Audible Hype Interviews iCON the Mic King

Posted by Justin Boland on Jun 05, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Audible Hype Interview

iCON the Mic King --- I am the third renaissanceWith the “Reintroduction Mixtape,” you’re making a solid bid to change the way people see you, and your place in hip hop.  Was there a lot of preparation and self-analysis involved with this new direction?

Well we’re moving into the Third Renaissance of hiphop and I’ve been talking about this publicly for awhile and there hasn’t been a high-profile release of mine that showcased anything more toward that direction. So the self-analysis and such has already been at play. I’m a Virgo, I sit here and critique all day everyday, I think that’s what has brought me this far! I didn’t come up with the idea of creating this mixtape until about a month or so ago. A lot of those songs had already been released but due to lack of push behind them they’re new to most people. Really there wasn’t much preparation I’ve been recording like crazy anyway it was just deciding what songs do I have that give people a good picture of what I’ve been doing recently and where I’m heading.

Is being as prolific as possible a core part of your strategy for 2008?

Absolutely, I’m planning to put out something digitally monthly. And do a big high-profile release quarterly but I have high quality standards so if it doesn’t actually happen it’ll be because of that. I’m still a quality over quantity guy but I’m pushing myself more than ever. In any event there will be more iCON the Mic King than ever this year.

Do you sell merchandise yourself at shows?  Do you think that personal connection is a major factor in sales, night to night?

Again absolutely. I’m cutting out the middle man in all cases. The Third Renaissance is very much about the artists working for the fans and the fans directly supporting the artists. Just because I rap doesn’t mean I’m too good to speak with you and build a rapport with you. The people are my lifesblood, it’s only right that I treat them with the respect they deserve.

What’s your perspective on the business of collaborations? Can established rappers make good income off that, or do they mostly undervalue their verses and beats?

Collaborations are a complicated issue, man! I don’t personally believe it does much to validate anyone especially in the information age. I feel like people download the song and skip to featured verse listen to it a couple times and then erase the song. Let’s say it’s a hot song, it’s a hot song of yours that you can’t really perform unless that person is around. Businesswise it’s both. Established rappers can make good income off it but a smart businessman prices his product in the range of his customer so you have [insert rapper here] selling verses on his myspace for $500 or [insert producer here] selling beats for $50. I understand where they are coming in that you price it lower you sell a bunch, but it destroys utility. Most times people ask me to collab and I request what I am worth they say “well I can get [insert rapper here] for $500 man you gotta come down.” The economies of scale of collaborating are much different now than when rappers were much less accessible.

iCON the Mic King on stage

Do you feel the market for hip hop in Europe is more appreciative and supportive than the US?

Absolutely. The key difference is in their overall appreciation for music and the fact that they market rap shows as parties. Whereas in America a party and a show are two different things. The frame every show as a party so it’s understood that it will be a fun time full of music that everyone loves, there will be girls, and it will be something of quality. In America our view is too narrow on how we frame our shows so unless you are a fan of the person on the bill you’re not gonna go because you don’t assume it has a built in good time. In Europe they still have a structure in place that accounts for a good show experience. Europeans are also a lot more open-minded and accepting of new things! All notoriety being equal, I can rip it down in New York and everyone will stand there with their arms folded thinking “I woulda done this different” and I can do the same exact performance in Paris and people will be catching me when I stagedive and wildin’ out. It’s not as though we don’t have the propensity to do the same, go to a hipster show. It’s the exact same thing they frame their shows as parties and people come out and the secondary thing is someone is performing. Those shows are packed! There’s no reason we can’t reframe hiphop the same way!

What are the most valuable tools you’ve found for staying organized and juggling all the roles you play when you manage your own career?

Man I don’t have any secrets, it’s all a lot of work. I just make lists of things I have to do and do them as I feel like it. Of course making a spreadsheet of all your contacts is invaluable. The best thing I can suggest to anyone is to maintain correspondence with everyone. Building those relationships is good but you have to keep that warm rapport otherwise you are just a user and people will see that and be less inclined to help you. Also when you commit to doing something, actually do it. You’re not gonna get anywhere being flaky. Other than that I keep everything in order in emails, in my sidekick and such. Having a PDA is a must for this type of stuff. Of course the Internet, you can’t say enough about the Internet. Basically any contact you ever needed, any place you’ve wanted to go…it’s all there.

I was reading an interview where you advocate people “taking a systematic approach to achieving their dreams.” What was the foundation of your system in the past 2 years?

I think mostly I’m just a spoiled and stubborn kid. I see something I want I’m gonna go after it until I can’t anymore or I lose interest. With most things I lose interest very fast though. HipHop was just the one thing I always loved and kept me interested and remained a challenge so my drive and talent just kept taking action and then analyzing where things went wrong and perfecting it. You have to otherwise you will think you’re running in place because this is a game of inches. BUT my purpose shifted about a year and a half ago though. I fell in love and I say that in a rap interview with no shame so that should tell you something. HAHA! Yeah I fell in love and I’ve been more motivated than ever to make things happen in the name of that so I’ve been perfecting my system and taking control of more things, using all the resources available to me, doing a lot of self-analysis to remain ahead of the curve both artistically and businesswise. I found my inspiration and now my productivity is through the roof!

Further Brainfood from iCON the Mic King

iCON the Mic King

There’s a lot of questions I didn’t ask, because iCON has already addressed them elsewhere.  Here’s some highlights:

Daily Hustle and Grind

I’ve heard that your work ethic is unparalled. What’s a typical day like for iCON the Mic King?

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One of our aspiring interviewers, Visero wanted to know, “Do you think you’re making a big inpact on all of the Underground Hip-Hop or just the backpackers? And what will it take to reach the rest of your potential audience?”

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What question do wish people would ask you?

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It’s weird “cause sometimes I kinda feel silly because I’m up there and the people really don’t understand me? They’re really just responding to how loud I am, and my arm motions nahmean? I’m a lyricist I put a lot of focus on what I’m writing and shit. So I feel like what’s the point? I feel like I could just be making sounds and they would respond the same way.

And finally, check out iCON’s manifesto for the Third Reniassance: Taking Back the Music We Love, from Drop Magazine.

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Music by Justin Boland