Mike Taylor’s music feels like a collection of summertime memories drenched in the smell of steaks on the barbeque and thrift store sweats. Representing the City of Brotherly Love, Taylor is a rapper-turned-singer who is taking the music scene by storm. After packing his bags and following in his father’s footsteps, he made his way to the Big Apple, where he met some strange friends and a multitude of fans. Taylor and I had a great conversation about his hometown, the fight for fame, and the historical tension between the gay and rap communities.
In response to the somewhat hostile relationship between our gay community and the rap community, Taylor had a few things to say:
It’s funny when people say “the gay community” or “the black community.” I live my life in a way where I don’t acknowledge that. A person is not a gay person, they are a person. At the end of the day I make music for everybody and it’s all good. The community shows me love and I show the community love. [There is] no wall or boundary or even a separate group to have to acknowledge. They are just people! People who like my music!
I feel like any bigotry or hatred is shitty. I completely acknowledge the history in hip hop and the way they dealt with homophobia and misogyny and all those issues. [However], to me, I think that is a person to person type of thing. In this world and in this society, we have some phobias and we have some really dark places that nobody wants to talk about. I think that all I can do is just live the way that I live and just welcome everyone and everything. That’s all I can do.
Born into a jazz family, Taylor was raised around music and the concept of it’s accessibility. When I asked him what that upbringing was like, he laughed.
I was raised by my mother, but my dad is a jazz musician and from time to time he would bring me along to his concerts at clubs and bars. I don’t want to say that he taught me music, but he just inspired the idea that it is tangible. That was pretty much all I needed.
Taylor says he “aims to inspire” through his music and his live performances, and he clarified exactly how.
I’m always inspired by things. I get really fulfilled when things make me want to create or even just be better at something. I always hoped that if I could do that for somebody else that [would be] amazing. I’m not on my high horse, like “I’m trying to change people’s lives.” That’s not the goal! If I can just change your mood for a second, that is all I want to do. [I want to] take people away and make people want to do better.
I pull from personal experiences and things that are near and dear to me. As individuals we all relate to different people’s stories [and] other people’s stories. I just focus really inward on my story. There is really no kind of message, I would just like to put feel-good music and positive music into the world.
Having worked within the music industry for years, Taylor’s made a few observations, and learned a couple of things.
The biggest thing, as cliche as it may sound, is really stick to your own grounding. Don’t lose yourself, because it is really easy to do that. Especially when you are out in Los Angeles, in the land of make believe.
I have been doing this for a long time. I have been signed and I have been let go. I have kind of been all over the place and I have come a long way. I feel like if you can still remain true to who you are as a person, that’s the only thing that is going to get you through.
I tell people all the time I think it’s a bit easier for me as an artist in Los Angeles and New York than it was in Philadelphia. In Philly we’re not fans of much; we are really tough critics. If you can come up in Philly in any respect that says a lot. It is the school of the hard knocks.
I produce, I sing, I rap, I do a lot of stuff and I am glad people appreciate it. You have to do all that just to get one person to almost think you’re cool! You have to levitate for people to kind of take you seriously. [Even] then they will still find a way to make that levitation not seem cool. Now I am out here and I feel like I went through some hardcore boot camp and I am a better artist because of it.
Having just released the video for his new single, “DWNTWN KDS,” it was great to hear about what inspired the film and the storyline.
The concept of the song is kind of [about] my infatuation with the whole downtown scene of New York in the late Seventies and Eighties. The Keith Haring, Grace Jones, Madonna circle. I was really interested in not necessarily how incredible they were as original artists, but just their support towards one another. They were all broke young kids just doing what they do, sleeping on each other’s couch and making it happen. They were kids being kids and they all ended up being these huge figures in the world.
When I moved to Los Angeles I found myself in that [same situation]. I grew up always wanting to be like that. We are all doing our own things and we’re supporting each other and we are sleeping on each others couches. One day very soon we are going to be these huge things and nobody will ever know that we were all just these kids. We were broke and poor and just getting by and just being us. That’s pretty much where the concept came from and I just wanted to show that in a very organic manner. I put the camera on my friends and we just shot it. That is exactly what the song is about.
With the fire of his hometown in his heart, Taylor is here to stay.
Do you have an artist you want us to review or interview? Email me at Connor@GuySpy.com