We discussed music with the 26 year old Milwaukee artist/producer Mike Regal for his album release titled Premonitions.
Over facetime from two midwestern cities, Mike gave us a chance to look into his life and opinion, just in time for his latest rapping release Premonitions.
Tell us who you are.
“I’m Mike Regal. Producer and artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m a visionary, artist, friend, family member, all that. I’m a realist. Just somebody who’s trying to use an art form to get my voice out to the world.”
Talk to us about from where and what is the inspiration you gathered for this project.
“Life itself. Growing up here in Milwaukee, being a black male in a heavily segregated state. A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like growing up here because a lot of people think it’s just farms and cows and shit like that here. But it’s actually a top city for crime and violence and all that man, and it’s all in one small circle. Even growing up in an environment where you kinda get numb to racism and things like that, because it’s everywhere. Just having that perspective and really wanting to get a voice on that, and a musical view on that. I got a lot of inspiration from my favorite artists. Some people make music to have fun to, some people make music to smoke to, to have sex to, whatever. I just wanna be a realist and use this art to really promote the truth and speak nothing but it.”
It seems like Milwaukee really is a segregated community, what’s it actually like there?
“Yeah, we in the process of gentrification right now. They tryna put us in certain areas. You can see the isolation. Specifically on the east side here. It’s kind of like an artsy type of town now, but in the early 90’s you wouldn’t even go over there. But since the east side is so close to downtown and such a cash cow, they try to move the crime out to the higher end of the north side. But the thing about the hip-hop scene though, it blends and it cuts that line of segregation. I’ve got plenty of homies who are multi-cultural just because of the music. So we’re using that to try to kind of blur that line.“
You pretty much produced all of Premonitions. Talk about the dynamic between you being a rapper and you being a producer.
“It’s interesting man. I feel like I have a different level of creativity because I’m building things from the ground up. The producers usually provide the sound. We inspire the artists to come up with those words and come up with those ideas that they have. Me being a producer a lot of time, there’s a ton of ideas I have all the time. Sometimes it can be confusing. Me being a rapper, I have so many ideas when I hear beats, but it’s like the production end of it, it’s like… (laughs). It is a little weird to describe, it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s like a chefs perspective. You’re cooking and eating. When a chef eats a plate of food, he tastes the ingredients. A lot of times I hear beats with different cadences. It’s a far more creative process. Everytime people ask me that I can never explain it. I feel like producer/artists are probably the most creative. If you look at Kanye and see how deep he goes with the aesthetics and sound, the vocal projection, the flow and the words, all of that goes into his projects as opposed to an artist who just gets the canvas and paints.“
What do you enjoy more? Producing or rapping?
“I’ll be honest, I enjoy producing a lot more. There’s a lot less restriction. Nowadays, people wanna hear only certain types of flows, they only wanna hear you talk about certain things, and they’re not necessarily inviting to unfamiliar things. Rappers with new styles usually have to go through a lot more before people warm up to it and adapt to it. As far as production goes, there’s always somebody who likes that type of beat. There’s certain people who don’t like the words and just love hip-hop production. I’ve met a lot of people like that. Me personally, I like producing more because there’s more freedom. I can go make a trap beat, I can go make a hip-hop beat, I can go try to make something pop. The challenge of it, the competitive edge of it, and the creative control of it is what I like the most.“
Give us an overview of Premonitions.
“Premonitions is exactly what the word means. Each song is a vision. I travel to the future, the past, and the present in the songs. For example, a song like 3005 is more future driven. When you listen to Ocean Front, I talk about stories from my past more. And then if you talk about a song like Business Man, that’s very relevant to my present situation in life. All of these songs are small visions and premonitions of things that I’ve seen or been through. It’s really an introduction to me. Sonically, I gave everybody a little bit of everything. I don’t really try to put myself in a box. I just want it to be all around man.”
Describe Premonitions in one word or one statement.
“I’d probably say intricate. Or something like eclectic, just because it’s a little bit of everything. I say intricate just because it’s not something you may understand right away. When you sit down and absorb it and really listen to it, you’ll be able to gain a lot from it. Whether it’s knowledge, motivation, inspiration or just understanding. I want this project to inspire people to do whatever. Whether they skate, paint, draw, rap, produce, I want people to hear this project and get the fuck up to do whatever they do. That’s what my favorite artists give to me.“
So we’re Daily Chiefers. We smoke a little bit of weed. It looks like you smoke a little bit of weed. If Premonitions was a type of weed, what would it be? And how would you want people to smoke it?
“(Pulls out dutchie immediately following this question). It’s sour diesel. Just sit back, smoke it, and press play. Indulge in the experience. That’s what I tried to make this project. A whole experience from beginning to end. I wouldn’t say it’s a party smoke project, like you and 8 other homies are matching and shit. You could do that, but I feel like it’s more of a sit down and smoke and go to another world type project.“
What’s next for Mike Regal?
“I’m working on another beat tape to come out soon this year, as well as another rapping project. Setting up a tour right now. It’s non stop here and I’m really just getting started. I’m gonna keep the ball rolling.“
Listen to Premonitions below. Go to the album release show June 25th at the Miramar Theatre in Milwaukee.