Wenn man Mikel Knight mit seinem Cowboydeckel auf dem Kopf durch die Straßen schlendern sieht, kommt man wohl nicht ohne weiteres auf den Gedanken, dass der Kerl im Rapbusiness über die lokale Ebene hinaus Erfolge feiert und mit Leuten wie Nino, Bun-B, Paul Wall und Bad Azz im Studio abhängt. Wer sich hinter dem ins Auge stechenden Outfit verbirgt – Don$P hat’s herausgefunden…
What’s poppin’ man?
Sup yall, I’m Im Mikel Knight, also known as A-Gee, the albino gorilla, peckawood #1 in the south. Texas Bad Boi, The Real McCoy, I’ve been known as some of those things. *laughs*
You’ve been born and raised in the south?
Well, I’m the youngest of 2 boys, raised by a single mom without a father figure. Didn’t even meet him until I was in my 20’s. Grew up on the streets in Texas, mainly San Antonio but Houston as well. Caught my first felony arrest at 15, 10 year prison sentence by 18. Rolled with the toughest dudes in the cit – and mind you San Antonio is the sixth largest city in the US with almost 2 million people. I grew up rough, had a gun by the time I was 14. I have same friends I’ve had my whole life to this day. Some do music with me, some sell dope, some went legit. But we all went to prison at one time or another. My youth was rough to say the least.
What about your affinity to music back at that time?
Well music caught my ear early on, like when I was 4 or 5. I always loved music. I have been singing and rapping since I could remember! My mom was a big music fan and had every record you could think of in her record collection.Then whenever I moved out on my on at 15, I took them with me and those records were like a treasure to the homies and me. We found an old record player and played those records everyday for like 6 years til I got locked up. I don’t know what happened to them. I lost everything then. But music got me and the homies through alot, it was our escape from the reality we faced everyday.
How does your local rap scene look like today?
I mean as far as what? I’m not into the real local scene so I dont know as far as the little dudes comin’ up in San Antonio. I mostly fuck with established cats. I help people where I can. I had a studio for 12 years and helped the local cats out everyday. Whenever I came back into town from LA – I was out there for almost 6 years – going back and forth to record. But I mean now I live back in Houston and you know the scene here stays poppin. You got the Paul Walls, and of course I fuck with Paul. We have a track on my album thats called “I Got Game”, it’s hot. Then there’s UGK, now that Pimp C is out of prison. Of course you know they just dropped a new album. I manage one of the hottest producers out of the south right now named Yung Fyngas of Fyngermade Productions (check: http://www.fyngermade.com) and we just placed a track he produced on the new UGK album that’s out. The track is called “Trill Niggas Don’t Die” and it’s hot. So there’s UGK that’s hot out in Texas right now. Then of course there’s Lil Flip, he’s hot. Yung Fyngas produced almost an entire album (“Fliperaci”) for him and produced another hot one on the new “I Need Mine” record Lil Flip just released. Actually Fyngas and his partner DJ Double R hold down San Anotnio right now. They are the only local cats I fuck with cause they do major things so it works. I don’t mess with alot of local artists anymore because they just don’t have their shit together, they’re still on the block and argue with each other. If you can’t get your act together what can you bring to the table with me. That’s how I look at it. Do’nt get me wrong: I like to discover any talent that comes from my hometown and then develope it if I can. But its hard to find quality talent anywhere really, much less San Antonio.
Your own solo debut came out in 1996. Are you satisfied with “Suthern Comfort: Life Of A Gee”?
Hell no! I’m never satisfied with any of my music. Almost as soon as it’s done I know I can do it better. But that’s just me. I’m like that always. I taught myself to produce music. And I don’t play any instruments. I taught myself how to write songs and bridges and choruses. No one helped me. I did it everyday and just made albums. Just to move forward I forced myself to learn the music business at the same time. So no I am never satisfied with my albums.
All in all you already released 5 albums. Are they all out of print? If not, where can this stuff be purchased?
Well I released all of my records overseas to Japan as recently as 2005 so I have everything pressed up. I had an underground hit on my 1999 album called “Notorious”. I was the hottest selling underground artist in Japan in 2004 -2005. It really came as a blessing out of nowhere. Even though I am not ever satisfied with my albums, I put alot of thought and effort into each one so I know that someone somewhere likes what I’m doing and that’s tight to me. You can get all my past albums on http://www.cdbaby.com or my label’s website http://www.1203entertainment.com
Tell me more about your releases…
“Strugglin’ To Hustlin'”
My second album, 1999, see above. This record had a single on it that really saved my career so to speak. I mean after my deals went bad in Los Angeles I had to find a way to make it back. And Japan just happened to discover my A-Gee records at the right time. It started as early as 2003. Without my first two records that I probably hate the most I wouldn’t be where I am today. All of my records have been good investments even if I didt see it at first, even if it took 7 years to happen.
“Hardest Wood Outha Forest”
This album was my comeback after a long time in jail. I wanted to start over, change my identity. I had become to infamous as A-Gee and my real name was even worse. Iif you run my real name anywhere in the state of Texas my criminal record comes up and a simple traffic stop becomes a full blown search thats last two hours. I was also kicked out of Texas upon my release from prison, so it made perfect sense to change my name then. That’s when I picked up the alias Mikel Knight. Mikel is my middle name and I thought who was the coolest whiteboy you knew growing up? Mikel Knight – and it stuck. So Mikel Knight is really an alias as a way to avoid the cops, not an artist name. I just didn’t want to say my real name anymore and I needed something that could be both. You can do business with a Mikel Knight: you can buy a beat from a Mikel Knight and you can buy a record from a Mikel Knight. So not soon after the name change I started making this album in the Bay when I was kicked out of Texas. I worked with legends and homies of the late Tupac Shakur, Richie Rich, B-Legit and also my homie Baby Bash who at the time went by Baby Beesh. But really this album didn’t have a shot until I went to LA and recorded with Bone Thugs & Harmony producer Bobby Jones. The first song we recorded ended up being my biggest single of my career at the time.The song was entitled “Peckawood” and it got me signed to American Music who at the time had Bizzy Bone, Jayo Felony, Dru Down and several others on it at the time. It was at this time that I signed my first major deal for over half a million dollars but I soon lost that when 911 tradgedy happened. The label stopped cutting checks almost as soon as the video was shot. I saw it and got out of the deal with nothing but ownership of my masters. Thank god after I sold my first two A-Gee albums to Japan they started buying my new Mikel Knight albums.
“The Game Officials”
Same with this one. When I had gotten my deal with American Music I had a group with me, made of my homies called the Game Officials. They where my G Unit to 50 Cent or my D-12 to Eminem. So Bobby Jones and I started recording the Game Officials album, but as soon as the label pulled my money I had to shrink the budget and salvage the project as best I could. It became a promotional CD, like a mixtape. And then I pressed it up and sold it over in Japan. This album actually still sells the most digitaly overseas. There is one song called “Aint Nobody Winnin But Us” on it that is digitaly downloaded and bought everyday in Europe. I think it’s in Germany, England and France that it sells the most. Make sure you check it on http://www.cdbaby.com
“Albino Gorilla – 1 In A Million”
This was my response to the japanese demand for more A-Gee product. I knew I was about to tour there and of course I had been recording which I always do. I stay recording new material all the time – like Tupac, I guess, in case I die. Around late 2004 I started using my overseas money to put my new sound together. The sound that’s going to shock the world and already is in the states. Country Rap! So as my gangsta rap records were exploding in Japan seven years later I found myself trying to keep up with their demand for more A-Gee gangsta shit and recording new material for the new Mikel Knight project. Needless to say it was hard to do so. What Albino Gorrilla ended up being is a collection of new and old material that I wasn’t using for my new Mikel Knight record. Plus I sent out a DVD with it that had my music videos and footage of me in the studio with Bun B, Paul Wall, Baby Bash, live footage and more! It sold well in Japan to the mainstream audience and did the job I needed it to so I was happy.
So what’s coming up next?
Well as I said, I’m working on something really new. Here in the states you know our music evolves quickly and we’re always blending new music together and making it hot. And well with me as I get older and my life changes so did my goals and aspirations of what I want out of life and my music reflects that now. I’ve been able to embrace parts of my upbringing that I hadnt before and now Im creating country rap at its finest! You wont believe it but it sounds good. I mean its still made and produced by hip hop producers so the drums and the swagger is still there but we are targeting a new new audience of young people. American music has been successful in crossing rap and rock, rap and latin rhythms. Look at Reggaeton. HipHop and Rap has blended with just about everything its changed or effected almost every genre of music and now its time to do it with Country. Nelly did it and scored a hit with Tim McGraw in 2003 and a few people have tried to touch on it. But I have the background to pull it off. I have respect in the hood and I never had to put a grill in my mouth to get it. I have respectin the industry and I didn’t have to suck anybody’s dick to get it. I’m my own man and this music thing is just a stepping stone in my life to achieve the kinda of success that I know is waiting for me. I also write movies and have some hot scripts in the works. I’m big into making films. I have been involved in all my videos productions and the last one I just did for Texas Bad Boi. I basically did everything but hold the camera. I’m into the business side of music, publishing, artist management, production. Like I said I owned a studio for many years I’ve worked with many types of music and many different bands and groups of all kinds. My history is deep. So my goals are set high with alot of new projects. I also distribute records to Japan for other artists. I’m going to pick that up this year and start it over in Germany, England, and France. I travel alot so my plan is to do what I did in Japan and that’s to fly there and personally walk into every hiphop and rap record store in Germany and bring the newest of underground hip hop, rap & R’n’B music from new artist not able to get there otherwise. I will do the same in most of Europe. I have been working on this already. My schedule has just been so busy with the new record to make the trips yet.
Do you work on your next solo?
Yes I have one record in the can already, ready to go. That’s the “Memoirs Of A Texas Boi”, The Real McCoy album. This is the more urban album with Paul Wall, Bun B of UGK and Baby Bash on it. Now I’m recording “Urban Cowboy”. This is the real country rap album. It got a hot single leading off this summer called “Saddle Up”. It’s crazy..
Who is doing the production?
Yung Fyngas, Happy Perez, DJ Dev out of Nashville and myself of course.
Who is the most important personality in San Antonio to you as far as putting the town on the map?
Me and Yung Fyngas, hands down..
Alright, let’s get a little more personal- how would you describe your own character?
My friends would call me crazy. Most people that know me know I’m a good dude but I have I have a zero tolerance for disrespect and bullshit. I have a scary temper. But so do all my homies. They would just say mine is the worst. I’ve put up with alot of shit my whole life, fighting over 1000 muthafuckas and I don’t fuck with anyone. People just cant fuck with me, bottom line. In business, in the streets, anywhere. I’ve put up with alot of foul shit in life and business when I was younger but now I’m smarter. I don’t fuck with nobody unless it’s about doe. I have the same homies I’ve had my whole life. I’m abitious to the point of obsession. I have to win. The brief time I had a father figure when I was real young. He kicked my ass for failure or for not being the best. So it’s embedded in me to accept nothing else but success. I’m a leader. I don’t follow. I used to hate it when people would say that I thought I was black. Man, I’m white, proud to be it. I just hang with black dudes cause that’s who I hang with. But I’m a whiteboy homie. I’m loyal, all my friends will tell you that. I got all my familiy’s back. My friends are my family and we have all basically raised each other. I’m real loyal. I’m a thinker. I think about where we came from, where man came from. And about God and space. I’m not content with just music. Music is a gift I was giving at birth and I love it but I know that there is something bigger than music that we are all here for. So I’m big on thinking for yourself and not letting society brainwash you. I believe in destiny and that everyone has one. Music is just helping me find mine.
What are the biggest lessons you had to learn about life?
That there is something bigger out there that we had all better start thinking about. Don’t just walk around like sheep. But live everyday like its your last. Follow your dreams. Don’t settle if you don’t want to. Say no. Make yourself happy but not at the expense of others less fortunate. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And pray.
How does a regular day in your life look like?
It changes depending on what project I’m working on. Right now, I’m going back and forth from Houston and Nashville recording new material. So today I got up around 7 am – oh yeah I never sleep more than 5-6 hours a day. Sleep when your dead, it’s hustle 24/7 round here! Took a shower rolled a blunt, checked my emails, called manager and several other associates. That’s the usual start. Then I usually listen to some music in my office, getting thoughts moving around. Maybe get some promotional mailouts ready to mail out. Get dressed. Hop In the Navi, probably on my cell making moves. Hit the post office. Stop and grab some food and a beer. Head over to the studio meet Fyngas. Pull up some tracks. Talk some business over some production he’s done for Lil Flip – that was today, we have a lawsuit now against Flip/Warner Bros. Work on some songs, maybe write for a few hours. Then record if necessary. On another day I would get up and catch the 12 noon flight to Nashville and get picked up by my manager Emac, he was Haystak’s manager for years. Check into hotel. Head to the studio to work with DJ Dev, write some songs with the team. Do that til 2-3 am. Wake up the next day, take a meeting with my radio team that’s working my singles See how the tour set up is going for the summer. Then hit the studio til 2-3 am. Then do it again the next day. And maybe fly out after 4-5 days of that, back to Houston. Thats the last 3 months.
What has been the greatest experience in your life up to date and why?
I guess have a few. Getting released from prison is one. That’s an awesome experience, I hope no one ever has to experience first hand. Recording my first hit.(“Peckawood” even though it never saw the light of day the labels knew it was a hit). The first song I made that when I heard it and everyone else heard it. Unanamously that one song officially made me hot, certified hot! I was in LA. I was called almost every other day by some label. I had a real hit, but it got fucked off by the label bullshit as I said before. Another would have to be when I toured Japan and saw my fans up close and personal. It was something I never expected. Some how some way my music made it all the way to the other side of the planet and touched people – that just really touched me ya know. When I went there and saw this completely different culture singing the lyrics to my songs that I wrote seven years ago and could sing every single word of it. And they didn’t even know english but they knew my lyrics. It was tight. I loved it. I loved the japanese people and the fans. And of course the girls, that was an amazing experience!
Do you have an eye on other rapper’s work? What are your thoughts on today’s rapscene?
You realise I’m one on the first say. Million people that truly and whole heartedly supported and helped make rap what it is today. I bought every rap album from every artist that went platinum since the beginning of rap. I believed in it when others thought it was a passing trend or a fad. I was very young at then end of the breakdance era and into raps early days to where it is today. So to me to have made a living based around that music is something I am proud of and I can only say that people are eating their words now that rap/hip hop music is the highest crossing genre of music and sells the most records of all the other genres combined. I helped that. I’m proud of it. Name a place on earth that doesn’t like rap music. You can’t – cause hip hop has changed the world and will continue to.
Are there any artists you would like to do a record with?
No, not really any particular artist. But I would like to work with some hot producers I know of, though. Like Jazze Pha and Timbaland, maybe even Jermaine Dupri or Swiss Beats.
You told me that you plan to come to Germany sooner or later. What do you already know about the country?
I can’t say I know too much. I mean I know what they teach us of our history in war of course, from school. But I know I have some german blood in my family. And I dated a german girl who was hot like fire. So Germany’s cool with me. People are people. I don’t have no problem with no one for any reason unless they bring it my way, ya feel me. I plan to go to Germany this year or beginning of next year for sure. See the hip hop scene and work with some people.
We’re already at the end of our interview. Time to drop some words to the readers in Germany and all over the world…
Yeah thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak to rap and hip hop fans of germany. I appreciate it very much. Y’all come holla at us. We love to hear from our fans and we love to make more, so come by our websites and drop us a line. Let us know what you like and what you don’t like. Leave an address so we can put you on a mailing list for promotional CDs and DVDs. Remember the names. It’s 1203 Entertainment Inc. and Fyngermade Productions. New Album coming soon:
Mikel Knight “Memoirs Of A Texas Boi” The Real Mccoy – feat. Paul Wall, Baby Bash & Bun B of UGK.
You can contact us here:
Any record shops or record distributors that are interested in carrying my music contact me through my website or email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone interested in booking a show or a feature please contact me through my email as well. Anyone in Germany or anywhere looking for some hot platinum production feel free to hit me up also. Yung Fyngas is a working producer, that’s what we do.