The state of Hip-Hop in Nashville is at an awkward crossroads.
While it’s neighboring Memphis is at the root of some of Hip-Hop’s greatest sounds, the city’s claim to fame comes mainly as the Country Music Capital of the world, leaving a major void that a talented spectrum of artists are looking to fill.
Enter Mike Floss: a trumpeter-turned-emcee with a diversified discog that’s placed him among the ranks of the hottest talent emerging out of the Southern metropolis.
Fully equipped with a few breakout singles and a solid Don’t Blame The Youth tape released last year, the best part is that he’s only getting started.
We recently caught up with Floss to pick his brain on a few things as he discussed his upbringing and his role in reconstructing Hip-Hop’s reputation in Nashville.
Read up on the conversation below.
The Source: First off, let’s talk about your father. How has that musical background in Jazz effected the music that you create now?
Creatively, it teaches you dedication to craft. It teaches you improvisation. I played the trumpet in high school. So, growing up I didn’t know that everybody wasn’t listening to this stuff. I’m a kid. I hear it every single day, and I think that that’s just what it is.
I’d be on the phone talking to a girl and she’d be like ‘What’s that in the background?’ I’m like ‘That’s my dad practicing. Your dad don’t do nothing? He doesn’t have instruments?’ So, I learned this is different, and it just affects you later on because I listened to that before I listened to Hip-Hop.
It just changes your perspective. I feel like a lot of people, new artists, and people that I meet—a lot of times the stuff they listened to growing up is totally different from the stuff I listened to. It just helps you come from a different perspective.
You’ve noted that Nashville’s hip-hop scene doesn’t get enough love. Not too many people know about it. What reasons do you think contribute to that lack of knowledge?
It’s infrastructure. We live in a city that is the country music capital of the world. So, obviously they’re not listening to us. That’s not what they do. That’s not what they’re there for, and we’re not wearing cowboy hats or cowboy boots. So, there’s a whole record label industry there for country music, but for Hip-Hop, and for Black music, outside of some gospel, there’s no infrastructure.
I think once we started getting our own studios—Roc Nation just opened an office in Nashville. Things like that are really helping the city. The city’s exploding now, too. Everybody’s moving to Nashville right now. Once we get the business side of it, get some labels there, get some studio there that are open to having Hip-Hop artists in their spaces, I think it will really thrive.
What’s with the contrast between Nashville and Memphis?
It’s totally different. I was just in Memphis last week. Our food is way better. If you don’t eat barbecued pork, you’re going to be in a dead zone in Memphis, except for Soul Fish—Soul Fish is tight.
Hip-Hop wise, they’re so innovative with Three Six and Juicy J and all them. That’s what Hip-Hop really sounds like now. They were doing that in like ’92 and ’93. I heard some Yo Gotti tapes on Youtube when he was going by like Lil Yo, or something. He was like 16 and rapping fast and all kind of stuff.
I think Nashville doesn’t have that type of Hip-hop history. But, our styles are very different. People from Nashville sometimes don’t like people from Memphis. It’s stupid, but it’s like a little rivalry. They have their own thing. It’s a really a different culture going on with Memphis.
Moving on to “Dopeboy Dreaming.” The backstory is essentially what you saw in life led to the creation of the track. How do you feel that your mindset has evolved now that you’ve become who you are and you’re getting to who you want to be?
I’m such a student. I try to absorb as much knowledge as I possibly can. I try to read more books. I just started reading books again. I felt like I was getting dumb.
I feel like now I just want to be an honest artist and I want to present my truth as it evolves and a lot of the time what that means is talking about things that I don’t want to talk about. But, it helps paint the picture more clearly.
I love that song. But, it’s one thing to say that I remember being in the hallway and the dope boys had pockets full of $20 bills and I’m like ‘Yo, I need to be running with them.’ It’s another thing to say now that I’ve been in a room with people who own companies and people who shift culture and people who innovate and create these different things, and I just want to create better.
I think that’s where I’m coming from. It’s not so much about the flash or the money as much as it is about carving out culture and really helping my city explode on the Hip-Hop side.
“Take Yours” sounds much different from the rest of your catalog. You mentioned that you were just in the studio throwing around sounds and that’s how it came together. Is that the approach you’re taking now? Moving forward, are you leaning towards the Take Yours sound?
The range of my music is extremely broad. You got high energy, rock-influenced records like Take Yours, but you also have very laid back traditional Hip-Hop; you have songs where it’s more about storytelling. I don’t think my music is ever going to stay in one place for too long
I want to constantly evolve, and constantly do new sounds, and try new things even if they don’t work. I want to try it because that’s the thing that keeps it interesting for me. I feel like I can rap with anybody. Put me on a song with anybody I’m gonna go bar for bar with the best. So, it’s not so much about the go. It’s more about trying to create something honest and something unique.