Mikey Polo is an independent success story. From his origins in the DMV to relocating to Atlanta, and then again to New York, and then again to LA. Being in all of these different regional scenes has allowed Mikey to leave his mark musically all across the country these last couple of years. Mikey sat down to talk about his latest project, EMO or DIE 2, his journey to where he is now, working with Trippie Redd, linking with Chris Brown in LA, and more.
NS: I want to start this off with your origins. Was life growing up in the DMV?
Mikey: I mean, it was pretty cool. It was a fast lifestyle; it was a lot to grasp because it’s a lot of shit that happens around, you know. So, I mean, I say it’s pretty fast; it’s pretty hard to separate yourself and be successful from my area with certain types of things because not everybody wants to support you.
NS: When did making music start for you?
Mikey: I used to always make music, but I started going serious probably in high school when I moved to Richmond around the age of 16, 17.
NS: Can you talk about relocating to Atlanta, the reason behind moving/and your experience as a rapper there?
Mikey: In that era? My life was dark. It was the era when I was fucked up. I had no money; I had nothing going on. I had a daughter on the way, was homeless, and was going through a lot. And it was just my music career. I wasn’t even all the way up yet. So I just moved to Atlanta, and just by blessings, I lucked up and was around certain people that believed in me and liked the sound & my image. In Atlanta, they gravitated toward me because I wasn’t from there. And it just helped me go to the next place, you know? It just helped me get to the next step each way.
NS: Can you talk more about the time period when you started to navigate New York City from the DMV to boost your career?
Mikey: So when I moved to New York, I went to label meetings, and then after that, I was like, you know, this is the area I need to be. So I found a way to stay out there, crashed on couches, and shook hands. I was just in places, sleeping in studio sessions. And after a while, I built a fan base out there and ended up doing XXL and all that stuff. And that’s kind of where the Mikey Polo brand branched over.
NS: And would you suggest that route to younger artists that are coming up right now?
Mikey: Hell yeah, definitely be out there. You got to; you can’t be in one place and think you want to be how big you want to be. You have to move around all the time—every day.
NS: The music is hip-hop, but you can hear the rock influence. Who are some of your favorite rock bands that helped influence you?
Mikey: Gorillaz, Panic at the Disco, Green Day. I like Marilyn Manson, too. I’m not super big on listening to too many other people. But those are the main ones. If I want to hear something real quick, it will be from them. Like I listen to a lot of different genres of music like it’s a wide variety.
NS: Has your music always been this versatile? Or did you evolve into this sound over time?
Mikey: It’s always been versatile. If anything, I was doing more R&B-type stuff when I first started making music, but I switched it up after I added some rap shit to it and then got a little better because I’ve always had a way of putting words together. It’s just that I didn’t do it in a musical form at first.
NS: Your latest project, Emo or Die 2, is out now. What was the process like making that body of work?
Mikey: It was crazy, bro. That was basically my tape coming back, showing them alright, I dropped Emo World with major features on there, and it did great; it was my first million streams for an album. So it was like, I got to show them I got more shit in the vault, I got more shit coming. So it was like I had to show them, this is Mikey Polo evolving, and I’m showing you all the steps, yall bout to see me go up from this.
NS: You have two KA$HDAMI features on there; how’d you two link up?
Mikey: That’s my little bro. Like, real life. We’re always around each other. We’re chilling, and we just got introduced through a mutual friend, and from there, we just started rockin’, and I was like, ‘bro, you’re like my little brother,’ and he looked at me like a big brother. We stay around each other, you know, bounce ideas off each other. He’s very smart. So it’s not like I look at him and be like, oh, you’re 17, bout to be 18, it’s like, Nah, you’re a rapper. I’m a rapper. It’s like having a smart little bro around. He does the same shit you do.
NS: How do you think you’ve grown as an artist since you dropped Emo World?
Mikey: I feel like my sound is more polished. I’ve found my niche of what lane I like the most. I’ve been producing a lot of my own beats now, so that’s something I’ve gravitated towards. I don’t really get producers to send me anything unless it’s a producer I like. I usually just make my beats now.
NS: On Emo World, Trippie Redd is on two songs. How did that relationship start, and how did those records come about (“Baguette Spaghetti” and “Super Powers”)?
Mikey: Trippie met me when he came to Maryland. That was like 2016/2017. And when he first met me, he was fucking with the vibe and played me some music, and I wasn’t really listening to his music at the time. At first, I had just met him. So after I moved to New York, we kept in contact, and he hit me one day like, ‘Yo, you should come on tour with me. So I went on tour with him, and then it just went up from there. We started living together at one point in L.A. We stayed close friends; that’s the bro. And we are dropping our “Super Powers” video real soon. It’s already done. It’s an animated video.
NS: You were in LA with Chris Brown and Trippie. How did that link up come about?
Mikey: Breezy’s a friend of the homies. Breezy’s cool with me and Trippie. I grew up in Virginia, so of course, I’ve always been around that type of stuff. I went to high school out there, and then being in L.A., we linked up with Chris. We just gravitated to talk to each other. And then he showed me around the crib, you know? Talked to me about life and shit, just real shit.
NS: You recently released the “Great Xscape” visuals, can you talk about making that specific video?
Mikey: When I made that video, I wanted to push the barriers. I get asked a lot of questions, so I wanted to push the barriers, like, whatever y’all think is what y’all think. I’m gonna do this and y’all can think whatever y’all want. If you think I sold my soul fuck it. Think whatever y’all want.
NS: For those unfamiliar with your sound/style, how would you describe it?
Mikey: I really call it emo trap/emo&b. It’s emotional R&B with a little bit of trap. You know what I’m saying. We gonna go with that. I’m gonna take that.
Check out Mikey Polo’s latest release, “Wicked Lifestyle”, out on all DSPs, as well as the rest of his impressive catalog. Tap in.