DAWG TAGS "Whatever people want to call me — I love it all," says Factz.
For some hip-hop heads, artists like Mickey Factz represent everything that reeks in rap. Between his bypassing the rugged underground, blowing up on-line, and occasionally kicking Kanye-esque arrogance (and Crayola-flavored street couture), he's an easy target for so-called purists. Still, there comes a time when every critic must concede that music as we know and love it has expired. Hip-hop, for example, has taken on fresh elements since MCs began fleeing major labels for independent pastures; in addition to tagging, breaking, rapping, and DJing, there's now branding, promoting, Twittering, and blogging. And if there was ever a living, rhyming paradigm of how shit ain't like it used to be, it's Bronx-born sneaker rapper Mickey Factz.
This Tuesday, Factz will be at the Middle East, and then it's down to the South by Southwest (SxSW) Music Conference as one of its tip-top attractions. For five days, hipsters galore will congregate in Austin and swap highlights from his nine planned appearances. Even Drum-twisting indie snobs who haven't liked rap since Dr. Octagonecologyst will be making plans to hit the studio with Factz when they get back to Williamsburg.
"I was down there last year with the Cool Kids," says Factz, whose first big single, "Rockin N Rollin," was with the stud-belted Chi-town duo. "They brought me out for their sets, and now I'm going to pay it forward — like a ritual. Just like the way Flosstradamus brought out the Cool Kids [in 2007] and they put me on last year, I'll be introducing the guys coming up behind me like Curtains."
Maybe now that contemporary dance rap has consumed the genre for half the decade, heads should stop stamping it fadtastic — especially since its practitioners seem immune to criticism. When asked how he feels about "blog rapper" or "hipster hopper" labels, Factz nonchalantly deflects. "Whatever people want to call me — I love it all. At the end of the day, the only thing people will be saying about me is, 'He's über.' "
For youngsters who consider Kanye West a veteran, Factz is an obvious upgrade; he's not merely a college dropout — he's an NYU Law School deserter. So he's prone to stunning intellectual aptitude: when Mickey isn't boasting about impractical footwear (check: "I Like Your Supras"), he's lacing intricate and obscure art, pop, and alt-culture references that no doubt have Web trolls consulting Wikipedia.
This profile is a relatively insignificant passing of the flame to rappers who compete with Bruce Springsteen in the snug-jeans department. Last December, XXL magazine put Factz on the cover of its "10 Freshmen" issue. It's about time. We old-schoolers are beginning to echo jazz and rock snobs who three decades ago predicted rap music's imminent demise. Boom-bap is no longer about battling on Brooklyn blocks until big-money talent scouts come to the rescue — and to deny that is to protest the boundless progression that Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa once imagined.
"To a lot of people, it seems like my success came faster than it should have, and in some ways it did, but there were definitely slow times when people weren't hearing shit," says Factz. "Whatever happened, though, I'm not the newcomer anymore. This was all calculated. We played a lot of chess in 2008, and in 2009 we plan to get Bobby Fischer with it."
MICKEY FACTZ + SKIPP WHITMAN + POINT BLANK 617 + THE U.N. + CHOSEN FEW + MORE | Middle East upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | March 10 at 9 pm | $10-$13 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com