
Mic: Cole, too. He’s selling a shit ton of albums, but he isn’t pop. Pop is a sound. It’s a genre.
Eric: Anyone who thinks they don’t like pop needs more “Thriller.”
Mic: Yeah. Bowie was pop, his stuff is great. Once I got sick of rap, I went back to the gems that I missed. I flooded myself on rap, so then I went to find where all the samples came from. I wanted to know what those songs were.
But yeah, that was where hip hop became my genre. I didn’t think writing or rapping was a possibility until I was 19 or 20. My buddy had done it in high school, and we’d go to his house and just drink and rap. I had no idea what I was doing, but one time we did that Snoop Dogg song, “That’s That.” And I could just ride it, the same way Snoop did. And people told me it was good, so I went, “Okay.” Then I remember having to rhyme fast for the first time, and that’s when I got into syllable counting and the technical aspect of it. From then on, rapping was what I was doing.
Eric: So, was it an artistic love, or a competitive love? Or a mix?
Mic: At first it was just messing around. Then it was friendly competition, but it was an outlet. I went to Sage on an art scholarship, and I didn’t know what I was doing with it, though. It wasn’t happening. At best I was going to be on a boardwalk airbrushing t-shirts. I didn’t want to do that. And music came along and was my creative outlet. It was cool. But it was still just a hobby in the beginning. I was never going to get on stage.
Then I met Animal Cracker and he was like, “If you’re not going to perform, don’t bother.” He put me on a show. There was a group of like three of us, and we had a couple solos and a few songs together. It was really mish-mashed. He just told us we were a crew. My brother told me, “You look stiff.”
And I was like, “I am.”
I get why it’s a huge fear. Now, once I’m up there, I’m fine. But before that, I get terrible anxiety.
I opened for Necro, who was a big influence for me. He was the road leading to the angry white guys. Him, Ill Bill, and Paz. I was opening for Necro and had decided to go back to school that week. I went to Hudson Valley, and they gave me an aptitude test. The proctor goes, “Just don’t do anything that doesn’t require speaking or being in front of crowds.”
I was like, “Fuck. I have a show this weekend and it’s going to be packed. So clearly, you’re wrong.” There was like five hundred people at the show. I went up to Hudson Valley the first day, got a ticket on the way, was late, and couldn’t find my class. The guy told me I should be a gym teacher, so I left and went to do my rap show. That’s how I became the “struggling rap guy.” I enjoy it, though.
Eric: I had a similar experience. I kept asking people why I was at school, and no one had a good answer.
Mic: I think if I went now it would be better, because I know what I want to do. But straight out of high school, you have no idea. You wind up doing whatever they tell you the prerequisites are. Then you end up with a major that doesn’t apply to what you want to do and can’t get you a job. It ends up being a waste of four years of money.
Eric: And a lot of stuff just doesn’t require a degree, at all.
Mic: Yeah. They just want to teach you cursive again. Like writing loopy letters is going to help you. Now I just sign my check. I don’t even know if I do that right. It’s basically my name. It’s just a big M and some scribbles.
Eric: Do you find smaller crowds easier to perform for? Like if someone says, “You’re a rapper, rap?”
Mic: If someone says that, I just show them where they can go. No one else would do that. Like, “Oh, you’re a roofer, show me.” That guy's not going to build you a roof.
I perform the same way either way, but when there’s less people it becomes a challenge. I take it as a “fuck you” when people don’t show up. With a bigger crowd, it’s clear they want to be there. They’re there for a reason.
Eric: I always had that problem with presentations. I thought that less people would be easier, but I found the reverse true.
Mic: In school, I couldn’t do either. Which made people react worse when I said I was going to be a rapper. I didn’t do homework or projects. Hand in stuff, yeah, but no presentations. I did two projects, one I filmed in a room by myself and one with a partner. And I would try to make myself comfortable with jokes and stuff. But I’d say them so anxiously that people wouldn’t get it.
I remember, as a freshman in advanced art, I was presenting for seniors and I tried to make a joke and no one laughed.
Eric: Did rapping help?
Mic: Absolutely. Rapping and Jack Daniels. I got so good at knowing how much I needed to drink, it was a science. Animal Cracker helped a lot with that. He was my Sherpa of rap music. He taught me how to drink and record, and drink and perform.
Eric: Who is Animal Cracker?
Mic: He was like the head guy for F Word Records, and he taught me a lot. We’d just go over and drink and record. Sometimes it was great, other times it wasn’t. He helped me get started and book early shows.
There’s some guys here who can’t drink before a set at all. I would get black out drunk, couldn’t say words, and nail it. I’d be drooling and nail a set. It was drunk muscle memory. It helped me build up a tolerance. I know my whiskey limit. I know what I can drink and what I can’t. I think it’s important. I’ve never gotten on stage incoherent.
The performing aspect is the most important part to me. People will write you off from one bad performance.
Eric: So, how’d you get on F Word? And after that you were part of Iron Mic, right?
Mic: Yeah. I was with F Word for a while. We did a lot shows and a lot recording, but we didn’t put much music out. I did Bottles N Beats, that started it, and then me and Tone were working on “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”
I met Iron Bar through Bottles N Beats. They came down from Schenectady and they were the shit. Graffiti could beatbox and rap, Dephyant was a great freestyler, and Tao was a great writer. We were like the young guns, then we got the veteran cosign. It just made sense to get together. The plan was to do an album together, but we all had stuff going on. We did a lot of shows. It’s easier for four guys to take a trip to Staten Island. It just made sense. They were super motivated.
“Good Cop, Bad Cop,” was just me and Tone, towards the end of my time with F Word. I was technically still part of F Word. It’s not even a label, really, though. It’s more a group of people. There’s guys who are part of F Word who just get drunk or punch people, or whatever. It was a big movement. It was like Battle Axe Warriors, minus the pay.
Then that kind of wavered. There’s a consistent pattern of me going all in to whatever I’m doing. Then, as soon as I feel like I’m waiting on people, I just do it by myself. I have to work at my own pace.
Eric: How’d you move from F Word to Pig Food?
Mic: F Word went sour, and I was living over Iron Bar with Dan and Mitch, the guys who run Pig Food, at the time that happened. The six of us went on tour together a couple years ago. Then it was just a matter of establishing Pig Food. They wanted to work with me, and those are my brothers. We just wanted to be in the right place, we both needed to be in a certain place.
Eric: How long have you known Dan and Mitch?
Mic: Maybe seven years? I don’t have any people I’ve known for like twenty-five years.
I moved around a lot. Even the F Word guys I’ve only known for like ten.
Once I got out of high school I sort of dropped all my old friends. I went and met the music guys, and those were my people. The high school guys were cool in school, but I really found my lane with music guys.
But I moved around a lot, even as a kid. I moved to a different school every year. Even if it was just small moves, it was just out of district. I lived in Albany, Colonie. Bethlehem, with Jesus. So I don’t have like long term friends.
But “Fractured” came out before “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” Tone wanted me to have something else out, something to give out for free. So that was a collection of stuff that I had done on F Word, with a rough mix. My first song with Iron Bar was on it, actually. We put that out, just literally handed it out. We wanted to give people something tangible. I had been performing and doing open mics, but no one had anything to listen to. Tone hooked me up with a Bandcamp and put the EP together.
I did my first video with Iron Bar. That was a lot of fun. We actually recorded that right after I’d set up my studio. When my knee was blown out, that’s when I was making “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”
Eric: How’d you blow your knee out?
Mic: I was at an F Word party. At F Word parties, people get drunk and fist fight. I slipped on some ice, and just blew my knee out.
Eric: You don’t want to lie about a fight?
Mic: While, there was a scuffle, but I didn’t even get a punch in. It didn’t really hurt at first, but when I tried to walk on it I dislocated my knee. I remember someone yelling, “He’s dead.”
I was like, “I don’t think I’m dead.”
Then I woke up the next day and Obamacare had kicked in, so I got my knee fixed for free. Thanks Obama.
The next few minutes get political, which naturally leads to discussing comedy.
Eric: Was comedy an influence for you?
Mic: I love stand up. I love comedy. I used to stay up to watch SNL. I was growing up at the end of the Farley era, into like Will Ferrell, when he was good.
So I was huge into that, and stand up. My family would put on Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor and tell me not to listen.
Eric: I actually just bought some Pryor vinyl.
Mic: I love vinyl. I know I sound like a hipster douche, but there’s stuff that’s lost. Have you seen the documentary about the band Death? Their vinyl was just floating around Detroit until someone found it and it blew up.
People are sampling Ed Sheeran, when there’s decades old gems. I feel like if we put a statute of limitations on sampling, it would improve hip hop. There’s dudes sampling hip hop stuff from fifteen years ago and using it for a hook.
There’s a sense of entitlement. “It’s out there, it’s ours.” I agree to a point. You should be sampling pieces, though. Not entire songs. Guys like El-P sample stuff that you wouldn’t even know is a sample. I like being able to Shazam samples, but I want to rack my brain a bit.
I just did a Rhythm Roulette thing with Jack Of All Trades, and one of the LPs I grabbed had the song “Still Not a Playa” sampled. And I thought we couldn’t use it, but he was like, “No, they barely scratched the surface.” There’s so much shit out there.
Rhythm Roulette is cool, but you can tell they’re sped up. You can tell they’d normally just sit down with a crate and go. I’d love to do it, but I don’t have the money for the equipment. Strictly for fun.
Eric: What’s Pig Food like?
Mic: It’s unofficial. They’re just my buddies and they want to put out good stuff. And they have the means and the know-how. They’re there to guide me and do damage control. They don’t want people putting out shitty songs and covers. It’s quality control. And there’s a strong sense of humor on the label. No one takes it seriously.
Eric: I like that the music is serious, but you guys aren’t.
Mic: It’s in the vein of Rhymesayers and stuff like that. It’s serious music, but they’re having fun. The video will be fun. They aren’t going to stare into the camera with an AK.
It’s like, “Let’s not just photoshop you onto the Albany skyline.”
There’s a lot of time I go to them with an idea and they’re like, “You’re dumb.” And that’s necessary. There’s this weird line where you can’t not copy, in a way.
Like the “Pizza Party” video. Other people have had Muppets in their video, but we had fun with it. We aren’t just going to throw half-naked women in. That’s why I love Action Bronson’s videos. He might have a half-naked woman, but she’s going to be six hundred pounds.
Eric: What do you think your biggest strength is as a rapper?
Mic: My sense of humor. I think it helps set me apart from other rap guys. Live performance, honestly. I can improvise and make people laugh. I know if I can get people out to the show, they’re going to like my stuff.
The Pig Food 5 Year Anniversary I brought merch, and Mitch was like, “You sold a shit ton.” I wasn’t trying, but people saw me perform.
I really focus on it because I heard that The Fugees and The Roots were both going to get dropped after their first album, until the label saw them live.
People don’t pay enough attention. People rap over their vocals now. If I saw a drummer drumming over his own drums, I’d walk out. I’ve had a drummer and a DJ with a backing track, but the drummer doesn’t do the drums. He beefs it up, he fills.
Eric: Biggest weakness?
Mic: Social media. I remember not having the internet, so I don’t have the internet hustle. I know there’s a benefit, but I don’t have the time. And I know guys who can get a hundred thousand YouTube views, but they can’t perform, though.
I hate how impersonal it is, though. I can’t bank on internet friends. I don’t know if they’re listening. I know the dude I’m having a drink with is listening.
The return takes too long for an eight to ten-hour investment, too.
Eric: Being a human is important.
Mic: Yeah. I don’t want to be impersonal about it, but I don’t have the time to be personal. Especially know with how Facebook and Instagram are now, now that they focus on paid sponsorship. I’ve paid for ads before, but it doesn’t feel tangible. I can’t find the ROI.
Eric: How involved are you with the business?
Mic: The stuff with Pig Food is them. I’ve put my music out before and I’ve seen the returns though. I’ve seen kids streaming it on his X-Box in Germany.
Eric: Wouldn’t it be dope to be the Hoff of rap?
Mic: Yeah, I’ve always thought about having to move if I blew up in like Africa. Like that dude Sugarman, who blew up in South Africa and didn’t know until he was like sixty.
I just, I can’t be the internet guy. I’ve debated doing it, definitely. I know I would sell more albums if I sent messages out for twelve hours, but I know that I’ll also aggravate a shit ton of people.
I like the idea of “Pay What You Want.” We did that on tour. We put out a song just to pay for gas, told people buy it for whatever you want. We didn’t pay for gas the whole tour.
I had a dude recently buy Sex & Breakfast for seven dollars off Bandcamp when it was five on iTunes.
Eric: I mean, Chance has proven how profitable free music is, right?
Mic: Yeah, him and Bronson. Bronson talked about how free tapes were what built a buzz. I did that with hard copies. I handed out probably fifteen hundred CDs. And people showed out.
I’d love to do more free stuff, but I need to recoup costs. A lot of dudes who do free stuff make their shit for free. But at Pig Food we pay for artwork from Jeremy Fisher, there’s a real cost to recoup.
Eric: Do you feel anything is holding you back?
Mic: There’s always this feeling of, “I could be bigger if I was in NYC, or Philly, or LA.” It’s easy to blame on the area. Part of me feels that way, but also, if I lived there, I think I’d be wearing out my welcome. I’d be where I am now in a bigger city.
With the internet the way it is, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s just about getting in front of people. People don’t want to search.
Eric: You’re kind of a community pillar right now, with Rap Night. It’s the 518 Mass. Do you think there is potential around here?
Mic: Yeah. There are legitimate issues around here, with the Cabaret Laws. The government is actively trying to squash live music and bars. But there’s also a disconnect between younger hip hop heads and rappers and the older guys.
I did a show in Saratoga where it was very mumbly. They looked at me weird when I didn’t have my vocals on the beat. I cyphered with them and invited them to Rap Night, but I don’t think freestyling interests them. They want to stay in a safe zone. You can’t polish a cypher. It’s lyrical jazz.
The scene ebbs and flows. Older guys talk about the Lark Tavern, we talk about Bottles N Beats. That was like fifty guys, we’d just bar hop after. But that scene got older. People got married and had kids.
I’m not saying I started anything, but I was reaching out and trying to get people to put that effort in. We’d do a one-off show in Connecticut and have to rent out a block of hotel rooms. We were bringing a fan base. People would come out. We used to pack Bogies.
Eric: How much do you think Bogies going under hurt the scene?
Mic: Everybody talks about how shitty it was, and it was. But if it was in NYC, that would have been CBGB’s. It hurt because you could always book a show there. And they did hip hop. They did Mobb Deep, and Sean P. It was rapey and fighty, but there was shows.
This area is divided because there’s multiple hip hop scenes and colleges. And the college kids don’t come out. Even if they do, they’re not taking it home.
A lot of the older guys are just 518 guys. They just want people around here to make good music, whatever genre. This area has the third highest amount of musicians per capita in America. And musicians aren’t showing up.
A few people have really hit the colleges, but I struggle with that idea. It’s a fading thing.
Eric: Are you excited by United 518?
Mic: I would love for it to work, even if it just brings awareness. But there’s a lot of self-interest. Too much competition in too small of an area.
To make it work, you would need better venues and younger people. Thirty somethings have kids and a job. The show in Saratoga had a young crowd, and that did four hundred people.
There’s also a weird gray area with merch now, too. No one wants it anymore. People just want your music on Spotify, but how do I get you my music right after I get off stage? It’s too much of a process. I want to be able to Bono my music onto iPhones.
Mic Lanny is a dope rapper and a dope dude. I don't know what streaming service you use, but if you look his name up on it you'll find his music. His latest EP "Sex & Breakfast" is an an amazing selection of songs, and he was recently featured on Dezmatic's single Pizza Party. The two are doing a small 10 day tour, including dates in Albany, Salem, Oneonta, Saratoga, Buffalo, Columbus, Rochester, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
I do dope stuff, too. If you want to see more of it, or if you want me to do stuff for you, click the social links below, or sign up for this email list. If you want to hear music made by another white guy with a beard, check out my SoundCloud, bro.