Fatal Son interview with Platinum producer Mike City
Mike City, an extremely talented record producer and singer/songwriter from South Jersey/ Philadelphia area. He is also the founder and CEO of the independent label Unsung Entertainment. You have all heard his songs on the radio and danced to his songs in the clubs. He is definitely a veteran in the music business and is an inspiration to a lot of people in the game. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the same production team (Beatbrokas) and record label (Soulife/Atlantic) back in 2000-2001. His work ethic is incredible, and he is the type of producer that artist come to for hit “singles”. Just ask, Carl Thomas (I Wish), Dave Hollister (One Woman Man), Brandy (Full Moon), and Sunshine Anderson (Heard It All Before) just to name a few. Mike City track record is extremely long, and he has worked with a lot of talented artist throughout his career. He took the time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me and bless us with his knowledge and wisdom of the game.
FS: Your track record speaks for itself. You’ve earned a reputation in the industry as someone to go to when you want authentic, melodic music. I think you bring true soul to the table. A lot of your artist you’ve worked with would probably fall under the “neo soul” category. Would that be your personal preference of artists you like to work with? MC: Not necessarily, I just prefer to work with artist who can REALLY sing…It makes my job seem like it’s not even work. (haha)
FS: You wrote and produced almost the entire Sunshine Anderson debut 2001 release “Your Woman”. How difficult of a process is it to write an entire album for an artist, and explain the chemistry you must have with the artist in order to do that? MC: It’s not difficult to do a whole album on an artist when the both of you are locked in…Me & Sunshine go way back to college (NCCU) so a record like “Heard It All Before” wasn’t hard to write because I knew the situation…
FS: You also wrote and produced the smash hit for Carl Thomas called “I Wish”. I understand that the song was based on your real life experience. When you write, does the experience always come from your life, or do you sometimes feed off of the artists personal battles in order to come up with a song? MC: “I Wish” was definitely personal, word for word…It’s a blessing that I was able to capitalize off of my own pain like that…I was able to write “One Woman Man” for Dave Hollister just based off of the interaction he was having with his wife and what was going on in his life at that time.
FS: Lottery Pick: (It’s the R&B draft and you’re on the clock. You have two choices. Make your pick and tell us why you picked this artist over the other). ***Jodeci vs. New Edition*** MC: I’m gonna have to say New Edition because of what they’ve meant to black culture for nearly 30 years…and then you’ve had all of them have success outside of the group as well..(although I’m a huge Jodeci fan too)
FS: What was the first production credit you received on a national level, and how did that placement come about? MC: Rappin Forte “Money Makes The Man” I met up with some good folks out in the bay one time, mainly a dude by the name of Fredrick Johnson who was very influential in the bay area rap scene..He linked me with Franky J, who was Forte’s manager, and we just hit it off because he felt the music I was sending to him.
FS: A lot of people do not know that you play the bass. Where did that influence come from, and do you play other instruments? MC: ) I started out playing the drums when I was real young(elementary school) Then I started playing the bass in jr high and was actually pretty good until I got into my 20′s and started programming most of bass parts on the keyboard hahaha I still pick it up from time to time to lay certain bass parts on tracks but I definitely couldn’t tour with anyone because I’m out of practice and my fingers hurt after playing for 10 minutes these days lol. I also forced myself into learning how to play keys enough 2 get my point across.
FS: You’ve also worked with hip hop artists. Sonically hip hop music has changed from back in the day. Melodic bass lines have been replaced by heavy 808’s. Do you feel the need to switch your sound up to accommodate today’s market when working with rappers today? MC: I’ve always been into 808′s so that’s nothing new but with the new sound of production these days, it definitely forces you to work on a DAW, whether it’s Logic, Cubase, FL Studio, Protools, etc. because you can’t do those new production tricks without it.
FS: Lottery Pick: ***MPC 2000 XL vs. MPC 3000*** MC: I’ve never used a MPC to do a beat, I was strictly an ASR10 dude before Logic.
FS: When Mike City is in the studio, name three things that are a must for you to have in order for you to feel comfortable and ready to work? MC: Only thing I need to feel comfortable in the studio is to have my gear working lol
FS: You have an independent label called “Unsung Entertainment”. What projects can we expect for 2012? MC: I’m gonna be putting out some house records, r&b jams, instrumentals, etc. Just trying to have fun and to keep putting out quality music
FS: The internet age, I call it the gift and the curse. Can you give your thoughts of how the internet has changed music for the good and bad? MC: The internet is cool because it allows us to instantly connect with ppl all over the world, if there was a way that we could figure out how to get the piracy under control, it would be great..Kids these days are growing up feeling as though music is and should be free, and no business can thrive or survive like that.
FS: Do you feel the internet has caused an over-saturation of music? MC: The internet along with programs on computers that are relatively inexpensive to buy has definitely caused an over-saturation of music because it seems to be more ppl wanting to be in the music business than there are actual fans/consumers
FS: Functioning as an independent company, how important is the international market to the success of your company? MC: The international market is very important for independent companies, but majors as well..if u have something that’s hot, anyone around the world can get it instantly..(Dj’s, consumers, etc.)
FS: Lottery Pick: ***Jill Scott vs. Ledisi*** MC: Hard call but I’d have to go with Led because she’s the underdog and such a vocal beast..But Jill is great as well..We’ve chopped it up a few times and eventually I suppose we’ll get in the studio.( haha)
FS: What are some of the benefits, as well as, some of the adversities you face when operating as an independent company? MC: Independent’s don’t have the muscle or marketing dollars majors have which definitely make it more of a grind..But a lot of majors aren’t using their muscle or marketing dollars these days on many acts because they’re not getting the return they’d been so accustomed to getting in the past..So it’s not an exact science either way, only thing u can do is put your best foot forward
FS: Labels are not participating in “artist development” anymore. You’re either ready or you’re not. Has this affected the quality of music that’s put out today, and do you still believe in this practice? MC: Artist development is definitely lacking these days and the music in general back up that statement…Artist are being judged from song to song, record to record, instead of body of work..A lot of microwave music and the copyrights won’t mean nothing in the future because new artist won’t want to cover the song, radio won’t play it, and consumers won’t go back and buy it for nostalgia..
FS: What would be the one piece of advice you would give to anyone just starting or has dreams of forming their own independent company? MC: When no one is around, look yourself in the mirror and have a heart to heart/come to Jesus..The question should be, Am I built for this?
Mike City is a great example of how individual effort and dedication can propel you to the next level. He has contributed so much in such little time to the world of music. He has boosted so many artist careers over the years from his melodic production and penmanship. Be on the look out for this great talent for years to come. You can follow Mike City on twitter @mikecity. You can follow me on twitter @fatalson. Gone!!!