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Stories · 20. Mickey Boston Interview

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What was your inspiration to become an MC?

MICKEY BOSTON: I started doing hiphop at the beginning of high school. I grew up in an African American neighbourhood and so hiphop was always there from my humble beginnings. Since I am a product of the early eighties, old school hiphop was everything for me. Despite such givens, the first piece of music I ever purchased was a Michael Jackson cassette I can still remember my mother, a hijabi woman holding up that tape in the department store to the satisfaction of my four-year old eyes as if it were replaying in front of me all over again. The initial inspiration to become an MC was simply the desire to express. I couldnt say it was any artist in particular from back in the day. I dont credit anything to LL or DMCto Scott La Rock or Marly Marl or even Easy-E. I HAD THINGS TO EXPRESS AND JUST WANTED TO EXPRESS IT AND SO I PICKED UP THE PEN BEFORE I KNEW OF HOW A CONDENSOR MIC EVEN WORKED, I BEGAN TO WRITE VERSE.

In essence, after writing at the kitchen table from the age of thirteen, an opportunity approached me in the subway of Montreal. While my father was frequenting Brooklyn and Queens and back to Montreal, I was to continue my high school education in Montreal while still growing in St-Henri. While in the metro I was approached by youth social worker who presented a radio programming activity involving inner-city youth. I saw it as an opportunity to step up my game. Out of all the inner-city kids in the metro that day, Allah swt had it that he would approach me, subhanAllah. I immediately accepted the proposal for the radio show at that time EPMD had come back together and had their first single Richter Scale out and I just felt that I needed to debut like an earthquake myself. I met Primetime (Prymtyme) along with Adrian the station manager, the rest was history. I have CKUT 90.3FM, radio McGill to thank, who would ever have thought that today, so many years later Im doing a doctorate at McGill, subhanAllah. It was at the radio station that I met a fellow MC, Ratio (a cat of Hungarian descent) who inspired me lyrically. My style was actually shaped by Ratio at the time, he was always into KRS and Tribe, he was always into that real food rap jazzy genre of hiphop. I was more of a Timbo type of cat, a cat influenced by the RZAs production skills and Commons knowledgeable creative writing blended in with some of Tony Touchs grimeyness. Ratio always had us freestyling in the booth on KRS beats, I Loved it. We always had fun, everything was about being confident and comfortable with yourself and your surroundings, khulus, nothing more, nothing less.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Where do you get the content for your music?

MICKEY BOSTON: Well back in 97 it was all about Tony Touch and his production for me. I was all about Tony Touchs style in terms of production while stuck on KRSs ways of expressing on the mic. I bought my first baby, an AKAI S-20 after doing crazy amounts of research in the radio station library and archives. I felt that the AKAI was the way to go in terms of production (mind you I was just a fourteen-year-old at the time). Lyrically, I was far ahead of myself let alone all other MCs I would cross on a quotidian basis. I was on another level. Tony Touch and the RZA were the blueprint or prototype producers I wanted to be like in terms of sound manipulation, structuring and production. I also studied Primos ways as well as the Alchemist however I felt that ALC was waaaaaay waaaaaaaay waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over my league. At the beginning content for my tracks, in terms of production was based solely on simple loops. I had two masters who taught me production here in Montreal and I do owe it to them. I had wires all over my bedroom floor while alongside it, a prayer mat and wooden stand for my Qurans. The bedroom was a niche between wires and spirituality, between scripture and vinyls. Wires would be over and beneath my prayer mat as I sat cross-legged on the floor making beats and other times sitting on those very same wires making dhikr. The musical content was, simply put, being sampled from any record I could get my teenage paws on, most of which were borrowed from the radio station, alhamdulillah. I have yet to return a couple of records I had borrowed over a decade ago inshaAllah. Today in terms of content, after so many years of being on the mic and production boards, everything comes from within. I am at a point where I can just look within myself and produce something off the top of my head, just like that. I had it back then and still have it now, it is a gift for Him.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: So whats the difference between this new album and your previous recordings?

MICKEY BOSTON: Well I have released quite a few pieces of work. What I am up to right now is a slender shift from Expressions of One Muslim in the Subway to something more surreal, spiritually surreal. This one will hit up an independent record label and yes, there are videos that will be going with the tracks. As you know I produce all of my tracks and some of them I have actually done the turntabling since my dj, Nabokov, had a childa beautiful daughter Khadijah mashaAllah. So with the arrival of little Khadijah Nabokov I have teamed up with other djs and sound engineers here in Montreal and have essentially expanded the enterprise. In essence, I have teamed with my man Jaamie Zampini, a brother who takes his Ilsaam seriously who approached me for the videos. Zampini is a Muslim film director and came up to me a couple years back for video clips. Finally we hit the lab, got the entire film crew from Miradj Productions and got down to business. These are high budget video clip projects, hopefully you have enjoyed both my tracks Trashcan Fellonies in a Boombox featuring three breakers from Montreal as well as a local Montreal Jazz musician and comedian. Our first video was of course, the lyrically stunning and scientific spitted Phenomenological Thoughts in a Spraycan. Expect the same turntabling skills on the underground tip. Expect the same spiritual consciousness. This upcoming album has a tighter flow. My fans have grown up with me and we hittin the audiences hard inshaAllah, underground style as always on a heavy boom bap tip. So be on the lookout for the album, al-Ghayb: Kovakss Unseen.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are you doing when youre not making music?

MICKEY BOSTON: Pooof! Too much to tell here. I run a mad busy schedual. I have been a teacher the past four years. I teach Quran and Arabic. I also tutor university students privately. I am a doctorate student myself. I hold a BA and MA in literature to which I can admit my verbal lyrical skills undeniably derive themselves from. Aside from my doctorate work I also work for Miradj Productions as an executive. I am not married so thank God in one regard that I dont have heavy family responsibilities. Beyond this I am also a photographer and calligrapher.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How is the Muslim Artist/hip-hop scene in your area?

MICKEY BOSTON: Well from a Muslim perspective, Montreal has some stuff going on. We are home of spoken word Queen, Sofia Baigwho I was never feeling and still dont dig her spoken word but yup, we mad proud of that sister as always. We are also home of The Sound of Reason, who I aint digging once again, but they are excellent brothers. Their music isnt on my vibe thats all. We got brother Moez who is with Miradj Productions. The kid is hafiz Quran and is sick, a beautiful voice. Moez and I will be working a few tracks together so stay on the look-out for that. In terms of hiphop, we got Malik 23 who lives about a couple blocks from me in this hood. I was close to brother Yusuf who was mad ill however no longer rhymes, hung up the mic. Furthermore, we also have the Narcysist who doesnt live far from me, actually in the same neighbourhood I had a high school position in. So the Muslim presence is very strong and creative. Everyones professional in their artistry.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What role do you think music can have in positively affecting the Muslim community?

MICKEY BOSTON: I couldnt tell you on a large scale. I mean everyone listens to music, okay not all, I mean if you are a follower of Sheikh Nuh or something you dont listen to any music, watch tv or have any images in your home. So essentially I can say that music is there, just depends on the person listening.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What would you like to say to your fans?

MICKEY BOSTON: I have some very devoted fans and I love them for sticking to my work all the way through. My fan base is growing daily and annually I look back over another year past and say subhanAllah. To them I say JazakAllah. Stand by my words inshaAllah. I Love You.

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